This post was originally published in April 2011. It has been updated and republished.
I have high expectations for my natural deodorant: when I use it, I want a full day of not smelling like the couch cushion of a Vegas nightclub after a series of exposures from the cast of Vanderpump Rules.
As devoted as I am to natural, safe skincare, I do not want to take a cue from the Grinch and stink, stank, stunk. While many natural skincare options, like the oil cleansing method, seem relatively foolproof, I’ve found natural deodorant to be a little more challenging.
So challenging, in fact, that I had to make some art about it so I could truly process the situation. Allow me to present my Stink Bomb Scale. Unofficially dubbed “the stank scale.” The unwitting judge of Stink (or Stank) was to be my husband, and his options as follows:
So, if we’re being honest, a few weeks in to my quest for a natural deodorant that works, I lost cuddling privileges to my dog. Who drools. And has species breath.
Let’s be honest: most natural deodorant SUCKS, particularly the store-bought kind (enzymes, schmenzymes). For 7 weeks I tried enzyme deodorants, homemade deodorant made from crazy combinations of castor oil, beeswax, cocoa butter and baking soda, mineral stick deodorants and beyond. But none of them worked. Not even when I gave them ample time to fix my noxiousness.
I got sick of shelling out 10 bucks for a block of organic whoozit in this futile search for the B-O Cure.
I also lost faith that I’d ever be able to write an awesome book by that same name. Picture it: The B-O Cure: a guide to making everyone not hate you or breathe through their mouth when you’re within a metre. By Liz. With Foreword by Paula Abdul.
Yeah, I said “metre.” I’m feeling a little Canadian today.
So a few days ago I quit my search. Officially called off the dogs. But since I didn’t want to chloroform anybody at CrossFit, I knew I had to figure out something, at least temporarily, since I didn’t have my old conventional aluminum deodorant stick any more.
So I went super duper basic: coconut oil and baking soda.
This had never worked for me before. See, several years ago I began to think my skin was sensitive to everything. I couldn’t use shea butter because it made my skin red and bumpy. I’d tried baking soda under my arms once before and it scraped the dickens out of me.
Once I used them both at the same time and ended up looking like I’d just given a noogie to a cactus.
While many of those “alternative” deodorants I’d tried had also contained coconut oil and baking soda, they also had lots of other fancy ingredients stuffed inside, too.
But between then and now, something else changed. In fact, I think switching to a Paleo/Real Food lifestyle has changed the way my skin reacts. I don’t have the same sensitivities. I tried shea again, and it turns out shea is A-OK. Could my skin be hearty enough for baking soda, too? I’ve used it with great success in going “No ‘Poo,” so why not give it a whirl?
I simply put a little BS in my hand (see amount below), then mixed it with coconut oil to form a paste. Not too thick, not too thin.
I used nothing on my right armpit (the Control Group – sorry, CrossFit) and dabbed the baking soda/coconut oil mixture on my left armpit (the Experimental group) and gave it the day. The pits got hit with CrossFit, an exceedingly warm afternoon, a roadside car breakdown, and an encounter with a child below the age of two (kids make me nervous).
Oh. My. Gosh. While I had a frustratingly normal level of “stank” in the Control Pit, the Baking Soda pit was absolutely odorless. Even slightly pleasant and coconutty. The natural anti-bacterial properties of coconut oil combined with the odor- fighting baking soda created the perfect, simple, cheap, easy, odor-killing combo.
Win! I don’t even have to buy anything extra – I already use coconut oil for cooking and baking soda for just about everything else. (Amazon prime, baby!)
No more lonely corner at the gym. No more competing with the pooch for cuddles. No more stank scale.
Of course, if you want something similar that you don’t have to make every single time, you’ve got options. Steer clear of the multi-ingredient, enzyme fancy-schmansz. Grab Primal Life Organics’ Pit Stick, Bubble and Bee’s Pit Putty, any of the options I recommend in the Purely Primal Skincare Guide, or let me know in the comments if you’ve got other natural favorites.
Thanks for reading!