For many people, making the switch to a clean beauty routine begins with deodorant. If you're picky about the types of ingredients you put on your skin, you likely want to keep parabens and other chemicals that can disrupt your endocrine system away from the underarm area, where toxins can easily be absorbed into the bloodstream. In addition to possible toxins and parabens, many commercial deodorants contain aluminum, a chemical that acts to block your sweat ducts, and thus keep you from perspiring. Natural deodorants, on the other hand, are formulated without chemicals like aluminum, and therefore rely on other ingredients to absorb moisture and neutralize body odor. And yes—they actually work.
But, because finding a natural deodorant that clicks with your body chemistry will likely involve trail and error, making a DIY natural deodorant allows you to create a formula suited to your needs. What's more, you can customize the scent of your DIY natural deodorant with a blend of essential oils that offer a sophisticated and enticing aroma. Essential oils are active botanicals with a host of healing properties, so they can help keep you dry and bacteria-free (bonus! ). Finally, making your own DIY natural deodorant allows you customize your formula to your specific skin conditions, as the underarm area is quite sensitive and can be irritated easily.
The components for DIY natural deodorant are pretty simple and consist of three basic parts: a base, a powder mixture you'll fold into the base for moisture-wicking, and a blend of essential oils based on personal preference. Our recipe uses a base medley of shea butter and coconut oil, but some recipes may use one or the other.
We spoke to Abena Boamah-Acheampong, founder of Hanahana Beauty, an all-natural, clean beauty and wellness line that uses fair-trade shea butter sourced directly from the Katariga Women's Shea Cooperative in Ghana. She says the most important thing to bear in mind with DIY products, is to be intentional. "Ask yourself, what do you want the product to do?" she explains.
Coconut oil solidifies easily, making it a great choice for DIY natural deodorant, and while it does seep into pores, this poses a benefit. "It's not non-comedogenic," Boamah-Acheampong says. "As a deodorant, do you really want something that just sits on the skin?" However, you may want to perform a test on your skin before going all in with applying your DIY deodorant to make sure your bespoke formula doesn't break you out.
Blending coconut oil with shea butter, which has a rich, luxe, and creamy texture (and is in fact non-comedogenic), gives you the best of both worlds when it comes to your base. This formula is also easy on your pits, and will nourish sensitive skin. "Shea butter hydrates," says Boamah-Acheampong, "which is especially important in humidity."
Ahead, find our recipe for DIY natural deodorant in three easy steps.
Here's What You'll Need
- 2 Tablespoons shea butter
- 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 Tablespoons baking soda
- 2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
- Essential oils, like eucalyptus and lavender (since essential oils have a high rate of contact and irritant allergy, do a patch test on a discreet, less-sensitive area of skin before using on your underarms)
- Stainless steel thermometer
- Quart-size Mason jar
Be careful not to overheat the shea butter when mixing your formula, which, according to Boamah-Acheampong, means keeping an eye on your thermometer to respect the melting point and never use direct heat.
Melt Your Base
Place the shea butter and coconut oil in a quart size Mason jar. Use a double boiler to heat the mixture on a low flame; never heat the oils directly. Note: the melting point of coconut oil is 78 degrees Fahrenheit, while the melting point of shea butter is 89 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Use your thermometer to manage temperatures accordingly. "Don't overheat the shea," says Boamah-Acheampong. "For the raw shea to get to you, it’s already been melted and hardened."
Once the base is melted, remove from heat and set aside.
Mix the Formula
Once the base is cool, blend in the baking soda and arrowroot powder. Mix well.
Add in a blend of essential oils based on personal scent preference, and some of the qualities you're seeking in a deodorant. Find some suggestions below, but really, this part is all you.
Lavender: Carries relaxing floral scent, and is an anti-fungal that has been known to treat infection, allergies, and eczema.
Tea Tree: Carries a fresh camphoraceous scent, and is an anti-bacterial.
Vetiver: Carries a woodsy musk scent, and is also used as an insect repellent.
Davana: Carries a sweet vanilla-scent, and is also an anti-microbial.
Lime: According to Boamah-Acheampong, fresh lime oil can act as a natural deodorizer.
Pour and Set
You can pour your mixture into a mold for a hand-held deodorant bar, or into a BPA-free deodorant container you can order online.
Let the mixture harden on its own, in the fridge, or in the freezer. The process is totally up to you. Another benefit of using shea butter in the base is its melting point is slightly higher than that of coconut oil, so our mixture will stay a bit more solid. Be sure to store your DIY natural deodorant in a cool, dry place to keep it as solid as possible.