natural deodorant

A Truly Effective Natural Deodorant! – DIY Zero Waste

So simple, so effective, so affordable and 100% Zero Waste.  

Due to the success of the DIY zero waste washing machine detergent I made previously, I was excited to get stuck into creating a deodorant as my next product. I was a little skeptical about how effective a homemade deodorant would actually be, but, as I’ve tried everything else, I was ready to give it a go!

After years of feeling the shame attached to sweat patches and body odor, I consistently used aluminum products, unaware of the potential cancerous effects, all to ensure my sweat glands were well and truly blocked. Each time I would scan the shelf for the longest lasting antiperspirant to keep me sweat free for as long as possible, which currently is up to three days! Even though not sweating at all for 3 days is completely ridiculous, what’s even more ridiculous is that society pushes us to accept this as not just normal, but essential. 

The chemicals inside can not only potentially cause cancer, but also reproductive developmental issues too. On top of this, the packaging of such products keep being added to an ever-growing plastic waste catastrophe.

Deodorant packaging is a mixture of different types of plastics combined, which makes it increasingly impossible to recycle. Many countries around the world do not accept most plastic deodorant containers as recycling elements. This means they are left to sit in our landfills and oceans. The likelihood of our plastic deodorant containers being recycled is also affected by how clean they are. As not many of us clean out the containers properly, it’s hard for them to be turned into clean plastic pellets to be used once again.

As recycling isn’t exactly what we think it is, it makes much more sense not to create waste in the first place. There are plenty of companies focusing on zero waste, aluminum free, natural deodorants; however, they seem to come at quite the cost. Therefore, I knew it was essential for me to find an alternative!

After looking for different recipes online, I found that there were two options, either oil based or butter-based deodorant. I personally preferred to use a butter one, as I felt my skin would absorb it more easily. I managed to create this recipe after a lot of research, looking at the findings of others’ experiments and ensuring that the properties of each ingredient would improve the deodorant’s effectiveness- beside being affordable too- .

Ingredients 

Cocoa Butter 

  • 2 tablespoons /28g
  • Antibacterial, self-preserving, it prevents the skin from drying and holds in moisture 
  • You can find it package-free (for those based in Berlin, 2 tablespoons for 62 cents at Original Unverpackt, just take your own glass jar)

 Shea Butter 

  • 3 tablespoons /42g
  • Anti-bacterial which helps eliminate any bacteria buildup that causes odor, it is also non-comedogenic so will not clog up your pores
  • For Berliners, you can find this at Original Unverpackt for 6,99 euros in a glass jar

Corn Starch (Speisestarke)  

  • 3 tablespoons /42g
  • Absorbs moisture, it is scentless and helps to thicken and bind the mixture 
  • Again, for Berliners, you can find this at Edeka in a cardboard box, without plastic, for 57 cents 

Baking Soda (Natron) 

  • 2 tablespoons /28g
  • Good at absorbing moisture and effectively kills odour 
  • I already had some at home, but you can get it plastic-free at any zero waste

Patchouli Oil 

  • 5 drops 
  • Relaxing scent which will neutralise the smell of the sweat without any chemicals, it has antibacterial properties to help minimise the smell of bacteria build up.
  • I already had some at home but you will be able to find some for around 8 or 9 euros.

(Check out Mondlicht in Kreuzberg if you are in berlin or search for essential oil shops near you).

Peppermint Oil

  • 5 drops 
  • Fresh and clean scent containing methanol inside, an organic compound which is antiseptic, antimicrobial, antiviral and helps balance your PH levels.
  • I already had some at home but you will be able to find some for around 7 or 8 euros, check out Mondlicht in Kreuzberg or search for essential oil shops near you.

If you are in Berlin and find it hard to purchase any plastic free ingredients, go and take a look in Original Unverpackt, the Zero Waste shop in Kreuzberg, it’s affordable and very easy on the planet!

Now for the simple steps…

  1. Melt 2 tbsp /28g cocoa butter using the double boiler technique: boil the water in a saucepan and put the Cocoa butter in a separate saucepan and gently place it into the boiling water  and keep it in there until it melts
  1. Once melted, add 3 tbsp /42g of shea butter and stir a little 
  1. As soon as it’s all melted, take it off the heat 
  1. Add 2 tbsp /28g of baking soda and stir
  1. Add 3 tbsp /42g of cornstarch and stir 
  1. Stir well and make sure there are no lumps! 
  1. Add 5 drops of Patchouli oil and 5 drops of peppermint oil and stir again
  1. Remove any visible lumps and stir stir stir! 
  1. Transfer into a glass jar, or perhaps an old deodorant container and put in the fridge for an hour, or simply leave it on the side for at least 24 hours. 

(Before it had settled)

Once you have left it to settle with its lid on, it’s ready to apply! 

(After it had settled for 24 hours)

(After a few days use) 

The ups and the downs 

This recipe was pretty straightforward, taking as little as 15 minutes in total from beginning to the end , with most of that time spent stirring. 

One thing I did notice when I poured the deo into the glass jar, the mixture divided itself and looked as if there was a white layer at the bottom of the jar, separated from the rest of the ingredients. But don’t worry, after leaving it to settle for 24 hours this was no longer present and everything was nicely mixed together.

In an attempt to see if it might affect its effectiveness or how well it keeps, I put it in the fridge to see what might happen. Although clearly now much colder, nothing much had changed. Before I was finding that there would be a small amount of liquid residue, from where I had scooped out my deodorant from the day before and after leaving it in the fridge this liquid was still there. I found that the liquid can actually really help with the application, making it a little easier to massage the deo on my skin. So if you also find some liquid residue, it’s not a concern, but if you like, you can give it a quick stir from time to time to help combine it altogether. 

However, if you do live in a super hot climate and find that the deodorant is melting excessively, place it in the fridge from time to time, or perhaps even daily. 

Although the total cost of the ingredients may seem quite a lot, the amount per batch is 3,45 euros; which is cheaper in comparison to other zero waste, natural deodorants – whose price is usually around 8 euros-. 

I did not only save quite some money, but I also know exactly which ingredients are being used and how much waste I am producing, which, right now, is absolutely none at all! 

The only thing that will be recycled through the official recycling system and not by me, is the cardboard box filled with corn-starch; but there is so much in the box that it will probably take me a few years to get through. 

On top of this, the leftover ingredients are enough to make three other batches – I won’t have to pop to the shop any time soon – . Even then, I would only need to buy the shea butter, cocoa butter and baking soda, all in reusable glass jars. 

Putting it into action! 

As the steps were super simple and there were only small quantities of the ingredients to play around with, this process is close to fool proof. Everything went as planned.

One thing I was a little concerned about was the excessive amounts of information on the Internet suggesting to do an ‘armpit detox’ before changing deodorants. Although it seemed like a lot of people had positive outcomes trying this, there was also a lot of information stating that it’s a waste of time, with its effects wearing off after a few days and nothing that a good wash with some soap wouldn’t do! 

Whilst the detox would have involved the addition of another ingredient and more cost, I decided to give my armpits a good old scrub in the shower with soap instead and stopped using the previous deodorant for a few days.

The day I began testing out the deodorant the sun was shining, it was 30 degrees Celsius outside and I was off on a 30km bike ride; cycling to and from the Krumme Lanke and Schlachtensee lakes. I was really putting it into test!

When applying the zero waste deodorant, I scraped a finger size amount onto my finger tip and slowly massaged my skin, adding a little bit more if necessary. 

My skin was able to absorb it quite nicely. Taking my first whiff, I was sold there and then. The combination of the earthy relaxing patchouli and the fresh peppermint oil was perfect. They complimented each other so well, it was uplifting, I smelt fresh, clean, natural and the patchouli added a nice relaxing fragrance underneath. 

If patchouli or peppermint scents aren’t your cup of tea, I would advise having a little smell exploration. See which scents you like, check if they have properties to help neutralising odour or bacteria , mix them together on your hand and only then, after you’ve tried it, add those into the mix instead. 

Along the day the initial scent wore off a little, but surprisingly no odour was left neither!

I could not believe that this simple combination of only a few natural ingredients had actually worked.

I also didn’t experience the usual level of perspiration, especially on an adventure like the one I had that day. Thankfully the ingredients work as a natural antiperspirant and help absorb any excess moisture. However, disclaimer alert, this will not be comparable to a three day antiperspirant, but it is definitely the most effective natural deodorant I have ever tried.  

The next day was also a scorcher and I had quite a few errands to run throughout Berlin.

I cycled around 17km, sat in the sun for a while and then hung out with friends at Tempelhof later that evening. Usually, if I had been out and about in this kind of heat, I would need another shower or need to apologise to whomever I was with about my smelly self; but not this time! 

Again, the fragrance of the patchouli and peppermint was stronger at the start of the day and did wear off into a neutral scent later on. This time a touch of my natural scent came through, which I really didn’t mind at all and was actually quite nice as it was only slight and nothing offensive. 

Since testing this deodorant out for two weeks now, I have no complaints whatsoever. I had more and less active days, but every day I smelled great and so did my clothes! 

After stopping shaving my underarms a few years ago, I have wondered whether my skin tends to have a stronger smell because of the hair. After discovering this new DIY deodorant I know that it’s about what’s in the product and not how many hairs you have. 

Moreover, in the past I often struggled with accidentally getting the deodorant on my clothes whilst getting dressed, making white or greasy marks. However, this doesn’t seem to be an issue at all anymore. In fact, it only makes my clothes smell nicer and reduces how often I need to give them a wash instead.

This deodorant, with its natural fresh scent and moisture absorbing properties, is an absolute winner! I not only recommend to try it for yourself, I urge you to! It works so well, you can save money and it also helps save the planet from clogging up with plastic. You really can’t go wrong.

Hot Tips 

  • If you want a stronger smell add a couple more drops of the essential oils, but not too many. It has already quite a strong scent with 10 drops in total, but this comes down to personal preference. 
  • If you want to change the essential oils for another smell, try to make sure they compliment each other, as well as they fit with your natural skin’s odour.
  • I couldn’t afford  to get Vitamin E oil,  but if you can, get yourself some and add a few drops in it; it will help preserve the deodorant. 
  • If you experience a very hot climate, I would suggest keeping it in the fridge, but trust yourself and see what works best for you, perhaps you might even prefer it as a liquid instead.

Author

  • Writer, founder of earthlings magazine and women's mental health support group 'Wacky Women'. I love silliness, getting creative and nature in all of its forms, especially when there's no humans around, or traces of any.