Updated: Jun 18
This post originally appeared on The Refillery Blog. See Below.
The best thing that I've done so far for myself in this naturalist journey has, without a doubt, been to create and use my own deodorant; and completely detoxify my underarms.
There are so many reasons to do this but my main objective was improved and prolonged health. I've just heard way too many stories and statistics and pieces of research about deodorants and antiperspirants and cancer. They may all be false but I just don’t think it’s a necessary risk to take.
Not to mention that from a purely common-sense perspective; the underarms are like the filtration system of the body (they have the highest concentration of pores, lymph, glands etc etc) so it makes perfect sense to keep them clear and free-flowing.
Basically; you need to sweat; You just don’t need to smell!
This statement has actually become my mantra. I remember years ago I heard someone say that if you think you smell you probably do. That actually freaked me out tremendously because I must have been a teenager at the time and I was constantly paranoid about everything to do with my image so I’m very grateful to have formulated its corollary.
Cut forward to now; I'm in my thirties, and I have never felt so confident.
So, assuming you’re still reading, let's break this down:
Firstly you need to know why you are cutting out conventional deodorant. And once, again as with everything in this journey, the reasons are threefold:
- firstly for your own personal health (just Google deodorant’s and cancer),
- secondly, and simply, to save money (it’s just cheaper this way), and,
- thirdly, to save the planet (when you stop buying these products you cut off the line to their production, and you stop all of the harmful chemicals leaking back into the Earth and, by default, the packing from going into landfill or our oceans).
I have experimented with and tried a few different things and this is really fool proof in my humble opinion. Now remember, what we want to do is detox our underarms, and, we want something effective because we don't want to smell. I have personally found, and so have all of my friends (read: genie pigs) that this recipe ticks all of those boxes.
Soften some coconut oil. I would obviously recommend getting unrefined and unprocessed, organic coconut oil. If you don't like the smell you can also get unrefined and unscented organic coconut oil.
Soften it to the liquid consistency and, then I would say, add one part bicarb (also ideally organic) to two parts coconut oil.
I also do like to add a few drops of Organic Tea Tree essential oil because it’s basically like nature’s Bactroban. It’s a natural disinfectant / anti-bacterial; and, as far as I understand, body odour is primarily caused by bacteria that live in the pores, bloodstream or on the skin. Sweat itself is not stinky. Most people will find that if they go for a long run they may be sweating profusely but not smelly at all. I suspect this is because of the filtering and flushing effect that sweating to that degree would have.
Anyway, you mix your ingredients together and then wait for them to harden back into a sort of a paste and you’re done!
EDIT (18 June 2020): Oh. My. Shattered. Nerves. I’ve taken my deo to the next level! Once I’d added all my ingredients (this batch includes orange essential oil instead of tea tree) I had an absolute brainwave.... WHIP IT!
I hauled out my hand held egg beater and whipped up my deodorant. The coconut oil was slightly less liquid at this point but certainly nowhere near solid yet. I turned the consistency from hard paste to dreamy, creamy mousse! I will never look back.
Use a pinch-worth under the arms after you bathe. Because of the bicarb (nature’s odour neutraliser) any residual smell you may live with will also be immediately eliminated.
In my journey I’ve found that using this combination for about six weeks was enough to completely detox my underarms and allow me to come to the point where I no longer use anything by way of a daily deodorant whatsoever.
If I’m hormonal or sick I sometimes can detect a very faint smell which is completely appropriate given that my body is detoxing through my sweat- as a first line of defence. I will then use this recipe on an ad hoc basis. In all my travels I’ve never found anything to be so effective at neutralizing and smell; or more cost-effective; or longer-lasting.
It is important to remember, though, that Bicarb is very Potent. Although it’s natural it's a very Potent and powerful substance so you need to use this mixture very, VERY sparingly. Some people may also have a bicarbonate of soda sensitivity or intolerance in which case this recipe will not work for you. I actually found that after some time my underarms started to react to the deodorant I was making and that's how I knew I was ready to go completely natural and deo-free.
EDIT #2 (18 June 2020): another relevant discovery I’ve made after using this concoction for nearly two years is that it will lose moisture over time. Roughly halfway through using a batch you may find your understand start to develop a rash as the mixture becomes to potent. I’ve decided that this is because The bicarb absorbs and dehydrates the coconut oil over time so eventually you end up with far more bicarb than oil per use. I would recommend mixing in some more coconut oil at this point so ensure this remains gentle on your underarms.
This entire journey is completely personal and unique. Each one of us has to discover what works for us, what doesn’t, and to tweak it all constantly.
So, good luck and don't be so scared of your body’s natural functions!