Non-toxic deodorant that actually works- It’s a quest I’ve been on for years. I’ve tried them all, seriously. Most of them just don’t work, or only work in the winter when you’re freezing and not sweating. There was even a point when I was paying $18 for one stick of “healthy” deodorant (hey, it worked).
Fortunately, all that has changed. I now whip up a batch of deodorant using baking ingredients I always have in my kitchen, and it works better than any deodorant I’ve ever used, even normal (non-natural) brands. (Seriously, I love this homemade deodorant!)
Of Course, There’s a Backstory
When Bridger was a wee one and I was researching whether I really had to feed him rice cereal, I came across the blog of Mommypotamus, a traditional food blogger who healed from an autoimmune issue by switching to real foods. Her ebook, Nourished Baby, guided me through the early days of feeding Bridger real food. She researches everything, and only seems to post tried and true recipes, so when I saw her deodorant recipe- and her claim that it actually worked- I had to try it. I’m sure this came as quite a relief to the hubs, because I had all but stopped wearing any deodorant since Bridger’s birth.
When I was pregnant I was extremely sensitive to smells, so throughout the pregnancy I ended up eliminating everything scented from my life. When you smell nothing scented for an extended period of time, even the slightest scents become very noticeable. I was concerned that newborn Bridger, who had never before smelled anything and who would have his little face in my armpits 24/7 as he nursed, would breathe in all the yucky chemicals scenting the deodorant.
I didn’t even think about the chemicals in deodorant possibly ending up in my breast milk (THANK GOD, that guaranteed freak out would have been the last thing I needed). But, of flippin’ course, I’ve since learned that deodorant contains nasty chemicals that can indeed end up in your breast milk. There’s a two part series on the scary chemicals in deodorants and how they can contribute to toxins in your breast milk at Spotless (a pretty awesome blog about natural cleaning and personal care):
“Some of the most dangerous chemicals are those known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These resist environmental degradation, and instead accumulate in the environment. They tend to bind easily to animal fat, and so concentrate in animal foods, in human fat, and in breast milk. An example is triclosan, one hazardous chemical commonly found in deodorants (and several other personal care products). POPs accumulate specifically in breast adipose tissue and in milk, and are passed to nursing babies at many times the levels of the mother’s exposure.
I know, it’s too terrible to even think about. Stink, or use legitimately scary chemicals in your armpits, right by all those lymph nodes and your breasts.
Fortunately, the solution is simple: coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot powder (or corn starch). You can buy all of these ingredients at a normal grocery store. Arrowroot powder is in the baking section, often with the gluten free or specialty foods by Bob’s Red Mill. It’s a thickening agent that can be used in place of cornstarch and is often used in gluten free cooking as well. Coconut oil is with the other cooking oils- look for organic, virgin, and unrefined and then use the rest for about a million different things (I use it for baking and in place of body lotion; my sister loves it for eye makeup remover).
Homemade Deodorant Recipe
And so without further adieu, combine equal parts baking soda and arrowroot powder, and mix in enough coconut oil to blend it all together. I use a tiny mason jar (baby food jar size) and use a table spoon as my “part”- mix two tablespoons baking soda with two tablespoons arrowroot powder. Stir. Then I melt some coconut oil on the stove and pour in enough to mix the powders into a thick, creamy paste (I believe it’s about two tablespoons as well, so pretty much equal parts of all ingredients). The end. Here’s the original recipe I followed, where she explains how to add essential oils if you want scented deodorant.
Tips and Concerns
After about six months of using this deodorant, here are five tips/concerns I’ve encountered:
1. When applying, put just enough on your finger tips to apply a thin film to your armpits. If you apply too much, white powder will rub off onto your clothes when you put them on (just like normal, non-clear deodorant).
2. The coconut oil will not leave oily marks on your clothes, unless you put on way too much. I normally apply the deodorant right after my shower, put on a t-shirt while I get ready, then change into my real clothes. This is an additional safeguard against the white marks and theoretical oil stains. The only time I have noticed an oil mark on the armpits of a shirt was when I applied the deodorant while wearing a sleeveless top and ended up applying the deodorant to the shirt. If you do happen to find yourself with oil marks, rub stains with dish soap and wash as normal- they will come right out.
3. Coconut oil solidifies in cold weather and liquefies in hot weather. What this means is that your deodorant will be rock hard in the winter time. There are three solutions: (a) Stick your jar in the shower with you and by the time your shower is over, the oil will have softened. (b) Alternately, you can run some warm/hot water into the sink and set your jar in there while you put on lotion/dry your hair. The deodorant will soften quickly. (c) The third option is to dump the entire mixture into an old deodorant tube right after you mix it up, and let it harden into the shape of regular deodorant. (The Organic Momma taught me this.) Then rub it right onto your armpits like regular deodorant, but apply it much more gently than normal, because it’s much softer than store bought. If you go this route during the summer or live in Florida, you might have to store it in the refrigerator.
4. Gently apply to armpits- do not grind it in. It’s not necessary, and the baking soda can be a bit abrasive on your armpits if you get crazy. If you find the baking soda is irritating your armpits, you can use the same ingredients but decrease the baking soda and increase the arrowroot. Here’s a recipe (at the end of the post).
5. It is important to realize this is NOT an anti-perspirant. You will still sweat, as you are meant to do. But you will not stink, you will not accumulate chemicals in your body, and you will not pass said chemicals on to your nursing kiddos. For me, that’s a trade off I am willing to deal with.
Deodorant was a gateway cosmetic for me… Once I realized I could make my own deodorant that actually worked, I started reading the ingredients of my other hair and skin care products- shampoo, lotion, perfume (yikes!)- all full of ingredients I am no longer interested in using. Courtney from The Polivka Family has a fun “Junk Your Bathroom” challenge, where she does a great job explaining what the various product ingredients are how to replace them with healthy alternatives.
Have you ever made your own deodorant, and if so, did you like it and which recipe did you use? Please share in the comments!
– AshleyPAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: To support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for supporting our efforts at Whistle Pig Hollow!