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. Adrien Avatar

    4 stars
    I found after a year or so that the baking soda, I think, gave me a bit of a rash. So I decreased the quantity of BS and upped the cornstarch. We don’t have access to arrow root here. I also decreased the coconut oil because it is so hot here. And the EO’s I use are lavender, rose, frankinsence and myrrh. I use 2 drops of EO’s for every five grams of the mixture, as advised by a qualified aromatherapist. It’s important to know what the correct amount of EO is necessary to add. I’ve been using this for about four years now, and I love it. Works a charm.

  2. Danel Avatar

    HI, I’m a bit confused… You have a website that says 12 ways to use beeswax at home. Your number one usage of beeswax is natural deodorant but then the recipe you give doesnt even include beeswax?

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      The second deodorant recipe that’s linked in the uses for beeswax article (the men’s deodorant) does include beeswax. Katie’s probiotic deodorant also has beeswax.

  3. Nick Avatar

    Been using the recipe without shea butter for a couple years now, and can often go 2-3 days without needing to reapply, a boon when I’m on the road for an extended period of time.

    I read in someone else’s blog about using DE (Diatomaceous Earth) in place of the Arrowroot as a binder to keep it firmer. I made the recipe as usual, substituting as noted, and found that the deodorant does indeed stay firmer… in warm weather, it’s still a soft paste when the arrowroot version would have been soupy. But now that we’re into the 50* nights, it’s so hard I have to use a chopstick to chip it out! Also, it doesn’t seem to last as long as it used to; there have been some days that my deodorant fails me before the day is over.

    So, word to the wise: stick to the original recipes, and you’ll stay smelling great. If it ain’t broke, etc! I’m going to pitch this batch and make up a new one tomorrow.

  4. Alie Avatar

    Hi, I’ve been making your deodorant recipe for some years now and am very happy with it.
    I have just become pregnant, and I’ve read that it’s best to avoid essential oils in the first trimester. Do you also recommend that I don’t add essential oils to my homemade deodorant or body cream?

  5. Juli Avatar

    I’ve been making this deodorant for a little over a year and it’s the only recipe that I truly love. One thing I haven’t “mastered” is the amount of essential oil. I double this recipe and share with friends. How many drops do you recommend? I usually use lavender or grapefruit, unless it’s for my son and then I use something a little more “masculine”.

  6. Landon Avatar

    5 stars
    We live in the southeastern US where it is hot and humid most of the year & where biting bugs the size of Mack trucks reign supreme. I’ve been using your herbal tea version of bug spray for YEARS, and have not had a bug bite since. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I bought bug spray, because your recipe works, girlfriend! I forgot where I got the recipe from until I stumbled across this deodorant recipe and suddenly it’s like we were reunited. I’m so glad to have found you again and can’t wait to have a look around for more awesome ideas. Yesterday I made a half recipe of the coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot version to try. Have I mentioned we life in the south? Oh MY word! This stuff works too! I can take Degree off the grocery list now. Won’t be going back – well, hopefully I won’t be going back. I knew the baking soda would eliminate odors, and the arrowroot would help with moisture, and I know the antibacterial & antifungal properties of the coconut oil. I expected to smell clean. I did not expect to be dry!! Dry! In the south!! In summer!! However, I do have a question. This is where the hopefully won’t be going back part comes in. How do you travel with this deodorant that may be solid or may be liquid depending on the temps – ’cause here right now it’s liquid & needs a good stir before applying. I mean, for a road trip I can just toss my tiny little mason jar in a bag, but how do you fly with homemade deodorant? Are there any non glass TSA compliant containers that this won’t leak out of? I can just imagine a glass jar breaking at some point the way luggage is tossed around & I’d be afraid it would either be too cold to dispense from a squeeze tube or too liquid to stay in one under pressure. Help with any travel tips!!

  7. Keri Ann Avatar
    Keri Ann

    Hi Pease let me know HOW to apply the DIY deo. I imagine I will put it in a shallow/wide mouth jar. And then what, scoop it out with my fingers and smear it? Thank you.

  8. Mia Avatar

    5 stars
    It is not true that our skin “detoxes.” It can react to a newly introduced ingredient that irritates it, but that is not the skin detoxing.

    Lavender and many other essential oils used for scent are irritating to the skin, just like citrus oils are.

    Because we do not perspire under our arms after putting on antiperspirant does not mean our entire bodies stop sweating, therefore we are still sweating healthily through all of our other sweat glands. Unless one is slathering antiperspirant all over one’s entire body, that concern is a manufactured and unnecessary one.

  9. Olivia Avatar

    2 stars
    The shea butter recipe does not seem to harden?? I left it in the fridge for quite some time. Still liquid. Not sure what I missed?

  10. Madeleine Avatar
    Madeleine

    5 stars
    Wow! This works so well. I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting this to be so effective, but I was wrong. I went on a bike ride in the heat and got sweaty and I didn’t smell at all! I had tried apple cider vinegar before and every time I got sweaty I would have to reapply it and I did notice a smell. This works so much better. Thank you!

  11. Jamie Avatar

    If my daughter has a sensitivity to baking soda can I just increase the arrowroot to account for skipping the baking soda?

  12. Ines Avatar

    How many drops of essential oil do you recommend? I know it will vary depending on the scent but is it just a couple drops or more? Thanks.

  13. Allison Avatar
    Allison

    I made this today and the consistency is quite thick. Like, once done, it’s more like a dough consistency or like the slime thing kids play with and is not applicable as it doesn’t spread on skin, it just turns into a tiny white ball. Where did I go wrong? Please advise.

  14. Mike Fakenamenstein Avatar
    Mike Fakenamenstein

    If I only have pint jars should I split the recipe? Seems like it should fit.

  15. Beverly Ann Stevens Avatar
    Beverly Ann Stevens

    Thank you For Your recipes for natural deodorant DIYs. I appreciate that you look to medical feedback. I have lupus and am very sensitive to chemicals and dyes. Looking forward to buying the supplies listed.

  16. Amy Mason Avatar
    Amy Mason

    5 stars
    When I first started making my own natural (non-toxic) items, I came across your site and love your recipes. I have tweaked a few but I haven’t altered the deodorant stick as it is perfect! I even make it for my 10 yr old daughter. Thank you!

    1. Sofia Alcantara Avatar
      Sofia Alcantara

      Hello! Thank you so much for the recipe! But I was having a bit of trouble with it and I was wondering if you could help me? I mixed all my ingredients together thoroughly and let it cool on the counter, but when I went to check on it all the baking soda had sunk to the bottom! I tried mixing it again and once again letting sit, but when I came back the same thing had happened. I also tried putting it back on the heat and mixing it bit it continued to sink to the bottom. Am I doing something wrong?

  17. Dee Avatar

    I love this recipe and have been using it for years now. Thank you! Quick question: I ran out of baking soda today and am wondering about replacing the last tbsp of baking soda with baking powder.

    1. Kimber Avatar

      I made the first recipe in March and just finished that batch today. I will never buy deodorant again. What is great is that homemade deodorant doesn’t stain my shirts and it is very effective.

  18. Shannon Avatar
    Shannon

    5 stars
    I have made this many times and love it. This time I made it and it is so hard – would work in a deodorant holder but I just have it in a small mason jar and can hardly use it. Any ideas what I did wrong this time and how to soften it? It is usually very creamy and goes on great.

  19. Blanca Avatar
    Blanca

    I did the baking soda and coconut oil recipe , it works , but after a week of using it , my armpit is becoming very black at some areas?! Anyone knows why?? I read that they may light up , not get dark? Thanks

4.10 from 228 votes (216 ratings without comment)

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