Deodorants can be tricky when it comes to making the switch from conventional. If you’re used to using an antiperspirant, natural deodorants can leave you feeling damp, uncomfortable, and self-conscious. Here, we’re breaking down homemade deodorant recipes and recommending natural deodorant picks that we’ve tried and loved.
Why natural deodorant?
Your deodorant is one of the most important products to go green for. The underarms are very sensitive areas and easily absorb the chemicals from deodorants. Natural deodorants have come a long way, but making the switch can still be rough. The good news is that there are plenty of options.
I’m sure you have heard all the reasons we should ditch traditional antiperspirants and start using natural deodorants instead. Aluminum, the most common ingredient in antiperspirants, has been linked to serious illnesses, including breast cancer [source].
Parabens are also common in deodorants and antiperspirants and have been linked to possibly increasing the risk of breast cancer by disrupting the body’s natural estrogen [source]. Silica (a carcinogen), talc (a carcinogen), triclosan (a classified pesticide), propylene glycol (petroleum-based), and steareth-n are other chemicals that can irritate skin and pose possible health concerns.
And while it’s not like we’re eating it, deodorant is applied close to the lymph nodes under your arms, and there is a certain amount of absorption into the bloodstream [source]. So it makes good sense to try changing to natural brands that do not contain toxic products. We’re sharing our favorite natural deodorants that you can buy below, but don’t be scared to make your own.
How To Switch To Natural Deodorant
There’s no getting around it; switching to a natural deodorant is quite an adjustment. No one wants sweat stains—or body odor. I definitely had anxiety about going au naturale. It’s normal.
Natural deodorants typically contain something to absorb moisture—usually baking soda, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder—but they don’t prevent sweat from occurring in the first place like the aluminum in traditional antiperspirants. You’ll have to get used to sweating again, but in my experience, it’s far less and not as stinky as I expected.
Natural Deodorant Troubleshooting
Switching to a new skincare product can sometimes leave you with unexplained irritation. Here are a few ways to troubleshoot:
You’re sweating more
When you make the switch to natural deodorant, there’s a good chance your sweat glands will kick into overdrive for a while. As you sweat more, your underarms will need extra TLC. Get your underarms summer ready by regularly exfoliating and switching to a body lotion with 0.5 to 1% salicylic acid.
Your underarms itch
It’s not uncommon for your pits to itch like crazy during this adjustment phase. Help your underarms detox with a bentonite clay mask. The clay helps draw chemicals from the skin, so your armpits can normalize more quickly. We’ve shared a few more transition tips here.
Again, exfoliation and dry brushing are your friends. Exfoliating regularly helps remove dry skin, cleanse the underarms, and circulate lymph, so toxins don’t get trapped in your pits.
You can also purchase sugar scrub from the store or simply combine one part white sugar with one part olive oil in a small bowl. Gently scrub your underarms twice a week to keep them clean and prevent razor burn.
You get a rash
Some people have negative reactions to homemade deodorant ingredients, especially baking soda. The alkalinity of baking soda can throw off your skin’s pH levels, causing rashes and irritation.
If that’s the case for you, try shaving your underarms at night instead of in the morning or use a pH-balancing toner before you apply your deodorant. You could also switch to a deodorant recipe without baking soda instead (see recipe below).
You smell not so fresh
You may not be applying enough deodorant. I’ve found it works best to layer it on. And if you’re out in the heat or exercising, you’ll need to reapply.
Also, most homemade deodorants rely on essential oils for scent. You can increase the scent by adding more drops to the solution (not directly on your skin). Our recipes call for 6 drops per ounce (making a 1% dilution), but you can increase to 12 drops per ounce of carrier oil for a 2% dilution if you don’t have sensitive skin.
If all else fails and your armpits start smelling a little—uh—ripe, try raw apple cider vinegar. Thanks to an acidic pH and probiotics, it can help correct imbalances and kill bacteria that call your armpits home.
It can also help get rid of keratosis pilaris (those pesky little bumps on the back of arms), so apply it liberally to both underarms and upper arms for skin-smoothing benefits. Combine one part water and one part ACV in a small bowl. Dip a cotton ball in the solution, swipe it on, and let it dry.
Your pits look dark
Dark underarms are super common—thanks to genetics, irritation, and frequent shaving. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with them. Lemons make a great (and cheap) natural lightening agent. And when combined with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, it helps scrub away hyperpigmentation and exfoliate dry skin.
Put ½ cup of baking soda in a small bowl. Add ⅛ cup of hydrogen peroxide and juice from ½ a lemon, then mix to make a thick paste. Apply it to underarms and rub gently. Let it sit for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, then rinse off.
Ready to make the switch? Here are 5 of our favorite homemade deodorant recipes.
5 Ways to Make DIY Deodorant
These are 5 of our favorite ways to make homemade deodorant. Get all of the recipes below!
1. Make deodorant with coconut oil and baking soda
As a big coconut fan, I love the tropical smell of coconut oil deodorant combined with my favorite essential oils. I do the sniff test every so often—because I’m still paranoid—and have yet to smell anything really appalling. By nighttime, the smell has usually worn off but nothing is stinky.
2. Make a deodorant spray
I was unsure about a deodorant spray, but it ended up being one of my favorite recipes. The essential oil combination smells so good that you can skip perfume! If floral scents aren’t your thing, try this version with a woodsy scent.
The vodka dries things out a bit and helps slow down sweating. It might sting a tiny bit if applied right out of the shower after shaving. The scent won’t last all day, so apply it again after exercising or heavy exertion if desired.
3. Use a homemade deodorant bar
Slathering deodorant onto my pits with my fingers can feel weird. I love that this deodorant lotion bar works much like a deodorant stick—so much easier to apply. You can even pour it directly into an empty deodorant container.
4. Make your own deodorant with clay
This homemade clay deodorant is a gift from the summer gods. Coconut oil and tea tree essential oil are naturally antibacterial, so you stay smelling fresh for hours. Shea butter and organic beeswax are super moisturizing and help soften razor bumps and irritation.
The clay absorbs moisture for a little extra drying power. Apply a little with your fingers and let it soak in before getting dressed. You’ll stay dry and BO-free all day.
—2 tablespoons beeswax
—3 tablespoons coconut oil
—1 tablespoon shea butter
—2 tablespoons bentonite clay
—20 drops tea tree oil
Melt the beeswax, coconut oil, and shea butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once fully melted, remove it from the heat and add bentonite clay and tea tree oil. Whisk to combine. Pour the mixture into a jar and set it aside to cool completely.
Since it's oil-based, a little goes a long way. Apply a pea-sized amount to each underarm and let it sink in before putting on a shirt.
5. Whipped deodorant without baking soda
Shea butter and coconut oil nourish your underarms and give your pit paste some staying power (yes, even in 90-degree weather). These two ingredients make the best body butter, so you can turn your deodorant into a whipped concoction that easily absorbs into the skin.
Wondering what diatomaceous earth (DE) is? Well, it’s made of the naturally occurring fossilized remains of a type of algae. They are ground up into a soft, fine white powder that has a ton of uses around the home and the garden.
DE is perfect for deodorant because it’s chemical free, it eliminates odors, and it’s almost perfectly pH neutral, so it won’t make your skin too alkaline or acidic. Scroll down for the full recipe.
Not Ready to DIY? Our Natural Deodorant Picks
Yes, there are natural deodorants on the market that will have you feeling pretty darn dry even after a workout or time spent outside on a hot day, with minimal (or no!) irritation! We asked our contributors what natural deodorants they use—so you can know that the products below are tried-and-true favorites.
1. Earth Science Tea Tree & Lavender Deodorant // Because tea tree essential oil kills bacteria, it’s great for keeping odor at bay.
2. Kopari Aluminum-Free Deodorant Original // Is there anything coconut oil can’t do? Our favorite beauty ingredient is used in this deodorant to soothe and lightly scent the skin.
3. Humble Essential Lavender + Holy Basil // Lindsey and I are both fans of this long-lasting 5-ingredient organic deodorant. I hate having to reapply throughout the day because I don’t want to get oil stains on my clothes, and I never have to with this one.
4. Jason Purifying Tea Tree Natural Deodorant // If you’re looking for an option that’s readily available in stores, Jason is one that works!
5. Leaves of Trees Eucalyptus Mint Deodorant // Our founding editor Stephanie recommends Leaves of Trees, which uses baking soda to deodorize and kaolin clay to absorb moisture.
6. Soapwalla Citrus Deodorant Cream // Soapwalla deodorant has reached cult status, and it’s easy to see why—it really works, and more than a few of us at Hello Glow swear by it.
7. Think Magnesium Deodorant, Charcoal & Sage // This magnesium-enriched deodorant is EWG verified, and it provides long-lasting freshness with zero toxic ingredients.
8. Freedom Frankincense Peach Natural Deodorant // If you’re a sucker for fun scents, you’ll adore Freedom. It also tends to last longer than many other natural deodorant options.
9. Purelygreat Cream Deodorant // If you don't want any scent at all, go for this unscented, EWG-verified cream deodorant from Purelygreat. Their Patchouli, Lavender, Citrus, Charcoal, and Floral versions also made the EWG cut, if you'd rather have a refreshing scent.
10. Native Lavender and Rose Deodorant // This deodorant smells like summer, and we love that it contains probiotics to balance your skin’s microbiome to prevent odor.
11. ARM & HAMMER Essentials Natural Deodorant // Arm & Hammer uses what it does best—baking soda—to absorb and fight odor.
12. Schmidt’s Rose + Vanilla Deodorant // Another natural deodorant that will last you all day long—and it comes in several yummy scents.
DIY Whipped Deodorant without Baking Soda
- Double boiler
- Hand mixer or emulsion blender
- 4-ounce jar
- Combine shea butter and coconut oil in a heat-safe bowl. Heat a couple of inches of water over low heat in a small saucepan or double boiler. Place the bowl on top to melt the oils.
- Combine arrowroot powder and diatomaceous earth in another large bowl.
- Pour the melted shea butter and coconut oil into the bowl with the arrowroot and DE. Add in the essential oils and stir to combine.
- Place the bowl into the fridge to cool. When it’s almost all the way solid, take it out and whip with either a hand mixer or emulsion blender. Keep going until the mixture is fluffy. Make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the bowl.
- Transfer to a jar with a lid and keep in a cool, dry spot.
- Apply a small amount to your underarms with your fingers.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.95