DIY Deodorant

It’s a slippery slope, you guys. Once I started making soap, eventually everything I put on my body seemed like a no-brainer to just make myself. I no longer buy soap, obviously, or shampoo, or lip balm. I’m getting there with lotion, too.

For quite a while, I’ve wanted to try out handmade deodorant, but wasn’t so sure about it. Because, you know, deodorant is really important in ways that lip balm just isn’t. I hug people. I’m a hugger. And I’m also pretty smelly, in a totally unpleasant way. So I’ve always used not just commercially made deodorant, but the super heavy-duty antiperspirant/deodorant.

deodorant on recipe

But last night I was overcome by a need to just make some already, and thus began what will be a monthlong experiment. I know from reading about switching from commercial to homemade/natural deodorants that it’s common to have a bit of a detox period. So I need to allow for that in my experiment – I will not call it a success or a failure until at least a month has passed.

I read a lot of blogs about homemade deodorant before I decided on a recipe. I learned that some people complain that baking soda in deodorant irritates their skin. I learned that some people make a cream that they keep in a jar and apply with their fingers, and some people make a solid they use from a deodorant tube like from the store. Some people use just three ingredients, some people get fancy.

I decided to be fancy for three reasons: First, as I mentioned, I feel like I need big guns here; I am not one of those people who is graced with a delightful natural musk. Second, I have enough experience with skincare ingredients at this point that I’m comfortable making decisions about many of them, because I know what they do and how they behave. Third, a fancy recipe with great ingredients was endorsed by a blogger I trust entirely.

So, with a couple of minor tweaks, I followed Jasika Nicole‘s deodorant recipe, which she wrote about here. (I just realized that I measured the oils, beeswax and butters by weight, not volume, since that’s how you do it when making soap. I can’t imagine measuring the solid butters by volume anyway, so I’m assuming I did get the measurements right. But I figured I’d mention it, in case the recipe is actually intended to be measured in liquid volume.)

These are my tweaks. I used:

  • 0.3 ounces of beeswax, because it’s winter in Vancouver so I’m not concerned with it being too warm for the bar to stay solid
  • slightly more cocoa butter (total of 0.3 ounces), because it’s a hard butter and even though it’s winter in Vancouver, it melts at body temperature
  • straight-up cornstarch instead of cornstarch-based baby powder (because that’s what I had, and why not)

I gave a lot of thought to which essential oils I’d use, and in the end I made a terrible decision. I used about 15 drops of ylang ylang and 5 drops of lavender. It’s terrible because I don’t like how the ylang ylang smells (either entirely, or on this base, since cocoa butter is smelly in its own right). It’s possible that an even split between the two would have been better. But next time, I may try half lavender and half tea tree oil.

Jasika’s recipe yielded enough to fill about half of a full-size deodorant tube.

It turned out that sickly greenish colour because of the small amount of bentonite clay in the recipe. It’s a great ingredient, but, well, it’s that colour.

photo of me
The chain at my pits is not because I’m badass, it’s just the dog’s leash.

First Impressions

I used the deodorant for the first time this morning (that’s right, it’s on my pits right now!). The upside of the gross colour is that it totally didn’t make my pits white. (Nor did it make them greenish; there just isn’t enough of the bentonite clay in there to do that.)

I already mentioned I’m not a huge fan of the scent I chose, but it’s not awful, and I’m sure I’ll be able to set my jaw and endure it for the next few weeks.

The bar isn’t as hard as commercially made deodorant, but it’s firm enough to work fine in the tube. I may use a bit more beeswax next time (it’s the ingredient that contributes most to the relative hardness or softness of the concoction), and I’ll certainly use more during warm-weather months if this experiment ends up a success.

My skin has not felt at all irritated, despite the inclusion of baking soda in the recipe. In fact, my pits feel great. This is why I wanted to use a more complex recipe rather than just a couple of ingredients. Shea butter is very, very lovely for your skin. And so is cocoa butter. In fact, this deodorant is pretty much a fabulous balm, with added starches and clay for dryness and baking soda to absorb odor.

Most importantly: the smell and wetness report. I applied the deodorant four hours ago after taking a shower. Between then and now, I took Cleo on a 40-minute brisk walk during which I broke a sweat. Usually, after a few hours of doing nothing much, I will start to emit the first hints of stale-smelling BO (I know you’ve always wanted to know this about me; you’re welcome). After a couple of hours of work and the brisk walk today: zero hints of BO.

Also, during the walk and the sweating, I expected to feel wet, which is not a sensation I enjoy. I was very surprised that I didn’t feel wet at all. I mean sure, yes, I sweated. So there was that. But if I don’t wear deodorant, I feel, like, wet and slippery in my pits, and today I did not. At all.

So even though it’s only 1pm, I’m declaring the first day of the Great Homemade Deodorant Experiment a total success.

I’ll be sure to report back further into the month.

Some other, less pit-focused pics from my walk:


Camosun Bog

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Alicia Landi

Awesome! I tried using a natural deoderant but it buuuuuurned badly, and also made my pits smell awful. Not like BO, not like the ingredients used, just awful. I gave it a solid 2 week try but I couldn’t take the itchy burny pits, so I went back to regular stuff.


Knowing that your pits are now drier and somewhat odorless certainly will help me (your loving mother) sleep well tonight.


Ok first, your mother…hilarious. I am so excited for you. What a concept and you are just the barrels blazing kinda gal to tackle this creation. Love your “pit” picture! And the others were lovely too. Congratulations. Now what does your husband say?

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