Lemon + Lemongrass All-Natural Deodorant
I wish I had a dollar for each time I've heard my friends lament about how toxic their deodorant is.
“It’s so bad isn’t it? I mean, all that that cancer-causing stuff and everything?”
“I KNOW. Scary! I only use it right before going into meetings…”
Ok. Maybe I run in some weird circles. But regardless, information on the dangerous ingredients in our households that could harm our reproductive organs/brains/endocrine system is a serious issue that is becoming almost-mainstream.
Health concerns aside, I've heard even more complaints about downright deodorant failure. Whose deodorant actually does what it claims? "24 hr protection!" Right. Cue the purse- and glove-compartment-sized sticks that saved my self esteem in high school. Apply. Re-apply. Repeat. Run to the bathroom and re-repeat if people seem to be looking at you funny...Annoying.
Even if yours is some super-power deodorant that works wonders, my question for you is, at what cost is it working?
Anti-perspirants work by chemically plugging the pores connected to your sweat glands, thwarting your body's attempt to detox the junk inside. However, eventually, at some point during your day the dam gives way and the backed up junk makes its way out. You may sweat even more than usual once this happens, as your body tries to rid itself of the backup, as well attempting to purge the chemicals you applied 8 hrs earlier. Add in the inevitable bacteria which multiply quickly, and you have body odor that can only be qualified as unpleasant. But, that's not all! As an added bonus, your body will absorb a decent amount of the hormone-disrupting, endocrine system-damaging, Alzheimer’s /cancer/infertility-related chemical cocktail, absolutely free! Depressing, right?
But - JOY! I’ve got a life-hack for you. Deodorant so awesome you might just forget to shower! Scroll down to skip to the recipe. But if you're a skeptic, or need details like me, keep reading and I'll show you why this stuff matters.
Solving the Problem
I used to use regular deodorant, like most people. I had heard all those health rumors. But, like most people, I just figured that there wasn’t much I could do about it. So on the days I felt a little worried, I just told myself that with a bit of prayer and 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, I could probably avoid any real damage that I’d heard about.
That is, until a couple years ago. Eventually, I wasn’t able to ignore the threats. I stumbled across actual studies linking aluminum and diseases (click on the links below in my "Ingredient Breakdown" for some serious science), as well as numerous ingredients in US cosmetic and body care products I learned were banned in Europe as toxic, but deemed “generally safe” here. Thus, I put the brakes on my bi-monthly purchase of my favorite green tea+cucumber anti-sweat stick.
Task #1: Finding a solution that wouldn’t add to my body’s chemical load.
Task #2. Making my own deodorant that actually WORKED.
BONUS: Somewhat by accident, I ended up using ingredients that weren’t just functional for addressing moisture and sweat odor… I later learned that my main ingredients do more than just act as fillers, and the potent essential oils I simply chose for their lovely smell actually have individual properties which help to cleanse my system. They make me healthier. What deodorant at your corner drugstore can do that?
Here's a comparison of the BAD ingredients in your old deo with the GOOD ingredients I use in this all-natural deo.
- BAD: Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Glycine. Used for its pore-blocking abilities to keep you from sweating. Absorbed aluminum ions are believed to be contributors to nerve damage, kidney damage, nutritional deficiencies and diseases such as Alzheimers and cancer. Read for yourself here and here.
- GOOD: Non-GMO Cornstarch. Helps to keep you dry. Used for generations as a thickener in gravy, and as an old-fashioned remedy for sweaty palms and feet. Edible and practical.
- GOOD: Arrowroot Powder. Also keeps you dry. Arrowroot powder is a great binder and thickening agent in gluten-free and paleo baking. Great substitute for corn starch.
- BAD: Parfum. A term used in the majority of scented cosmetic and body products for a chemical cocktail that imparts some "fresh" scent (which, in my ex-fave cucumber+green tea deo's case, meant CHEMICALS - all of which are known hormone disruptors and can trigger allergic reactions. Artificial fragrances are often comprised of phthalates, which, research on animal subjects has shown to damage organs and the reproductive system. Read about them here.
- GOOD: Lemon Essential Oil. Totally safe fragrance! Also a preservative. It’s even an anti-microbial and purifying agent. I don't have enough time to sing the praises of this beautiful treasure. Soon I’ll have to write a post on its grease-cutting, gunk-melting, sticky-label-dissolving, odor-eliminating, air-purifying, furniture-polishing, surface-sanitizing properties for your nest. And yet another post for its emotion-lifting, internal cleansing, bacteria-killing properties for your bod. A true gift. And truly a de.odor.ant in and of itself.
- GOOD: Lemongrass Essential Oil. Lest lemon steal the whole show, I must say this oil deserves its own post as well. Totally unrelated to the citrus family except by its "tasting notes", lemongrass oil is incredibly deodorizing and freshening, is antiseptic, astringent, and is great for stress relief. It's known as a detoxifier in many countries, and is helpful in maintaining a healthy endocrine system. I use it to help with circulation.
- BAD: BHT. Used as a preservative and odor-masker for the other odd-smelling chemical ingredients in most off-the-shelf deodorant. It’s a possible endocrine disruptor, and in high doses is a tumor promoter and toxifier of the organ system and may cause harm to the reproductive system. Look into it for yourself.
- GOOD: Coconut Oil. The main binding agent in my deo, which also happens to be a great moisturizer, and is made of about 45% lauric acid, a potent anti-viral and anti-bacterial agent. Important for our anti-odor purposes. Eat it, B.O. bacteria.
- GOOD: Baking Soda. A.k.a., sodium bicarbonate. Also very effective anti-bacterial agent. Helps to dry up excess moisture on the skin.
This is doable, right? You may have most of this good stuff in your pantry already, especially if you've tried the gluten-free or paleo thing. If not - don't worry. The ingredients are CHEAP in the long-run.
A Few Notes on Cost and Time
I will say, I do advise that you get high-quality oils not only for their potent effects in this recipe, but especially for all the other health-related uses that I'll be sharing with you on this blog. Use Young Living essential oils (there are a ton of reasons as to why I buy Young Living vs. other brands that I'll write about soon) and you won’t need to use as much of them as you would for other oils! That's a money-saver right there. I had used other brands when I first started making this, but with Young Living oils I only need about 2/3 the amount of oil to get the same strength of lemony freshness.
Even with the highest quality oils on the market - making this deodorant WILL be cheaper, swipe for swipe, than your store-bought stuff. In my experience, a jar of this is less than half the cost of the store-bought kind ... AND it lasts 2x as long (one 4 oz. jar lasts me and my husband two whole months, so just one person using it get it to last 4 months.) Why wouldn’t I make this part of my routine?
Sure, maybe it takes a bit longer than dropping a stick of deodorant in your Target basket. But it will take less time than an extra emergency run to Target when you remember you're out of deodorant. I recommend making a double batch. You'll be set to go for at least 6 months, even if you're a heavy user. (NOTE: If you're really, truly too busy for this, or you want to try this stuff out before you commit to buying a lb. of this mystery arrowroot powder - then call or text me for some pre-made deo.)
It lasts forever since you seriously only need a smidge, and our experience (and that of several of our friends) is that - it lasts into the next day, even up to 48 hrs, if you happen to miss a shower and a deo application. Seriously. Though I’m not recommending you fail to shower, I do recommend any natural product that you only have to use half or a quarter of the number of times as the mainstream stuff.
And, you may find as my husband and I did, that over time, your potent personal scent just diminishes. Maybe it's cleansing you from the outside in. Read a story here.
Hope I've sold you. Let's do this!
Lemon & Lemongrass Deodorant
- 1/4 C baking soda
- 1/8 C arrowroot powder
- 1/8 C cornstarch
- 1/3 C organic coconut oil (I use organic refined. Still just as nourishing as the virgin unrefined stuff, but a smidge cheaper and less coconutty smelling.)
- 5 drops Young Living lemon essential oil
- 3 drops Young Living lemongrass essential oil
For one 1/2 cup sized jar:
- In a glass mixing cup or glass bowl with tall sides, mix together baking soda, cornstarch and arrowroot powder.
- Add in the coconut oil a spoonful at a time and mash until all the lumps are gone, and it has a consistency that could be described as "delicate play dough."
- Mix in the essential oils, and mash/stir well until all is incorporated.
- Spoon into a glass jar.
NOTE: Below 70 degrees, the deodorant will be a bit firm. If you keep your house hot in the summer like me, at about 77 degrees (...yes...) it will likely get a little melty. But don’t worry - it will go back to a solid when the temperature goes down.
To apply: Dip just a little bit out of the jar with your finger. Let it soften slightly with your body heat, and spread it under your arm. Be careful to spread it, and not to rub it back and forth if you just shaved or if you have sensitive skin, since the baking soda can be a bit rough.
Here's to freshness that lasts. Let me know if you try it!