4 Natural Underarm Deodorants You Can Make
Natural underarm deodorants are substances that prevent odor yet also do not cause any harmful health effects. This is in contrast to the many deodorants and antiperspirants on the market that can claim the first benefit but not the second. This article explains the natural underarm deodorants you can make yourself to fight underarm odor yet remain safe.
Why use natural deodorants?
Have you read the ingredients in a commercial underarm deodorant product lately? Most of them contain chemicals such as parabens, antibacterials, petrochemicals, aluminum, and PEGs. Research suggests that these and other synthetic ingredients found in underarm deodorants and antiperspirants may harm your health.
A 2009 study published in Breast Cancer Research noted that “it is plausible that breast cysts might also arise from antiperspirant use if sufficient chemicals are absorbed over long periods of usage.” Aluminum has been named as a potential health hazard in deodorants and antiperspirants.
A British study, for example, reported that aluminum chloride or aluminum chlorhydrate can interfere with the activity of estrogen receptors in human breast cancer cells. PEGs are polymer derivatives that are associated with an increased risk of cancer, birth defects, and organ toxicity.
Parabens are a chemical to look for on ingredient panels. These deodorant additives are used to prevent microorganisms from growing in cosmetic and health products.
However, parabens (including butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben) can be absorbed through the skin, digestive system, and blood, and they have been found in breast tumors. A link between parabens and breast cancer is the subject of ongoing research.
Some research has suggested parabens also may have a negative impact on fertility and reproduction, perhaps in both men and women. Nearly all adults in the United States have parabens in their urine, according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
A Danish study that included more than 17,700 adults found that deodorants were the cosmetic product most responsible for contact dermatitis to fragrance ingredients among people with eczema. Interestingly, men were significantly more affected than women.
You can fight underarm odor naturally
Although a small percentage of the population does not experience underarm odor, the majority of people do. If you don’t buy traditional off-the-shelf deodorants, what can you do? Here are some natural underarm deodorants you can make at home.
- Baking soda: This solution is super easy, effective, and inexpensive. However, because it’s not invisible, you may want to reserve it for days when you don’t wear sleeveless clothing. You can either apply dry baking soda to your armpits, or mix ½ teaspoon of baking soda with a small amount of water until you have a slightly watery paste and apply the paste to your armpits. Remember: look for aluminum-free baking soda.
- Baking soda supreme: Combine ¼ cup each of baking soda, coconut oil, and cornstarch and place in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently until smooth, then remove from heat and stir for another 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into a jar and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Apply to your underarms and return to the refrigerator to keep it solid. A variation: add about 10 drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance.
- Sandalwood combo: Finely grind sandalwood, lovage root, and white oak bark with a food processor or coffee grinder. Combine two parts sandalwood with one part each of lovage and white oak. Place the powder in a pan and heat over a low flame to activate the essential oils in the herbs. When cooled, place the powder in a bowl and apply to underarms with your fingers or place the powder in a fine cloth tied off and pat under the armpits.
- Beewax and oil: Combine 3 tablespoons of beeswax (melted) with 1 tablespoon of cocoa butter. The best way to do this is to place both ingredients in a double boiler or in a glass jar and suspend the jar in a pot of boiling water. Once the ingredients have melted, add 50 drops of one of the following essential oils: lavender, rosemary, or white thyme. Add 3 drops of castor oil. Mix the combination well and place in a jar or dispenser to cool before using.
For more information about safe deodorants and antiperspirants and which commercial brands are all-natural, visit The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website and the Environmental Working Group website. When you make your own natural underarm deodorants, you can save money and know you are using a safe product.
Darbre PH. Underarm antiperspirants/deodorants and breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research 2009; 11(Suppl 3)
Darbre PD. Aluminum, antiperspirants and breast cancer. Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 2005 Sep; 99(9): 1912-19
Heisterberg MV et al. Deodorants are the leading cause of allergic contact dermatitis to fragrance ingredients. Contact Dermatitis 2011 May; 64(5): 258-64
Smith KW et al. Predictors and variability of urinary paraben concentrations in men and women, including before and during pregnancy. Environmental Health Perspectives 2012 Nov; 120(11): 1538-43
Ye X et al. Parabens as urinary biomarkers of exposure in humans. Environmental Health Perspectives 2006; 114:1843-46