There is a ton of information on the web regarding trying homemade deodorant. Here is my experience with it.
Why try homemade deodorant?
Because I’ve struggled for years to find the “right” deodorant. Because I’ve tried “natural” ones and they never made the cut. Because I don’t like the idea of slathering chemicals on my skin constantly. Because I am a product slut. Recovering, that is.
Commonly used: Dove, Secret, Arm & Hammer, Sure. Tried Tom’s; gave me itchy rash. Tried it again; same thing.
Sweaty, but not overly sweaty.
Concerned with odor, but it hasn’t cramped my lifestyle.
Shave? Occasionally. Winters, rarely. My pits are sensitive and I’m not a priss about having clean-shaven pits.
Homemade Deodorant Recipe Used
This is the recipe I started with. It is a common-found recipe on the internet. Search long and hard and you’ll find all kinds of variations and recommendations.
5 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/4 c. cornstarch (alternative – arrowroot powder)
1/4 c. baking soda
Optional: Essential oils. I couldn’t quite tell you the percentages because it was not precise.
The CCO (coconut oil) has a low melting point, so if you make this in summer, you might not have to even put it in the microwave. I made it after the temperature in my house was above the melting point, so I needed to put in in the microwave, briefly.
I stored mine in a small lotion container after frantically searching for something, anything to keep it in.
Day 1: Not bad. Enjoyed whipping up the concoction. I added essential oils to mine (lavender, mint and a splash of patch – one of my favorite combos). I had to find a little container to put it in, but next time (if I decide there is a next time), I’m going try an empty deodorant bottle; easier application. Being the eager beaver I am, I had a hard time waiting for this to harden, so I put it in the fridge. I recommend melting your CCO and then putting it in a plastic cup or something to mix the rest in. I wasn’t fond of cleaning up the hardened deodorant out of my measuring cup. No biggie, though. So Day one – fine. Lasted all day, through grocery shopping, running errands and the like. Sniffed my pits as often as I could remember to, just to check. Can’t complain. No stinging or anything from the application because I don’t shave on a regular rotation when it’s cold out. One less thing to do, and my armpits don’t really like to be shaved constantly.
Day 2: Normally on a day I don’t shower, I wipe my armpits with my sleep shirt before throwing it in the wash. I do this to get rid of the old deodorant. I’m telling you this because it matters, so stick with me. This morning when I did this, I felt as if I had actually rugburned both of my armpits. It burned for a good 3-5 minutes. I think it is fair to say that I will not be doing that again (update: I still do this with no problem – I think it was a transition thing). Grabbed my little tub of deodorant and rubbed it on my pit, as I would a regular stick. CCO has a very low melt point, so it immediately started to warm and melt. I didn’t do my second pit that way, but instead shaved a bit off the top of the mound of deodorant with my fingernail and put it on my other armpit just like lotion. Simple. Not too exciting. But, yet, very exciting! I am a product junkie. Trying these things makes me happy.
I lasted through Day 2, no need to reapply or anything. A couple moments where I wondered if I was burning, and then contemplated the baking soda (salt) and wondered if it was too harsh for my skin. But then the burning was gone. Imagination? Who’s to say. No pit smell, though, but some lovely faint whiffs of my essential oil concoction. I can’t believe this is working. Haven’t told the husband about it yet, because he’d use it all up on me, guaranteed.
Day 3: It is interesting to note that in the shower, I didn’t have to de-spackle my armpits. You know how you have a layer of film that holds on to dear life when you use regular deodorants leaving a stale, old-sweat/perfume smell? It’s like a waxed ski, but it is your armpit. Well, this doesn’t do that. In fact, as routine, I went to scrub my pit and ended felt like I had rubbed it raw. I didn’t realize it at first and then I thought, hmm. I don’t need to scrub the living goodness out of my pits to remove deodorant residue! OK. Score one for homemade deodorant. Again, though, even in washing, my armpits felt sensitive. I don’t know if that is an adjustment thing or what. I know my pits are sensitive, because so many times they’ve itched from different deodorants, I can’t shave them constantly or they itch and sting. I reapplied my pit cream. Love the smell. Feels fine. No complaints or smell today, and I had a busy day at work and at home. I got a few whiffs of the deodorant itself (which I like), but no odor. I came home and cooked up a storm, sweating like a beast, and… no pit smell. No sweaty smell. Interesting. Continued happiness with the stuff.
Day 4/5: Yesterday as I was reapplying my deodorant and I noticed some redness on the outsides of my armpits. I’d also noticed some itching that day, but didn’t realize the redness. Today I awoke to itchy armpits. This isn’t exactly an anomaly for me. At other times when I’ve used Tom’s or “natural” deodorants, within a few days I was beginning to get itchy. I wonder if there’s some sort of withdrawal from the antiperspirant.
Slight gap here. Continued use, less-frequent writing about it.
2 1/2 Weeks: Well. I am still using a version of homemade deodorant. But here’s the thing. It was a battle. After that 5th day, I started to get dark and itchy in my pits. It scared me, the darkened skin, and for a day, I switched back to Secret. One day was all it took for me to remember why I quit using that gunk in the first place. Regardless, I had relapsed, but I also started to peel. Like, sunburn-ish, dry skin, dead skin – I don’t know what it was, but I peeled. At first it scared me, but then it intrigued me. I started to wonder if I was going through a transition phase of sorts. I mean, for years and years I’ve used traditional deodorants. They toil with your sweat glands, playing games with the way your body naturally works. I figured there had to be some sort of revolt from the body. Maybe this was it.
So, I championed through the deterioration of my armpits. Instead of worrying that my armpit was falling off my body, I rubbed and exfoliated the skin, revealing fresh, new, happy pits. Maybe it was old deodorant residue that came off. I don’t know. Maybe never will. But I haven’t experienced that again since. I did read that the baking soda can be harsh on the pit region, and that some people just can’t deal with it. So, one thing I did do mid-trial is I ditched the baking soda to see if that helped. After showering, I’d rub a bit of the CCO in my pits, and then dust them with cornstarch. Worked like a charm. No smells, no residue, no itching, really (sometimes I think there is a bit of itch if you get sweaty, but nothing worth crying over).
Noting this, I made a new batch of deodorant (ratio I will enter in later, too lazy to run upstairs and see) of cornstarch, CCO and a smidgen of the original batch with the baking soda. I put in an old prescription bottle. I’ve been using it for about a week, no complaints.
BOTTOM LINE: Seriously, the smell, if any, is less using this basic homemade recipe than it was using store-bought deodorants. I’ve done all kinds of vigorous activities that you’d think would leave me smelling like a lumberjack. I can’t think of any complaints. I’ve been self-conscious and checked on more than one occasion, but nothing really to report. The couple times I’ve felt stinky (and I’ve felt stinky with the store-bought kind), I reapplied and was all good. Honestly though, I don’t care if I get slightly stinky after a work out. Can you say normal? I’d much rather, at this point, use something that is basically benign than smearing the skin by my breasts and lymph nodes with a stick of chemical wonderland. Again, I love, love, LOVE the clean removal. No residue. I can’t see myself going back to regular antiperspirant anytime soon, but it has only been a month, and it is not summer. I’m hoping that in the warmer months or on an incredibly active day, I’ll only need to reapply or dust with a little more cornstarch to keep drier.