I never used to sweat.
I mean, okay, I would sweat a little. But in a cute way. For example, when I was training for my 5K, I would finish an hour later with a healthy “sheen”, while the gal next to me would be rocking the sweat-V down the front of her shirt. This isn’t me bragging – it’s not like I had control over my sebaceous glands; rather, I just never really had to deal with it. As for body odor, I was also blessed in that I can never remember a time where I finished a workout or arrived at the end of a hot, hot day stinky.
And then… I gave birth.
Maybe it was the change in hormones. Maybe it was the fact that I was lucky if I found time to shower at all. Maybe it was that my husband took over the majority of dinner-duty (meat and grease, anyone?!) while I nursed our daughter 24/7. Or, maybe it was all three combined with an “X” factor I have yet to unearth. Whatever it was, I was no longer blessed. I was stinky.
It was bad. I would use my husband’s “extra strong” man deodorant, and yet I could still smell myself. I even caught myself “pitting out” a couple of times through my shirts. It was embarrassing; it was awful. I became even more self-conscious that I already am. Then, I started reading about how sketchy conventional deodorants are for you. Some common ingredients in deodorants include:
This is usually the main “active” ingredient and is very controversial. Aluminum is classified as a neurotoxin (meaning a “poison to the brain”; I have talked about neurotoxins before in my fluoride series). However, research is unclear as to whether it’s as dangerous to you when applied topically as opposed to inhaled, ingested, or injected. I just think it’s good common-sense to avoid anything that can be considered a poison, but that’s just me. Also, as a massage therapist, I have special education in the epidermis (“skin”); what most people don’t realize is that our skin is an organ just like our liver, lungs, and heart. I try to make it a habit not to put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t want to put IN my body. To reinforce that belief, I found a great article (and by great, I mean “well-sourced”) that found that: “Studies on mice have found that the absorption of aluminum through the skin causes a greater burden on the body than oral ingestion.  Humans also absorb aluminum through the skin: a 2001 study showed that aluminum was still present in blood samples 15 days after one application of aluminum to the armpit. Consequently, applying aluminum to the skin is a very effective way to get aluminum in your system, and in your brain.” Eh… I’ll pass!
From what I can tell, this seems to be a type of manufactured silicone. It’s listed as an “inactive ingredient”, meaning it doesn’t help with sweat/stink. It seems to be useful in many cosmetics for it’s ability to spread and make products fluid (like in foundation). This one kind of concerns me because it is listed as having shown endocrine disruption tendencies, neurotoxicity tendencies, has shown that it as the ability to grow tumors in animal studies, and is pretty bad for the environment (sources available via the Environmental Working Group). Some articles I read implied that it is a chemical that can build up over time. All this just to make my deodorant go on smoother? Doesn’t seem worth it, honestly.
Another “inactive ingredient”, theEnvironment Canada Domestic Substance List warns that it is suspected to be toxic or harmful to us as well as to the environment. This is another silicone-based ingredient that is often diagnosed by doctors as a treatment for dry skin or even diaper rash. According to WebMD, side effects can include “rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.” They also acknowledge that “This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.” (Deja vu to doing my vaccine ingredient research, lol!).
Seriously?! The very first thing I read when trying to decipher exactly what this ingredient is: “Polyethylene or polythene is the most common plastic. The annual global production is approximately 80 million tonnes. Its primary use is in packaging.” (Thanks, Google.) Um.. why is this in our body products?! I absolutely abhor plastic, and we are trying to get away from it as much as we can. It’s hard to find information on this as most studies involve plastic used for water bottles or in food preparation. It seems to be regarded as “generally safe” (but then again, all of these ingredients have to be in order to be sold, haha), yet the EWG does mention that even though polyethylene may be “safe” alone, it could be possibly contaminated in the manufacturing process by 1,4-dioxane. Also, it can be a skin irritant, because.. you know.. it’s freaking plastic!
5. Fragrance (Parfum)
Another highly controversial ingredient, mostly because it’s so vague. Pretty much, fragrance can be ANYTHING – it’s like when your food labels say “natural flavor” or “spices”.. you really have no idea what it is! This gets a moderate-high rating on the EWG hazard scale because it “represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.” Tend to have sensitive skin or get headaches from artificial scents? You definitely want to avoid this ingredient. Fun fact: this was actually an ingredient I found in my “unscented” deodorant. Don’t trust the branding – you want to read the label!
Other ingredients you want to avoid are anything that ends in “paraben” (ie methylparaben, propylparaben, etc), synthetic colors (again, why necessary?!) and petrolatum. Really – just grab your deodorant stick out of the cupboard, spend half an hour deciphering the ingredients, then decide if you feel comfortable with those or not. Personally – I would rather avoid any sort of chemicals around my breast tissue and lymph nodes.
Now, a new problem: I didn’t want to use deodorants, yet I didn’t want to be stinky, either! Then I thought, “Hey. I’ve made my own toothpaste. Why can’t I make my own deodorant, too?”
The first attempt was, for lack of a better term, a massive failure. I was still stinky, and it was runny and goopy. Discouraged, I returned to using my husband’s (somewhat-more-effective-yet-not-great) deodorant until just recently, I decided to try again. This time after doing some more research, I made a tweak to the recipe, and I gotta say… it works! I used it for about a week before telling anyone about it, just in case it was another dud. I still have yet to get my hubby to try it (he wasn’t very encouraged after my last attempt lol), but so far the samples I have given out seem to be working for others, as well. So, without further ado, I give you:
Super-Easy DIY Deodorant
6 T Coconut Oil
4 T (or 1/4 c) Baking Soda
4 T (or 1/4 c) Arrowroot Powder
I mixed all of the ingredients together (warming the coconut oil slightly to melt) in a glass jar and use a small spoon scoop a little bit out. (Note to self: next time, use a smaller, wide-mouthed jar!)
My first go-around, I used “Purification” essential oil as it is the stink-eater, lol. However, next time I think I will use lavender as my underarms get pretty sensitive when I shave (lavender is a great skin oil, as is frankinsence).
Most of these ingredients I already talked about in my Toothpaste Blog. Coconut oil is great for it’s antibacterial properties and is great on the skin (that is, if you aren’t allergic!). This is our base in all our lotions, even our diaper rash cream. Baking soda obviously is for the odor-control. If you are SUPER stinky, I would add a little more, but if you have really sensitive skin, I would try a little less (as baking soda can be a tad irritating). Arrowroot powder is what is going to make your deodorant thicker and easier to use (as coconut oil will liquify when it gets warm out, and you will have a soupy mess!). Apparently arrowroot powder can also help to pull out toxins, which is what is happening when we sweat anyway (and which is why I would suggest avoiding antiperspirants, as you are impeding your body’s natural ability to cleanse itself). I suppose you could use cornstarch instead, but really, I love arrowroot!
Now, this is my base recipe. I’ve seen other recipes that call for extra ingredients such as: beeswax pellets, Vitamin E, diatomaceous earth, almond oil, shea butter, etc. These are all great ingredients, and I am definitely excited to try some of them out. However, most of those I will need to order online, and I needed to de-stinkify like, months ago, so I was going for “cheap, easy, and quick”!
I would love to hear your experiences! Have you tried this recipe, or one of your own?