DIY Natural Deodorant (with only Seven Ingredients!)

Posted by Bonnie

Making a natural deodorant has been on my to do list for a long time, mostly because Kyle asked me to. He has used some version of Old Spice antiperspirant since I have been with him (14 years…. wow) which contains some suspect ingredients, namely aluminum among others, such as talc.

But lets back it up here for just a sec. “He has used some version of Old Spice antiperspirant…” Yes. Antiperspirant is what I want to draw your attention to. Why? Because the vast majority of people (everyone?) don’t need (and shouldn’t use) an antiperspirant in the first place. So what is an antiperspirant? Basically speaking it is a deodorant product which contains some form of aluminum based compound designed to block sweat ducts. No sweat = no wetness (but also no stink?), hence the name antiperspirant. The problem is multifaceted:

  1. Aluminum as an active ingredient: There has been no definitive research linking aluminum use in cosmetic products to breast cancer, dementia or Alzheimer’s, liver disease or any of the other terrible things it is linked to. No definitive research. This doesn’t mean it’s safe. It also doesn’t mean that there aren’t scary studies reporting potential links and, when we are talking about the health of someone I love, I choose to err on the side of caution.
  2. No sweat: Sweat is an essential function of the human body! It keeps you cool. Sure, there are some trace toxins eliminated this way but your kidneys do most of the heavy lifting with that stuff. Ultimately, the most important function of sweat is to keep you cool. Sometimes sweat is uncomfortable and can be awkward, but it has a natural function. We should probably just let it do it’s thing.
  3. No stink. Wait. This isn’t a problem! Or is it?
    • M’kay. Why do we stink. Sweat itself doesn’t have an odor – Odor is caused when your sweat reacts with natural bacteria on your skin. Deodorants and antiperspirants mask this natural stink with artificial fragrances, which in some cases may contain other freaky stuff like parabens.
      • A full disclosure side note on parabens: Even though they have some similar links to scary diseases like aluminum does, I haven’t crossed them out of my life entirely. The products I use that contain them (or I suspect contain them) are not ones that are designed to stay on my skin for long periods of time like a deodorant / antiperspirant. They are also not designed to literally be sucked into my sweat glands (like an antiperspirant).

Recap: Aluminum bad, sweat good, stink bad but not as bad as artificial fragrances.            Ok cool. So you’re with me still right? Ready to get sweaty in the name of health?

Well, truth be told, I don’t sweat that much. In fact I WISH that I could sweat more because I overheat extremely quickly when exercising or doing physical outdoor work. So maybe I’m not the best tester here. But I am going to test this anyway, along with Kyle who sweats enough for the both of us. Guys, there is a reason he wears antiperspirant which makes him the best possible candidate to test out the following formulation!

Also, I said sweaty. Not stinky. Nobody wants to get stinky, even in the name of health. So lets see if we can call up some essential oils to save the day. Essential oils make the perfect candidate to fragrance a natural deodorant because they are purported to be anti bacterial and anti inflammatory. This makes them perfect for fighting that stink bacteria and for soothing often irritated pit skin (especially for those who wax or shave).

*Caution note here about essential oils: Essential oils should always be diluted before contacting your skin. Adding them into this deodorant formula does the trick. Please don’t just rub your underarms with undiluted essential oils and call it a day: It won’t deodorize you properly, and you will probably have undesirable skin complications because of it. 

** More caution about essential oils: Recently, like, this week, our friends Tea Tree and Lavender essential oils have been caught up in a messy news item. Specifically, that there are chemicals within these essential oils that can cause abnormal tissue development, specifically breast tissue, in boys by boosting estrogen and limiting testosterone. This is brand new information, and has not been well studied yet. I am not a doctor or scientist, and I have not researched this topic myself in any detail beyond what is available in mainstream news. You can decide for yourself if you’d like to use these in your batch! Personally, I am not worried about using them in my own. 

Lets get to the good stuff here, the formulation. Notice that is is baking soda free. I use baking soda in a few different bath products, like bath bombs (obviously) and salt soaks without issue. I have left it out of this deodorant though, because your underarms can be sensitive and many people online have reported adverse reactions. If you want to give it a try, sub baking soda in for about half of the arrowroot powder for extra stink busting power.

Ingredients (makes about 2 – 2.5 oz finished product)

  • 1 oz coconut oil
  • 1 oz shea butter
  • 0.5 oz zinc oxide powder
  • 0.75 oz arrowroot powder
  • 0.25 oz beeswax
  • 1/4 tsp vitamin E
  • Essential oil (about 15 drops)

Try out the following essential oil combinations or blend your own:

  1. Peppermint & Pine
  2. Lavender & Rosemary
  3. Sweet Orange & Clove
  4. Peppermint, Tea Tree & Eucalyptus

 

Directions

  1. Melt your beeswax, shea butter and coconut butter over medium heat using a double boiler.
  2. Remove from heat and whisk the dry ingredients carefully into the mix until fully incorporated. The whisk attachment on an electric hand mixer works great for this.
  3. Add the vitamin E and your essential oils. Whisk thoroughly again.
  4. Pour into a 2 – 3 oz container and allow to cool at room temperature.

To use, remove some using your fingers or a tool like a popsicle stick. Apply to your underarms thoroughly. A little seems to go a long way. To avoid transfer of the white zinc oxide onto your clothing, it’s best to use pretty sparingly. Just make sure you’re fully protected!

I hope you join in this experiment with us, and we are going to be testing it out over the next few weeks. I will update this post after that to let you know if we stuck with it or not!

UPDATE: So, here’s the scoop. It works really well for me… but I am a person who doesn’t need to wear deodorant on a regular basis anyway. As for Kyle? Not so great. Perhaps with a bit more fragrance it would do the trick, but it definitely didn’t have all day staying power for him. Still worth a try though! Kyle and I fall on extremes of the deodorant need scale, so it could be perfect for you.

 

 

 

 

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