I think we can probably all agree by now that the list of ingredients on a standard commercial antiperspirant can be a bit scary. The list often contains mineral oils, fragrances, alcohol, (not too bad so far), polyethylene glycol distearates, triclosan (getting worse), and aluminum salts, particularly aluminum chlorohydrate (the worst).
Aluminium chlorohydrate is included because it’s an effective suppressant of perspiration (although is stopping sweat even a good thing?), but it has also been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease in several studies. Studies haven”t confirmed that the exposure specifically from use of antiperspirants is at a harmful level, but for anyone trying to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals, avoiding antiperspirant seems pretty sensible.
A Healthier, Homemade Deodorant
When I first started actively reducing my exposure to environmental toxins, and changing my beauty routines accordingly, I lived in New Zealand. So I just threw out my antiperspirant, and never looked back. Even in a fairly warm (for New Zealand) summer, I didn’t sweat enough to really be bothered by body odor. But then we moved to Brunei, where the average day is 86 degrees fahrenheit (30 degrees celsius) and 70% humidity, and something had to change.
Not wearing deodorant was no longer going to cut it.
So I turned to the internet, and found several different recipes. Most included just a few simple ingredients:
- an oil of some sort as a carrier
- a starch of some sort to reduce moisture
- essential oils for fragrance, and for antibacterial properties
These give a solid deodorant. It’s not antiperspirant, but it reduces moisture, and can kill some of the bacteria that cause underarm odors. The recipe below is based off this formula, with a few adjustments and suggestions as to how you can make it work with what you have available.
First, you need to gather your ingredients.
- 1/3 cup oil: You want an oil that is solid at room temperature for a solid deodorant. Coconut oil is a great choice for many climates, and has the added bonus of being antibacterial. I can”t buy coconut oil, and it is melted at room temperature, so I chose palm oil. You can also use a liquid oil and add beeswax to create a solid deodorant.
- 1/4 cup baking soda: Apparently this can be an irritant for some. Skip it, and use extra starch if you have sensitive skin.
- 1/4 cup starch: Common choices are cornstarch and arrowroot. I used tapioca starch because it was the cheapest at the supermarket here.
- a few drops of essential oil: I used mandarin for fragrance and tea tree for its antibacterial properties, because they were what I had on hand. You can use whatever you like, but anything antibacterial ( lavender, cinnamon, lemon) is great to include.
Once you have the ingredients together, making the deodorant is ridiculously simple. Combine your powdered ingredients in a bowl. Add the oils, and mix it all together, either by hand or with a hand mixer.
You may need to add more oil, or more starch, depending on the texture you’re after. You can make the deodorant as hard or as soft as you like. A harder one can be applied like a stick deodorant, something softer may need to be applied with your fingertips.
The End Result
Once all the ingredients are combined, transfer it to a container. If you have an old stick deodorant container around, that”s perfect. Otherwise, any container will do. Mine is a bit soft, so I put it in a simple plastic container, and apply it with my fingertips. Then just leave it to set for a while, and there you have it. An all natural, completely customizable, homemade deodorant.
This all natural deodorant is a fairly new addition to my life, but so far, it”s perfect. It spreads on easily, and keeps me dry and sweet smelling. It leaves slight white marks on dark tops (as do most deodorants, I find!). But even my husband is happy to use it. And we hope it keeps working, because this recipe makes a fairly large supply!