I guess you could say I have gone fully crunchy? I think that’s the term those wacky kids use these days *curmudgeons and shakes cane.* But mostly, I am thrifty, read as “cheap.” Making deodorant is super cheap, doesn’t take much time at all, and if you don’t want to bother with hand applications you can put it into twist-up tube for as good as store bought goodness. Best part is you can customize the smells to you as well as add in oils that will help you out. You know how I love efficient & double duty things! Also – huzzah making everything!
When I tell people I make my deodorant they always joke about smell, but none of them noticed I had made the switch…this time. I had previously tried different things, I really did not care for the Tom’s deodorant – I felt like it was too thin and wore off after just an hour and it was smell city after that. I have tried a few other products and the two I have found work best are spray deodorants, and deodorants I have made myself. You need some basic ingredients and knowledge of the simple chemistry behind why they work. The husband has obligingly sniffed my armpits and he has given the full approval of no smells for these recipes (which Tom’s got a horrible face and a “UGH” so this has to be a good sign).
Deodorizing – Baking Soda
This is your friend if you don’t want to smell, no one likes being smelly. But why do you smell? Well your body sweats to cool itself, and in the armpits there are 2 types of sweat glands the eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine are the normal cooling sweat, mostly water and salt comes out of them and they help with evaporation. Apocrine glands generally are around hair follicles, and these release a more oily, or a sweat that has fat in it. They also happen to be those sweat glands that kick in when you are stressed out or nervous.
This oily sweat is a good food source for some single celled organisms, and bacteria in our armpits start to consume it. As they eat and the fatty substances are broken down they make waste which is acidic, and this starts to smell (the nasty smells in decomposition are from the production of acids from fats breaking down). So washing is always your first defense against armpit funk, no scent will mask this odor no matter how much you use. I am looking at you I-wear-too-much-patchouli person, thinking “I don’t smell like horrible.”
You do, you smell like a locker room full of teenage boys that have been sweating all day and then rolled about in a vat of patchouli. You aren’t fooling anyone.
So why baking soda? Or sodium bicarbonate as it is known in the chemistry nerd talk. If you remember your school days chemistry, baking soda is a base. If you mix a base and an acid, in the right amounts, they can neutralize each other that means the pH becomes closer to water, or neutral. You also get chemical reactions (think what happens when you add baking soda and vinegar) which creates new chemicals that are detrimental or unusable to bacteria attempting to chow down on your oily sweat. Baking soda has been around for ages, it was part of natron used to mummify bodies in ancient Egypt, and is naturally occurring. It has been used for ages to clean bodies, hair (great for dry shampooing), homes (baking soda will clean just about anything), and in modern times it even helps prevent a smelly fridge just by sitting around. It has also been well known for more than 50 years as being a great way to deodorize lots of things especially stinky humans. I even use it in my cat boxes and boy does it help! So baking soda is one of the best ingredients to add to a DIY deodorant. It is also – safe, (again) naturally occurring, cheap (3 $US for a giant box) and it mercilessly starves and slaughters stinky bacteria. Woo slaughter!
SensitiveSkinProTip: If you have sensitive skin, baking soda can be irritating you may need to increase your thickener or reduce the baking soda if you have irritation. You can make up for the loss of this bacteria fighting power with essential oils.
Absorbent Powder – Corn Starch or Arrowroot Powder
These are more than just thickeners by adding corn starch or arrowroot powder to you baking soda mix it helps ease some of the irritation that baking soda could cause to the more sensitive skin types. This also helps absorb sweat as well leaving you feeling dry and comfortable, when water and these powders mix you get a non-Newtonian fluid. This is some wibbly-wobbly, slimey-wimey stuff. It is a solid and a liquid, all at once! And loads of fun to play with, but is also fantastic at absorbing moisture from your armpit areas. That means that you should stay dry and comfortable all day. And, may I just say, if you never did it in school, mix water and corn starch (or arrowroot powder) and let the fun begin! If you are too lazy to do so watch the video and be amazed! SCIENCE!
Basil, eucalyptus, orange, lemon, lime, lemon grass, frankincense, tea tree (melaleuca), peppermint, thyme, oregano, lavender, geranium, marjoram, clove, rosemary, clary sage, bergamot, pine, black pepper, sage, cedar wood, vanilla, sandalwood and of course, patchouli. All of these oils work well on their own, or blended together. Really this is up to you, what smells good to you, or if you want to add in some oils that help with pain or anything else (skin conditions, etc). You can make a chai smelling one, which can help with antibacterial as well as smelling fantastic (for chai equal amounts of black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, optionally add star anise or other anise-like oil). Or manly smells like frankincense, cedar wood, lemon grass, black pepper and sage can be mixed and matched into a deodorant that doesn’t smell “girly.”
But wait! There’s more! These oils I listed don’t just help make you smell nice, they all have anti-bacterial properties, so that means they can also help to keep body smells under control. So you read that right, they help you smell good, they can help with pain, AND they can keep you from smelling like a comic book store on table top gaming night.
This is where you get to add that fancy pants stuff in, things like oils (coconut works best due to its going solid at room temperature, but you can use small amounts of others for moisturizing) cocoa butter, shea butter, clay, beeswax and anything else you would like to add. Aloe can be added to create a more gel like deodorant, I am working on a gel that can work for a twist up tube as well. Butters like shea and cocoa help with moisturizing and keeping irritation from baking soda or from shaving down, coconut oil does the same as well, and all three help form a convenient paste with the powders for ease of application. You can also use things like bentonite clay, which is highly absorbent if you are one of those that sweats a lot, beeswax helps to sort of bind things like coconut oil and makes it more solid for ease of application if you are going with the twist bottles. Beeswax also helps retain shape if you live in a hot place like Texas!
Lets start with the harder ones, which will be followed by ones that anyone can make from things that you would likely have around the house.
- Spray bottle
- 2 parts Witch hazel, rubbing alcohol or grain alcohol
- 1 part aloe vera gel
- 10 drops Essential oils per ounce of liquid
- Baking soda – ½ teaspoon per 1 cup of witch hazel, rubbing alcohol, or grain alcohol)
For a spray bottle, check out your local stores travel section there are lots of empties around there that are great for spray deodorant, but a spray bottle with a mist setting is just as good. Mix the baking soda and witch hazel (or alcohol) well, make sure to crush and completely dissolve all lumps. Combine liquid with aloe vera, if you are using natural aloe from the leaf (or even if not) you may want to give it a blitz in your food processor or blender. Add essential oils, and put in a spray container. Spray on and allow to dry, if you don’t like how long that takes, omit the aloe. This works very well with vanilla, cedar wood, and lemon grass scents since they can stand well on their own. Frankincense, lemon, and clary sage are also good.
Jar or Stick Deodorant
- 1 part Baking soda
- 1 part Corn starch or arrowroot powder (see directions for clay modifications)
- 1 part “Fancy” stuff (see below for breakdown)
- 10 drops Essential oil per ounce
Mix the powders well, if you want to include clay reduce the corn starch or arrowroot to a half measure and make up the rest with clay. Then add 1 part “fancy” stuff, that would be coconut oil, or other items to the mix. This is where it gets a little more complicated.
If you want to form these into cakes or into a twist up bottle you will need add something that solidifies things more what I use is shea butter (or cocoa), coconut oil, and beeswax all in equal amounts to make this last 1 part. That means if you have 1 ounce baking soda, 1 ounce corn starch, then you will need 0.3 ounces of shea butter (or cocoa), 0.3 ounces of coconut oil, and 0.3 ounces of beeswax. Melt the beeswax and the oil and shea butter (or cocoa) in a double boiler (I like the mason jar in a water bath idea, since any that doesn’t fit in the containers can just be stored with the lid on for later use) once melted and blended well, add in the powders and combine thoroughly. Add essential oils, allow to cool slightly and then pour into your twist up container. If you are making a cake sort, pour into a muffin tin dusted with corn starch.
If you want to use a jar for this, you may want to reduce the amount of beeswax and increase the oil or butters you are using so that you have a creamy paste you can apply to your under arms. You make it the same way as the stick sort just with less, or without the beeswax. You can add aloe to this one too just make sure its pureed well if you are using it straight from the leaf.
ProContainerTip: You can order empty deodorant bottles online (BPA free even), or you can just wash and reuse one you have already. Jars are also easy to get and you can reuse pretty much any convenient container to hold this deodorant. I find the easiest way to figure out how much volume each container has is to fill it with water and weigh it, or pour the water into a very precise measuring cup.
Now on to the easy ones that you can make from things you should have just around the house.
Lazy Dry Deodorant
- 1 part Baking Soda
- 1 part Corn Starch or Arrowroot powder
Put it in a container and shake well, apply with talcum puff, cotton balls, old baby powder bottle, or the good old hands. This works if you are desperate, but it doesn’t make me feel secure about not being smelly which is more mental than the actual performance. You do need to reapply though I feel since it just doesn’t do the job for an extended period of time.
Lazy Spray Deodorant
- Witch hazel, rubbing alcohol or grain alcohol, enough to fill your container
- 10 drops Essential oils per ounce of liquid
- Baking soda (slightly optional)
- Spray container
Mix the baking soda with the liquids, you don’t have to use it if you have sensitive skin, or you just don’t like it. But I suggest using it since it really does a great job at odor control. Add essential oils, pour it all in the spray container and you are good to go!
If you don’t want to bother making it and are in the Austin area support local Green Skunk they make a great product I have tested them out and they really work and are all natural.
Lazy Cream Deodorant
- Coconut oil
- 1 part Baking soda
- 1 part Corn starch, arrowroot powder
Mix the powders well, and heat coconut oil, you want 2 tablespoons of oil per 1 cup of the soda and starch mix. Mix well until you have a uniform paste, you can increase or decrease the oil to reach a consistency you like. Pour into a jar, and apply with fingers.
There is a lot of stuff added to deodorants these days, and while the scientific juries are still out on just exactly how bad a lot of that stuff is for you, why not know all the things in your deodorant? Plus it is really satisfying to make it yourself. Did I mention it was cheap? It also usually doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to whip up a batch. 🙂
Remember everyone’s body is different, experiment see what works for you and what scents and products work with your body best!