I started to get more into natural personal care products when I got back into backpacking. Although today I can’t believe I ever managed to go so long without camping, my college years were decidedly more metropolitan than the years before and after. I’m not here to tell you all modern personal care products are horrible for yourself and the environment. That’s not my call to make. But I WILL say going homemade is easier on the wallet by a LONG shot, I feel way better not contributing as much waste from prepackaged goods, and it’s awesome becoming more self-sufficient. I now make the following personal care items and will be posting the recipes for each in coming posts:
I’ve unsuccessfully also tried my hand at dish soap, but I will here admit that retail dish soaps seem to have the right surfactant blend for cleansing power that my homemade mixes just haven’t yet found. And I use coconut oil as a moisturizer but that’s hardly a recipe so I can’t claim it as one.
That said, I’ll start with the deodorant recipe. This was the first homemade care product I made. Let me preface all of this with the fact I’m sweaty. There, I said it. Or so I thought. I was always buying the “prescription strength” “marathon” “all-day 24 hour protection” deodorant. I started using men’s deodorant because the percentages of anti-perspirant ingredients were higher (plus who wants to smell like sweaty baby powder after a run?). I would stock up when they were on sale because those little sticks were running me upwards of $11 each.
After spending more time backpacking without deodorant, I realized I had no idea what was in those, and it probably wasn’t too healthy to prevent my body from sweating which is a normal activity. So I bought some “natural” deodorants – not anti-perspirants – and tried them out. I didn’t like one stick because it was too sticky. I didn’t like one spray because I just smelled like sweaty dirt by the end of the day and it wouldn’t wash out of my clothes. I thought about the deodorant crystal but I really wanted to make something myself.
So I researched. I tried coconut oil by itself first, but I realized smelling like sweaty coconuts is really unappealing. Then I remembered baking soda is an awesome anti-odor agent. To the kitchen I went!
After many batches and experimentation, here’s my formula for homemade two-ingredient deodorant, which I’ve been using exclusively for almost two years:
2 parts coconut oil, softened
1 part baking soda
Stir to mix well. You may need to let sit and stir again to prevent all the baking soda falling to the bottom if the coconut oil is very liquid. Keep in a sealed jar (I re-used a clean small face moisturizer jar).
Rub lightly into underarms with fingertips after showering and allow to dry. I’ve found the best thing is to shower at night. If you don’t allow it to dry, you may stain your clothing.
You may need to play around with the ratio. I tried half and half but that irritated my freshly-shaved underarms. Any less than 1/3 to 2/3 and I don’t get the odor protection.
A note: if you’re traveling or live somewhere warm, keep the deodorant container in a baggie. The oil may melt. You may need to stir it up again, or the container may leak.
Since I began using this daily, guess what I found? I’m not really a sweaty Betty. I still sweat, sure, but not NEARLY as much as I did before. I’ll sweat mostly whilst working out (obviously), if I’m nervous, or if there’s a major change in temperature due to AC or heat. My underarms aren’t nearly as swampy as they managed to get with antiperspirants. The rest of my body sweats less. Apparently it’s good to let your body breathe and sweat naturally. Plus, I don’t smell. At all. I don’t smell like coconuts, or baby powder, or frat boy, or dirt. Nothing. Just my natural skin smell, which we all have, and is frankly more appealing than a bunch of chemicals mixed with alcohol and aluminum. And I’m saving tons of money. I buy a big tub of coconut oil at Costco which lasts me about a year-18 months (and I use it for EVERYTHING). A box of baking soda is about a dollar. A jar of deodorant lasts me about six weeks. I doubt I even spend $6 making it per year now.
If you make it, let me know what you think in the comments!