By Louisa Sage
Make your own deodorant: it’s effective, cheap and safe*. I recently made it for the first time and so far it works amazingly well! I’ve made it for my friends, using customized scents, and now I'm surrounded by healthy and subtly aromatic people. I’ve been experimenting with different recipes, but here’s a simple and effective one.
- 3 tbsp. Coconut oil
- 1 ½ tbsp. Shea butter (this is optional—you could substitute with more coconut oil)
- 1 ½ tbsp. Baking soda
- 3 tbsp. Arrowroot starch or cornstarch
- Essential oils (optional)—I used about 5 drops of grapefruit and 3 drops of tea tree
- A jar for mixing and a jar (or other vessel) for storing
- A pot
- Measuring spoons & stirring spoon
Put an inch or two of water in a pot; put a medium-sized jar in that.
Put about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and roughly 1½ tablespoons of shea butter in the jar and heat on medium until melted, stirring occasionally.
Remove the jar from the heat and add 3 tablespoons of arrowroot starch (or cornstarch) and 1½ tablespoons of baking soda to the oil mix; stir until smooth.
Add between 5 and 10 drops of essential oils, if you like.
Transfer it to a littler jar and apply a small amount to your pits with your fingers. Maybe wait a bit before putting your shirt on. No need to refrigerate. If ingredients have separated, shake or stir before using.
OR transfer it to an empty deodorant container. If the mixture is still quite liquid and warm, it might leak through the bottom of the container a bit, in which case you could pour a little bit in to cover the platform, put it in the freezer or fridge to set and form a seal, then pour the rest of the mixture in without worrying. You will probably have to store this version in the fridge, since it will be fairly mushy/liquid at room temperature. This will allow you to apply it as you would a regular deodorant stick—fresh from the fridge to your pits! Super fancy.
I tried melting a small nub of beeswax in with the oil, and I liked the more solid consistency, but beware of yellow shirt stains.
If you find it irritates your skin, try reducing or eliminating the essential oils (which can be harsh) and/or reducing the baking soda.
I already reduced the baking soda compared to some of the other recipes I’ve seen, so you could try increasing the baking soda (and decreasing the arrowroot starch) if you like
You don’t have to use shea butter—it’s good for your skin and makes the texture more solid, but it’s also more expensive and harder to find..
From what I understand, the baking soda controls odor, the starch controls moisture and the coconut oil is the vehicle/has antibacterial and skin conditioning properties, so experiment with the ratios with that in mind.
You don’t need to apply much!
* There is evidence that some essential oils—esp. lavender and tea tree—are hormone disruptors (http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/jan2007/niehs-31.htm) but I don’t know what kind of doses might be harmful.
About the Author
I live in Montréal, where much of my time is devoted to translation, writing, painting, film, etc. Meanwhile, I look things up online such as "how to be tidier" and "homemade deodorant"—which incited this journey. Thankfully, the right deodorant allows me to endeavour with confidence!