A reader asked about my thoughts on homemade deodorant and I am happy to oblige! Because I have tried them all - the homemade recipes, the "all natural" products from the store, the not-so-natural - everything.
First things first: do not use antiperspirants.
Antiperspirants are chemicals added to commercial deodorant that stop your pores from sweating. Your under arms sweat out what your body does not want to keep in and helps keep you cool. Why plug up your pores and force your body to keep those bodily chemicals, such as urea, which transports waste nitrogen, in the body? Sweat may be inconvenient, but it is not the cause of body odor, but rather the bacteria on the skin which feed on the sweat causes the odor. Worst of all, almost all antiperspirants use aluminum to stop your pores from sweating - which is why the FDA labels deodorants with antiperspirants as drugs.
Now, it seems the studies on the link between antiperspirants and breast cancer are still inconclusive, but I tell you this: for my part, I do not want to plug up the pores that are trying to eliminate bodily fluids right near a large amount of my lymph nodes, whose job is to process and remove waste materials in the body. That is one bodily function I don't want to mess around with!
Did you know: There is not one brand of men's deodorant on the market that contains antiperspirants. I think that's very...interesting.
Straight deodorant doesn't clog the pores or stop you from sweating, it deodorizes - in other words, it makes bad odors smell good. You can find natural deodorant at health food stores, but beware, some that seem natural, like the rock crystal, may actually contain aluminum and other chemical nasties.
I have found that making deodorant homemade is the best solution - it works against odor, its inexpensive and I know what goes into it. (Remember, underarms are very personal. Some people sweat a lot. Some don't. I don't sweat a ton. I shave my underarms, so I think my skin is more sensitive than if I didn't.)
A popular recipe for homemade deodorant is the baking soda, cornstarch and coconut oil mixture. At first, I didn't love this recipe, I think because I started using it in the winter and it was a little drying. In the summer, it is wonderful and works great for me.
Use 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup corn starch and 1/4 cup coconut oil. Heat the coconut oil in the microwave or on the stove top until melted. Take off the heat and add the baking soda and cornstarch until combined. Add between 10-20 drops of essential oil, such as lavender. Pour the mixture into a container (I used a jar) or you could also reuse an old stick deodorant container.
The mixture will harden up slightly and then you just dig a few fingers in and rub the mixture on your under arms.
In the winter, I use a very simple recipe: 2 oz. of jojoba oil mixed with essential oils. This is actually my perfume base and I have a few different kinds - my favorites are a patchouli/orange/ylang-ylang mix and a neroli/rose mix. One day I just rubbed some on my underarms and noticed I had no odor throughout the day, no irritation or itchiness, no stickiness or oilyness.
I love jojoba - its an oil closest to the makeup of our own skin and has antibacterial properties, making it a good choice for your underarms, because bacteria is what causes odor. Does it stop you from sweating? No. But remember, sweating is not bad! Its a natural bodily process that aids the body in elimination. Our bodies are not dirty, they are sacred. When we let our bodies do what they need to do, they function at their best and we feel our best. At our most beautiful.
So sweat away moon sisters! Use nature's oils to make it smell sweeter if you like, but remember:
The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea. - Isak Dinesen