I started making my own deodorant when I ran out of my usual brand and knew none of my local shops stocked it. Once I’d used Homemade Deodorant I knew I’d never go back to buying it again. It’s made with things you probably already have in the house – you could be making your own tonight and using it tomorrow!
Part of the motivation for doing this is my obsession with making my own everything. But there was another reason. I’ve had a couple of health scares over the years.
Happily those turned out to be nothing. But in the scary period between discovering lumps and realising I had nothing to worry about, I read the internet. With all the stories about all the ingredients that antiperspirants and deodorants contain. Evidence for some of the health claims is lacking, it seems to me. But homemade deodorant is easy to make, smells lovely and it works. So why not make it and avoid the mystery ingredients altogether?
What is the difference between Antiperspirant and Deodorant?
Whilst the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. In short: antiperspirant blocks sweating, deodorant doesn’t.
Antiperspirants contain active ingredients like aluminum chlorohydrate (in roll-ons and aerosols) and aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY (in solid deodorants). These compounds plug the sweat glands to stop perspiration and wetness.
Deodorants are designed to mask smells, not to prevent sweat. Deodorants usually contain triclosan as their active ingredient, which stops bacteria growing thereby reducing the risk of unpleasant smell. Though bear in mind that fresh sweat doesn’t smell bad, it’s old sweat smells that we’re trying to avoid.
Whilst there is no conclusive evidence that any of these active ingredients can be linked to illness, I like the idea of not using them. I bought Lush deodorant for a while for that reason, but it was all getting a bit pricey plus I found it dried out quickly and then it felt scratchy. So now I make my own.
Incidentally, if you are prone to stinging when using deodorant after shaving, this may sting too. It’s likely to be caused by the bicarbonate of soda. If it affects you, best introduce a slight delay between shaving and applying.
Homemade Deodorant Ingredients
Homemade Deodorant Recipes are everywhere. Most of them contain the ingredients I use, to some degree or another.
- Sodium Bicarbonate, aka Baking Soda, aka Bicarb, aka Bicarbonate of Soda. A powerful antibacterial product often used in body products, including toothpaste. Not to be confused with Baking Powder which is something else altogether. Sodium Bicarbonate is contained in many deodorants and if you’ve ever had a red rash develop under your arms, it could have been caused by Sodium Bicarbonate. It doesn’t usually mean you’re allergic to it, but rather that there’s too much in the recipe. This recipe is well-tested and I don’t react to it. If you do and you’re determined to make your own deodorant, it might be worth reducing the amount of Sodium Bicarbonate in your second batch. Sodium Bicarbonate is often used in baking, so there’s a good chance you have a tub of it in the kitchen already.
- Cornflour, aka Corn Starch, made from corn grains. I use it to thicken gravy, so I always have some in the house.
- Coconut Oil – a tub from the supermarket is fine.
- Shea Butter from the nuts of the shea tree. If you made my Olive Oil Soap with Shea Butter then you’ll already have a tub of this in the house.
- Essential oils. For this particular recipe I use the only blend I ever buy: Neal’s Yard Women’s Balance Relaxing Blend. For years I’ve burned it around the house, now I put it under my arms too. The main essential oils in it are Patchouli, Geranium, Rose and Frankincense. Whilst it’s not cheap, a bottle lasts for ages and it’s cheaper than buying the 4 oils and trying to match the fragrance. Lavender oil works beautifully too. Basically use whatever you have.
You don’t need any special equipment at all. I just use an old jar in which to melt the oils in a saucepan of hot water, and a spatula to mix everything together. You can have the whole thing done in minutes flat.
Storing your Homemade Deodorant
A simple way to keep your deodorant is in a wide-necked jar which is big enough to get your hand into. Then simply apply it with your hands.
A better way is to re-purpose an old deodorant stick container. Pour in the deodorant when it’s cooling but still liquid and pop it in the fridge until it hardens. You could probably come up with a rather more attractive label than mine too. The benefit of using a deodorant container is that there’s less waste, and less mess. The downside is that once it’s used up, you need to re-liquify the rest of the deodorant in your jar to top the container up.
Alternatively you could invest in a few Deodorant Containers, and fill them all up at the time you make it. Yes you’re buying packaging, but you can re-use them time and time again so you’ll only need to buy them once. I recommend the Deodorant Containers with a Twist Mechanism and Cap which pushes the deodorant up bit by bit until it’s used up. And the cap stops it drying out.
Homemade Deodorant with Coconut Oil and Shea Butter
3 tbsp Coconut Oil
2 tbsp Shea Butter
3 tbsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2 tbsp Corn Flour
15-20 drops of Essential Oil
Measure the Coconut Oil and Shea Butter into a large glass jar. Place the jar in a saucepan of water, heat the water until the oils have just melted.
Mix in the Bicarbonate of Soda and Corn Flour with a spatula until fully mixed.
Add 15-25 drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice. Keep checking the fragrance level as you go. Bear in mind you will be wearing this daily, so less is probably more in the case of homemade deodorant. You can always add more, but you can’t take away.
Pour the slightly cooled mixture into a wide mouthed jar, big enough to get your hand into (as that’s how you will be applying the deodorant). And/or pour some into deodorant containers. Pop in the fridge to cool and solidify.
Use as you would any other deodorant.
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