Homemade Deodorant: Is It Worth It?
If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d be writing a post about how to make my own deodorant, I’d have laughed. Scoffed. Shaken my head — no way. However, 10 years ago, I didn’t live in a humid area. (See also: 5 Hair Conditioners You Can Make at Home)
Why I Tried Making My Own Deodorant
Those of you who read my posts know I’m a sucker for any DIY challenge. My criteria are:
- Is the product I make better?
- Is it cheaper?
- How much time does it take?
Secondly, although the popular brand of deodorant that I use works well, I am never happy with the scent. In fact, I use “unscented” because I hate all the other scents, and I still dislike the weird, chemical-ish scent. So, I added another criterion — could I make something with a scent that I actually liked?
Third, and probably most important — is there a health risk involved with any of the chemicals in commercially made products? This debate is confusing. According to a post on the National Cancer Institute site...
...researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates food, cosmetics, medicines, and medical devices, also does not have any evidence or research data that ingredients in underarm antiperspirants or deodorants cause cancer...Because studies of antiperspirants and deodorants and breast cancer have provided conflicting results, additional research is needed to investigate this relationship and other factors that may be involved. (Emphasis added.)
Those two words — “conflicting results” — are what bother me a little. Don’t you try to reduce your cancer risk, even if it's just a possibility? For instance, you likely use sunscreen and avoid charred meat. Further research may confirm that commercial deodorants do not increase cancer risk, and that would be great (I’ve used them for many years) but just in case...I’m going to give homemade deodorant a try.
Also, there was the does-aluminum-lead-to-Alzheimer’s controversy, but the organization’s own website pretty much put my mind to rest about the connection. You see, most commercially made deodorants and antiperspirants contain aluminum, which blocks your pores.
The (Easy!) Deodorant-Making Process
After perusing several recipes, I ended up trying this deodorant recipe from Live Whole Be Free.
In the spirit of frugality, I wanted to try using ingredients I had on hand. I already had baking soda and cornstarch. I purchased the coconut oil and essential oil at a local natural foods store, and those cost $8.99 (coconut oil) and $6.39 (essential oil).
The above recipe is for a lemon-clove deodorant, but when I started opening testers and sniffing away, “lemongrass” really got my attention.
My next stop was the local Salvation Army store, where I found a small plastic, lidded container (which I took home and washed in hot, soapy water). Cost: $0.50.
Mixing the deodorant was very simple. First, I combined the baking soda and cornstarch, then added the coconut oil and drops of essential oil. It went together very easily, and I poured it into the container. I was worried about the coconut oil overtaking the lemongrass scent, but that wasn’t a problem. They seemed to combine very nicely, and I wasn’t overpowered by either one.
Testing the Deodorant
Day 1 test conditions: 84 degrees. I went to a farmers market, which was very hot, and then came home to some housework and ironing. No stickiness and no “wearing off" of the nice scent.
Day 2 test conditions: Work, and an all-day presentation for 20 people. No problems; nice scent.
Day 3 test conditions: Work, and a one-hour presentation for 95 people — and this presentation was the true test, because it made me really nervous. It was also about 80 degrees outside, and I had a heavy box to lug. I figured this would be the make-or-break day for homemade deodorant! I didn't need to worry — again, all I smelled was the lemon. However, keep in mind that this is a recipe for a deodorant, not an antiperspirant. It doesn’t keep you dry. I may experiment with my next batch, increasing the baking soda/cornstarch ratios. Another alternative may be to make my own bath powder concoction and layer the products.
The final test? I strode into my husband’s man-cave, holding up my arm, and said, “Wanna sniff my pit?” (Bear in mind that we have been married for thirty years.) After giving me a look, and actually not laughing, he said, “Sure, why not?” His proclamation? “All I smell is lemon.” He’s a real sport.
Is Making Your Own Deodorant Worth It?
Revisiting my criteria, then:
Is the Product I Make Better?
I like the scent better. I like the fact that it's all-natural better. I can improve upon the packaging by scooping the product into an empty roll-on container, which will make it easier to apply.
Is It Cheaper?
Yes, I think so. The price for a “natural” deodorant is $7.49 at my local natural foods store (for 2.7 ounces). I spent $15.88 on the coconut oil, fragrance, and container. The jar of coconut oil I bought was 12 ounces, and the recipe only called for five tablespoons of it. Cornstarch and baking soda are very inexpensive. Although the essential oil was expensive, a little goes a very long way.
How Much Time Did It Take?
With all the materials in front of me, a whopping four minutes.
Will I Make It Again?
Should You Try?
Well, that’s very much a matter of personal preference. You will need to weigh your impressions about health, your perceptions about scent, and your budget.
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