Cream deodorant


I’ve written about homemade deodorants in previous posts. By now it’s no secret that name brand deodorants/antiperspirants containing aluminum may pose health risks. And no matter what your stance is on the Alzheimer’s link, most rational thinkers can at the very least agree that clogging up our sweat ducts with product to prevent a natural function of the body probably isn’t good for us. So in the interest of healthy bodies and a healthy environment, I have been experimenting with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) deodorant concoctions. Baking soda is alkalizing and it neutralizes the odor causing bateria found on the surface of skin and hair. I tried a very basic powder version and then switched to an even simpler spray. I’ve been very happy with the spray, but I decided to try making a cream deodorant for some friends who were interested in finding a healthy alternative to store-bought products but weren’t totally sold on sprinkling or spritzing. The cream is closer in consistency to the stick deodorants that we are all familiar with, and therefore perhaps more appealing to some folks.

The recipe I used is very simple: one part coconut oil, one part baking soda, one part cornstarch. I’ve seen some recipes that call for arrowroot in place of cornstarch but haven’t been able to find it in bulk nearby (though I did see some in bulk at Good Tern). I decided to start with a small batch and measured out 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of each ingredient. In a double boiler setup (a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of boiling water) I liquified the coconut oil. While the oil was melting, I mixed the cornstarch and baking soda together in another bowl. I then poured the coconut oil into the powder mix and whisked it well. Finally, while it was still somewhat runny, I poured the deodorant into a couple small jars and allowed it to cool and set up completely before capping them. Not including the setting time, the whole operation took less than 10 minutes. My friends, who are are all very honest when it comes to giving me feedback on my No Trash experiments, seem to really like the stuff. And they each have varying levels of perspiration and body odor due to their unique body chemistries and levels of daily activity. I sampled some myself and have to say it’s quite lovely. The coconut oil is very moisturizing and I personally enjoy the aroma. Like the powder and the spray, it works great! And I think it’s better than the other versions for travel because I can put it into a tiny salve or lip balm container.

Note: some people are sensitive to baking soda and can experience irritation when applying it directly to the skin, so it’s best to err on the side of caution when trying a baking soda body product for the first time.

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19 Responses to Cream deodorant

  1. Cocomama April 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    Oh, what a timely post! Thank you! I am approaching the end of my anit-perspirant stick and eager to have one less plastic item in my bathroom.

    I’m definitely going through a lot of coconut oil lately (I’ve made your lotion for my sister and another batch for myself, and made your awesome granola recipe twice too) but can only find small-ish jars of it. Coconut oil in large quantities is only sold in plastic containers at my WF & Sprouts. On the bright side I’ll have more empty jars to use for food/leftovers storage.

    Incidentally, I added a few–maybe 10– drops of ylang ylang essential oil to your lotion and loved the results. I wonder which essential oils would be appropriate for my underarms? 😉

  2. Jo in London April 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    I’ve been making my own by stirring the three ingredients together but melting the coconut oil will definitely result in a better texture. Thank you for this!

  3. Kimberly April 10, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Does it leave any powdery residue on clothes?

    • Colleen April 16, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

      Hi Kimberly! Nope, I haven’t had any trouble with residue :) I always put it on a few minutes before getting dressed because it’s an oil-based product and obviously if oil comes in direct contact with fabric it can stain. It absorbs into the skin really well and leaves it very sof but dry to the touch. And I don’t ever wear very tight-fitting clothing. I’m not sure if you were to swipe some on your underarms and then immediately pull on a tight article of dark colored clothing if it would show up. I asked around to the friends I’ve shared it with and they haven’t had any trouble with stain or marks either. Hope that helps!

  4. Bee April 16, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    YAAAAY!!! Oh, I’m so glad you’re spreading the word of DIY cream deodorant…it’s a complete game changer!!! If any of your readers try it out, I’ve read that if you do experience slight discomfort (i.e., not an allergic reaction!) that your pH and skin can use a few days of adjustment – if it’s bearable, a light application and sitting through a bit of redness can pay off. Also, if you’re very sensitive, applying right after shaving the pitolas can be a little uncomfortable. I’m a relatively sensitive gal, and I slather it on post-shave most days, but we’re all different!

    I’ve been doing a LOT (a LOOOTTTTT) of reading on essential oils recently and use them in my deodorant blends. I’ve had really great luck with lavender (all around amazing and very skin soothing), tea tree, cedarwood, MQV and manuka (my personal favorite). @Cocomama, almost all essential oils exhibit anti-microbial / anti-bacterial properties that fight the stink and there are relatively few that are irritating to the skin (cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus). Check out AromaWeb or hit the Google – there’s so much info out there! I always vote for lavender because it does everything, and does it well (and it blends really well with many other things), and geranium is a real powerhouse if you like floral scents – and could blend with the ylang ylang.


    • Colleen April 16, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

      Hey Bee! Thanks so much for this awesome comment full of great info. I checked out AromaWeb and it seems like a really great resource. Also, I’d never heard of Niaouli (MQV) or Manuka oil. I definitely have some reading to do. As much as I’ve daydreamed about experimenting with essential oils in my homemade concoctions, buying all those little glass bottles with plastic tops doesn’t always sit so well with me. But I know a little goes a long way, and I suppose if I found an oil that really enhanced my deodorant experience I could justify it. I do love the scent of geranium for instance. I’m certainly fascinated by herbalism and aroma therapy and would love to learn more! Also, I have very sensitive skin and I’ve been applying the cream deodorant to my underarms post hair removal and have no trouble with discomfort or irritation. In fact, I really think the coconut oil soothes any inflammation that comes from my personal hair removal routine (I use an epilator on my underarms btw). Anyway, thanks again for sharing!

      • Bee May 1, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

        I know…the packaging options for EOs is a little upsetting. I recently learned that plastic is apparently the “only” option viable for the industry right now (booooo) – metal reacts with and oxidizes from the EOs, and rubber is quickly corroded by the potent natural compounds. It would be neat if there was some way to create a glass top! Luckily, most EOs last a really long time, generally about 5 years or so, which is a small comfort. I noticed in some of your posts that you’re diving in to the world of herbal and natural healing which is awesome! I’m still blown away by the herbs, spices and medicinal compounds that are available in bulk – such a blessing to find that they’re available! If the EO bottle is a deal-breaker but you still want a little herbal potency action in your deodorant, you could make a completely trash-less oil infusion, I know lavender would certainly be up for it! Rose, licorice root and comfrey would probably do nicely too. I’ve never tried, but I’d hazard a confident guess that if you’re patient, (1-2 months) lavender flowers mixed into coconut oil would yield some result, especially if you low-heated the whole concoction first, let sit for however long your patience lasts you, then re-heat and strain. I’m getting excited just writing about it, might have to give the experiment a shake 😉 message me if you want some links, I found a couple recipes that look promising.

        • Colleen May 2, 2013 at 12:38 am #

          Oh! Yes! An oil infusion sounds fantastic! I’ve done a little looking into tinctures and but an infusion would be much better for me because I wouldn’t have to worry about using alcohol… just another packaged ingredient. And I can be very patient with that kind of thing indeed. I would love to see some recipe links! Thanks for the awesome suggestion, Bee!

          • Bee May 2, 2013 at 2:48 am #

            I’ll send ’em your way!

          • Anna January 24, 2015 at 1:53 am #

            I love this recipe Colleen! Thank you very much for posting it! It works very well for me, much better than the conventional deodorants I used to use :). I like to put a little bit of vanilla extract into mine for scent. I get it in bulk at my local market, and I know not everyone will have that available to them, but if you have it (and it’s an affordable price), I highly recommend it! Thank you again for all your suggestions!

  5. Rosa Maria April 19, 2013 at 2:19 am #

    Just wanted to say I love your blog. I have embarked on my own less waste project a few months back and reading thru your blog I got lots of new ideas, especially about making things. I think when you start on a similar journey learning how to make things is a must, because it will help get thru some of the road blocks.

    thank you :)

  6. Buck April 20, 2013 at 5:47 am #

    I must share – I have had serious body odor for my entire adult life. This is the best deodorant I’ve ever used. For real.

    • Colleen April 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

      Thanks for sharing! I’m so glad you like it. Let me know when you need more. I’ll make another batch. Or you can always make it yourself, of course.

  7. Barbara April 30, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Lavilin is the best! Absolutely no aluminum so it’s safe to apply to your skin, unlike traditional anti-perspirants out there. I’ve read a lot of reports that link aluminum to Alzheimer’s. Lavilin is natural, easy to use, and effective!

    • Colleen April 30, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      Hi Barbara, Thanks for your comment. I looked up the product you mention and while it may be better for us than some name brand deodorants with aluminum, it still contains ingredients that I don’t recognize. Also, I’m not a fan of the plastic packaging. As you may have noticed, this blog is about my project to eliminate personal trash production. By making my deodorant at home, I know exactly what goes in it, I save money, and I’m not having to toss out any packaging. :)

  8. Jen August 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    To avoid aluminum, I’ve been using Milk of Magnesia straight from the bottle as deodorant. I’m seeing your blog for the first time, and now recognize that unfortunately, it comes packaged in a plastic bottle. Have you tried epsom salts in any deodorant recipes?

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  10. Caroline September 10, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    Great blog! I just want to add: I stopped using deodorant sometime after I became a daily runner and later a cyclist. I found that when I was pumping a good volume of sweat (and thus, toxins) out of my body on a near daily basis, any other sweat I made in the rest of my day is just a lot less smelly. I imagine this would be true of vigorous dance, martial arts, and other exercise. Exercise clothes are going to have a stink no matter what once we’re done with them–varying by fabric and activity. Deodorant will not help that from happening. So long as I am exercising regularly, and keeping my clothes and body clean, there is no need to ever use any kind of personal deodorant.

  11. Carin May 23, 2017 at 3:05 pm #

    If you are travelling with this to a tropical country, just know that the coconut oil will turn to a liquid in the heat. Contain it appropriately.

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