Deodorant – A Stinky Subject!

Some people are utterly and irrevocably opposed to using deodorants or antiperspirants because they are unnatural; because they are cancer-causing; because we were designed to smell in such a way.  I believe that each person must choose for themselves instead of following the herd and if deodorant is where you draw then line, then I can respect that… just don’t be offended when I need to take a breather mid-conversation.

A couple of years ago there was a big stink – no pun intended – over the possibility that antiperspirants contain cancer-causing agents.  As of yet, there is no conclusive evidence that this is the case, however, there are a few facts that seal the deal for me.

The skin is our largest organ and whatever you put on it is, by default absorbed into your body.  The two heavy hitters in the deodorant debacle are Aluminum compounds and parabens.  Aluminum compounds are most commonly  listed as Aluminum  chlorohydrate or Aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly.  The problem is that aluminum is absorbed and accumulates in the body.  Some research indicates that there is a connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s Disease.  Parabens are those curious ingredients on labels that include methyl, ethyl, propyl, benzyl and butyl.  These little critters are derived from Toluene, a toxic petrochemical derivative.  It is common knowledge that toluene is toxic if swallowed or inhaled and can be caustic to the skin.  Think about other instances in which you find these -yl laden ingredients – plastics, oils etc.  That alone makes me a little suspicious of putting it on my skin.  Some evidence indicates a connection between repeated exposure to toluene can cause reproductive problems.  Additionally, research shows that certain parabens act like estrogen in animals and tissue cultures, a driving force in the growth of cancer cells.  These aren’t the only uglies you’ll find in deodorants and antiperspirants.  There are also pesticides and various carcinogenic compounds that can cause anything from skin irritations to allergies and even organ damage.  Do you really want to put this toxic soup on your skin?  On your KIDS?

Thankfully, there is a middle ground between going au naturale and smearing Aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly, cyclomethicone, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, synthetic wax, PEG-8 distearate, hydrogenated soybean oil, fragrance and BHT under your arms in order to get that “oh so fresh” scent.

There are great commercially manufactured deodorants such as Terra Naturals, Weleda or Aubrey Organics that contain all-natural, non-GMO, petroleum free ingredients that are vegan and not tested on animals.  There is also a little gem called the Thai Deodorant Crystal made from alum, a completely safe and natural mineral salt not to be confused with aluminum.

Several years ago I started using the Thai Deodorant Crystal.  It was a revelation for me.  At the time I had no transportation and walked everywhere.  I would routinely walk 3 – 10 miles a day in the dead of summer.  Let me assure you that there is a level of sweat and stank there that is incomprehensible to those who are not outdoorsy types.  The Thai Crystal allows your body to sweat out toxins as our bodies are designed to, however, the alum neutralizes the odor causing bacteria on the skin.  How cool is that, right!?!?!  For two years I used the stone religiously and all was well.  The only problem I had was some slight stinging when applied immediately after shaving.  SALT Crystal + Underarm Shaving = OUCH!  Allowing a bit of extra time after shaving before application seemed to work well.  And then suddenly though, I developed a rash – a red, angry rash of blistered welts cropped up under my arms one day and I couldn’t even lower them down to my sides without pain.  I remember sitting with frozen washcloths under my arms for days trying to find relief.  To this day I don’t have a clue as to what actually caused the rash but I remember thinking at the time that perhaps it was some sort of yeast.  I decided to try a fresh stone but this time I got the Roll-On stone instead.  Like before though, all was honky dory in the land of the pits until – BAM – another outbreak.  This time, I was done.  I have to say that there are THOUSANDS of people out there who successfully use the deodorant crystal for the entirety of their lives.  I am still a big supporter of it if it works for you.

While all-natural deodorants can be purchased, I’ve come to see the value in choosing homemade whenever possible and so I set out in search of the perfect homemade deodorant.  One of my first attempts was a dry powder of baking soda and cornstarch.  That was an epic fail.  Not only is it messy and unsightly (really now, who wants white powder all over their clothes) but when you start to sweat it becomes a sort of paste.  I used this once and never again.

I won’t bore you with all the failed attempts at homemade deodorants, but I will tell you what did work.

Homemade Solid Deodorant

1/2 C. solid coconut oil
1/4 C. baking soda
1/4 C. cornstarch
few drops essential oil (I use eucalyptus)

Warm the coconut oil just enough to soften it.  Do not liquify.  Using an electric mixer, mix the coconut oil, baking soda and cornstarch until completely integrated and it looks like a thick cream.  Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and mix thoroughly.  I chose eucalyptus oil because of its antiseptic properties and because I like the scent.

Once the deodorant is mixed, spoon it into a cleaned out roll-up (not roll-ON) type deodorant tube such as those from Lady Speed Stick or the like.  Use the cradle of the spoon to create a smooth and rounded surface at the top, replace the lid and store in the refrigerator.  One recipe has lasted me for two years.  I have not since had to re-make it.

After using this concoction for over two years I have found a couple of pros and cons.  I love that this is so cheap and easy to make and that there are no specialty ingredients that I have to store solely for this purpose.  We use coconut oil for cooking, essential oils for many purposes and the baking soda and cornstarch for cleaning and cooking.  The deodorant tube can be used over and over again.  Coconut oil is an excellent and natural moisturizer that is quickly absorbed into the skin.  It is also incredibly good for the body internally, making it the perfect binding agent.  Everything goes on completely clear and I have never experienced a white or greasy residue on any of my clothes.  Of course, the best part is that it works!

Alternatively, I do find it to be a bit “damp” when I put it on but a bit of air-drying allows the coconut oil to be fully absorbed into the skin.  Avoid over applying.  There is also the issue of coconut oil liquifying at mid-range temperatures.  For home use it is perfect to store in the refrigerator but I would not recommend carrying it on a long trip where it would be stored in a hot baggage area, tent or cargo-hold.  The alternative here would be to carry it in a sealed jar or tub to be applied with your hands or to use all-natural store-bought deodorant to be used for those special occasions.  I am told that some coconut oils have a higher melting point and that is an option, however, I haven’t researched it.


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Sandy said,

    I did the whole bs/cs deod with essential oils. I fooled around with making a solid out of coconut oil but it was a fail. Its just too warm here. My coconut oil is liquid from May through November. I did use it in a glass jar for a while. I have to get back to that. I was using Tom’s of Maine but I am now getting a rash from it. I usually put several drops of tea tree oil, plus lavender and lemon or patchouli.

    • 2

      contessa20 said,

      Oh it gets way too warm here to keep it out, that’s why I store it on the door in the fridge. It’s actually very soothing on really hot days and it stays completely solid. I like the sound of your blend. I’ll have to try that next time.

  2. 3

    Sandy said,

    Oh and for men I recommend using patchouli or sandalwood.

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