One thing I find kind of funny is that even though I’m an aesthetician and natural skincare formulator who specializes in facial skincare, one of the most common recipe requests I get is for a good DIY deodorant recipe. I think the reason for that is because finding a good deodorant–even a conventional one–can be tricky business. Some leave a white residue, some feel sticky, some are skin irritant, most have really strong fragrances–and the natural ones that do tend to work best can be either really expensive or really basic.
Whether a deodorant “works” or not is something that’s really subjective–even more subjective in some cases than facial skincare, since whether a deodorant works or not can mean the difference between confidence and embarrassment in a very profound way. It’s also subjective because unlike the skin on the face that has contact with the air regularly, underarms don’t get to “breathe” as much. Combine that with heat and friction, and the wrong product can easily turn into a very uncomfortable situation.
It’s easy to understand why people ask for a DIY deodorant recipe that really works!
Just like facial skincare, the efficacy of underarm skincare is dependent on a person’s constitution, skin type, body chemistry, as well as lifestyle. I always wondered why they sell different fragrances, strengths, and “lifestyle” categories of deodorants (teen, sport, etc)–and I think they do sell some for super sensitive skin–but manufacturers don’t really address individual needs.
Aside from that, conventional deodorants are highly toxic–containing aluminum which has been linked to Alzheimers, as well as other chemicals that have been known to produce other toxic effects on the body. Remember that controversial 2004 study where Dr Philippa Darbre found intact parabens in breast cancer tumors? It was suggested that parabens from?underarm deodorants were to blame.
My philosophy regarding skincare, nutrition, and lifestyle is that because we’re all unique individuals, our products and regimens should be customized for our unique needs. The best way to do that is to make them yourself. Luckily, DIY deodorant is really easy to make. My particular recipe uses all-natural, non-toxic ingredients, and can easily be customized according to your?personal preferences.
Ingredients and supplies:
- 1/4 cup (57 g) organic virgin coconut oil?
- 1/4 cup (57 g) plant-based butter (I used mango butter here. Shea butter will produce a similar consistency but if you like a firmer deodorant, try cocoa butter or illipe butter)
- 1/3 cup unrefined beeswax pastilles or candelilla wax (50 g)
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.29 g) of neem oil (neem has a strong scent, just FYI, but you can mask it with your essential oils. If you don’t have neem, you can try Vitamin E oil–just make sure your source is non-GMO)
- 2 tablespoons?(27.6 g)?of aluminum-free baking soda (kinda defeats the purpose if your baking soda contains aluminum!)
- 1/4 cup (34 g) arrowroot powder or cornstarch (I prefer arrowroot powder)
- Essential oils:??I only?recommend a?.05%?concentration of essential oils in deodorants since underarm skin is so sensitive,?which in this recipe is about 22 total drops. I used ylang ylang and rosemary. Be sure to check with an herbalist or aromatherapist if you’re pregnant (no rosemary if you’re pregnant) or have a chronic health condition to make sure there are no contraindications.
- 2 empty deodorant tubes. I know it’s tempting to reuse empty tubes but please don’t do this. Plastic containers are not reusable and cannot be safely or effectively sterilized. Look for PET plastic to make sure your container is safe for use with essential oils. Amazon.com has a good variety. You may, of course, opt to use a jam jar or other glass or metal container–just be aware you might have to adjust your consistency to have a softer deodorant. I personally prefer a tube.
- You’ll also need one double boiler setup with a pourable spout, a spatula, and a whisk
- Over a simmering (not boiling double boiler), melt down your beeswax, butter, and coconut oil until you have a clear, uniform liquid consistency.
- Turn off the heat but keep your pot on the double boiler as you stir in your arrowroot powder and baking soda. Gently whisk until you get a uniform consistency. You might see tiny little bubbles. This is normal.
- Remove from heat and let cool until your mixture?is just warmer than room temperature. Then add your neem or vitamin E oil, and essential oils and stir. This won’t take long!
- Immediately pour into your deodorant tubes. The mixture might settle–this is OK–just top them off.
- Wait for them to cool and harden before closing the containers to prevent condensation from contaminating the product.
This recipe makes about 5 oz of finished product–about two 2.5 oz deodorant containers.
Why do I say this is the DIY deodorant recipe that actually works?
This formula, on me, did not feel sticky or slimy at any point in my day. It also isn’t drying or irritant, nor does it leave a white residue. It’s not an antiperspirant (I believe antiperspirants are dangerous), but it did absorb sweat during my yoga practice and there was no unpleasant odor.
Will this be the case for you? I don’t know–we’re different people. But if there’s anything you don’t like about your finished product, you can easily tweak the consistency by adjusting the proportions of your ingredients (make sure you make up the difference with another ingredient in your formulation) the next time you make it. That’s the beauty of making your own skincare products–you can always change your formulas and customize them for your skin, preferences, and lifestyle.
Want to learn more about how to get started making your own products?
I teach a 6-week online course called Create Your Skincare. Our next class is starting soon!
*Image 2 by Th145 (photo taken by Th145) [CC BY-SA 2.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons