Since I learned about aluminum in normal antiperspirant about 19 years ago, I have been searching for the best non-toxic deodorant. For whatever reason, most “natural” deodorants don’t work for me – they don’t deodorize my underarms (how unladylike!).
But several years ago I found Alvera Aloe & Almond Deodorant. It works and smells beautifully. It’s not tested on animals and it has ingredients I can pronounce. The problem: not very many stores carry it. So over the years I’ve gone from natural store to natural store looking for it, I’ve stocked up from time to time, I’ve had stores order it, and I’ve ordered it online, but all that is time consuming, frustrating, and resource-depleting. I did this for years!
[UPDATE October 2012: due to several comments about Alvera, I no longer recommend that deodorant. It contains "alcloxa": here's what Wikipedia says about alcloxa, or allantoin. And Cosmeticsinfo.org has this to say: "Alcloxa is a heterocyclic organic compound that contains aluminum. In cosmetics and personal care products, Alcloxa functions as a cosmetic astringent. Alcloxa, the aluminium salt of allantoin, combines the astringent and mild antimicrobial properties of aluminium with the anti-irritant, soothing, healing properties of allantoin." Thank you, readers, for looking into it!]
That is, until the week Matt went to the hospital when I brought him a bag from home that included a brush, shaving supplies, and… yep – our only stick of deodorant. So, after stepping out of a nice clean shower at home, I desperately searched for an alternative. I reasoned to myself that if baking soda works on my hair, why not try it on my underarms? Afterall, it’s an ingredient in many deodorants….
So I used it like baby powder, just a splash. And it was the best deodorant I’ve ever used. No kidding.
The following day, I didn’t need to re-apply. Amazing!!
But then… on day 3, I realized my left underarm was itching a bit. So I did some online research, and found that straight baking soda might be too strong. Apparently, you need just a tiny bit. In my various hours of research, I came upon a solution: mixing baking soda with cornstarch. The cornstarch actually works as a light antiperspirant, and the baking soda deodorizes.
I’ve been using it for two weeks now, and I love it. Absolutely love it.
- In a reusable and resealable container, mix 1 part baking soda with 6 parts cornstarch.
- Close the container and shake vigorously for about a minute, to thoroughly mix the two powders.
- Then dab a small amount to the skin of your armpits with a soft cotton cloth, cotton ball, or cosmetic applicator. Apply as if you were lightly applying baby powder or cosmetic powder.
- The application should last at least a day – for me it lasts at least 2 days!
- This method hasn’t left any stains or residues on my white or black clothing. It seems to do better than normal deodorant in that regard! (Still, of course use caution with expensive and/or hard-to-clean items, as you would with any deodorant.)
- A nice way to store your deodorant powder is in an antique cosmetic jar (above), which you can pick up at a garage sale or thrift store.
- Aluminum is a neurotoxin, and is found in most antiperspirants. It has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, respiratory illnesses, reduced renal function, and DNA damage. Find out more here, here and here. You should be able to find aluminum-free baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) in your local health food store. Note at 7pm: After receiving a few notes from readers, I’ve done some extensive research, and found that aluminum is used to make baking powder, but not baking soda. … So it looks like any old baking soda will do!
- The parabens in many antiperspirants may be linked to breast cancer, and there are possible complications associated with SLS in deodorants.
- Curious how conventional antiperspirants work? Find out here.
- If you decide that straight baking soda isn’t right for you, you might try “The Rock” or use one of the recipes here or here for homemade deodorant.