Though homemade deodorants may sound like some sort of #PinterestFail, many DIY-ers are converts to the make-your-own stuff as a cheaper, healthier alternative to store-bought varieties.

This recipe is customizable, super inexpensive, and free from loads of iffy ingredients (more on that in a bit). It’s made with just three base ingredients: baking soda, coconut oil, and cornstarch. In fact, you likely already have what you need right in your pantry.

Deo for the BO does not promise to stop your sweat, but it will do its best to stave off body odor when you need it most. Here’s how it works:

You’re at a big presentation, or it’s leg day at the gym, or you’re on a first date. These are all triggers for your body to turn your armpits into a swampland. The bacteria that hangs out in those regions will feast on the moisture (ew), which creates that gag-worthy odor you know so well.

That’s where deodorant comes in. While it doesn’t turn off the faucet that is your pits, it will make your skin acidic, which is way less sexy to bacteria. And suddenly, you’ll smell pleasant again.

Antiperspirants, on the other hand, are exactly what they sound like; they prevent perspiration (fancy talk for sweat) in the first place by plugging up the ducts that release it.

One obvious benefit is that blocking your sweat source means you’ll be less drenched on any given day. On the other hand, though, the ingredients may irritate your skin — including artificial fragrances, triclosan (a preservative that helps keep bacteria from growing in cosmetics), and aluminum.

If you read that last ingredient and thought, “hey, that sounds a little sketch,” you’re not the only one, and it’s why many people are switching to the all-natural stuff. However, more research needs to be done in this area, as the current evidence is mixed on how these ingredients impact health.

Studies from 2002,Mirick DK, et al. (2002). Antiperspirant use and the risk of breast cancer. DOI: 10.1093/jnci/94.20.1578 2006,Fakri S, et al. (2006). Antiperspirant use as a risk factor for breast cancer in Iraq. and 2016Allam MF. (2016). Breast cancer and deodorants/antiperspirants: a systematic review. DOI: 10.21101/cejph.a4475 reported that there’s no increased breast cancer risk from antiperspirants made with aluminum, though they did stress the need for further research (and we’re down with that).

Another study in 2016 found that traditional products can mess with the bacteria’s natural ecosystem, making your body odor worse and dampening your immune system in the process.Urban J, et al. (2016). The effect of habitual and experimental antiperspirant and deodorant product use on the armpit microbiome. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.1605

Scary stuff. But, again, more research is needed to know for sure. So, until additional studies are conducted on all these lotions and potions hanging out in your armpit microbiome (yep, that is what it’s called), why not make your own? We have an easy-to-follow recipe right here.


  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot powder for sensitive skin)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 6–10 drops of essential oil

Lavender, lemongrass, cedarwood, tea tree, sandalwood, bergamot, and grapefruit essential oils will make you smell positively delightful (though perhaps not if mixed all at once).

Always, always, always make sure your essential oils comes from a reputable, transparent source with high-quality ingredients.

Also, avoid putting essential oils directly on your skin without a carrier oil, like coconut oil. You don’t want to mess around with these oils because they are so dang potent. If your skin becomes irritated after use, wash off the deodorant immediately.


  1. If the coconut oil is in a solid state, melt it over low heat on the stove. You can also put it in a microwave-safe container, and pop it in the microwave for 10-second intervals, until it melts fully.
  2. Mix in essential oil(s).
  3. Add cornstarch and baking soda, then mix until smooth.
  4. Transfer mixture to a small glass jar and store in the refrigerator (since coconut oil has a low melting point).
  5. Apply with your hands or transfer with a spatula to an empty deodorant tube for mess-free application.

On your DIY deodorant adventure, keep in mind that it could take your armpits a couple of weeks to adjust to the new routine, which means things might smell, *ahem*, more pungent than usual.

Don’t worry, that’s normal. Your armpits are detoxing. The struggle is real. Stick it out and you’ll soon be smelling like a garden of roses… okay, not at all, but you get the idea. You’ll be smelling like you again in no time.

Hilary I. Lebow is a health journalist with fitness and nutrition certifications through the Yoga Alliance and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). When she’s not working, you’ll find her playing on the beach with her two dogs or exploring around Miami, the beautiful city she calls home. Read more of her work here.