Let me start by saying that this is not a recipe post. I do make my own deodorant, but in the process of learning how, I’ve come across about a zillion recipes “that really work!” and comments like, “What if I don’t have organic mango butter and an instant read infrared thermometer?”
The truth is that homemade deodorant is one of the easiest things you can DIY. You may have to go through a couple versions to find out what works best for you, but it is literally as simple as stirring a mixture in a bowl.
In this post, I’m going to share some basic natural product DIY tips and break down the pros, cons, and properties of various ingredients you can use for deodorants. You can start developing your personalized product by choosing ingredients that fit your skin type, your budget, or any other preferences/needs.
- Coconut oil is super popular as a cream or paste deodorant base and mixes very easily
- Light/white in color
- Light coconut scent
- Soft solid at room temperature, melts easily when applied to skin
- Pros : Contains antioxidants, antimicrobial, moisturizing, antifungal, mixes easily
- Cons : Slightly greasy feel, can cause dryness in some users, known comedogenic
- Shea butter is very firm and easier to apply when blended with a softer base.
- Cream color
- Nutty aroma
- Melts at around 110*F
- Pros : Moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, good for a firmer deodorant
- Cons : Requires melting either by microwave or double boiler, may cause a reaction in those with nut/latex allergies (very rare!)
- Cocoa butter is very firm and easier to apply when blended with a softer base.
- Tan color
- Sweet aroma
- Melts at around 95*F
- Pros : Long shelf life, anti-imflammatory, great thickener, reduces the appearance of scars or blemishes, good for firm or stick style deodorants
- Cons : Requires melting either by microwave or double boiler, can cause crystalization or “balls” in your product. (still safe and usable, just less homogenous)
- Beeswax is too stiff and waxy to be used alone, but it adds stability and firmness to other softer bases.
- Various shades of yellow
- Sweet, warm aroma
- NOT vegan
- Melts at around 145*F
- Pros : Soother, protective barrier for skin, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
- Cons : Waxy feel, requires melting either by microwave or double boiler
- Arrowroot powder is a root starch used in many natural products as well as foods!
- Very fine, light, white powder
- Pros : Moisture/oil absorbing, thickener, helps to neutralize odors
- Cons : Can be messy to work with
- Cornstarch or potato starch may be substituted.
- Baking soda is extremely accessible and inexpensive and makes a great addition to DIY deodorants. However, it sometimes has negative side-effects and should be paired with other ingredients to avoid excessive concentrations.
- Fine white powder, slightly abrasive
- Pros : Moisture/oil absorbing, thickener, excellent odor neutralizer
- Cons : Is known to cause irritation, redness, or rash in some users
- Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that help to fight and balance the “bad bacteria.”
- Can be purchased in capsules or loose powder
- A shelf stable probiotic is necessary for deodorant usage! Refrigerated probiotics are amazing but won’t survive the heat/air of this DIY.
- Capsules may not be vegan
- Pros : Helps to fight odors, anti-(bad)bacterial
- Cons : You body’s natural micro-flora may require you to tweak the amount of probiotics you include in your deodorant.
- Essential oils are a staple for many naturally minded DIYers and offer endless possibilities and combinations.
- Pros (depending on the oils and amounts you choose) : can soothe the skin, fight off bacteria, prevent odors, lift your mood, or just make you smell fabulous.
- Cons (depending on the oils and amounts you choose) : can irritate the skin, can result in sensitization, photosensitivity
- Always dilute oils in appropriate ratios and choose your oils wisely. For example, don’t load up your deo with cinnamon bark oil because it’s Christmas…ouch!
- Common favorites include tea tree, lavender, citrus oils, pines, ylang ylang, frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood, bergamot, mints, etc.
Other Great Add-Ins
- Vitamin E Oil
- Mango Butter
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Various Oils (grapeseed, avocado, etc)
- Vegetable Glycerin
- Bentonite Clay, French Green Clay
- Herbs or Herbal Powders (calendula or chamomile powders, for example)
Where do I find these things?
Some of these items can be found easily at your local grocery store. Coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot powder can be found almost anywhere. Some of the butters and oils can be found at health food stores or vitamin shops. Earth Fare, Whole Foods, and so on. And there’s always Amazon! But here’s a list of natural friendly online stores to give you even more options.
Mountain Rose Herbs, Starwest Botanicals, Fronteri Co-op, iHerb, Plant Therapy, Bulk Apothecary
Try to aim for organic, unrefined, nonGMO, cold-pressed, fair trade, virgin, etc.
What do I do with all this information?
This is the really beautiful part… You choose what you want to use and just toss it all together! The most elaborate recipe would still only require some sort of heating method, a bowl, a utensil, and a container for your finished product. You can’t mess this up. Remember that this is a Do It Yourself project, not necessarily a Do It The Way Someone Else Did It project. Pick one or two ingredients or pick twenty. It’s yours.
General DIY Tips
- Work in small batches. You don’t want to waste ingredients or end up with a gallon of product that you don’t like.
- Clean up properly. Things like coconut oil and beeswax should not go down your drain. A flexible spatula ensure you get most of your product from your mixing bowl into your end product container. Before washing, and ideally when your mixture is still pliable, use a paper towel or bit of toilet paper to wipe out any remaining product from the bowl and discard.
- Remember that some of these ingredients will change in texture once they’ve been allowed to come to room temperature. Coconut oil will naturally soften and melt a little as it’s being stirred, but it will stiffen up again if left in a cool room.
- Be ready to adjust your product as your needs change. Some of us can get away with a simple swipe of just arrowroot powder on wintery days. Suit YOUR needs.
- Be on the lookout for adverse reactions. You may need to use less baking soda, you may need to add a few less drops of EO, you may need to skip them altogether.
- Make notes as you go. I’m horrible at this, but I absolutely see the merit in it. Nothing is worse than ending up with the perfect product and then not having any idea how to replicate it. Record how many spoonfuls, how many drops, how many tablespoons…
If you haven’t already jumped on the natural deodorant train, I hope this post encourages you to try! If you do already make your own, I’d love to hear what you use, your tips, and where you like to gather your ingredients.
Smell ya’ later! ….OR WILL I?!