It has been at least 10 years since I stopped using anti-perspirant. Why? Because it turns out the key ingredient in antiperspirant is aluminum, AND if you didn't know, I'm about to burst your bubble: aluminum is toxic and linked to breast cancer (See research.)
I also eliminated antiperspirants when I started my quest to remove all fragrances, xeno-estrogens, and other toxic chemicals from the products I purchase for my household, AND especially those I apply to my skin.
I can tell you one thing: Natural deodorants don't work quite as well as antiperspirants.
But if you think about it, something that completely stops you from sweating should have caused us to raise an eyebrow to begin with. But I digress...
Over the years, I've tried countless natural deodorants. And some I'd call fake natural, because they present really well on the front of the package, but when you read the ingredients, they're still not great.
Products with tea-tree oil... eucalyptus oil... baking soda... charcoal... you name it.
All of them failed at some point or another. Enter homemade deodorant.
I was first introduced to the concept of using baking soda by my friend Heather Winia (fellow IIN student) back in 2005 when she stayed with me for the weekend and told me she just used plain old baking soda! Heather was lightyears ahead of me in clean living. She'd been around the block and was a recovering raw-foodist even before I became one :)
So I experimented with my first natural deodorant, combining baking soda and coconut oil. It worked ok, but I probably hadn't nailed the proportions and found myself going back to the off-the-shelf options.
But you know what? These natural deodorants are $4, $5 and even $7 a pop! Compare that to your run-of-the-mill antiperspirant at about $2.50...
Then my cousin's wife shared a picture on our family WhatsApp chat. She was super proud of her natural deodorant! Coconut oil + baking soda + lavender.
Well that did it. I'm done paying $4-$6 for natural deodorants that only kind-of-work. I'd rather make my own that actually works better.
So here it is!
- 1 part coconut oil
- 3 parts baking soda
- Lavender oil
Simply mix your coconut oil and baking soda to form a paste. Add as much lavender oil as you want until it smells nice. Preferably store in a glass container. Like my little mason jar in the picture.
Grab a small dollop on your finger tip and apply to your lovely arm pits. :)
What you can expect:
- It will have the slightly gritty texture that most natural deodorants have. If you're new to natural deodorant, it might take a few days to get used to, but it's not a big deal.
- It will NOT stain your clothes! As you know, antiperspirants and many deodorants will stain your clothes little by little. This will NOT. The coconut oil dissipates and is absorbed by your skin. You are also very unlikely to leave white streaks on your shirts.
- Fairly good performance on average days when you're not running marathons...
- You WILL break a sweat if you work out, or it's hot out. Now, the odor protection will go as far as (1) the amount you applied, because the baking soda and coconut oil will have an anti-bacterial and neutralizing effect, and (2) the amount of lavender oil that you used, offering some odor-masking.
- This is NOT an antiperspirant and it's not perfect, but it works pretty darn well.
For extra protection days:
On days when I REALLY need to not smell (i.e. I'm speaking on a stage somewhere) I double up with natural baby powder -- something made of natural ingredients which typically will include corn-starch or bentonite clay.
Burt's Bees makes a pretty good one, but although they declare their ingredients as being 100% natural, they also list "fragrance" as one of their ingredients, and this gives me pause.
"Fragrance" as an ingredient is a catch-all category for a variety of chemicals that create scents. This is a completely unregulated industry and the amounts of fragrance that are added to a product can be proportionally so small that they can legally avoid disclosing individual ingredients.
Next on my list: buy my own corn-starch and bentonite clay to create my very own powder back-up when I need a little extra help. :)
How about you?
Have you tried any natural deodorants you love? How about homemade? Care to share a different recipe?