Thursday, May 10, 2012

DIY Deodorant--it actually works!

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Folks, you can make deodorant.

That's right, you can.

I did. And then I took a picture of it in the middle of the night so I could prove it to you.

Why should you make your own deodorant?
  1. Most deodorants are made with toxic chemicals. It is, in fact, REALLY hard to find lady's deodorant that doesn't contain aluminum as an antiperspirant. Which makes sense. Ladies don't like to perspire. But aluminum has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimers: NOT what I want to be slathering on my skin everyday.
  2. Healthy deodorants—as I've experienced them, anyway--are expensive, irritating, and/or ineffective.

Okay, how do you do it?

It's really easy. And the most expensive ingredient you'll need is coconut oil which I have found for $5.99 a jar. Based on how much I've used so far, I'd estimate you could get 8 or more average sized sticks of deodorant from one jar. So it's definitely a frugal fix!

To start off with, let me say I am hugely indebted to Crunchy Betty who has written about and/or provided recipes for homemade deodorant here, here, and here. In fact, if I gave you a recipe at this blog it would look like plagiarism; so I'm merely going to explain the ingredients and what they do, and direct you back to Crunchy Betty. If you try out the recipe in her first post and add a little beeswax, you'll be golden.

Here's what you really need:
  • Coconut Oil —this is the big kahuna. Coconut Oil has a melting point of 78 or 79 degrees, so it will store solid but melt on contact with your skin. It's the base for your deodorant and it is: 1) Moisturizing and 2) Antibacterial! Bacteria is the starting point for BO, so in a pinch, you could even just slather on some coconut oil for some mild deodorizing.
  • Beeswax —don't skip it. Just add a 1 or 2 TBsps (melted) to whatever recipe you're using. This will help your deodorant to stay a little more solid. I didn't use it in my first batch and was annoyed by how quickly and thoroughly the coconut oil melted with skin contact. Talk about a greasy mess! (Buying it in the little pellets as in the link provided makes melting easier.)
  • Baking Soda —this is for odor control. It's pretty abrasive, so don't overdo it. The first batch of deodorant I made was heavy-handed on the baking soda and kind of irritating. (Baking soda is so useful for random stuff around the house you might as well buy it in bulk ....)
  • Cornstarch OR Arrowroot Powder —You get a choice. They do the same thing: promote dryness (they don't exactly STOP you from sweating like an antiperspirant—my understanding is that they whisk away moisture to help it evaporate.) Cornstarch is cheaper but some people have allergies or other health concerns with it.
  • Essential Oils —These are optional, but highly recommended. Tea Tree Oil is a good place to start, as it's common and antibacterial. Lavender , Peppermint , and Eucalyptus Oils are good, too, and are often included in "starter sets" where you can get a really good deal.

Does it really work?

Amazingly, yes! As well or better than any deodorant I've ever tried, healthy or mainstream. When I got off work yesterday, it was about 150 degrees inside my car, and even that did not pose a challenge to my homemade deodorant.

The important thing to remember is that no recipe is written in stone. You can experiment, adding more or less of the dry ingredients until you find just the right proportions to work for you.

I find it convenient to mix up a batch in the evening and let it set up in the fridge overnight. So if you're ever rummaging around my refrigerator in the middle of the night and find a suspicious looking tube of deodorant next to the eggs, now you know what's up.

What do you think? Are you going to try it?

(I have added affiliate links to this post. In particular, the coconut oil and essential oils starter set listed are ones I personally use. :)  Other links were chosen for value and/or good health practices. For instance, I am recommending an organic corn starch but personally just used the cheapest in my test trial--but hey, we're putting this on our skin and certainly do NOT need to be absorbing any new pesticides and chemicals...Do as I say, not as I do?)