I recently ran out of conventional store bought deodorant, but instead of rushing out to buy more I was actually excited, as I had been wanting to make my own. As I am now waste-free conventional deodorant won’t do as the packaging is plastic and wasteful, and I have concerns about the ingredients in the product. As a preteen just starting to use deodorant I remember tossing up which deodorant was better for the environment; spray-ons or roll-ons? Wanting to avoid the aerosols I opted for roll-ons, however I always felt guilty when I had to throw out (recycle) my roll-on container as I thought “surely this thing could be useful for something?” When I went to North America last year I purchased a stick deodorant, which I think was more novelty than necessity. I saved this container when it recently ran out to use for my homemade concoction. Except the day I went to use it… well the bloody thing broke! Damn plastic! Or was it planned obsolescence? I am now storing my homemade deodorant in a glass jar with a pop-lid (op-shop find) which sits on a shelf in my hot water cupboard (alongside my toothpaste) to keep it malleable. I just use my fingers to rub it on to my armpits.
The recipe I used was from Wendyl’s Recipes For A Cleaner Life, which is a book I highly recommend. I got it as a birthday present a few months back (I tried to find it second hand but it’s too new/too niche/too NZ) .
- 1/4 cup of baking soda*
- 1/4 cup of arrowroot powder
- 4 Tb coconut oil softened
- 1/4 tsp essential oil of your choice or none if you want it to be unscented
- 1 tsp rosewater
- Mix all the ingredients together to make a paste. Use 1/4 tsp on your fingertip and rub on your armpits. In hot weather this will be a liquid so shake first, in cold it will be solid. Just place your finger on it for a moment to melt enough to use.
- *To soften coconut oil put it in the sun or place in a jar in a bowl of hot water. In summer it should be quite workable at room temperature.
I personally didn’t use rosewater as I don’t have any on hand and I used essential oils I already had from previous beauty product experiments. Baking soda and arrowroot powder can be purchased in bulk from Bin Inn.
I also have a spray “deodorant” which I leave in a small reused spray bottle either in my bag or in my desk drawer. It is just home-made apple scrap cider vinegar as per Zero Waste Chef’s instructions on her blog. I also use this spray as a face spritz for when I am flushed in the face. I find the vinegar is very gentle on my skin compared to the toner that I used to use (which was a freebie and also the bottle that I have up-cycled) which irritated my skin.
So the big question on everyone’s minds… do I smell bad or what?!
I honestly don’t think I smell bad, I feel like the combination of my homemade rub on deodorant and the apple cider vinegar are doing an excellent job, if anything I may just smell like ACV for a minute or two. No-one has mentioned anything (most people won’t comment on someone’s BO though) and I have told a few friends and co-workers to give me a heads up if I smell. I feel like I sweat/smell less since switching over, but I have only been using this for the past few weeks. Summer is nearly here, so that is my deodorant’s true test!
UPDATE: After finding that I was super sensitive to baking soda, I quit using any deodorant for a few months while I did an armpit “detox” using only apple cider vinegar. You can detox in about a week, but I was really sensitive to the baking soda and found I would get an instant rash. I would suggest if you have sensitive skin like me to either not using baking soda at all, or reduce the amount used. I added bentonite clay and more arrowroot powder to mine. I buy bentonite clay at Huckleberry Farms organic store, in a reusable zip bags. You can also purchase larger amounts on Trade Me. The BF has been using this deodorant mix and had no issues. We both find it works quite effectively and we don’t smell bad!
UPDATE #2 : I recently purchased some package free local beeswax and used this recipe. I can’t find package free shea butter so I just left it out and it still worked great. The BF & I both use this deodorant and it works great for us both and I no longer have skin sensitivity to my homemade deodorants! I also have found an old stick deodorant container that I have been happily reusing.
UPDATE # 3: I now follow Going Zero Waste’s spray deodorant recipe, with some added essential oils. It works a charm, it’s really portable and doesn’t melt. It’s also way quicker and easier to make.
UPDATE #4 2020: I know above I said the spray worked a charm, but in summer it didn’t quite cut it and the sprayer kept clogging. The spray didn’t travel well, often leaking in my bag, and I couldn’t take a small amount anywhere as I only had a big glass spray bottle.
I now use Ethique deodorant bars, they travel easily, you can cut them down for weekend trips/hiking, they really help with odour and I don’t get a rash, even with the scented ones. Full update here.