Make Your Own: Deodorant Bar
Are you someone who needs deodorant year round? I tend to use it even more during winter months when my armpits are buried under layer after layer of wool, and I'm moving between a 20º indoor environment to a –12º (feels like –20º) outdoor one.
It's been cold here lately. Very cold but very beautiful.
I'm on maternity leave with a baby who will only nap outside – and only while in the baby carrier as I walk and walk, and walk. I've been racking up 20,000+ steps each day. Phew! And I'm not the youngest mama on the block.
My first child was the same. Couldn't get him to sit in the stroller until he was well over a year old. Rarely got him to nap indoors. They grow up so fast though. I find myself much more able to relax and just enjoy this baby. No analyzing or charting, scheduling or overthinking. No unnecessary stress about things like sleep or feeding. Babies really are quite simple. Keep them close, follow their cues, and kiss those chubby cheeks as often as possible while they let you!
Meanwhile, I am going through some deodorant these days.
And I like to make my own.
Why would a very busy mama who barely has time to get her teeth brushed twice per day want to make her own deodorant?
1 – Because commercial deodorants contain a cocktail of chemicals – aluminum compounds, parabens, steareths, triclosan, propylene glycol, trethanolamine (TEA), diethranolamine (DEA), fragrances, dyes and artificial colors – that I want to avoid because they're linked to a long list of health issues. And because they often contain antiperspirants to prevent sweating, which also prevents the elimination of excess toxins and hormones in breast tissue. Sweating is a good and healthy thing!
Read our blog post Let's Talk Deodorant for more info with links to supportive research and studies.
2 – Making my own allows me to customize it however I wish. During pregnancy I wanted a completely unscented deodorant. In this postpartum phase, since I have a baby in my arms for most of the day, and all night too, I've used only a bit of lavender essential oil in my deodorant bars. Soon, however, I will definitely want to go back to my favorite blend of lemongrass, thyme and peppermint essential oils! Making my own allows me to adjust as needed throughout seasons of life.
And speaking of seasons, I can tweak the deodorant bar formula ever so slightly to achieve a lighter deodorant for summer months. Because I really don't like the heavy butters like shea or cocoa butter when it's so warm outside – they make my pits feel like a gloopy mess. But I've really enjoyed the addition of cocoa butter this winter. The cocoa butter also gives me a more solid bar that doesn't get soft in our warm bathroom.
3 – Most deodorants, even natural ones, are packaged in bulky, single-use plastic containers. By making my own, I can store it in a glass jar I already have, which is one less deodorant container lingering around the planet for the next 1,000 years, or however it takes for them to break down while they release their plastic chemicals into the soil and water. That’s about 8 less deodorant containers per year, around 275 less in my lifetime, just for me alone!
So while I can find a few natural, organic deodorants on the market, they are usually packaged in tons of plastic – and they're pricey.
4 – It's so simple, doesn't require too many ingredients or any special equipment.
And it doesn't take a ton of time to make them either. I promise.
I absolutely love the Wyld deodorant bar and use it daily. But a few months ago, I ran out of arrowroot powder, one of its main ingredients.
I was applying some of our best-selling Baby Booty Balm to my own baby's booty and started to think about the clay ingredients. Bentonite and kaolin clays are added for much of the same reason that I add arrowroot to deodorant, but with the added benefits that come along with mineral-rich clays. So I started experimenting.
In the end, I discovered a deodorant bar that I absolutely love! It’s perfect for winter. Here's why I love it:
- 100% natural and organic
- Absorbs moisture
- Eliminates odor
- Actually fights odor-causing bacteria
- Detoxifies armpits
- Non-irritating, so it works even for sensitive skin
- Easy to make
- Super easy to apply – and not messy!
- Requires no bulky plastic packaging
- Effective in small amounts, so each bar is long-lasting
Here are the ingredients and how each one works:
Coconut Oil, preferably virgin and organic, is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. Can fight odor-causing bacteria in moist areas like the armpits. It also feeds skin nutrients and may even boost the body's overall immune system thanks to powerful fatty acids like lauric acid. Moisturizing and reparative too!
Cocoa butter, preferably raw and organic, is an antioxidant powerhouse. Keeps skin from drying out excessively. Soothes any rashes. May even fight infections. It also helps give the bar it’s solid shape, as this butter becomes very hard at room temperature, as well as a nice texture for rubbing into the skin.
Beeswax, preferably local, is slightly anti-microbial and can help keep skin clean. It also forms a natural defense barrier and gives the bar its solid form.
Bentonite clay contains the mineral montmorillonite and carries a negative charge, which causes it to attract substances with positive charge – like toxins, bacteria, fungi, etc. Cleanses skin and flushes toxins. Absorbs unwanted, excess moisture. Heals and regenerates tissues. Also gives the bar a nice consistency for rubbing into the skin.
Kaolin white clay is also naturally absorbent yet even more gentle than bentonite clay, so it helps with moisture control and balancing of detoxification. Like all clays, it contains a unique blend of minerals that feed your skin nutrients.
Sodium bicarbonate, a natural deodorizing ingredient that works by shifting or balancing pH levels to eliminate body odor. (See Notes below if you have very sensitive skin.)
Essential oils (optional) – I love the addition of lemongrass, thyme and peppermint essential oils. They’re so refreshing.They're happy yet soft. Together they create a wonderful scent that isn’t overly feminine OR masculine, which means that my husband and I can share the same deodorant. These oils also have antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties that add more protection and support.
But of course you can use your preferred essential oils. In the past I enjoyed a blend of lavender, grapefruit and ylang ylang. My husband used a combo of bergamot and atlas cedarwood for a while. Or you can leave out the essential oils for a simple unscented bar that still works!
So let's do this.
MAKE YOUR OWN DEODORANT BAR
55 grams coconut oil
25 grams cocoa butter
21 grams beeswax
2 Tbsp bentonite clay
2 Tbsp kaolin white clay
1 Tbsp sodium bicarbonate (see Notes below)
20 drops essential oils (optional)
Silicone mold – or muffin tin works fine – for setting bars
Unbleached, grease-proof paper (optional, see Notes below) for wrapping bars. You can also store in any sort of container once set.
In a bain marie (or double boiler), melt the coconut oil, cocoa butter and beeswax just until fully melted. I like to do this in a glass Pyrex measuring cup set inside of a small pot of boiling water. Once melted, take out of the water bath and quickly stir in the clays and sodium bicarbonate until fully mixed in, without any loose powder floating around. Stir in the essential oils if using, and then pour the mixture into your silicone mold. I love the round ones that hold about 90-100 grams worth of a bar. Let cool completely for about 24 hours before removing.
If you want to wrap your bar(s) in paper, simply cut out a large circle of grease-proof paper, put your deodorant bar in the center and start folding the paper up towards the center until it's wrapped.
* Sodium bicarbonate can be irritating for very sensitive skin, so you can adjust the amount as needed or even leave it out completely. Experiment to find the right amount for you. If your skin is really sensitive yet you struggle with body odor, I recommend starting with just 1 teaspoon.
* I wrap my bars in unbleached, grease-proof paper. You can store them like this for a long time. The paper is helpful when applying too – simply fold down a corner or two of the paper and rub the exposed bar into your armpits. You never have to touch the bar. If you do, it may leave a tiny bit of residue on your hands, but the formula is so natural, you can literally just rub it in anywhere on your body.