For the past few weeks, every time I touched myself I thought of you, gentle reader.
Touched my pits, that is. Chill out, ya perv.
And every time I smelled my pits, (which I do a lot, I'll get to that in a minute), I thought of you.
You see, I've been meaning to write this post for a while. When Emily asked one of us to write about homemade deodorant, I, having been a make-my-own-deodorant devotee for years, jumped at the assignment. Then, I like, moved to Japan. And it took me almost three weeks and two countries to finally sit down at my computer and write this. Sorry, Emily.
But rather than just consider this post a casualty of the Great Move, I knew I had to write it. For my homemade deodorant went through the greatest test deodorant can undergo: packing up an entire apartment in Hawai'i, in the middle of August, in high humidity, with no air conditioning, and being too tired to shower for days on end because what's the point because I'm just going to get hot and sweaty again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
So yeah, my deodorant rocks.
And moreso, out of pure devotion to you, gentle armpit-possessing reader, I wandered around Yokohama for three hours yesterday looking for the most elusive of all household staples (in the US, at least): baking soda.
Seriously y'all, apparently not many people have full-sized ovens here, so baking and baking soda are not so popular. Forget cleaning or going "no-poo" either, here. For all my efforts this is the $3 bottle (yes bottle) of baking soda I found. Arm & Hammer it ain't:
But for demonstration purposes it'll work.
Anyway, at this point, or perhaps since I told you that when I touch my armpits I think of you, you're thinking, "But Louise, I for real sweat, and ain't no 'hippie' homemade deodorant's gonna quench this stink!"
Yes, you are probably thinking that. And I'm here to offer this:
Okay, I'll level with you. No one deodorant works for everybody, but this worked for me. I spent most of my life a heavy sweater, (like a dense Highland wool, not angora -- haha get it? Like I said, I'm so jet lagged...) and a moderate to high-moderate possessor of B.O.
I tried all the heavy duty deodorants/antiperspirants, "clinical strength" and the like, but nothing really worked all that well. I carried antiperspirant in my bag at all times.
Then my body went "haywire" a few years ago. To this day, I'm not sure what was/is wrong with me, I just know that what wasn't sensitive before, became sensitive after. Namely my scalp, my face-skin, and yes, my armpits.
It was time to make a change, for once in my life.
So as I don't do anything moderately, I decided to go whole-hog au-natural with my deodorant.
And what's this? Over time, my pits got super soft, and the itchy rash that had slowly been developing in my pits and on my ribcage went away.
But O! That first week. Not going to lie, I STANK HARD. I really don't want to spew pseudo science, I can only tell you what happened to me, but it's like my pit-pores had DIED and were vomiting out 29 years of body odor carnage.
During this period of what seemed like the purging of all evil through my armpits, I stupidly wore a vintage polyester dress to an event I was working (stupid, stupid, stupid). And when I had to usher screen legend DICK VAN DYKE across a crowded lobby, I thought I might be in the tabloids the next day as THE WOMAN WHO KILLED SCREEN LEGEND DICK VAN DYKE WITH HER TOXIC BODY ODOR.
But after that first week, my B.O. started to subside. And so did the immense sweating. In fact, by the end of the second week, I'd wager to say I actually sweated less than I had in years, on a regular day, and the stink was actually under control.
By month two, I barely smelled at all (unless I was dirty). In fact, I was and am still so amazed by this, I smell my pits A LOT. I'm very well acquainted by the odor of my pits, and I you know what? I really like how I smell. I'm a shameless, contented, pit-sniffer.
Now before I dive into the uber simple how-to of this homemade deodorant thing, I should tell you that this is DEODORANT, not antiperspirant. You will sweat. But that sweat probably won't smell so bad, and in my case, it wasn't as much.
And, if you decide not to scent your homemade deodorant with anything (oils, etc.) then while you won't stink, you will smell like…well, you. Which personally, I've come to prefer.
Anyway, here's how I make my deodorant. I have two tried and trues. One is all household ingredients (in theory), the other is a little more "luxurious/smell goody" and requires fewer steps, but one specialized purchase. I didn't make these up, by the way, I assimilated my recipe from various DIY "crunchy" websites. If you don't like how I do things, a quick Google of "homemade, natural, deodorant" will find you other options.
So here we go, hold onto your pits.
#1 The Basic
NOTE: I generally make about an ounce at a time, and that lasts me about three weeks. This is not exact science, but it's really hard to screw up. Basically, add more dry ingredients for stronger moisture/odor control and a thicker "putty-like" consistency, and more coconut oil for a more liquid, milder product.
What You'll Need:
Virgin coconut oil (solid above 76 degrees, liquid below 76 degrees)
Glass or plastic container with lid
A few drops Tea tree oil (optional, depending on sensitivity)
A few drops skin-safe essential oils (optional, depending on sensitivity)
Create a 2:1 mix of baking soda and arrowroot powder. I like to start with that mix, and if you need more odor control, add more baking soda. More wetness control, arrowroot powder (again, all the arrowroot powder in the world will not an antiperspirant make).
Put mix in your chosen container.
Add coconut oil in SLOWLY until you reached the desired consistency. I emphasize slowly because you need less than you think. If you dump a bunch in willy-nilly, you'll end up with a soupy mess. Trust me. (Oh, and if you're in a cold climate, and the coconut oil is solid, just put it in a container and soak it in some warm water, it'll liquify right up.)
I like my deodorant to have more of a "cake batter" consistency, so I pour in a drizzle, then mix. A drizzle, then mix.
You can stop here, or add in tea tree oil for extra odor fighting (it's strong stuff, be careful, you really only need a few drops -- for 1 oz, I do 5 drops). Do a patch test on your skin, a drop or two of tea tree oil cut with a tablespoon of coconut oil, and see if you react.
You can also add in some essential oils for added benefits or scents, but again, know how your skin reacts, and when in doubt either skip it or do a patch test. ALWAYS CUT YOUR PURE ESSENTIAL OILS WITH A CARRIER OIL.
Honestly, I like my deodorant plain. Good coconut oil has a light scent, that is enough for me.
Once your deodorant is all mixed up to a smooth consistency (it'll get smoother the longer it sits), just get a dollop on your finger and gently work it into your pits. It's kinda weird at first, but touching your pits ain't no big thing.
A regular sized tub of coconut oil I bought at the grocery store that I use for my face/pits, plus a bag of arrowroot powder (a little pricey), and a box of baking soda, lasted me easily a year.
#2 The "Fancy" Mix
Okay, kinda fancy.
I bought this scented "Mamalani Deodorant & Body Powder" at Whole Foods in Hawai'i. You can buy it online here.
It's basically everything already mixed together for you, plus kaolin clay for moisture absorption, in a smooth and lovely scented powder. I like the "'Akahai" (tea tree, lemongrass, chamomile) and the "Lokahi" (lavender, grapefruit, clary sage) scents.
Three ounces of Mamalani powder lasted me about 10 months, I suspect it could last longer.
And if you want to just brush it into your pits with an old powder brush, it works pretty well that way too (you can do this with the baking soda mix as well). I prefer to just mix in coconut oil as detailed above, and make a sweet smelling "batter" to schmear into my pits.
So if you want something a little less pared down, but still kind of DIY, Mamalani is a great way to go.
And there are my Armpit Secrets (and the title to my first book). It worked for me, it could work for you. I swear I don't smell.
Give it a whirl and let me know if it works! And if you have any great deodorant recipes please share!