Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Homemade Deodorant

Homemade Deodorant
Warning: TMI Ahead! (Is there a delicate way to talk about deodorant and all that goes along with it?)
A few years ago something in my body chemistry changed (it coincided with the entrance of one Zeb into my life so I think it was a influx of happy hormones) and I became a stinky girl. I'm highly sensitive to smell so this was mortifying. In the ensuing years I've tried all sorts of deodorants, all sorts. I wanted so badly for the natural and organic ones to work, but they didn't, so I ended up with a triple strength men's formula that coated my skin in a layer of gunk that I had to scrape off in the shower each day. It was completely disturbing but it mostly kept the stinky at bay and that took priority. A year or so ago I stumbled upon this post about a homemade deodorant that seemed promising so last June I made up a batch and I've been using it ever since. I love that it has few and pronounceable ingredients and I don't have to worry about things like aluminum, but I'm thrilled that it is the first deodorant to do what it should - keep me deodorized. Even on the worst of our swampy mid atlantic days I'm stink free with just one application. For quick reference here is the recipe I use:

3 Tablespoons shea butter
3 Tablespoons baking soda
2 Tablespoons corn starch
2 Tablespoons cocoa butter
2 vitamin E oil gel caps (puncture and squeeze out the oil)
About 20 drops of essential oil (optional)

Over low heat melt together all the ingredients except the essential oil. Turn off heat and add oil, pour into container and allow to harden.
This lasts me about eight months.

A few notes: I get shea butter and cocoa butter from Mountain Rose Herbs because I couldn't find the raw butters without other things mixed in at Whole Foods.
I used no essential oils the first time and it was fine, just a totally neutral smell. This time I added lavender and clary sage since both have antibacterial properties and bacteria is the cause of smelly pits in the first place. The oils add a very light fragrance, not even enough to conflict with perfume.
The first two weeks that I used the deodorant last summer my lymph nodes became very inflamed. That was not uncommon with regular deodorants, so I wasn't too alarmed. I switched to an every other day application, and found that was sufficient -this stuff is effective - and the swelling subsided.
I also experienced a bit of itching and redness/irritation in the first few weeks and off and on since then. I'm pretty sure this is because baking soda is a bit abrasive and in strong amounts causes itching, so I could cut down on the amount I use in the concoction, but I just switch to every other day when it's a problem and I'm fine. Also, I try to not apply it to freshly shaved skin.
This is not an antiperspirant. I still sweat, it's just not stinky sweat. But I'm OK with that, sweat is just a fact of life in the summer here, even with a drugstore antiperspirant.
About the ingredients: Some people recommend just using a mixture of cornstarch (for light antiperspirant) and baking soda (for deodorant) brushed onto the skin. I tried that and it didn't work for me. In this combination I think the butters help the powders stick around, and the vitamin E oil acts as a preservative.
I wouldn't say this leaves a 'residue', but sometimes it leaves a light dust that is easily brushed off. But that residue is far less than that left by even clear gels I've used in the past.
This has the consistency of a solid creme. I usually just scrape a bit off and warm it between my fingers before I apply it so that I'm not tugging at my skin too much.
Though the ingredients cost a bit to start up, I think in the long run this is much cheaper than drugstore deodorant.
So there you have more than you probably ever wanted to know about my personal grooming habits, and hopefully something helpful about homemade deodorant.


Marianne Elixir said...

You rock. Still on my list is to get the ingredients to start your oil cleanse method, and now, deodorant. I was recently dismayed to find that even my natural "aluminum free" deodorant (that does work for me) still contains aluminum. Now I have this lovely recipe! Thank you for sharing.

meg said...

I can't say that I'll be making this anytime soon, but it sounds awesome. My brother doesn't use deodorant because of the aluminum and although I can get behind that I can NOT get behind his smell. That has kept me from stopping altogether.

One day I will try all your great beauty concoctions...face stuff, hair stuff, and now underarm stuff. Amazing!

Tacy said...

yeah- i agree, amazing... and very resourceful to boot. i want to try this, and (homemade soap) someday.

Melanie said...

Very interesting. I have heard of homemade deoderants before, but I was dubious that they actually worked.

Billi London-Gray said...

Aha! The homemade deodorant recipe! Yesssssss!

I just stole some of Daniel's deodorant about an hour ago. Maybe I can cook up a batch here and share it with Ingrid.

Also, of note, Origins deodorant, though pricey, is very effective at deodorizing. Doesn't stop sweat, but I agree with you that stopping sweat is a pointless endeavor.

melyssa said...

I am definetely going to try this. My girls are at an age where they need to start using deodorant (ack!) and I hate starting them on the cancer sticks. I bought an organic lavender one that Cora told me was "terrible, and did NOT work." So I'll have to try this! You're the coolest.

Sarah said...

Lyssa, Your girls are NOT that old, I disbelieve it.

Amy Redelsperger said...

This is FANTASTIC!!! I can't wait to try it... thanks for posting.

Dad said...

I can't believe I read the whole thing.

Abra Marie said...

I have the same problem. The only thing i found that works for me is Certain Dri, but it's loaded with aluminum, which i'm not thrilled about. I'm going to try this recipe asap. Thanks for the tip!

Trespasser said...

You fascinate me.