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Homemade deodorant: The quest for a clean counter to body odor

Homemade deodorant: The quest for a clean counter to body odor

For years I have searched for the perfect clean alternative to commercial deodorant. Perfect for me, that is. Not one to be overly concerned about sweat or perspiration (it is natural and healthy for the body to perspire, so why suppress it?), I wanted something that was a good counter for body odor that was also effective — meaining, something that would last longer than an hour or two. 

Before I explored homemade deodorant, I tried many naturally derived, store-bought deodorants, which have a bit of a bad rap. They aren't as effective as the consumer wants them to be, often requiring reapplication throughout the day. In some cases, the ingredients in these deodorants aren't as clean as we want them to be, which can also prove to be a challenge. 

After a little bit of digging, I found a couple of recipes online that were quite simple to make in my own kitchen. I tweaked the recipes to create a formula that incorporated some of the best aromative effects of the chosen essential oils and to give them a stronger odor fighting punch. Once all the ingredients were gathered, it took less than 15 minutes to create a cream deodorant that rivaled a natural version I paid a tidy sum for someone else to make for me. Never again with this recipe. I am happy to report it worked well — sometimes for a couple of days at a time, and didn't leave permanent white streaks on my clothing. 

What you need to make your own homemade deodorant: 

1. Baking soda 

A key ingredient in clean deodorant, baking soda can be used on its own for a simple doedorant as a paste made with water. It is a must-have in any homemade deodorant recipe, as it is free of harsh chemicals and very effective at keeping odor at bay. 

2. Powdered clay 

Another great component used to fight odor, clay comes in a lot of varieties. I like bentonite clay, but other powdered clays can be used as well. However, color rich clays are generally not recommended as they could cause discoloration to the skin. 

3. Coconut oil 

Great for fighting odor and for moisture, coconut oil was is the key binding ingredient for the dry powders. 

4. Cornstarch or arrowroot powder 

Either powder can be used to absorb moisture. This is great for keeping underarms dry. 

5. Essential oils 

Essential oils contribute a desired aroma to homemade deodorant. Choose gentle oils like bergamot (bergaptene-free), lavender, coriander or geranium because the underarm is a senstive area. Bergamot (bergaptene-free) essential oil in particular is great because it is a terrific odor fighter with a fresh, light scent. Be sure to use a bergaptene-free version because the bergaptene in standard bergamot essential oil makes the skin susceptible to UV radiation should your skin be exposed to sunlight. 

Explore more and get homemade deodorant recipes. 


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Valerie Murphy
08/23/2016 19:33:38

I made the Underarm Cream and it’s blocking the sweat glands in my armpits. My skin broke out in a red rash and I have pea sized lumps that hurt in my armpits. I learned that cocoa butter is high on the comedogenic scale so I switch it out for shea butter which is a 0 on the scale. I am still experiencing blocked sweat glands.. The red rash has gone away, however.  I also learned that almond oil has a rating of 2 on the comedogenic scale so maybe that is the problem. I add lavender and bergamot to the mixture but I doubt they have any bearing on the reaction I am having. Any suggestions on what it may be or what ingredients I can switch out?

08/23/2016 19:53:22

Hi Valerie.  We are so sorry to hear about your irritation with the recipe.  For some skin types the baking soda is the irritating component in this recipe and that ingredient alone can be the reason for the irritation.  Have you tried a variation without the baking soda yet? You can try reducing the baking soda by half and increasing the other dry ingredients to make up the difference or you can eliminate it altogether.  There are many ways to make a natural deodorant, and this is just one suggestion, but leaves a lot of room for customization by the individual to make it a better fit.  Hopefully, that simple change can make it work better for you!

Valerie Murphy
08/24/2016 20:13:27

Hi Charlynn,  thank you for the quick reply!  I can see the baking soda causing a red rash but it would also block sweat glands and cause the lumps I am experiencing?  I have noticed that since I replaced the cocoa butter for shea butter my skin doesn’t break out in a red rash as much but I still have the blocked sweat glands.  If baking soda is the cause for both then I will start off my decreasing the amount and increasing the bentonite clay.  Thanks again!

adrienne segura
06/18/2016 00:58:59

I have made my own deodorant and learned that baking soda irritates my skin. My underarms get red and itchy. Is there a good alternative to use in place of baking soda that will be just as effective?

06/23/2016 17:09:57

Hi Adrienne, great question!  It is definitely not uncommon to hear of the irritation of the baking soda.  Some alternatives would be to decrease the amount of baking soda while increasing the clay powder to make up the difference.  Or you could just increase the other dry components to make up for removing the baking soda.  There are many variations of the ratios of arrowroot or cornstarch or clay — and each individual body is unique — so it may take playing around a bit to find your ideal combination.

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