DIY: Coconut Oil Deodorant

When I went vegan one of the things that overwhelmed me, more than reading food labels, was figuring out which animal-free and all-natural body products and cleaning products to buy.  After all, the labels on foods are pretty easy to decipher.  For example, look at these peanut butter ingredients:

Peanuts, salt.

Compare that with the ingredients in a Twinkie:

Enriched wheat flour, sugar, corn syrup, niacin, water, high fructose corn syrup, vegetable and/or animal shortening – containing one or more of partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed and canola oil, beef fat, dextrose, whole eggs, modified corn starch, cellulose gum, whey, leavenings, salt, cornstarch, corn flour, corn syrup, solids, mono and diglycerides, soy lecithin, polysorbate 60, dextrin, calcium caseinate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, wheat gluten, calcium sulphate, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, yellow #5, red dye #40.

Clearly, there are several non-vegan ingredients, but even from a distance I could have already put the package down based on the crazy long list of ingredients and a virtual who’s who of pseudo-foods I have no interest in eating.  (As an aside here, beef fat?  Who in the creation of a cake has ever said, “You know what this yellow cake needs?  A bit of beef fat!”)

So the food part was easy, especially if one sticks to the section of the grocery store where labels aren’t needed – the produce section.  However, when it came to body products and cleaning products, the process was trickier.  After all, just because I might not be familiar with the term “lauryl polyglucose,” which is an ingredient in glass cleaner, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily bad.  What is it and is it plant-based?  And what about animal testing?  The companies that don’t test on animals often put a jumping bunny logo on their products with the words “Not tested on animals, no animal ingredients.”  However, not every company does that, and where to start?

Finally, even after purchasing the product there was a trial period, because not every product works as well as one might hope.  It takes time to find products that live up to the task, while remaining in alignment with my values of compassion and desire to use products that are healthful.  I remember wishing at the time that there was a list of animal-friendly and natural products I could refer to and just buy those, at least as a starting point.  With that in mind, I’m planning on writing about the various cleaners and body products that I make or buy in the coming weeks.

Today, I’m starting with the first thing that goes on after a shower – deodorant.  Like many of us, when I started using it as a pre-teen, I just used what my mom brought home, which was the brand she’d been using since she was a pre-teen.  As an adult, I based my choices around the ad campaigns that I liked.  (Very discriminating standards, as you can tell…)  Now that I was coming at it from a health perspective (both of my health and the health of bunnies, guinea pigs, and mice, on whom many body products are tested), I was looking at it through a different lens.  Now I needed a product without animal ingredients, animal testing, aluminum, parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, and propylene glycol.  This also meant I’d be moving from antiperspirant to deodorant.  I didn’t relish the thought, honestly.  I liked feeling dry all day.  And pit stains?  Not cute.  Still, I was up for the challenge.

I tried brand after brand of natural deodorants on the shelves of my natural food store.  The results?  Not pretty.  Finally, I heard about Lavanila Deodorant.  It’s a natural deodorant, and it got rave reviews.  The ingredient list, which starts with aloe juice, looked good.  They don’t use ingredients that were tested on animals, and the final product is not tested on animals.  There was only one small problem – the cost.  While I was used to spending a few dollars on my deodorant, Lavanila costs $18.  (Updated to add: Lavanila Deodorant is now available online for $14.)  This seemed ridiculously steep for something I was just going to rub on my armpits everyday.  But I bit the bullet, paid the 18 bucks, and gloriously, it worked.  At the end of the day, I was still smelling fresh and clean.  (It didn’t keep me dry, but it’s a deodorant, not an antiperspirant.)

As I was nearing the end of my roll, a friend mentioned to me that she makes her own deodorant using coconut oil, corn starch or arrowroot powder, and baking soda.  I was intrigued but unsure.  Would it work?  Did I want to make something else in my life from scratch?  Still, my friend said she’d been doing it for a year with great results and that one batch lasts a long time.  I had all of the ingredients in my kitchen already, and so one afternoon I took the leap.

I mixed the coconut oil, corn starch, and baking soda in a bowl.  The coconut oil mixes easier when it’s a warm liquid as opposed to a cool solid.  (If it’s too hard to mix easily, use your fingers, and the warmth of your hands will liquefy it, making it easier to use.)  I moved the deodorant into a jar, and then I took a small amount onto my fingers and rubbed it into my underarm area.  I’ve been using it for the past couple of months, and I’m hooked.  Not only does it keep me smelling sweet, I find it keeps me pretty dry as well, even when biking in the summer heat.

Even without taking the cost into consideration, I like it better than the $18 Lavanila.  It just involves mixing three ingredients, and I keep it in the cupboard of my bathroom.  Since coconut oil is a liquid in heat and a solid when cool, the consistency varies upon temperature but it works equally well regardless.  I haven’t had any problem with the oils staining my clothes.

I’ve noticed there are a million and one variations on this recipe all over the web, but I believe this version from Passionate Homemaking is the original.  Some people use more or less of the ingredients, some people just use coconut oil alone, and some include things like essential oils for fragrance.  Personally, I like the coconutty, tropical smell as-is.  I’ve read some people complain that the baking soda and/or corn starch gives them a rash in certain quantities, and so if you find that, increase the coconut oil.  I have sensitive skin, and I haven’t had any problem with it.

Coconut Oil Deodorant

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
5-6 Tablespoons coconut oil

Mix in a bowl until fully combined and creamy.  Move to a jar with lid or other container.

For more information on animal testing, check out this link from Mercy for Animals or listen to this podcast from Vegetarian Food for Thought.  To find companies that do & don’t test on animals with printable files that you can bring with you to the store, click here.

Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this post were purchased by me and the opinions are totally my own.  This post includes Amazon affiliate links.

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61 thoughts on “DIY: Coconut Oil Deodorant

  1. I love making homemade deodorant. It works well and I know that all the ingredients are healthful. In the past I have just poured mine into an old deodorant tube, but in the future I might just put it in a jar. It seems like it would be easier, because then you can deal with the changing consistency better.

    If you ever are in the market for a purchasable brand, Bubble & Bee makes “Pit Putty” deodorant that works pretty well. Despite the name, it is vegan (although some of their products aren’t–they contain beeswax, etc.) and not tested on animals. They also carry several different kinds and let you keep exchanging them until you find one that works (I’ve not tried this personally, but that’s what their site says).

    • I agree, knowing all of the ingredients and having them be so healthful really is the best part. (And of course, smelling good!) I saw that some people have poured it into an old deodorant tube, and I can see that having its benefits. However, I was concerned about the changing consistency, like you said.

      That’s good to know about Pit Putty. Thanks! I imagine the next time I’m flying I’ll want to have a regular brand with me that I don’t have to worry about becoming a liquid before I can go through the TSA screening. :)

  2. I’m totally going to try this. I’ve been trying every kind and haven’t set on one yet. Thanks!

  3. This is very intriguing! So, it really doesn’t leave oily stains on your clothes….hmmm. That was my biggest concern. At this point, I use a deodorant stone, which works great for me, but not for my hubby. I’ve found a plain deodorant that isn’t as chemically ridden as others, but it still isn’t great. On the other hand, I’m not so sure he’d be willing to dip his fingers in a deodorant, either. I WILL pass this on to my adult daughter, though. She doesn’t like the deodorant stone, but this might work for her.

    Thanks! Another fine, helpful post, Cadry!

    • I was concerned about stains too, because it seems like an obvious risk. However, it hasn’t been an issue, at least not yet. When I’ve read accounts from others online, they mostly haven’t had a problem with it either. Although, one person did say that it stained her satin shirt. So maybe when it comes to certain fabrics or especially nice clothing, be more cautious.

      That’s interesting about you and your husband having different experiences with the same product. My husband and I have had the same issue. He uses Jason for Men and likes it. For me, it wasn’t great.

      On the finger dipping front, I saw that some people pour the coconut oil mixture into their old deodorant containers and use it as before. The only problem is when it gets warm and the coconut oil melts! I also saw that some people use a popsicle stick to remove the oil from the jar. Of course, it still has to be rubbed in at that point.

  4. Could I ask a photography question, Cadry? How do you get the solid-color backgrounds to some of your shots? I don’t see any noticeable corners, wrinkles, folds, etc. It doesn’t look like cloth. It is a nice, bright look to showcase the product you are picturing.

    • Thanks! I just use big sheets of poster board, which I buy at a craft or art supply store.

  5. I’ve been using a variation of this for the last couple of months too and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well it works! I also find that it keeps me pretty dry, and my sensitive skin seems to like it better than the store-bought stuff. I’ve been adding a few drops of peppermint oil for a little cooling effect – love that when it’s super hot outside. :)

    • I’m glad to know that you’ve had good results too, Amanda! It’s surprising, isn’t it, how dry it keeps you too? Good suggestion on the peppermint oil!

  6. how awesome! i definitely want to try this! the chemicals in store bought stuff are so harmful!

    • I hope it works for you! Yes, since the skin is the largest organ, it’s good to know what kinds of things you’re absorbing into it!

  7. my husband is going to start looking at me like, are you serious? you want me to put coconut oil on me? :) theres some history there;) lets just say that coconut oiled hair, heat, sweat, local trains with people touching you all over in Mumbai, do not, a coconut oil loving person, make.

    i dont really use deo at all, and hubbs uses them very sparingly. I think his current deo spray is probably half a decade old and needs to be thrown out. What i have been slowly replacing in his cabinet are his shaving creams and perfumes.
    I love the idea of making natural body care at home though and i will give this a try esp for hot days. other times i dont sweat much.
    My mom is sending me some home made tooth powder, now next line to tackle is soaps and shampoos!

    • I can totally understand why your husband would be averse to the idea after having those hot, sweaty train associations! For right now I buy most of my body care and cleaning products, but I’m open to making my own if they work well. Let me know how your experiments go!

    • I’m loving all of these brand suggestions coming up in the comments. I’d never heard of Soapwalla. If I decide to turn my back on the coconut oil, there are plenty of products to try! If you try the coconut oil, let me know what you think!

  8. I still love my coconut oil deodorant that I posted about last May. I love the lavender and tea tree oil scent I added, but I agree it works just as well plain. I’ve had a little trouble with staining on light-colored clothes in warmer weather, but not on dark colors. I can’t believe how effective and natural it is.

    • I’d forgotten about that post! I linked to it above, so that other people can read about adding lavender and tea tree oil. That’s good to know that you have had some staining with light colored clothes. I’ll be conscious of that!

  9. Everytime I think about making my own deodorant, I sweat.
    You are quite the DIYer, and I think the pic of David is a perfect ad for the Cadry deodorant.
    18 bucks for deodorant? I was at the track yesterday and I would have gladly paid 40 dollars for a deodorant for the stinky guy who kept lapping me. The worst ever.

    • Thanks for the support on the Coconut Oil Deodorant ad campaign! Every time I look at that picture of David it makes me laugh.

      I resisted making my own for a long time too. If only I’d known how easy it would be! With just three ingredients, it doesn’t take any time at all.

  10. I’ve been telling myself I need to try this for months now. It’s like making homemade nut butter. I know I’ll love it once I do it (I am NOT crazy about the lack of dryness protection in most natural deodorants since I can, at times, sweat like a 300lb football player), but I just can’t seem to make myself actually do it.

    Your recipe is definitely the easiest and most user-friendly I’ve come across, so maybe that is the kick my lazy-butt needs. :-)

    • This is about as easy as making homemade nut butter. You’ll have it finished in five minutes, tops. :)

  11. Interesting. I never would have thought to use an oil base (actually, it never even occurred to me to make my own). It’s good to know that it doesn’t stain! I’ll have to put this on my list to try one day.

    I’m looking forward to reading about the other products you buy and make! Most food ingredients are easy enough to decipher, like you said, but understanding even some of the natural ingredients in beauty products? That’s another story. And then there’s the whole “not tested on animals” thing. It sounds clear enough, but do they mean that neither the ingredients nor the finish product were tested on animals, or just the finished product? I’m used to it now, but it can still be dizzying at times. :)

    • Absolutely! It’s definitely a process figuring out which products to use, and then checking in every now and again to make sure those companies haven’t changed formulas or their animal testing status.

  12. Hey Cadry, heard about from Fat Free Vegan, and I really enjoy your blog, great idea’s you have . I made this deodorant and absolutely love it. I have been using the Tai Crystal, but I like the idea of home made all natural. I haven’t used antiperspirant for years, but haven’t found a replacement that satisfies me until now. This stuff really works and I live in Florida!

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  14. The Cocnut oil is solid right? I know they also make a fractionated cocunut oil that is liquid so I just want to make sure I am using the right stuff. Thanks so much for sharing!!! I have an 18 month old and trying to use less chemicals around our house and on our bodies

    • That’s a tricky one to answer! The coconut oil is both a solid and a liquid. When it’s cool, it’s hard, and when it’s hot, it’s liquid. It’s like vegetable shortening or margarine in that way. Look for a jar like this:

      (It doesn’t have to be Trader Joe’s brand. Any of them are fine.)

      That’s great that you’re aiming to use less chemicals around your house and in your bodies! Good for you!

  15. First, let me say I’ve tried nearly every natural deodorant around with no luck- I must be the smelliest gal in town! This recipe really works for me, however, it has turned my armpits brown and leathery. Could this be due to the baking soda? I made an alternate version of this eliminating the baking soda, using castor oil and Shea butter in addition to the coconut oil, but it only works for a few hours. Help!

    • I had the same issue when I was trying various natural deodorants! They would work for a short time, but all in all, I felt like I was washing my clothes a lot more often. Like I said above, the only one that worked for me was Lavanila. Have you tried it?

      It sounds like you’re reacting to either the baking soda or cornstarch. You could try switching to arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch and see if it helps. Also the original person who created this recipe has this solution on her website:

      “Baking soda can be an irritant for some people. Sometimes this may be a detoxing method of the body to remove impurities in your skin from previous standard deodorants. If you wait it out a few weeks, it may disappear altogether, as it happened with me. If not, try decreasing the baking soda by 1 Tbsp and replacing with more cornstarch/arrowroot powder. Itchiness can also often be related to applying this too soon after shaving. Wait an hour or two after shaving to apply. Add 1/4 cup shea butter or cocoa butter to the recipe for its healing benefits is another alternative. You also can try using arrowroot powder as it is more natural on the skin or make sure to choose a talc-free cornstarch. The final option is to apply a thin layer of aloe vera gel/juice to your skin for its healing benefits before applying the deodorant. It will help cool, refresh, and prevent irritations to the skin.”

      Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

    • I’ve been using Coconut Oil only, without additives, for about 3 days now. Surprisingly, no underarm odor and that’s amazing, for me. I check frequently throughout the day and the 1x I detected breakthrough odor I reapplied the coconut oil. I just bought some Lemon Grass Oil to add to it, I love the way it smells. Having a difficult time locating Arrowroot – may need to get it online.

      • Thanks for your adding your input, Barbara! That’s very useful. Personally, I use cornstarch, which can be found in any grocery store. Unless you have a sensitivity to cornstarch, perhaps you can check that out instead.

  16. Thanks! What is the function of the baking soda and the arrow root (or cornstarch)?

  17. After running out of my usual almond oil that I used as a body moisturizer, a few days ago I started moisturizing with coconut oil after my shower and it occurred to me to try it as a deodorant too, just as an experiment. I didn’mix anything else in it, just plain coconut oil that I softened by pouring hot water in the sink and letting the jar soak while I took my shower. I live in the high desert and since all moisture evaporates within about an hour, I wasn’t worried about the coconut oil staining or anything. The result was that the oil soaked right into my skin and when I woke up the next morning there was no underarm odor at all. I am thrilled! I bought a huge bucket of coconut oil at Costco recently and I also cook with it. Love, love, love it!

    BTW, I found you via your coconut oil picture on Pinterest…

    • Jane, I just started using coconut oil for deodorant as well as a skin moisturizer (I live in CO where it is dry dry dry) & cooking. This last week I needed to ‘grease a baking dish’ so used coconut oil. Started to wipe my hands on a paper towel to remove the oil then DUH! rub in on my arms – why waste it! so many uses…

  18. Barbara, Here in New Mexico we have that same DRY problem. I only moved here 2 years ago from a humid location. The trade-off has been that my heretofore smooth, silky skin is now turning to leather. I’m hoping to reverse the process!

  19. Easiest DIY deodorant I’ve seen – living in the UK healthier brands are hard to find and lots of DYI toiletries are just too expensive to make (I’m disabled and unemployed, so lucky if I get to eat). BUT I’ve got some super cheap coconut oil, so even though collectively this is still too pricey for me (baking soda has become so pricey!) I’ll still give this one a go.

      • Jay, you do NOT need to mix anything with the coconut oil, it is just a suggestion. I have been using the oil, alone, for my deodorant for a month now and it works! So feel free to massage it into your pits! :)

  20. To clarify, is this a deodorant or an anti-perspirant? I just whipped up a batch but I’m curious how it will work.

  21. I’ve tried this deodorant and it was perfect! until, after almost two weeks my underarms became raw, red, itchy and just awful! I tried to reduce the amount of baking soda and found it to be ineffective. I don’t know what to do now.

    • try using just the coconut oil, no add ins. I added only scented oil to mine and it worked quite well until the weather turned warmer. Despite reapplying it several times a day it was not effective on me when I ‘worked up a sweat’ as my husband informed me. I now use it as a body oil after a shower, but have gone back to ‘store bought’ deodorant.

  22. I just made some of this, and my fingers are crossed! i generally always have to use the clinical version of deodorant to get me through the hot summer months in SC. I figure I’ll use this around the house for a few days and see how it works :)

    • That’s a good point, Teresa! On my brand of baking soda, it says “aluminum free” on the package, but yes, all baking soda is naturally, as opposed to baking powder. I removed “aluminum free” from the description to avoid any further confusion.

  23. Oh my God, A deo of your own. I just cannot wait to try it out. Thank you so much for the share. But what if I want to substitute another fragrance instead of the coconut oil?? I already have coconut oil in my body scrubs and moisturizers.

    • Excellent! I’m glad that you’re excited to try it. In this recipe, the coconut oil isn’t being used for fragrance so much as it is for its binding abilities and anti-microbial properties. Since cornstarch & baking soda are powders, it’s the coconut oil that keeps all of it together and makes it spreadable. You could certainly add another essential oil or fragrance to it (in addition to coconut oil) for an added scent if you’d like something to mask the smell of coconut.

    • Yes, that’s right. You just use your fingers and then wash your hands afterwards. Since I’m always applying right after a shower, my fingers are clean. If you felt uncomfortable with that, you could use a plastic applicator to get the oil from the jar. Some people have taken the coconut oil when it’s in a liquid state and poured it into an empty deodorant container, but I would worry about it getting warm and melty. In a jar, it keeps everything contained.

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