DIY All-Natural Deodorant Paste April 24 2015 1 Comment

Coconut oilFor many, eating healthy is an important goal that we aim for in our daily lives. Often, however, we forget that what we put on the outside of our body is just as important as what we put inside our bodies. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and although it serves as a protective barrier for our insides, it’s basically like we are wrapped in one giant, thin sponge. Absorption through the skin is a significant pathway by which we are exposed to toxins (CDC - Skin Exposures and Effects), and one of the most vulnerable and absorbent areas is, you guessed it, the armpits (if you didn’t guess it, good try anyway, champ)!

In an attempt to hide our natural body odor, which, by the way, Americans are way too concerned about (don’t believe me? Read about it in the New York Times article - The Great Unwashed), we smear a thick layer of chemical-filled deodorant all over our pits. Those chemicals then hitch a ride through our delightfully squishy armpit skin straight to the Bloodstream Express, where they can wreak all kinds of havoc in our body. In men’s deodorants, the biggest offenders are diethyl phthalate (DEP) and triclosan. DEP is linked to sperm damage, abnormal reproductive development, and Attention Deficit Disorder; triclosan may cause hormone disruption. Yikes! Women’s deodorants are no better. Aluminum salts are used as the active antiperspirant agent in many women’s deodorants, even though aluminum is capable of causing DNA alterations, a.k.a. cancer (NCBI - Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer).

Unfortunately, although deodorants made from natural ingredients are a great alternative, they are expensiiiiive, and not always the most effective. And as knowledgeable as we are on the topic of over-showering Americans, sometimes we just can’t, or shouldn’t, make a public appearance without freshening up. So what’s a smelly human to do?! Well, fret not, fetid friends, there is an easy, inexpensive, effective, do-it-yourself (DIY) answer for you, with a DIY 3-ingredient all-natural deodorant!

If you haven’t jumped aboard the DIY train yet, now is the time. This deodorant couldn’t be easier to make, and it seriously works. And bonus, it’s totally edible! So when you hit that mid-afternoon lull and need a little snacky pick-me-up, just swipe a finger under your arm and… okay, just kidding. You can eat it if you want, but it’s not advisable to get into the habit of consuming your skin-care products.

So, enough blabbering, are you ready to DIY-up some seriously awesome underarm cosmetics? Okay! Retrieve the following from your pantry:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (room temp, not melted!*) 
  • 1 tbsp baking soda 
  • 1 tbsp baking starch (cornstarch or potato starch work great)
  • Optional: a few drops of your favorite essential oils to add a little pleasantly-scented flair 

*if you melt the coconut oil, your deodorant will harden into a rock at room temp and you will need a hammer and chisel to break off usable pieces. Keep it pasty, baby.

Mix the coconut oil, baking soda, and starch together in a small bowl until you achieve a thick paste. If the mixture is too grainy or thick for you, add a little more coconut oil, or more baking soda if it’s too mushy. It isn’t rocket-science, just feel it out, folks. Use a small container with a tight-fitting lid and a wide enough mouth to reach into (ideas include an old lipgloss jar, a mint tin, a screw top travel container, or a small glass mason jar) to store the deodorant.

For a first time user, it’s recommended to make a small batch as outlined above and trying it to see if you like it rather than making it in bulk. Unless you have some serious stank going on, the amount you just made should last you at least a month, and will keep for several months at room temperature. All you need is a small (pea-sized or smaller) amount under each arm, spread on with a cotton swab or with your fingertip. You want a very thin coat because it is very effective and too thick of a coat could stain your clothes.

This deodorant works for several reasons. Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial, so it will wipe out the bacteria living in your armpit which breakdown sweat to make smelly bi-products. Baking soda and starch help absorb odor and fight wetness, so you’re less likely to end the day looking like your underarms went for an afternoon swim. In addition, coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer, and can soothe away razor burn and heal chafed skin.

Seriously, what are you waiting for? Throw out that chemical-laden junk and whip up a batch of your very own anti-stink paste today! Let us know about your success and failures (politely, please – human beings read and write this blog) in the comments below!
Elanie Girlando
Elanie graduated with a BA degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and an MS degree in Occupational and Environmental Health from the University of Iowa. She enjoys all things biology, ecology, health, and science. Elanie is an amateur but avid chef, and she loves to find new ways to make healthy living the most delicious and exciting experience it can be.