Mom It Down: Homemade Deodorant!

November 22nd, 2010

I can be really stinky. Unfortunately, my armpits (and feet!) are my biggest culprits. I used to go weeks and weeks without having to wear deodorant. But something changed in my late 20s. (I blame hormones. I blame them for everything.) Nowadays, unless I want to fill up an entire subway car with my stink, I have to wear something.

I am forever searching for a natural deodorant that actually works. I have tried Toms of Maine and it just doesn’t work. (It works for my husband, however.) By the end of the day I end up smelling like an onion sandwich.

Old Spice works (and they offer a stick without aluminum) but they are owned by Proctor and Gamble and I try not to support P&G whenever possible. The Old Spice sticks are also filled with other questionable ingredients, so I’m not pleased with them either.

I’ve also used Arm and Hammer deodorant. But the sticks include chemicals such as propylene glycol. And I’m a little bit wary of propylene glycol (PG). While I’m pretty certain that it won’t cause harm in small amounts, industrial strength PG is used in engine coolants, antifreeze, paints, enamels and varnishes.

I always come back to the same question: If I can find something completely “natural” that actually works, why not try it? (Plus, the hippie in me gets a boner for such things.)

Last Friday, friend and twitter contact Mary wrote about making her own deodorant. I’ve always wanted to try this, but never really researched it. So I reached out to Mary and she totally came through. (Thanks, Mary!)

Today I’d like to share that homemade deodorant recipe with everyone. While this doesn’t fall in with my usual “Mom It Down” recipes, it’s pretty awesome. (And it is actually edible! But don’t eat it, because that’s weird and I can’t imagine it tastes very good.)

One more thing I should mention: I put this stuff to the test yesterday. I had an 8-hour pastry class, one where I spend all 8 hours standing next to and over many, many hot ovens. Plus, we’re made to wear long-sleeve, chef jackets. Guess what? It worked!

What you will need

  • Saucepan
  • Spoon

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons shea butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Mom It Down!

Put everything into a saucepan.

Over low heat, mix until melted and milky in color.

Remove from heat. If you’re adding a secondary smell, add it now.

Pour into a lidded container. (I made a label for the one made with patchouli because I’m a dork.)

Put it into the refrigerator to firm up.

You’re done!

Overcoming Obstacles

The refrigerated mixture will be rather hard—the consistency of very cold butter. At room temperature, it will loosen up a bit. This is perfectly normal. Mine ended up being the consistency of lotion as did the one I made for my husband.

The smallest amount goes a long way.

Shea butter and coconut oil can be pricey. The good news is, they go a long, long way. I reckon you could get a good year’s worth of deodorant out of one container of each. In the end, I know it’ll be MUCH cheaper than buying deodorant sticks all the time. And your body will thank you.

One last thing from Mary: she mentions that baking soda can irritate freshly-shaven skin. Please keep is in mind, ladies. I would wait a little bit after shaving to apply it.

Variations

As mentioned earlier, feel free to add essential oils to your mixture. I did one all-natural (smells like cocoa butter) for Toby and one using a dash of patchouli for myself. (Might as well turn the hippie up to 11, right?) Be warned, however, that some essential oils can irritate the skin. I would suggest testing any oils before adding them to the deodorant.

As usual, please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

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56 Comments on “Mom It Down: Homemade Deodorant!”

  1. Sarah said at 10:02 am on November 22nd, 2010:

    I have to try this. NO natural deodorants have ever worked for me and no non-natural ones either…always have to get the antiperspirant. I sweat. I stink. A lot.
    If you say this can stand up to a chef’s jacket and 8 hours of baking, I’m seriously impressed!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe! :)

  2. mihow said at 10:04 am on November 22nd, 2010:

    I hope it works!!! I could send you a batch so you don’t buy all the goods. Let me know!

  3. paganista said at 12:41 pm on November 22nd, 2010:

    I might have to try this. I have had the same issues as you, started to get worse in my later 20s. None of the natural ones I’ve tried work, at all. And I refuse to wear the chemical ones. Then about a month or so ago, another blog I read posted a really simple ‘recipe’, I tried it, and it’s been like a revelation. Works better than anything I’ve ever tried. I’ve put it to every test imaginable, long days filled with massive stress, and not once has it failed even slightly. All you do is rub on a tiny bit of oil(I use olive, scented with vanilla and orange essential oils) and then dab on baking soda. Sort of a more basic version of your recipe, but I’m going to try yours because I like the idea of having it all mixed up in a jar, and the shea/coconut sound lovely. Thank you!

  4. Cathy said at 12:50 pm on November 22nd, 2010:

    Can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing. I’ve run through the list of natural deodorants with no luck. And I have all the ingredients! I love your label!

  5. Lisa_w said at 1:27 pm on November 22nd, 2010:

    Perhaps another ETSY item?

  6. Amira said at 5:53 pm on November 22nd, 2010:

    This is something I have to try. My husband stopped using deodorant about a year ago, but he’s one the the rare few people that don’t even actually need it. He’s somehow convinced me of how bad for you it can be and I’ve tried going without it, but omg, the anxiety of stinking up a place isn’t always worth it.

    But THIS? Sounds like a perfect solution.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Amanda said at 6:21 pm on November 22nd, 2010:

    I rub coconut oil on, and then use a makeup powder brush to put baking soda – touch up with baking soda when you get stinky (sticks to sweat!) – it will cut the odor pretty quickly

  8. Aja said at 6:29 pm on November 22nd, 2010:

    Love this. I haven’t been wearing deodorant for over two years now, mostly because I can’t find one that isn’t toxic and partly because I don’t shave my underarms and don’t like deodorant boogers on my armpit hair! Also, I only really stink when I’m nervous. The rest of the time I’m okay. I hope. Could be I’m just used to it and everyone around me is overly polite. Either way, totally gonna mix up a batch and scent it with a little lavender, because that’s how I roll! Thanks for the recipe!!

  9. Caitlin said at 11:22 pm on November 22nd, 2010:

    Thank you! I’m 15 weeks pregnant and recently decided to rid myself of all the chemicals in all the traditional beauty products (it’s actually a really difficult task – lotion, shampoo, conditioner, soap, the list goes on and on). I’ve tried the all-natural deodorants (Alba, Tom’s of Maine) and they don’t work. I can’t wait to try this out.

  10. Camian said at 11:38 pm on November 22nd, 2010:

    My mom and sisters swear by the deodorant stones (crystals) and Lavilin. My mom did mention that she read somewhere that the stones are high in Aluminum (Alum). She thought it might be correct since she got some blood test result that showed she was high in it. Even if you don’t use the stone, the Lavilin is an option.

  11. mihow said at 5:49 am on November 23rd, 2010:

    Day two wearing this stuff. No smell!!

    I used the stones in high school until I read that they were indeed high in some type of not good chemical. Gave that up right away. Haven’t heard of the other! But this batch seems to be doing the trick!

  12. Elizabeth said at 10:29 am on November 23rd, 2010:

    Is there a place in particular where you recommend getting shea butter? I looked on line, but most shea butters that I found seemed to have other ingredients in them as well….

  13. mihow said at 11:07 am on November 23rd, 2010:

    Oops! yes. You can get it at Whole Foods in their health and beauty department. :]

    I think it’s about 17 bucks? But, like I said, it’ll last forever!

  14. Kim said at 11:15 am on November 23rd, 2010:

    Any trouble with it making stains/marks on your clothes? Just wondering if the oils end up on your shirts.

  15. mihow said at 11:22 am on November 23rd, 2010:

    Kim: excellent question I hadn’t thought of, but thankfully, no! I haven’t seen anything. I will keep an eye out for you.

  16. Becky (aka DrD) said at 10:25 am on November 24th, 2010:

    I’m definitely going to try this. I also smelled like onions after a day wearing Tom’s – that shit did NOT work for me!! Do you apply it onto your armpits just like lotion? Do you store it at room temperature?

  17. mihow said at 10:54 am on November 24th, 2010:

    I apply it like lotion, yes. And I keep it in the bathroom. If your bathroom is on the warmer side, it will get looser. Not a problem, but keep that in mind. :]

  18. Amy in StL said at 5:18 pm on November 24th, 2010:

    I haven’t really ever struggled with foot odor – although I have a few friends who have. The only time I’ve noticed having a smell (on my feet, my pits are another story) is when I wore a particular pair of shoes too often.

    My dad, who retired from the military, swore by never wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row. I blamed the Born’s for making my feet smell, but when I gave them some time off it’s all good. BTW, I’m a very sweaty girl when I’m working out, nervous, or in an overly warm office. Just a suggestions to try.

  19. Amity said at 5:14 pm on November 25th, 2010:

    Would be amazing if you decided to sell this on etsy :D

  20. Crish said at 9:55 pm on November 25th, 2010:

    I live in India where you can’t really find plain ol’ shea butter, do you think this would work as a substitute? http://www.thebodyshop.in/product_detail.php?prod_id=367&cat_id=3&sub_cat_id=31 It’s the only thing I can find.

  21. mihow said at 7:51 am on November 26th, 2010:

    Crish: I’m not sure since there are other ingredients involved. I worry it won’t melt as well, or something might change when you try and melt it. Let me do a little investigating and see if there’s something else you can use in place of the shea butter. I’ll report back or email you directly. I hope that’s OK!

    (P.S. totally unrelated but India and Japan are the two places in the world I can’t wait to visit. India just intrigues me so much. I just wanted to share that!)

  22. Crish said at 8:31 am on November 26th, 2010:

    Thank you for looking into it, that’s very nice of you! Body shop has a deodorant without aluminum, but it is wicked expensive, – $12 for a 55gram bottle!

    If you ever find yourself in India, let me know, I have plenty of places to recommend.

  23. George said at 11:43 am on November 27th, 2010:

    I am so trying this if I can find all the ingredients here!

  24. anna said at 2:59 pm on November 27th, 2010:

    Definitely going to try this. If you leave it at room temperature all the time, does it go off at some point?

  25. mihow said at 3:17 pm on November 27th, 2010:

    Anna: not sure. I have had mine at room temperature for a while now and it’s still fine and working. The shea butter and the coconut oil stay at room temperature at all times, so I don’t think so? Also: I keep the deodorant in an airtight container. :]

    It’s really been awesome. Still NO smell! I am hooked.

  26. Weekend Link Love | Mark's Daily Apple said at 9:02 am on November 28th, 2010:

    [...] Looking for a natural deodorant? A really natural deodorant? Head over to Mihow, and learn how to make your own! [...]

  27. Alissa said at 12:19 pm on November 28th, 2010:

    For those in the US, Mountain Rose Herbs sells shea butter (and a boat load of other ingredients) at a decent price. I use shea butter in my home made moisturizer and I’ve ordered it from them for years. Good quality and great prices.

  28. lisa said at 1:21 pm on November 28th, 2010:

    If you want it to firm up a bit and be able to put it in a regular deodorant tube you can add a very small amout of bees wax, or cocoa butter..

  29. Sarah said at 7:52 pm on November 28th, 2010:

    This looks like a great recipe – but if you want to just try out a similar concept and not buy all the stuff, Oyin Handmade makes a really good version of this (essentially the same, but with fuller’s earth as well) and it is the ONLY deodorant I’ve ever found that destinkifies for a full 24 hours. Even with a hard workout or two, there is still no stink. I don’t work for them or have any affiliation with them whatsoever, and frankly don’t try to get them to ship to Canada because it takes FOREVER and sometimes packages go astray – but if you’re in the US I would definitely recommend them. The stuff is called “Funk Butter” and it is awesome.

  30. Midgy said at 10:44 am on November 29th, 2010:

    Thanks, I can’t wait to try this! About 5 years ago, out of the blue, traditional deodorants started making me itch. I tried all the natural ones, hypoallergenic ones, etc., and within a few hours my armpits itch so bad I can hardly stand it. So I’ve been using the Crystal products the last couple of years. While it works better than wearing nothing, it doesn’t work THAT well. I look forward to trying this out!!

  31. Kat said at 4:19 pm on November 29th, 2010:

    Earlier this year I found another homemade deodorant recipe that called for equeal parts of baking soda, coconut oil and arrowroot powder. It worked really well, but I found the baking soda to be a bit of an irritant after a while resulting in a slight rash. I stopped using it and switched to Lavilin now but I don’t even find that works well.

    I’m hoping the Shea Butter will help. I’m going to give this recipe a try. Thanks!

  32. mihow said at 4:25 pm on November 29th, 2010:

    I haven’t yet noticed any rash or itching. But I did have that with Arm and Hammer. So, maybe it will help, Kat!

    Beware of the Crystal products. They do have aluminum in them. (Or so I’ve read and been told!)

  33. anna said at 7:03 am on November 30th, 2010:

    I love it! Thank you so much! Do you have any more recipes for homemade stuff too, like body wash, shampoo/ conditioner or lotion?

  34. Marinka said at 9:42 am on November 30th, 2010:

    That looks absolutely delicious! I’m going to serve it with latkes on Channukah. Thanks!

  35. Stephanie said at 7:08 pm on November 30th, 2010:

    I tried a recipe similar to this recently-just minus the shea butter and no cooking on low heat just mixing. For me stinking isn’t the problem its the sweating. Did this mixture also keep you from sweating?

  36. mihow said at 7:51 pm on November 30th, 2010:

    I don’t sweat a whole hell of a lot? Unless I’m running or exercising, so it’s hard for me to answer this. But my intentions weren’t find a natural deodorant that would keep me from sweating entirely.

  37. Richard said at 8:20 pm on November 30th, 2010:

    I break out all the time from deodorants. I’ve tried many different ones. Solids, creams, gels, aerosol. You name it.

    I really like the idea, and I guess what I’m wondering is: since there isn’t a fragrance and apparently there isn’t an antiperspirant, what exactly makes it work as a deodorant?

    Won’t you still sweat just as much? And won’t it just be absorbed and exacerbated by fragrant-less product?

  38. mihow said at 9:18 pm on November 30th, 2010:

    Like I said, I don’t sweat much. And I don’t (haven’t for years and years) use antiperspirant. My intention wasn’t to stop sweat. I am not keen on the chemicals used to do so. My main desire is/was to not smell. And this definitely works.

    The deodorant does have a smell. The cocao butter and the coconut oil smell. It’s really quite pleasant. (I added patchouli to one as well.) The baking soda eliminates the odor. So I guess the baking soda is what acts as the deodorant. :]

    Does this help?

  39. Emily said at 9:03 pm on December 1st, 2010:

    In response to the above question, not only does the baking soda remove odors, but if you use raw, virgin coconut oil it acts as an antibacterial component.

  40. Richard said at 1:36 am on December 2nd, 2010:

    Thanks to both of you. I’ll give it a shot.

  41. jonw said at 11:00 am on December 2nd, 2010:

    I used baking soda for a long time, a tiny bit works very well for ~24 hrs. Baking soda is advertised to “absorb odors” whatever that means, I also think it knocks back the bacteria by changing pH. Funny what a few people mentioned about Toms, I too get an onion smell (not BO) after 8 hrs or so. I do like the Toms fragrance when it goes on however. Maybe I will try a mix like this.

  42. Angelo said at 7:06 pm on December 2nd, 2010:

    Hi — thank you for posting this! My wife made a batch last night, and I tried it for the first time today. It works great! Have you thought about bottling it?

    FYI, I mentioned the recipe and your blog on my Podcast called This Week in Paleo. Natural products like this appeal a lot to the Paleo crowd. I plan on mentioning it again on next week’s show to let everyone know how well it works.

    Thanks again! I’m so happy to finally have a good, natural deodorant that actually does the job.

  43. MG said at 8:41 pm on December 2nd, 2010:

    Another vote for you to offer this on Etsy. I’d absolutely buy it! Also love the name & graphic design. :)

  44. MG said at 5:14 pm on December 9th, 2010:

    Hi again!

    Well, I’ve used this for a few days and all I can say is Wow. Wow, wow, and how, Mihow!

    This works like no other deodorant I’ve ever used. I want to say that it also virtually eliminates perspiration, but maybe this varies per individual.

    “Disarm” is quite an apt name, too. Yup, my stench has been battled into submission.

    Thank you!

  45. mihow said at 5:24 pm on December 9th, 2010:

    My pleasure!!! I have been using it for weeks now. Still going strong. I am SUPER excited about it! Thank you for reporting back, my friend!

  46. MG said at 6:01 pm on December 9th, 2010:

    You are more than welcome!

    Oh, one question:

    As you mentioned, the product has a smell — I think I’m smelling the shea butter. Does adding a scented oil replace/eliminate that original smell or is a new scent created wherein you smell both the shea butter and whatever oil you introduce? Or a hybrid thereof?

    Just wondering. The shea butter doesn’t have a bad odor or anything but I’m curious about the customized olfactory experience.

    (And, no, I’m not a lawyer, even though I just used “wherein” and “thereof.”)

  47. Nina said at 7:25 am on January 27th, 2011:

    Thank you for this recipe. I just forwarded this to a large circle of friends that like me are seeking healthier ways to live.
    Nina

  48. Danielle said at 9:16 pm on February 1st, 2011:

    I’m going to try this over the weekend – I have all the stuff, so why not?

    Also, you can get shea butter much, MUCH cheaper online. I’ve been using it on my hair for over a decade, and buy it at http://www.butters-n-bars.com/.

  49. Daily Wears: Thank goodness its Friday | The Urban Cowgirl said at 10:29 am on May 6th, 2011:

    [...] because of the chemicals. Crazy!). This weekend I’m going to make Mihow’s awesome all natural deodorant and see how it goes. Norwex also has a crystal deodorant that you can buy for [...]

  50. Jessica said at 2:57 pm on June 14th, 2011:

    How many drops of essential oil would you add to scent the mixture? Also, does this deodorant leave a white film on skin or clothes? Thanks!

  51. DIY: Toothpaste and Deodorant | Dog, Farm, Canvas, Quilt said at 6:07 pm on February 19th, 2012:

    [...] mind sweating, I don’t want to be the stinky girl, right?). And I found this one over at MiHow. And it is [...]

  52. Tammy said at 9:17 pm on December 7th, 2012:

    I’ve done a similar simpler one with equal parts coconut oil, corn starch and baking soda. Just mash together with a fork and that’s it. I had been using clinical stuff with no luck and I LOVE this!!!

  53. Patty said at 10:29 pm on May 10th, 2013:

    Did you try Lavilin?? I love love LOVE Lavilin! Been using it for 4 or 5 years and I can’t see myself using anything else. I used to be a Toms of Maine gal, but made the switch to Lavilin and it is so much better!!

  54. Ivana Lumakovska said at 1:17 pm on April 15th, 2014:

    Is there anything that can be use as an alternative for the shea butter? Will cacao butter work instead of it?

  55. mihow said at 8:13 pm on April 15th, 2014:

    Hey there! I honestly don’t know. I’d say give it a try and see what happens. Sorry I’m not more of a help!

  56. Ivana Lumakovska said at 11:59 am on April 16th, 2014:

    I’ll give it a try and let you know if it works :)
    Thanks anyway


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