Sunday, 16 February 2014

DIY 'good for you' deodorant

I've been on the hunt for a good deodorant that is both aluminium and paraben free for years now. Some are better than others but this time I'm coming at you with an easy and non-toxic DIY option.

What you need:

  • A small container with lid, mine's a small travel cream pot from Muji - for storage
  • Organic raw cold pressed coconut oil - for moisture
  • Baking Soda/Bicarbonate of Soda - for odour neutralisation
  • Arrowroot powder (can be substituted for rice flour or corn flour) - for absorbency
  • Tea Tree Oil - for anti-bacterial properties and scent


Make sure that your coconut oil is soft - if room temp is too cold, microwave it for a few seconds until soft. Combine equal parts coconut oil, bicarb of soda and arrowroot powder. I'm using 1 tablespoon or 15mls of each, but you can scale as much as you want depending on the size of your pot. Add a few drops of the tea tree oil and stir until smooth. Mine seemed a bit dry at first but as I persisted and the oil warmed up, it came together as a thick creamy paste. Seal in the air tight jar.

I substituted arrowroot with rice flour because I couldn't find arrowroot easily in Copenhagen. Mine happens to be organic wholegrain rice flour which is why the final product has a slight putty colour. I would recommend using non-wholegrain if possible so you get a white deodorant (though this is colourless on skin).

Modifications: You can add additional essential oils to give the deodorant a more personal scent, though keep in mind that some essential oils are very concentrated and some can be irritating to the skin, so choose wisely. Some safe bets are lavender and geranium, which both pair well with tea tree. I used cedar oil to give a woody scent. If you find your skin is on the sensitive side, you can also reduce the proportion of bicarb of soda.

So, what did I think?

Ease: Super easy to make, and once you have the ingredients they will provide enough quantity for several batches. So, cost effective as well. Big time. I would say the only consideration with this is since coconut oil melts at higher temperatures, it is advisable to store upright. Not a problem for me here in winter but come summer it's likely. This also means it's probably not the best option for travel unless you're confident the jar you use is totally spill/leak-proof.

Texture: I rub this on with my finger and it's creamy because of the coconut oil but also slightly abrasive because of the baking soda - like a baking soda toothpaste would be. Nothing painful or discomforting though, and it's not something you can feel on you at all once you're wearing it through the day.

Sweat: TMI alert - I'm a bit of a sweaty Betty. My best trait it is not, but it does mean I'm a good person to test whether a deodorant does what it says. I find I sweat at least a little even with most commercial antiperspirants let alone healthier aluminium-free options. So, how did I get on? Surprisingly, I barely sweat at all. There was only any hint of moisture after wearing this for a good 10 hours, while on an overheated metro, in a nordic-standard winter coat on my way to pick up Dean* from the airport after him being away for 2 weeks. So, hot and bothered you may even say. Anyway, in terms of performance this worked as good or better than any deodorant I've ever tried - toxic or otherwise. Major points.

Stink: Without making myself sound too disgusting, let's just say that scent is of major concern to me. While some deodorant scents simply work, other seems to mesh unpleasantly with my natural scent (ugh) and make things even more noticeable. I'm not one for sports or exercise, so I gave this deodorant a test run by eating fresh guacamole laced with a serious dose of amongst other things - raw garlic, onion and cumin. Well-known BO-inducing culprits. Yum. I gotta say - a fully 24 hours after first putting this on there was not even a smidgen of a smell. Just fresh coconutty goodness. I even had Dean do a sniff-test (totally acceptable after 11+ years!) and he agreed. Seriously mindblowing stuff!

I must say I didn't have the highest expectations for this. If it's so easy, then why is it so difficult to find a good-for-you deodorant that actually works?? My answer now is I have absolutely no idea, because this DIY is easy, cheap and seriously efficacious.

If you prefer something you can buy rather than concoct, I'll be coming at you soon with my thoughts on a round-up of no-nasties formulas that have had the pleasure of gracing my pits. nice. But, *spoiler alert* I'd highly highly recommend you try this little DIY number instead.

* Dean, my loving partner for going on 12 years, rightly noted that 'boyfriend' sounded incredibly misplaced. While in Aus 'partner' is a self-designated term for a relationship deemed serious - whether or not married - this more often than not arouses confusion in other locales :) From here on out he shall be referred to by name!

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