Oh yeah, I’m going there

I have always been sensitive to smells. Strong smells, even if they are supposed to be pleasant, bother me. I am always acutely aware of fragrances and odors – they can make or break an experience for me.

I am especially turned off by body odor. I absolutely loathe that particular smell. I find even my own BO totally offensive. I am so bothered when I smell my own BO, that I carry deodorant in pretty much every bag I own. I also keep some in my car and at my desk at work. There are few things I’ve bought out and about as much as a deodorant; if I realize I’ve left the house without it, and don’t have some on me, I pretty much have to buy a stick. If I don’t, I’ll keep checking under my arms to make sure I haven’t started smelling yet.

I don’t shower every day, but I wash under my arms in the mornings and at night. I have a nice bar of lemongrass soap that I use to chase the BO smell away. I really cannot stress enough how much I HATE the smell of my own BO. I am lucky I don’t live somewhere where it’s hot.

Yes, I am obsessed with wearing deodorant. I’m also kind of scared of it. My roommate from college has the kind of mother who scares the shit out of you with articles about how this and that thing you use every day is eventually going to kill you. She used to lay the deodorant articles on thick. Because of her I never touched an antiperspirant, and even tried some of those crystal deodorants that are supposed to be less bad for you. Unfortunately none of the natural stuff ever kept my body odor at bay, so I kept using Dove, which I liked well enough, even though there was always a linger odor at the end of the day (hence the twice daily under arm washings).

Needless to say, when my aunt casually mentioned that she is now using lemon instead of deodorant, I was very interested. She said it worked like a charm, WAY better than any deodorant ever had. I was intrigued. All she does is cut a lemon in quarters and rub one slice under her arms every day. I vowed to try it.

Except I kept forgetting to buy lemons. So one day when I was googling “lemons” for deodorant (I’ll admit, to see if anyone else could corroborate what felt to me like an insane claim), I fell down the rabbit hole of homemade deodorant recipes. As you know, I’ve become a HUGE fan of coconut oil, and use it for all sorts of hair and body care. I also really love tea tree oil, and have used that a lot as well. I know they both have antimicrobial properties, so I wasn’t surprised that most DIY deodorants used them both.

When I got home from San Diego, I decided to whip up my own DIY deodorant. I had all the ingredients already – it only called for baking soda (which I buy in bulk at Costco), cornstarch, coconut oil and tea tree oil. So I found one that seemed straight forward, followed the recipe, and the next morning, gave it a try.

I will say that putting it on (which I did with my fingertips) felt a little weird. It’s grainy, because of the baking soda, and the coconut oil never fully “dries” in the way I’m used to deodorant feeling, but after a few minutes I didn’t notice it anymore, and I really loved the tea tree oil smell whenever I gave my pits a sniff. (Yes, I sniff my pits.)

In fact, I kept sniffing my pits all day. At first they smelled like tea tree oil, later there was a lingering hint of coconut oil, but never did they smell like body odor. The first day I reapplied before I worked out, and not surprisingly, I never got a whiff of BO.

The second day I never reapplied, but I also never worked out. I did ride my bike up some gnarly hills with both kids though, and I definitely worked up a sweat when I did that. When I went to bed there was not even a hint of BO, and even the next morning I still smelled good! Well maybe not good, but very neutral – there was no body odor to speak of and usually there is. (I always smell bad after I wake up, I’m not sure why.)

Today I put it on again (after washing with the lemongrass bar – I couldn’t help myself, it’s part of my routine!), biked all over the city (with an unnecessary sweatshirt which definitely left me a little damp) and now I’m working out. I’m half way through my elliptical set, sweating like a pig, and still no body odor.

As you can imagine, I’m totally sold on this DIY deodorant. I’m thrilled to have something that will keep me odor free, without having to worry about how it’s maybe poisoning my body! The fear that my deodorant was doing something awful to me has been a niggling worry in the back of my brain since my friend’s mother planted the seeds all those years ago. I’m thrilled to be able to silence it!

AND NO MORE BO! I can’t tell you how much I love not worrying about body odor anymore. I will definitely carry a little pot of this with me in case I ever forget to put it on, otherwise I will trust it’s capabilities implicitly. It really does work great, and when I apply it with my fingers I don’t have to worry about streaking my shirts. (You can pour it in old deodorant containers–or buy new empty ones–and apply it like regular stick deodorant, but I think I’ll keep using my fingers because it’s easy and it doesn’t get on my clothes that way.

One thing to keep in mind is that coconut oil starts to liquefy around 72-75*, so if you keep your house hotter than that during the summer, you may need to keep it in the fridge. Here in SF that is never an issue, so I can keep mine in a seal-able glass pot in the bathroom.

Also, this is a DIY deodorant, not antiperspirant. I sweat easily, and a lot, but I’ve never used antiperspirant because I was afraid to deny my body that necessity. If you also want to stay dry, this is not for you.

If you are interested in trying this DIY deodorant at home, I followed this recipe from Beginner Beans, but there are tons of other recipes that come up when you search DIY deodorant. I may try some others at some point, but right now I’m loving my first pot. It’s truly amazing.

What deodorant do you love? Have you ever tried anything of the DIY variety?


  1. This sounds cool. I think tea tree oil & coconut oil are pretty much magic. I can totally see them working. Although after using anti-perspirant since puberty, I don’t think I could handle the wet feeling.

    When I was in Peace Corps, my host mom rubbed lemon on her armpits. So it’s definitely a thing that’s done.

    1. So interesting that your host mom rubbed lemon on her arm pits! I can’t wait to try it. My parents have a lemon tree and I’ll be down there tomorrow. I’m totally taking some home.

  2. I use combo deodorant/antiperspirant. (Those fears are unfounded.) I’ve been pretty happy with Dove go sleeveless.

    Like you I hate my own BO. Also like you, I’m very sensitive to smells. I hate the smell of tea tree oil so I won’t be whipping up a batch…

    1. You can actually use whatever essential oil you want (in place of tea tree oil), but I decided to stick with it because I like the smell and know it also has anti-bacterial properties. I might add lavender next time too though, because that’s a great smell as well.

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