How to Make Natural Deodorant

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » How to Make Natural Deodorant

Today, I tackle a subject that no one really wants to talk about: body odor. Of course, I want to use a natural deodorant, but I also want something that works!

Chances are, you’ve probably experienced body odor at some point. I’m posting this because it was a touchy subject for me for a long time, and I’m hoping my (embarrassing) plight might be able to help you!

Why Natural Deodorant?

Eating a good diet and drinking enough water can really cut down the underarm odor, but sometimes you need something else. Sure, the conventional deodorant antiperspirants work great, if you don’t mind infusing your armpits with aluminum, parabens, and other additives! Aluminum has also been linked with potentially contributing to breast cancer.

For those of us who have sought a more natural option, you may have noticed that the pickings are rather slim when it comes to the best natural deodorants. There are a lot of natural deodorants out there, it’s just that, well… most of them don’t work well. I say this from experience, as a woman who’s been pregnant multiple times in the last few years (pregnancy increases sweat) and worked out through the pregnancies.

So What to Do?

Sweat like a horse or slather on the aluminum? Is there no other option?

Fortunately, there is!

Unfortunately, it takes more time than going to the store. But it lasts a lot longer and is a whole lot healthier! In my pursuit of healthy armpits, I finally stumbled upon a natural homemade deodorant recipe that works and is still natural. This is after trying every natural variation I could find (which didn’t work or caused a rash) and after several very failed attempts at making it.

I did find in the process that pure baking soda or plain coconut oil works pretty well, so if you aren’t into making your own, maybe try that. Some people get a rash from baking soda, so test this on a small area of skin first. I’ve also recently been using pre-made natural deodorant, which is very similar to these DIY recipes, smells amazing, and works well!

How to Make Natural Homemade Deodorant

Both of the recipes below work really well. I prefer the softness of the first recipe, but if you don’t have shea butter lying around, the second recipe works just as well and has fewer ingredients. You can customize your deodorant to your scent preferences with essential oils or omit them for an unscented version. Those with more sensitive skin may prefer to skip the essential oils or even do a baking soda-free version.

If you’d like a slightly stronger deodorant recipe with a manly scent, see my DIY Men’s Deodorant recipe.

Essential Oils for Natural Deodorant

Some essential oils smell amazing but can be harsh on the skin, like cinnamon and clove. When I’m making beauty products and homemade skincare recipes, I want natural ingredients that work but are also safe for the skin. Certain essential oils help fight odor-causing bacteria and make it smell nice. Here are some options::

Bergamot and Sandalwood are also popular scents, but they come with some caveats. Sandalwood is considered at risk or already endangered due to overharvesting. While not all sandalwood species are on the at-risk list, more overall demand means the less used varieties are now getting more attention and use.

Australian sandalwood doesn’t seem to be vulnerable right now, or Amyris essential oil has a similar scent and can be used instead.

Bergamot has a refreshing scent, but it does make skin more likely to burn in the sun. I’m not too worried about my armpits getting lots of sun, but to be on the safe side there are a few options.

How Do You Make 3 Ingredient Deodorant?

If you take a peek at some drugstore brands they have way more than 3 ingredients. While a longer ingredients list isn’t necessarily bad, simple is usually easier. My coconut deodorant recipe has just coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot powder (essential oils optional).

More Natural Deodorant ingredients

I have several different natural deodorant recipes you can find here. Some popular active ingredient additions include activated charcoal, kaolin clay, and probiotics. Vitamin E oil is an antioxidant that helps extend the shelf life of the carrier oils, but it’s entirely optional.

Not Into DIY?

If you’re looking for a pre-made aluminum-free deodorant option that smells incredible, I’d recommend this one from Wellnesse. It took me a while to come up with long-lasting odor protection in a pre-made natural deodorant, but the wait was worth it! It’s free of all the yucky stuff and of course cruelty-free.

Why Use Natural Deodorant?

I started this pursuit to avoid nasty additives in regular deodorant, but I’m a lifelong convert because it works!

No, really! I was the girl who rejoiced when Secret Clinical Strength came out before prom one year. I’ve had to use regular deodorant a few times since I started the natural, and it doesn’t work as well. Although not an antiperspirant, it does seem to absorb a lot of wetness.

After a few weeks of using natural deodorant, I noticed an unexpected side effect… I wasn’t sweating as much, to begin with. Months later, I notice this even more!

I urge you to try making your own deodorant. Even if you aren’t daunted by the ingredients in your own deo, wouldn’t you feel better knowing you weren’t putting anything on your skin that you couldn’t eat (not that you would want to eat shea butter!)? If you do try it, let me know the outcome!

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4.10 from 228 votes

Homemade Deodorant with Shea Butter Recipe

Deodorant can contain a lot of harmful chemicals. Save time and money by making this natural homemade deodorant with coconut oil, baking soda & oils.
Prep Time20 minutes
Author: Katie Wells

Materials

Instructions

  • Place the shea butter and coconut oil in a quart size mason jar.
  • Place the mason jar in a small saucepan of water and heat over low heat until the shea butter and coconut oil have just melted.
  • Remove from heat and add the baking soda and arrowroot if using.
  • Mix well.
  • Add the essential oils if using, and pour into a glass container for storage. It does not need to be stored in the fridge.
  • If you prefer, you can let it cool and pour it into an old deodorant stick for easier use, though it may melt in the summer!

Notes

It may take several hours to completely harden. This process can be sped up by putting it in the fridge for a few minutes.

Coconut Oil Homemade Deodorant Recipe

If you don’t have all those ingredients around, or don’t want to wash a double boiler, this recipe is faster and easier.

Natural Homemade Deodorant Recipe Ingredients

Coconut Oil Deodorant Ingredients

Coconut Oil Deodorant Instructions

  1. In a medium size bowl, mix together the baking soda and arrowroot.
  2. Use a fork to mash in the coconut oil until well mixed.
  3. Add oils if desired.
  4. Store in small glass jar or old deodorant container for easy use.

Troubleshooting and FAQs

After years of using this recipe and hundreds of comments from readers who have tried these recipes I’ve created some FAQs. If you have any trouble with making these natural homemade deodorant recipes, this may help.

Q. How long does homemade deodorant last?

A. Because there’s no water in the recipe I’ve found it lasts for 6-12 months. I always use it up before that long though.

Q. This homemade deodorant is giving me a rash… Did I do something wrong?

A. Some people react negatively to the baking soda and develop a rash or underarm discoloring. If this happens to you, I’d suggest stopping using the natural deodorant until you are able to resolve the issue. Many people cut the baking soda amount in half and notice that the irritation goes away.

A simple clay-based armpit detox can help pull out some of the chemicals from past deodorant use that may store in the underarm and lead to a rash.

Q. How do you make natural deodorant without baking soda?

A. You can replace some or all of the baking soda with arrowroot or tapioca starch. Also, make sure that you aren’t reacting to any essential oils you use in your homemade deodorant.

Q. What can I use naturally instead of deodorant?

  • Acid-Based Deodorant: Other readers have noticed that if they react to a baking soda-based deodorant, an acid-based deodorant works better. Suggestions that seemed to have worked include using diluted lemon juice or apple cider vinegar alone or with essential oils.
  • Spray Deodorant: A magnesium-based spray deodorant can also be helpful, especially for those who react to coconut oil or shea butter. This is also a lighter option that dried more quickly. If you prefer to spray on your deodorant, here’s a recipe to try.

Q. I’m allergic to coconut oil… can I make this recipe without it?

A. Absolutely!

You can use half as much of a liquid oil like almond, jojoba, or avocado oil in place of the coconut oil, especially in the shea butter recipe. This will create a thinner recipe. If you want a formula closer to an actual deodorant bar but without the coconut oil, use this recipe but use ¼ cup almond (or other liquid oil) in place of the coconut oil.

Q. Can I put this in a regular deodorant container?

A. Yes, though it will work better with the first recipe that contains shea butter. To make an even firmer bar, increase the shea butter to ¼ cup. These inexpensive deodorant containers work well to store this recipe. I also recommend letting either recipe firm up in the fridge before attempting to use it if you are putting it in deodorant containers.

Q. This seems to be staining my clothes… How do I fix this?

A. I’ve personally never had trouble with this, but it seems that this can be a result of using too much of the mixture at one time or not letting it absorb into skin before putting on clothing. I use a tiny amount (not much is needed) and wait 3-5 minutes before putting on a shirt to avoid any staining issues.

Q. This stings if I apply it right after shaving… how do I prevent this?

A. The baking soda or magnesium will sting after shaving. Usually, waiting a few minutes will solve the problem.

Q. How do I prevent ingrown hairs in my armpit?

A. Shaving can sometimes cause uncomfortable bumps where the skin grows over the hair follicle, trapping the hair underneath. Some people believe applying deodorant to the area can help prevent ingrown hairs, but there isn’t evidence for this. Dermatologists recommend lightly exfoliating the area a few times weekly to help.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Ann Shippy, who is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and a certified Functional Medicine physician with a thriving practice in Austin, Texas. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Ever made your own deodorant? How did it go? Share below!

Sources
  1. Darbre, P.D. Underarm antiperspirants/deodorants and breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res 11, S5 (2009).
  2. Tunell, A. (2015). #BeautySchool: Does Deodorant Prevent Ingrown Hairs? Harpers Bazaar.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

1,554 responses to “How to Make Natural Deodorant”

  1. Jaimie Lawson Avatar
    Jaimie Lawson

    You guys rock. The more sustainable and biodegradable products the better.

    I love this because we can ditch the plastic containers.
    Imagine every toothpaste tube and deodorant sticks that go into the landfill (or ocean) every year? 🙁
    Well, this is the solution!

  2. Phyllis Avatar

    Did anyone else find this wayyyy too dry? I measured out the coconut oil, put it in, it was so super crumbly that I put a couple more table spoons in, AND added globs of aloe vera gel. When it hardened, it did work as a deodorant, but it was sooo hard to spread on every morning I would have little globs of deodorant on the floor hahaha. I ended up melting it back down, adding 2 tbs of shea butter, and at least 2 tbs of milk of magnesia, and stirring every couple minutes while it cooled so it wouldn’t separate, and now it’s finally soft and easy to spread on! Still works just as well as it did at the beginning. I can’t see how this could have worked without all the extra ingredients, it was just solid as a rock! Maybe I just live in too cool a climate…

  3. Maddie Avatar

    I was wondering how many drops of essential oils I should put in? And what essential oils do you put in yours?

  4. Ruth Ann Griffith Avatar
    Ruth Ann Griffith

    My husband and I simply use Milk of Magnesia. It is working great for us. However, I think you might need to kill any bacteria first by applying white vinegar. (May sting.)

  5. Shelly Avatar

    Thank you for the recipe! How much essential oil should one use? I have a blend I like with lemon, cinnamon leaf, rosemary, clove bud, and eucalyptus.
    Thanks again!

  6. LynnAnn Steffel Avatar
    LynnAnn Steffel

    I am a convert, too! Ive been making and using this for almost two years now. My husband is a carpenter and maintenance guy who isn’t afraid of hard , sweaty work. I make it with 2 Tbs coconut oil, 3 tsp baking soda, 3 Tbs arrowroot powder and a tsp sandalwood paste. It keeps him DRY and he goes all day without stinking. This alone sold me because it works even in the hot humid summers! It also unexpectedly removed his armpit skin tags! I love using this myself. It works better than ANYTHING, including the manufactured natural deodorants.

  7. kalia Avatar

    I’ve recently been going through so many websites to make the perfect homemade deodorant for me and my daughters. I found it easier to just buy some. ETSY has some homemade deodorant with some great prices.

  8. Amanda C Avatar

    Hi. I’ve made this homemade deodorant a couple of times now and I’ve noticed that it is grainy, I think its caused by the shea butter, I wonder if this is still ok to use? I would greatly appreciate if anyone could let me know if I need to do anything in particular to stop this from happening or is it totally normal. Thank you.

    1. Cathy Avatar

      5 stars
      I’ve been using some version of this recipe for a few years now. I love it and find I have far less ofor now than in the past. I live in a super hot climate, so I sweat profusely, but don’t smell any longer, as I did with commercial deodorants or anti perspirants. I think some of the people complaining about rash and discoloration of arm pits just need to detox them. That does all go away inless you are allergic to something you are using.

  9. melle Avatar

    Hey y’all, I live in Wellington, New Zealand, and have been using this deo for years now, but sadly have had to stop using it, as it turns entirely rock solid in the cold weather here. How can I make this softer? Gratitude!

  10. Rhonda williams Avatar
    Rhonda williams

    I want to make a deodorant with mint as it is supposed to be good. Have been having problems with store bought roll on and spray deodorants. They are ok for a couple of days, then my body odour becomes really bad. Thought if I could make my own it might be better. Any suggestions?
    Thanks in advance.

  11. Deborah Diehl Avatar
    Deborah Diehl

    These recipes for natural deodorants are actually what caused me to find the Wellness Mama blog in the first place.
    I’ve been using Katie’s recipe for at least ten years now. It’s so effective that I actually make a tiny mason jar when I make the larger one so that I can bring it with me when I travel.
    I did discover that my skin reacts to the baking soda dramatically. The recipe for detoxing armpits was the solution to that problem. I suspect that after using synthetic commercial brand deodorants my skin simply wasn’t ready for a more healthy alternative. Detoxing it made all of the difference in the world. I still used less baking soda and a little more shea butter than what’s called for in the recipe, but I’m completely amazed at how much my skin changed once I began using this deodorant.
    I’ve made the bars which are great for travel, and for my husband who doesn’t like getting deodorant on his fingers, but the recipe that calls for a glass mason jar is my favorite and has been the most effective for me. The skin in my armpits which was darker than the rest of my skin lightened up to my normal skin tone within weeks of first using this. The other thing I noticed was that I don’t have as much body odor as I used to. I can actually go a day or so without using my deodorant because it moisturizes into my skin and I’ve stopped producing as much body odor. I had no idea what would happen.
    A jar lasts me somewhere between eight months to a year, so it’s extremely cost-effective, and all I have to do is set a time on a weekend to make up a batch before I run out and I’m good for another eight months or so.
    It’s awesome, and I’m so happy Wellness Mama posted it.

  12. Kate Avatar

    If you’re avoiding aluminium, then make sure you buy bicarbonate soda without aluminium (baking soda in Australia is a mix of bicarbonate soda and tartaric acid)…I found the aluminium free bicarbonate soda at a local health food shop.

  13. Akshay G Avatar
    Akshay G

    Why is the baking soda necessary? Is there any substitute for it? What if we made it without it? Thanks!

  14. Shakota Avatar

    Hey. Ive been trying to figure out if it is ok to use lemon essential oil in homemade deodorant. Do you have any idea if this would be a good or a bad idea? lemon essential oil is all that i have as far as essential oils go and I’ve found different sources some saying it is bad for your skin and some saying it is not. I’d hate to make this product with lemon oil and then just have to discard it all.
    Hopefully you can help me out with this.
    Thank You

  15. Ruhi Carter Avatar
    Ruhi Carter

    So, I made this, finally! I’m only concerned with the texture tho and how it turned out, overall. It’s a bit grainy, no wait, a lot grainy! Do you think it’s because I didn’t melt the coconut oil? I live in a country where it’s hot enough year round, that the oil is liquid. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

  16. Laura Avatar

    I have a question. Traditional store bought antiperspirants/deodorants keep you from sweating because of the aluminum, coconut oil is used in many natural deodorants and is said to be comedogenic, (clogs pores). So would that keep you from sweating as well, like an antiperspirant?

  17. Lisa Avatar

    Is it okay to leave the arrowroot or cornstarch out and just use baking soda and coconut oil?

    How many drops of essential oil should I use? I wanted to use Tea tree and lavender.

    1. Robin Conkel-hAnnan Avatar
      Robin Conkel-hAnnan

      Baking soda works well on it’s own.. It’s usually all I use.. When I’m especially sweaty I will spritz with vinegar water as well..

  18. Tina Avatar

    My 80+ year old mother has always had underarm odor problems. She tried everything out there over the years. I started making this for her just a few months ago, and now she has zero problems!!! We both love it.

  19. Dominic Avatar
    Dominic

    How many total essential oil drops do you suggest for the first recipe?

  20. Mia Avatar

    Hi. If making the deodorant in the mason jar, how do you apply it??

4.10 from 228 votes (216 ratings without comment)

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