Surprisingly good: homemade alternative to deodorant

Revision: Eva Francis

After visiting zero waste advocate Carla Opetnik, I decided to think more carefully and eco-consciously about my beauty and hygiene routine. I get started with a homemade deodorant and, to my surprise, it works better than any traditional product I’ve tested to date.

If you’d told me a few months ago that I’d be walking around with just «homemade» deodorant on my armpits, I’d have said you were nuts. It’s not that I wouldn’t have welcomed an alternative to smearing chemicals on my skin every day. It’s more to do with the fact I thought I knew my own body. And I didn’t think a DIY deodorant would keep odours at bay. But the thing is, none of the conventional aluminium-free deodorants I’d tried had worked – apart from one.

  • Product presentation

    Das Deo für alle (Härte-) Fälle

    by Natalie Hemengül

However, take one look at the price of this one-of-a-kind deodorant and you’ll soon see why it’s not a long-term option for me. I also have to weigh up if I want to be walking around with a damp, slightly sticky feeling under my arms, which doesn’t exactly make me feel comfortable. There are two other things steering me away from this conventional option. Firstly, there’s the plastic packaging and secondly, the mystery about what exactly is lurking in the product. It’s not that I necessarily want to replace everything in my bathroom cabinet based on that criteria. But at the very least I want to overhaul the beauty and hygiene products I use on a daily basis. Chief amongst those is my deodorant.

Flopped test runs

About a year ago a beautician suggested I stop using conventional deodorants and switch to a coconut oil and bicarbonate of soda mix instead. The silly thing was that at the time I didn’t ask about the ratio of oil to bicarbonate of soda. So I went off and bought myself a little tub of coconut oil (28 ml) and mixed in a coffee spoon of bicarb of soda. At least, that’s what it said in the instructions in the first decent DIY recipe I found on Google. Then I tried it out one weekend by smearing it under my arms. Within a couple of hours I was already starting to smell a bit icky.

But fast-forward to last November and I was popping round to visit Carla Opetnik. Her lifestyle means she produces less waste and where possible, she opts for natural alternatives. She also recommended I try a coconut oil-bicarb deodorant. When I told her about my failed attempt, she advised mixing in more bicarbonate of soda. It’s supposed to combat the bacteria responsible for the odour. In other words, as soon as you start to smell, the bicarbonate of soda has been «used up». I decided to give the whole shebang another go. This time I rubbed a pinch of coconut oil onto my armpit and sprinkled bicarb of soda onto my oily fingers. I then applied the powder that had clung to my finger onto my underarm area. Be careful: when applying bicarbonate of soda, don’t rub it in too much as that can cause skin irritation.

Khadi Coconut oil- Huile de Noix de Coco (Body cream)
Body lotions
Quantity discount

Khadi Coconut oil- Huile de Noix de Coco

Body cream


Update: 4 weeks deodorant-free

I’m happy to announce I’ve practically used no conventional deodorant for the last four weeks. The few times I did reach for the traditional variety, I was on holiday with my family. And coconut oil isn’t exactly travel-friendly in its melted liquid form. So it was then that I did have to make an exception. But seriously, I keep wondering where this DIY deodorant hack has been all my life. If I apply enough bicarbonate of soda, I’m not the tiniest bit smelly by the evening. My tried and tested aluminium deodorant «Rexona Cotton Dry» couldn’t even manage that. The only «negative» is that this coconut oil-bicarbonate of soda concoction doesn’t stop you sweating, as it isn’t designed to close the pores. That means you’ll still have damp underarms and maybe even sweat more than you’re used to. But that’s the way it should be. Anything else wouldn’t be healthy.

FYI: if you don’t need quite as much protection and you’d rather go easy on the bicarb of soda, check out my recipe for a DIY deodorant spray here:

  • Know-how

    DIY: Kann man sich auf ein selbstgemachtes Deo verlassen?

    by Stephanie Widmer

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As a massive Disney fan, I see the world through rose-tinted glasses. I worship series from the 90s and consider mermaids a religion. When I’m not dancing in glitter rain, I’m either hanging out at pyjama parties or sitting at my make-up table. P.S. I love you, bacon, garlic and onions. 

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