Homemade deodorant is an easy, effective alternative to store bought. This version is specifically for sensitive skin and needs just five ingredients.
I have very sensitive, eczema prone skin, and often get a rash when using store-bought deodorant. This was especially true when I used antiperspirant, but also ‘natural’ versions that didn’t contain aluminum.
Shea butter has a couple of benefits here – it helps to provide a more stable, creamier texture, both in colder and warmer temperatures, and it’s better for sensitive skin than pure coconut oil.
Essential oils should be used sparingly as they require a lot of plant matter to distill into tiny amounts of oil. They add both scent and odour-reducing elements here, but can be left out if you prefer. Don’t be tempted to add more than listed, as they can be irritants if used in too high of quantities (and if you’re not certain, leave it out altogether).
This has been my go-to deodorant for over a decade and I’m still going strong with it! I’ve never been told I smell bad in that time and it works well if you have underarm hair, too.
- Arrowroot Powder: or use cornstarch, in an equal amount. Tapioca and other starches work too but I find them less effective.
- Baking Soda: an important active ingredient, but used very sparingly here.
- Coconut Oil: solid up to 24°C, it should keep things solid unless it’s very warm.
- Shea Butter: adds skin-nourishing elements and is solid up to about 35°C, so it helps to keep the deodorant from melting in warmer weather.
- Essential Oil: for scent and some anti-bacterial properties.
I don’t recommend using lemon oil for your deodorant as it can be an irritant and cause problems if your skin is exposed to sunlight. Avoid other citrus oils like orange and bergamot if your underarms will be seeing a lot of sun, too.
- cedar and rosemary
- bergamot, lavender, and rosewood (my favourite)
- balsam, peppermint, eucalyptus (Graham’s favourite)
- lavender, eucalyptus, and cedar
- eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree
There are many options, but these are some of my preferred choices. Even unscented it will smell slightly and pleasantly of shea butter.
Notes and Substitutions
If it’s you’re first time using a natural or homemade deodorant, please note that there is a transition time your body needs to adapt to this new method, particularly if you were using antiperspirant. You might be a bit smelly for the first little while, so it might need to be reapplied often at first.
This is deodorant and will not stop you from sweating. You’ll still perspire, but it shouldn’t smell. I find this recipe to be effective for both me and Graham, who’s very active and sweats a lot.
The amount of baking soda can be increased up to a maximum equal to the arrowroot or cornstarch. It is significantly less here because baking soda is often what will irritate sensitive skin, but it’s also part of what keeps unpleasant smells at bay, so you need to find a balance that works for you.
If you want to travel with this in hot weather, use a tablespoon of melted cocoa butter in place of an equal amount of coconut oil. It’ll make it more stable in very hot temperatures.
The deodorant can also be used as a powder (apply with a clean make-up brush) but I find it to be a bit irritating and less effective this way.
Step by Step
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- 40 grams (1/4 cup) arrowroot or cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 10-15 drops essential oils (optional)
- 2 tablespoons solid coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon shea butter
- Shallow Bowl
- Storage Container
- Add the arrowroot powder and baking soda to a shallow bowl. Mix, using a fork, until combined.
- Add the essential oils (in any combination you like) to the arrowroot mixture. Stir to combine.
- Mix in the coconut oil and shea butter, using the fork in a mashing motion. This will take a minute or so - the mixture will look too dry, but keep mixing.
- Once finished, the deodorant should be smooth, creamy looking, and homogenous in colour.
- It can be used immediately but will improve after resting for a couple of hours.
- Store at room temperature and use as needed. It will last up to six months.
A glass container won't take on the scents of the oils and will be easier to re-use in future.
This post was originally published in October 2014. It has been updated with slight changes to the recipe and new images as of May 2021.