Last summer one of my very best girlfriends told me about a homemade deodorant she’d been having good luck with, made with coconut oil and some essential oils. SIX MONTHS LATER (read: February of this year) I finally got around to trying it out.
I have no idea what took me so long, it just seemed so… involved. You mean I have get four ingredients out of the cupboard and then put them in a bowl and stir them together? I don’t know girl, that just sounds really complicated.
I’ve been using the natural deodorants from the store for a number of years now but have never been completely satisfied with any of them. They either didn’t work or left my under arms feeling wet and goopy – the exact opposite of how I would like my armpits to feel.
After four months of personal trial, I’m here to share the recipe because it really works! I’ve given this out to a handful of friends and everyone has reported back that they love it too.*
(*One friend had a reaction and needed to alter the recipe a bit, more on that below.)
Making your own deodorant is cheap, easy and earns you mega hippie points. I am so happy with this, I will never go back to the deodorants sold on store shelves.
Homemade Coconut Oil Deodorant
1/3 cup coconut oil
4 tbsp baking soda
4 tbsp cornstarch
5-10 drops of tea tree oil (or any oil you would like)
Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Melt coconut oil until it’s a liquid, but not hot. (Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees.) Stir in essential oils, add oil mixture to dry ingredients and stir until all ingredients are well combined.
Pour mixture into storage containers and you’re done!
(I divided mine between two 4 oz mason jars.)
When it comes time to use it, scoop a small (marble sized) amount out with your fingers and then rub it into your underarms like a lotion. My husband Zak has asked about pouring it into an old deodorant container so he could apply it like regular deodorant, but I haven’t tried it because I read that it just turns into a melty mess when the air temperature is warmer than 76 degrees.
(I did find this recipe that uses beeswax and looks like it holds together better when it’s warm, but haven’t tried it. I really don’t mind applying it with my hands and usually just wash or rinse them afterwards, but know that there are other things you could try if this was important to you!)
Why (I Believe) It Works
I haven’t conducted any double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials or looked at armpit skin bacteria under a microscope, so I can only report on what I know about coconut oil and what the Internet tells me about why this works.
(This article explains what’s going on with your stinky pits and what the various kind of underarm products are designed to do, if your inquiring mind needs to know.)
Coconut oil is antibacterial and antimicrobial – so it actually kills the odor causing bacteria that love to hang out in your armpits.
Tea tree oil is also antiseptic and anti-fungal. I added a few drops of lavender oil too because I like the way it smells, but also because lavender is antimicrobial and antibacterial as well.
A Few Noteworthy Items
I’ve done a little reading about homemade deodorants and looked at various recipes, I read that some people had a reaction to their homemade deodorant. Based on what I’ve read, the culprit is likely the baking soda because it’s mildly abrasive to skin. If you tend to have sensitive skin, plan to use less baking soda or leave it out all together.
(*A friend who reported “red, flaming pits!” had better luck when she altered the recipe to use less baking soda.)
It does not stain your clothes. (Or at least, it yet to leave any stains my clothes. Don’t send me your dry cleaning bill if you prove me wrong.)
Even though cornstarch is absorbent, it does not seem to stop you from sweating (maybe a little, but not completely… that’s OK in my book, we’re supposed to sweat!) but because the coconut and essential oils help kill the bacteria in your armpits, it does keep you from stinking.
I feel really good asking my 10 year old daughter to use this. She’s getting to the age where she needs to use deodorant, and I much prefer her using something made with natural ingredients than the conventional, chemical filled deodorants and antiperspirants found on store shelves.
In the cold months it was rock hard but would usually soften up in the warm bathroom during a shower and would be scoop-able by the time I was ready to use it. You could also take the (tightly closed) container right into the shower with you or fill the sink with a few inches of warm water and let it hang out in its own little bath to have a chance to soften up. You could also scoop it out with a small spoon and allow it to begin melting in your hand before applying.
It might take a few days to begin working really well. When I first started to use it, I noticed that it took a couple of applications to completely erase any not-so-fresh underarm odor. (Does this border on too much information?) I believe that I’m in “maintenance mode” now and if I ever miss a day (like I did recently when I ran out and it took me a couple days to get my act together) it starts working well again immediately.
My first batch (with the quantity of ingredients listed above) lasted us 3 months! And because we scoop it out with clean fingers and apply it by hand, it feels perfectly sanitary to share this among family members like you would toothpaste or lotion.
If you try this (or if you already use something similar) please come back and tell me! I hope you love this as much as I do.