If you are one of those people who cannot go for a minute without deodorant after your shower, you probably know how hard it is to find a deodorant that really does the job. Do you ever wonder if there are better deodorant options than what the big chemical companies have to offer? Maybe you have tried deodorant from the health food store that didn’t live up to the task. Is there natural non-toxic deodorant that actually works? How about an option you can create yourself?
I have about that for a long time and finally decided to try my hand at formulating my very own recipe. After much trial and error, I am happy to report that I succeeded in creating a deodorant recipe that checks all of those boxes! Today I am going to share my deodorant recipe with you.
I am so excited to let you in on my little secret on how you can smell great without the worry of toxins ever again.
When I researched various options, baking soda was almost always part of the formula. Don’t get me wrong, I love baking soda for all kinds of different uses. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine my household without it.
And while it does have amazing odor-absorbing qualities and sounds great in theory it has one major drawback. It can be quite irritating, especially on sensitive skin. Why is that? It turns out baking soda has a Ph level of 9, making it alkaline. A normal Ph level for skin hovers at around 5.5, more on the acidic side. Going baking soda free was definitely a must.
But why switch from mainstream commercially available deodorant in the first place?
Here is what I used for many years:
It works very well, but that little warning to keep it“out of the reach of children”, along with the suggestion to call poison control if accidentally ingested? Consult your doctor if you have kidney disease? Well, that gives me pause and makes me a bit nervous.
Why not just use the stuff from the health food store?
I recently discovered my reason when I bought some while cruising the aisles at my favorite crunchy hangout. For once I actually remembered that my musky teenager was dangerously close to running out of deodorant. When I spied a familiar brand I grabbed a couple of sticks, tea tree for him, lavender for me and I was on my merry way.
But after a couple of days of using the new “natural” brand, it became very clear that it just wasn’t going to cut it, for me anyway. Okay, so a new deodorant not living up to its promise is not unusual, right? But upon closer examination, I felt duped. The big “come-and-buy-me-and-I-will-keep-you-smelling-like-lavender” promise that had lured me in turned out to be, well, not exactly true. The only lavender component listed was “linalool” – at the very bottom of the ingredient list. Sure, there may be all vegetarian ingredients, but even this version still contains baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and something else I try to avoid: FRAGRANCE. Fragrance can be problematic for some with sensitive skin. Manufacturers of skin care products do not have to disclose what chemicals are in them. Fragrance can also spell trouble for persons with asthma. It’s probably best to avoid it.
If you are not sure where you stand on the use of fragrances in skin and body care products, I encourage you to take a look at this video about toxins in fragrances. It’s all about making informed decisions.
What is the point in paying extra, thinking you are doing the right thing and then wind up with a worse result? For me, that was the last straw. Challenge accepted. I was determined to find a non-toxic deodorant recipe once and for all, one that actually works.
This was not my first time around the deodorant making block. I found this recipe using bentonite clay on Pinterest a while back. It didn’t turn out well and was nearly impossible to apply. Besides, would you want to put this on your pits? I didn’t think so.
So I continued my quest, determined to find the recipe. That turned out to be even more difficult than I had anticipated. There are a lot of different recipes, but most of them contain the dreaded baking soda, which I wanted to avoid for the above-mentioned reasons. Many recipes just didn’t sound like they would be effective for odor control. Thankfully, I finally succeeded! What follows is the thought process and the list of ingredients. It is important for me to choose the best components for each recipe I create. Each ingredient has a very specific purpose.
You can find this and all of my homemade beauty and cleaning recipes as printables in the FREE Resource Library.
Here is a list of criteria for my natural non-toxic recipe:
- baking soda free
- safe, gentle ingredients
- easy to make
- control odor and wetness
- easy to make
- stick form
The last requirement is really mainly for ease of use and convenience. At our house, we prefer deodorant in stick form. You could simply omit the beeswax pellets for a (vegan) creme version if you prefer.
Several tries later I zeroed in on the just the right list of ingredients. To be extra sure, I tested one formulation with baking soda. It left me smelling okay, but not for long and I found the consistency to be just a little too gritty and a little itchy. All of my gracious testers agreed.
Another ingredient that intrigued me was magnesium chloride. One recipe sounded promising but wound up an utter failure. Even though I had ground the magnesium chloride flakes into a fine powder, as instructed, I still wound up with gritty sludge at the bottom of the bowl that refused to dissolve. I wasn’t going to be defeated easily and tried magnesium oil spray just to be sure. It did an okay job for me on days that weren’t hot and didn’t make me sweat too much. Magnesium oil can leave a film on your skin and may make some people rather itchy.
LET’S MAKE A NATURAL DEODORANT RECIPE THAT ACTUALLY WORKS!
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I have to confess I was not too enthusiastic about this at first, because I was worried about staining. But so far so good on that front! The key is to use virgin unrefined coconut oil.
The reasons I opted to include it in my recipe are fairly straight forward. It is readily available, has well documented anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and it will give the finished product glide. Many of the ingredients are very versatile and can be used to make a number of other beauty recipes!
Arrow Root Powder
Arrowroot powder takes over the role of “wetness absorber” and adds the antiperspirant component. I chose it over cornstarch because it is non-GMO, ph-balanced and has both antiseptic as well as anti-inflammatory qualities. It is safe enough to be fed to babies:)
This ingredient kept popping up in recipes that lacked baking soda and was featured as the active ingredient. Zinc oxide is more commonly used in homemade sunscreen recipes and diaper rash ointment (there is the baby safe thing again!), but I found out that quite a few people actually swear by using the rash ointment as a substitute for deodorant.
When ordering zinc oxide, make sure you are purchasing the non-nano kind that is also pharmaceutical grade.
The addition of Shea butter allowed for a slight reduction in the amount of coconut oil used. Katie over at Wellness Mama has a handy list with the many different uses for Shea butter. It is an ingredient I keep on hand for all kinds of homemade concoctions from hand cream to body balm to lip balm.
Bees Wax Pellets
This ingredient is necessary to give the deodorant enough firmness to be put into stick form. I buy mine locally whenever possible, but you can order high-quality beeswax pellets online. Beeswax forms a protective barrier to environmental assaults on your skin. Its water-attracting properties are offset in this recipe by both the zinc oxide and the arrowroot powder.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that reduces the damage done by free radicals. It is included here for its ability to fight off toxins as well as added skin pampering.
Many of the recipes I researched treated essential oils as an optional ingredient. At our house, therapeutic grade essential oils are used for many different reasons and I consider them a very important part of this recipe. Not merely for the smell, essential oils can add calming and even cooling properties, depending on which ones you use. You can really individualize the recipe to suit your own taste and need! If you are going through the trouble of making your own deodorant, do yourself a favor and include them. Be sure to use the best quality oils you can get.
Not ingredients, but necessary nonetheless, are either deodorant tubes to fill for the stick version or small jars like these glass ones to store your deodorant in for the creme version. You can either use a couple of empty clean tubes or purchase fresh, reusable ones. The recipe will make the exact amount for two of them.
The combination of cedarwood, vetiver, and lavender drew praise from my testers, male and female. It is the same combination of oils I have been applying to my son morning and evening to help calm him, so using the deodorant does double duty.
This recipe yields a formulation that is soothing and holds up well to average stink. If a stronger formulation to combat odor is desired, tea tree oil, thieves or purification (a special blend from Young Living) are all safe bets. Be aware that while it goes a long way in the odor department, you will notice more wetness. I tried to counteract that effect, by trying to add bentonite clay to the recipe. Sadly that didn’t work out as it turned into something resembling concrete, even with a relatively small amount.
This recipe will yield 2 regular size stick deodorants.
- 3 TBSP COCONUT OIL, virgin unrefined
- 2 TBSP SHEA BUTTER, organic unrefined
- 1/4 CUP BEESWAX PELLETS
- 1/2 TSP VITAMIN E OIL – optional
- 2/3 CUP ARROWROOT POWDER
- 2 TBSP ZINC OXIDE POWDER – non-nano
- 15 drops LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL – I buy mine here
- 10 drops CEDARWOOD ESSENTIAL OIL
- 6 drops VETIVER ESSENTIAL OIL
- or essential oils of your choice (do a skin patch test first on any oil you plan to use)
PYREX BOWL OR WIDEMOUTH MASON JAR – dedicate bowl or jar to making beauty products
WOOD POPSICLE STICK OR SPOON HANDLE FOR STIRRING
EMPTY DEODORANT CONTAINERS
LABELS – optional
Combine coconut oil and beeswax pellets in a shallow pyrex glass bowl or mason jar and place in a double boiler. Gently heat until oils and wax are completely melted, stirring occasionally. Add shea butter and allow to melt fully.
Turn off heat and add vitamin E oil, arrowroot powder, and zinc oxide.
Stir until very well combined and free of lumps. Reheat mixture slightly if necessary.
Once everything is well combined and slightly cooled, add essential oils and immediately fill into deodorant tubes/containers.
Let cool completely on a small tray lined with wax paper or paper plate.
Use as you would any deodorant stick.
Natural deodorant formulas will not prevent wetness as well as commercially available deodorants loaded with chemicals. The arrowroot powder in this formula does a pretty good job though. You may need to reapply deodorant once during the day if you tend to perspire a lot. 2-3 thin layers work better than one thick goopy layer.
For a cream version: cut the quantity of beeswax pellets in half and fill the mixture into small jars instead.
While purchasing the ingredients for this recipe may seem like a big investment, initially, all are very versatile and you can use them in a number of different and simple beauty recipes. Creating your own skincare and home remedies will save you in the long run. This recipe is for only 2 sticks but you can easily double it. However, I recommend working in smaller batches to reduce melting and handling time.
For other recipes using some of the same ingredients check out these posts:
And here you have it! A natural, non-toxic and baking soda free deodorant recipe that actually works!
Inspired? Curious? Sure, making your own deodorant may seem a little bit too “crunchy” for some, but to be honest, it is a whole lot easier than it sounds. Once you have all of your ingredients on hand, it’s a snap to make. One stick lasts for a long time.
If you like creating your own beauty and skincare products, you can find lots of additional recipes in the FREE Resource Library. Connect with our like-minded community on Facebook and follow me on Instagram for the latest happenings!