DIY deodorant recipe: Simple, cheap & sustainable

Hi, there, friends of the sustainable lifestyle! In this article I will be sharing my favourite DIY deodorant recipe as well as the benefits of making your own deodorant. 

If you’re anything like me (and most people), you’ve been buying “regular” drugstore deodorant for most of your life. Back when I was a kiddo, I just thought that’s what you do as an adult. I never even imagined that it would be possible to make it yourself. Years later, when I started having eczema flareups, I started considering what I was putting on my skin for the first time, including deodorant. I was shocked (I’ll tell you why in a second)!

When my eczema first started to flare up, I stopped using any deodorant. However, after some months I had to admit that I couldn’t go without it entirely – especially in the summer. That’s when I started using expensive natural deodorants. Even though I was satisfied with the results I definitely didn’t like the price tag. Besides that, I started reflecting on how I can reduce my waste. What should I do? How could I combine all of these demands? During my research I found a DIY deodorant recipe and (of course) I had to try it. Ever since then I’ve been perfecting my own recipe, which I am now presenting to you. I hope this DIY becomes one of your favourite life hacks, like it did for me.

Why should you make your own deodorant?

Most deodorants are deodorant-antiperspirant combos, which contain aluminium salts that kill off bacteria and change your skin’s ecosystem. Although that sounds like a good thing, it is not. Your skin needs a natural level of good bacteria, but regular deodorants kill these off. This can negatively affect your immune system and make room for unwanted bacteria (Chesak, 2020). Furthermore, aluminium clogs up your sweat glands and gets absorbed via the skin, building up in your body. Therefore, many people are concerned that it promotes cancer, for example breast cancer. Although there is currently no scientific long-term study to back this up, scientists found out that aluminium disrupts the endocrine (hormone) system. Additionally, experts advise people with severe kidney diseases to stay away from aluminium salts.

Moreover, regular deodorants contain synthetic and artificial ingredients, such as parabens, triclosan, etc. Parabens (or methylparaben) are chemicals that can lead to allergic reactions and even cancerous skin damage, according to some studies. Triclosan on the other hand disrupts hormone regulation, harms the immune system and may even lead to antibiotic-resistant germs (Tosh, 2021).

In case these scientific facts haven’t convinced you yet, here are two more important reasons for making your own deodorant. Firstly, it will save you so much money! The cost of making enough deodorant to last me half a year is about 2 Euro. Secondly, making your own deodorant is the more sustainable option. It creates less waste, bringing you one step closer to a zero-waste lifestyle. Additionally, the carbon footprint of homemade deodorant is much lower, as it saves production and transportation emissions. And let’s not forget about the chemicals that won’t have to be produced for all of those deodorants you won’t purchase from the drugstore anymore! There are so many reasons for making the switch!

Flat-lay of ingredients for my DIY deodorant recipe

DIY deodorant recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1,5 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 5 – 10 drops of essential oil (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Mix arrowroot powder and baking soda in an empty (glass) jar.
  2. Melt coconut oil, for example by heating it above hot steam.
  3. Add coconut oil to the jar and mix well with other ingredients using a fork.
  4. Add essential oil and keep stirring until the mixture has a smooth texture.
  5. Let the mixture cool down before using and store in your pantry or fridge.

How easy is that? Of course, you can make more or less of this mixture, depending on how much you need. Just make sure the ratio stays approximately the same to keep the desired effect and consistency.

The ingredients of my DIY deodorant recipe

Explanation of ingredients

Now that you know how to make this DIY, let me explain why I chose each of the ingredients:

Arrowroot powder: Arrowroot powder naturally absorbs moisture/ sweat.

Baking soda: It is odour-absorbing and has antimicrobial effects, meaning that it fights odour-causing bacteria. The alkaline pH 9 level of baking soda also dries out your skin slightly.

Coconut oil: Not only does coconut oil have antibacterial and disinfectant properties, but it also nourishes and moisturises your skin. Besides that, I also really like the consistency it gives the mixture. Coconut oil remains firm at regular room temperature, but melts as you spread it on your warm skin. 

Essential oils: As I mentioned already, this ingredient is optional. Personally, I like to add a bit of scent to my deodorant, because it gives me a bit of a spa feeling. Anyone know what I mean? By the way: My absolute favourite scent for this recipe is palm rose.

Further DIY deodorant recipe variations

Even though I’ve already found my personal favourite DIY deodorant recipe, you shouldn’t shy away from experimenting. There are numerous other ingredients that you could use for your deodorant mixture, such as:

Shea butter: Similarly to coconut oil, shea butter is a great carrier ingredient for the other ingredients. It moisturises your skin and is easily spreadable.

Lemon juice: The citric acid in lemon juice kills bacteria and has a pleasant zingy smell. However, this ingredient will give your homemade deodorant a shorter shelf life, especially if you’re not storing it in the fridge.

Corn starch: Similarly to arrowroot powder and baking soda, this ingredient absorbs moisture

With hazel: The witch hazel plant has anti-inflammatory effects, kills bacteria and absorbs moisture. In other words, it’s perfect for a DIY deodorant recipe.

Tea tree oil: This essential oil has disinfectant and antibacterial properties, meaning it kills any bacteria that could cause potential underarm odour.

Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar has numerous great uses. For example, it is is antibacterial and disinfectant. For thousands of years, it has been used to clean surfaces and even wounds. Furthermore, its acidic pH level could help to rebalance the natural pH of dry skin.

Rubbing alcohol: I’m sure it won’t surprise you that alcohol kills bacteria, does it? Make sure not to use it after shaving though, as this could be really painful.

Baking soda on your skin – yay or nay?

This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that baking soda is a somewhat contested ingredient when it comes to skin products. That’s because its alkaline pH level differs strongly from the skin’s acidic pH levels. This pH difference may lead to irritated, itchy and red skin. Therefore, I advise you to do a patch test to see if your skin is sensitive towards baking soda. Just apply a bit of baking soda mixed with water on a small spot on your skin. You should wait at least 24 hours to see how your skin reacts.

Personally, baking soda has never given me any skin problems, even though I have easily irritable skin due to my eczema. However, in case you find out that your skin is sensitive towards baking soda, you could substitute it with any of the following ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp witch hazel
  • 5 – 10 drops of tea tree oil (also instead of other essential oils)
  • 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (diluted in 1/2 tbsp water)
Baking soda in DIY deodorant recipe

Final thoughts

Personally, I know that I will never go back to buying “regular” deodorant at a store, because I’m so happy with this natural homemade option. Not only does it work really well against my underarm odour, but it also saves me money and is more sustainable. Lastly, you should be aware that this deodorant will not stop you from sweating, as it is not an antiperspirant, but it will ensure there is no odour. I promise you will be very happy with it if you allow your skin to get used to the change, even if you were a constant antiperspirant user beforehand.

If you’re keen on any more beauty and household DIYs to lower your environmental impact, please let me know! Feel free to leave me a comment or send an email to exploringrelentlessly@gmail.com <3 I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Are you curious to learn more about how to live more sustainably? Check out this article on how to save the oceans or this article on how to make any road trip more sustainable.

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