My All-Natural Homemade Body Care Products, Part One: Deodorant

This is a photo of all the things I use on my body.

They might not look all that pretty, but they make me feel and smell pretty, so that’s the important thing. And I feel safe using them, because I know exactly what’s in them. After all: I made them.

After I wrote about how and why I ditched shampoo, I had a few people ask me about other homemade body care products I use. So I figured I’d share them with all of you. In case, you know, you want to be just like me.

You might recognize the two taller bottles in the background (one has a spray nozzle) as my shampoo and conditioner (i.e. baking soda rinse and vinegar rinse). The bar of soap is just a store-bought, unscented soap made from olive oil. Maybe someday I’ll make my own soap.

I thought I’d share my recipes for the remaining body care products I regularly make and use: deodorant, toothpaste, and face cleanser. (Today, I’ll stick with deodorant; in my next post, I’ll share the next two).

I’ve been using all of these recipes for almost two years, and I’ve tweaked them over time to work for me. I forget where I got most of them originally, so if I’ve stolen one of your recipes, I’m sorry about that.

Doubtless, you will find many, many similar recipes all over the internet, especially Pinterest. But these are the ones that work for me.

Note: If you’re interested in making your own body care products and cleaners, two important ingredients I would recommend investing in are coconut oil and castile soap. Both may initially shock you with their cost, but they are so useful in so many things, and save you so much money in the end. I couldn’t live without them.

Why Make Your Own Body Care Products?

  • It’s incredibly frugal. Every batch of deodorant, toothpaste, and facial cleanser costs me mere pennies.
  • It uses far less disposable packaging (you’re not chucking a plastic deodorant container every other month), which is better for the environment.
  • It helps you avoid toxic chemicals which are bad for the environment.
  • It’s healthier and safer for your body.

So here goes.

 Homemade Deodorant

(Why yes, that is an old Old Spice container. I found that all my lady sticks leaked.)

The Recipe:

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup corn starch (I’ve read you can also use arrowroot powder if you’re sensitive to corn starch)
  • 5 drops tea tree oil
  • 5 drops of some other essential oil (optional. I use sweet orange)
  • 3-4 Tbsp warmed/softened coconut oil

Mix all ingredients together and pour/push into an empty deodorant stick. Allow it to harden somewhat (I often put it in the fridge). Use lightly. A single batch lasts about a month for two people.

 Notes:

You guys: this stuff works. I tried several natural deodorants from the health food store before trying this and none of them worked like this.

The baking soda absorbs odour, the cornstarch absorbs moisture, the coconut oil makes it stick together and offers antimicrobial properties, and the tea tree oil kills bacteria. Any other essential oil helps make it smell pretty.

How do I know it works, and that I haven’t just become immune to my own B.O.?  Because when I forget to use it, I can tell by the end of the day that something is off. But I never stink when I use it. Ben uses it as well, and doesn’t smell, either.

I am quite certain that the tea tree oil is an essential ingredient. Don’t skip it! It helps kill the bacteria that create stink. I once tried to make this recipe with patchouli oil instead and it was a complete disaster. I reeked. Likewise, my sister tried some natural deodorants without luck, until she bought one with tea tree oil. And then? No more body odour.

If you don’t like the smell of tea tree, 5 drops in a whole batch is not enough to be perceptible when you put it on.

(I’ve read that lavender is also antibacterial, so you could probably swap that for the tea tree, or combine the two. I haven’t personally tried it in my deodorant, though, because I want to avoid another patchouli fiasco, but also because I share this recipe with Ben and lavender is kind of a girly smell).

Keep in mind that since it’s not an antiperspirant, it won’t stop you from sweating. But sweating is a natural process that helps your body get rid of toxins, and shouldn’t be inhibited. Embrace it. You won’t smell, I promise. And you won’t sweat as much as you do when you skip a dose of conventional deodorant/antiperspirant.

However, if you’ve never used a natural deodorant, you probably will have to go through an adjustment period. (Sorry. I hate to be the harbinger of bad news). I don’t think you can “wean” yourself off of commercial deodorant the way I suggest you do with shampoo. Your body has to get used to not having its glands blocked. Be patient. Pick a time when you won’t be around people too much. My transition period lasted a week or two.

Now that my body has adjusted, if I use a conventional deodorant even once, I will start to stink mightily as soon as it wears off.

So if you think you are just a stinky person because you reek within the hour if you forget to put on deodorant, chances are, it’s the deodorant that’s causing the problem.

Also be aware that in very warm weather, the coconut oil may ooze. (Coconut oil melts at about 72 degrees F). You might want to keep it in the fridge during the summer. The rest of the year, I find it’s a perfect consistency for light application.

I once tried to use shea butter instead of coconut oil, and it didn’t apply well.

Other deodorant recipes I might try:

Classic Soothing Homemade Deodorant from Crunchy Betty. But it looks like a bit of work, unlike mine. She also lists several more deodorant recipes at the end, and swears that at least one of them will work for you.

* * *

Next, I’ll share my toothpaste and oil cleanse recipes.

Have you ever tried making your own body care products? What were your experiences? Or do you find it too intimidating? What are your biggest fears?

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Comments

  1. Linda Thiessen says:

    I think that’s great! The last time I went to buy deoderant , I couldn’t find any. It was all Anti-perspirants (Which I am totally against!)
    Tea Tree Oil- that is the key ingrediant. Now I know why my natural deoderant wasn’t De-oderizing.
    Thank you for the info :)

  2. Oooh! Thanks for sharing this! I hope to try your recipe.
    Michele recently posted..Motherhood Reality – Labor & DeliveryMy Profile

  3. Ok, I’m intrigued, because deodorant and toothpaste are two things I’ve never bothered to make–a thing of natural deodorant (lavender or tea tree) lasts me like six months or longer (I don’t think I’ve bought a new stick yet this year; if I did it must have been January or February) and a tube of natural toothpaste lasts more than a year, so it doesn’t seem like making my own would be much cheaper than that cost spread out over that long a time, and this way I don’t have to worry about making it.

    But your recipe is so easy! And I have all the ingredients. Hmm. I agree that lavender or tea tree oil is pretty essential; I tried a natural one that had some other oil and it didn’t work as well. But in general they work just fine and I think even better than the non-natural kind–like you said, I think blocking the pores messes up your body and makes you sweat more once it’s worn off. I don’t sweat heavily, admittedly, but I also only shower once or twice a week and no one (including the DDH, who is honor-bound to warn me) has ever said I stink.

    So another random question, since you mentioned buying coconut oil. I see it for sale at Whole Foods and different online places, and it is really expensive. But I just buy mine in the Hispanic aisle of the grocery store (or sometimes it’s with the other oils and marketed as a Southern cooking staple) and it’s pretty cheap. I know it’s not organic or fancified, but other than that, is that somehow *different* from the expensive kinds? I only use it for cooking right now and it cooks/tastes exactly the same as the jar of fancy stuff I had before. But I fear some nefarious secret difference would show up if I used it for body care.

    I guess there are three options: 1) the higher cost is really just for organic vs. non-organic and if my budget has to give somewhere it’s going to be on the coconut oil; 2) the cheap kind secretly has been altered and is killing me slowly for my cheapness; or 3) they’re exactly the same and just marketers have figured out that upper-middle-class white women will pony up for stuff with a fancy label while Latin Americans and white trash cooks get the exact same stuff for cheap. Do you know? I’ve been curious, because when I post recipes with coconut oil I know people are thinking the fancy stuff and it’s just Lou Ann’s “fried chicken like your Gramma made!” coconut oil in a plastic tub (so it’s in plastic and not a glass jar, I guess. But a big plastic tub that lasts a long time!). The ingredient lists are the same and so are the nutrition facts.

    • If your store-bought deodorant and toothpaste last that long, I don’t blame you for just using that. It might still be fun to try making it, though! If that’s the kind of thing that floats your boat. :)

      I’ve never seen coconut oil available for cheap. Maybe because I’m in Canada? Is yours extra-virgin, and does it smell coconutty? I’m pretty sure the refined stuff is cheaper and doesn’t smell like anything. (Kind of like how EV olive oil has a smell and refined doesn’t). The extra-virgin has all kinds of health benefits that the refined doesn’t (antimicrobial properties, etc), but if you’re heating it anyway for cooking, I doubt it makes that big a difference. And it’s probably not a big deal when you’re just putting it ON your body, either.

      • Maybe. Like I said, it seems to be marketed for Southern cooking, and perhaps you don’t get much of that in Canada–I wonder if I could even find it so easily if I were further from the South (I’m in Oklahoma). Or it’s in the Hispanic/Latino/ethnic food aisle sometimes, too, but again I have no idea if Canadian stores have those, either.

        It’s definitely refined, because it has no coconut flavor. But refined is what my little food co-op carried, too, for more than twice the price (organic, in a glass jar with a pretty label vs. non-organic in a plastic tub with an ugly label). I’d like to get some extra-virgin also, because we both like coconut and in some things it would be nice to have the flavor (though yes, so long as I’m cooking it it’s not going to retain most of those properties). Maybe I’ll get some and see which seems better so far as body care products go, because all sorts of body care recipes seem to call for it. If nothing else, it would make yummy brownies (though admittedly so does butter).

        I tend to use EVOO for cold applications (salad dressings, mostly) and coconut for hot cooking/baking, though I’ll admit that I reach for the EVOO when doing a saute more often than I ought (and also in Italian food, because that’s just what you do). I figure the coconut’s at least a step up from canola or vegetable oil, even if it’s refined and not organic.

        • I’m with you: I’m pretty sure refined, non-organic coconut oil is at least better than any yellow oil. At least it’s saturated (i.e. heat stable). I also don’t think there’s such a thing as GMO coconut, and I can’t imagine there’s a ton of pesticide use associated with growing coconuts (though I’ve never looked into it).

          • Google’s consensus seems to be that no detectable trace of pesticides contaminates the coconut water (so, gets inside the coconut). Pesticides are, however, widely used. Also fresh coconuts shipped to the U.S. are treated with anti-fungal agents and things because otherwise the husks actually get moldy pretty quickly. Apparently real fresh coconuts turn sort of red and the husks begin to deteriorate pretty quickly, instead of being dark brown and dry like you see in the store.

            So there you go! Wash your fresh non-organic coconuts. And organic is likely better for the land and the people growing them, but pesticide probably isn’t getting into the actual oil etc. that we use. Which makes me feel kind of guilty that I’m willing to trade off the well-being of the coconut workers so I can get cheaper oil to cook with and make fancy toiletries out of…dammit.

  4. Thanks for doing that research, Katie! Always the moral dilemmas, eh?

  5. Oh Kathleen, I keep toying with the idea of trying this again, but my last homemade deodorant attempt was such a fiasco!! I do have some tea tree oil now, so maybe I could muster up the courage to try again. But I’m so glad you discussed the adjustment period. If I were to really go crazy and try a bunch of natural body products – like no poo and homemade deodorant (okay, that’s only two but it sounds like a lot to me!) – would you recommend doing them simultaneously or letting my body get used to one before I tried the other? I’m just wondering if it would be easier to just have one big adjustment period for everything and just know that I can’t leave the house for that set time ;)

    Alright, back to the catching up on here – I can’t wait to get to the shampoo post!
    That Married Couple recently posted..7 Quick Takes (85)My Profile

    • Hmmm . . . good question about whether to do everything together. I imagine it would depend on your personal preference. I feel like I would lean towards doing one thing at a time, so that you don’t ever have to feel like a total, disgusting, stinky grease-ball — you just have to deal with one little thing at a time. But maybe, like you suggest, it would be nice to just get it all over with at once.

  6. You could always add a couple tbs bees wax to keep it hard in the summer:)

  7. Hillary says:

    I love this brand called Lavilin and I’m curious if you’ve ever tried it? This is their website: http://www.lavilin.com

  8. Thank you so much for your info, I have been fighting this deodorant issue all my life and I actually have to use mens deodorant but honestly that doesn’t even work. I have tried the natural deodorants because I didn’t like the idea of the chemicals that are put in them are just there to clog your pours intentionally, but it was like I didn’t even put it on. I hate walking around smelling like a man when I use mens deodorant and then it wear’s off fairly quickly. So this is the next step for me (making my own) I hope it works. The information you give on how each ingredient works sounds like it will work wonders for me. I’ll keep my finger’s and toes crossed. Thanks!!!!!!

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