In one of my Sex Ed classes in Grade 5, we were given educational kits which included a corny booklet on how our bodies would be changing and each of the girls received a sanitary pad and a Degree deodorant stick. I remember thinking how exciting it was to be introduced to such grown-up products and I eagerly tried my first deodorant in the girls’ washroom as we each giggled that one of us should try the sanitary pad too. Since then, deodorants and antiperspirants have been heavily introduced to us because as it is, humans are stinky. Now that I look back however, I wish we were taught natural alternatives for us to be non-stinky.
The awareness of dangerous ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants such as parabens and aluminum zirconium that may contribute to cancer and other health problems caught my attention when a few years ago my mother was diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer. Sure enough, the Nivea antiperspirant that I’ve been using daily for over fifteen years contained such ingredients. As you could probably tell from a lot of my blog posts, I’m trying to use natural beauty products as much as I could lately so I decided to extend that care to my underarms and I stopped using my antiperspirant.
It was time to look for natural alternatives and it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. It actually took me almost two months for me to find “the one”. During those two months and almost $50 later, many of the natural deodrants I tried (notably: T’eo, Guv’ner and The Greench from LUSH, Ombra Roll-On Deo, Nature’s Gate Lavender & Aloe natural deodorant and CLEAN Warm Cotton Deodorant) none of them really did the trick for me. They worked for a few hours but by mid-day I didn’t feel as fresh as a daisy anymore.
It got to a point where I felt that I had to re-apply deodorant which was never the case for me before. Deodorant/antiperspirant was something I would only apply once a day when I stepped out of the house and didn’t have to worry about it. But during these two months of trial and error, I kept taking a whiff every other hour to make sure I wasn’t offending anyone beside me. It made me paranoid and I didn’t feel as confidently fresh even though my boyfriend, my friends, my colleagues and my family reassured me that I smelled fine when I told them to be honest with me during my quest to go natural. I myself wasn’t comfortable with these alternatives, so I had to think of Plan B. There’s got to be a way humans around the world kept fresh for centuries before commercial mass produced antiperspirants and deodorants came around.
So back to the internet I went and with a bit of patience and research, I came across an article that provided steps to making deodorant using only five natural ingredients: coconut oil (an anti-oxidant and a moisturizer with anti-fungal/anti-bacterial properties), cornstarch (absorbs wetness), baking soda (absorbs odour), lavender oil (antiseptic) and tea tree oil (antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic qualities). As I read each item, I realized had all of those ingredients in my house. I could make this, like, right now! So away I went with making this concoction and I was eager to try it out.
Putting it to the test on a hot sunny day
I used this deodorant for the fist time last week when it was over 28 degrees, slightly humid and sunny. Perfect testing ground. I applied my custom-made deo to my clean and dry underarms after my shower. It smelled so good and I was amazed at how the scent of coconut and lavender actually go really well together. Anyways, off I went to spend this sunny day with my boyfriend. We sat and chilled in his backyard under the sun, we BBQed (well, he BBQed, I contributed to making a salad haha). We spent about four hours outside and once in a while I caught a whiff of myself and still felt fresh, catching the lingering fragrant notes of the lavender. In the evening we cuddled in front of the TV (i.e. producing body heat…bow chica wow ow). I took another whiff at the end of the night and at that point, I actually smelled nothing. The lavender fragrance had faded, but I DID NOT SMELL OF SWEAT. I literally had no odour. That’s never happened before and I was very pleased. Success!
Not so fast though. I figured it might have just been “beginner’s luck” and I didn’t want to draw any conclusions before really putting it to the test for an entire week. So from Monday to Friday I applied my coconut lavender sidekick during the week where temperatures reached over 30 degrees with humidity. My week consisted of eight hours at work, having lunch outside on a sunny picnic table, commuting on a busy subway and streetcar, running errands, going for walks and after work drinks. And during that week by the time I came home, I wasn’t as fresh as when I first stepped out in the morning, but I had no foul odour either, the way I did even when I tried the other natural deodorants I mentioned above. I was truly impressed, amazed and regretted not having started this routine years ago.
Alright, you’re probably thinking “give us the recipe already!” So here is how to make your own natural deodorant:
– 1/4 cup melted unrefined virgin coconut oil
– 1/4 cup baking soda
– 1/4 cup corn starch OR arrowroot powder
– Lavender Essential Oil
– Tea Tree Oil
1. Mix all of the dry ingredients into a bowl.
2. Add the melted coconut oil into the bowl and mix until it forms a creamy white paste.
3. Add 10 drops of lavender oil and 10 drops of tea tree oil and mix.
4. Pour the paste into a glass jar and close with the lid.
5. Put the jar in the fridge for about an hour for the consistency to solidify.
Et voila! When you are ready to use, remove the jar from the fridge and let the deodorant adjust to room temperature (i.e. by the time you’re in the shower scrubbing away). Make sure your underarms are completely dry and clean. With clean fingers apply about a nickel-size amount and rub on your underarms. The coconut oil will melt so nicely on your skin! Tip: wash your hands before closing the lid as it might get a bit oily.
Bonus point: coconut oil is a fantastic moisturizer so it will keep my under ams baby soft and smooth. Extra bonus: you can also use coconut oil in your hair as treatment for extra shiny and frizz-free hair!