Friday, June 17, 2011

Finding Healthy Deoderant Can be the Pits!

     Wow!  I'm not sure how the day got away from me, but here I am at the end of the day, sitting down to write for the first.  As I ran around town in the Houston heat, I thought about how thankful I was to have finally found a good-smelling, natural deodorant that works for me.  Neither of my younger brothers wear deodorant and they haven't for a few years, but until recently I didn't know just how smart they were! And while I'm not sure I could really go without anything to deodorize, I am all for finding healthy, natural alternatives to commercial deodorant.  Our bodies get rid of toxins through sweat, so blocking that process with cancer-causing chemicals doesn't seem right.  However, the search for finding a chemical-free deodorant that I can live with has been tough.  For lack of better words, let's just say it has been the pits!

     I have tried 5 different ways to mask my scent, a long and often expensive process.  My first attempt at a deodorant alternative was Tom's of Maine brand deodorant.  Tom's is natural and free of chemicals, but at the end of the day, I felt like I really didn't smell that great.  I would continually ask friends (really good friends) at work if I smelled bad and they always said no.  They could have been lying though because I really didn't like the odor.  R2 is always quick to give me his honest opinion, so I asked him what he thought and he agreed with my friends, I didn't stink.  I however wasn't happy with the smell and kept looking.  Attempt #2 was in the same aisle as Tom's at Whole Foods in the form of a Thai crystal stick.  The directions said to wet the stone and apply.  Easy enough.  However, the directions also said not to apply to broken skin.  Shaving and the Thai crystal were not friends which either meant I had to give up shaving or find something else.  You'll be happy to know that I didn't give up shaving my arm pits, but instead continued my search. 

     Attempt #3 was a little more extreme.   I talked to a friend who said lemon juice was great because it kills the bacteria that causes the odor.  I sliced up a fresh lemon and applied it directly to my underarms.  It smelled fresh, but I spent the next 10 minutes picking pulp out of my armpits.  During the week I need to be able to get out the door quickly, so this wasn't going to work.  Instead of abandoning my lemons, I decided to make a small spray bottle of lemon juice.  With anticipation I collected the juice of two lemons in my spray bottle and started using that as deodorant every day.  Again, I asked my very good friends as well as R2 what they thought about the smell, my smell, and everyone said they couldn't smell anything.  Odor reducing powers, check!  However, as the week wore on, I began to notice that my underarms were really sticky, my armpits stung like crazy after I had shaved, and the fresh lemon juice went bad really quickly.  Admittedly, I may have been a little over zealous in squeezing two lemons at a time for my spray bottle.  Ultimately I decided that I needed to keep looking.

     Attempt #4.  I have to say, trying new concoctions of natural products is somewhat addicting to me.  I sat down and googled how to make natural deodorant.  I filtered through various search results until I came to a blog called Passionate Homemaking that had a recipe for natural deodorant.  R2 didn't jump on the chemical-free bandwagonbeen quite as quickly as I, but he got right in the middle of making a batch of coconut oil deodorant. 

6-8 Tbsp Coconut oil (solid state)
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch (arrowroot is preferred)

I used cornstarch instead of arrowroot, because that's what I had on hand, and bought pure, extra-virgin organic coconut oil from the grocery store.  We mixed everything up and put it in a little container.  I dipped my fingers in, applied it to my underarms, and voila!  This deodorant smells amazing.  I was so happy with our new recipe and tested it out over the next week. 
     This mixture was absolutely painless when applied to recently shaved underarms, smelled good all day long, and was really cheap.  I did note that coconut oil melts at 76 degrees so that "dry" feeling isn't really there, but over time I have gotten used to not using an anti-perspirant.  I thought I had found my match until I traveled with it to Belize for a friend's wedding.  I had thankfully put my little tub of deodorant in a plastic baggie, because when we arrived at the hotel, some of the liquid mixture had leaked.  In no time though, it was back to its solid state and on my armpits.  I was happy, until the night of the wedding.  I put on my coconut oil deodorant, noting how tropical I smelled, and put on the apple green chiffon dress.  I didn't think about my deodorant again until right before we walked down the aisle on the beach.  I looked down and realized that I had small stains on my dress.  Awesome.  Just in time for pictures.  The stains were partly from the coconut oil, and partly from me.  I vowed to keep looking and use a better alternative the next time I had to put on a fancy party dress.

     Said Belizian experience led me to natural deodorant attempt #5.  One Green Street is one of my favorite spots in Houston for organic and natural products.  Sherry has truly put her heart and soul into offering amazing products that are healthy and safe.  One afternoon I noticed she had a new deodorant, organic, natural, eco-friendly that I decided to try.  It promised a dreamy creamsicle scent and looked fun!  The packaging was intriguing and had funny one-liners on it.  I was sold.  My week of trials began.  By this point I had stopped asking R2 and friends how they thought I smelled.  If you can't tell already, I'm pretty sensitive to smells.  I wasn't particularly fond of the creamsicle, and my days ended smelling like the Tom's deodorant, not bad exactly, but not great.  Not to mention, the price tag on that little stick of deodorant didn't compare to the economical coconut oil deodorant.

     So my deodorant of choice after all those weeks of trying, coconut oil.  It may not keep me as dry as some of the other options, but it smells great all day long.  Aside from my experience in Belize, I haven't experienced any notable stains or problems with it.  Traveling with it becomes an issue when it is hot outside, but I just make sure the tub is well-sealed and in a plastic baggie.  I'll call in for back-up the next time I put on my party pants, but for now, I love my fresh coconut scent!


  1. Sounds like it's worth a try! My only concern is the oil on my fabrics. Keep us posted on any issues you find. Love it that YOU are doing the experimentation! ;-)

  2. Kathy, so far the coconut oil hasn't stained any fabric. Even the bridesmaid dress I wore in Belize was not stained at all. When it finally cooled off outside there was no evidence of a problem left on my dress. I did have it dry cleaned when we got home and again, you can't tell there was ever a problem! I think the mixture of cornstarch and baking soda with the coconut oil maybe keeps it from soaking in. I'll keep you posted if I experience any issues!

  3. Great! Bought the coconut oil this morning - going to mix a batch and try it!

  4. Daily Candy did an article on "19 Deodorants That Actually Work" this morning. I noticed some are alumninum free. Have you tried any of these?