DIY shea butter deodorant? Surely, we’ve gone mad?
Well, arguments have been made to that effect by my husband. I’m ignoring them.
In an effort to become a more earth-friendly household without sending ourselves broke, we are simply finding replacements for single use plastic items as they run out. This method is a gentle, less overwhelming and more sustainable way to reduce our family waste.
This week I noticed my deodorant was getting low…oh, now I had to face the inevitable search for a low-waste option. Now, some may argue that deodorant containers are not “single use” because you utilise them over and over for a month or so. That is true, but using one plastic container a month for the entirety of your life? That’s around 816 plastic deodorant bottles in landfill if I live to 80!! And we all know (hopefully) that plastic NEVER goes away – it simply breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces – in fact, almost 60% of all the plastic humans created, is still on the earth somewhere according to PBS Newshour.
almost 60% of all the plastic humans created, is still on the earth somewhere
And, if that isn’t compelling enough, I looked at the ingredient list on my commercial, run of the mill deodorant. Aqua. Yes, water is the number one ingredient – so I’m mostly paying for water here. The other ingredients are less pronounceable, and less innocent…
If you’re not interested in the details and just want to get to our DIY shea butter deodorant recipe simply scroll to the bottom of the post!
Ingredients in commercial deodorant
Aluminium Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly, Glycol Stearate, Laureth-23, Magnesium Aluminium Silicate, Polysorbate 20, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe barbadensis leaf extract, Hydrogen Peroxides, Silica Dimethicone Silyate, Laureth-4, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl alcohol, Lauric acid, Edta, Alpha-isomethyl, Ionone, Fragrance, Linalool, Citronellol, Hexyl cinnamal, Geraniol 24413
Ingredients in my home-made deodorant? Shea butter, bicarb soda, arrowroot, tea tree oil and orange oil; you can see the vast difference, but will it work?
Potentially Toxic Ingredients in Commercial Deodorant
I’ve always tended to ignore the messages about toxic ingredients in deodorant, I suppose because I didn’t see any alternative (I mean who wants to stink?) and there is so much negative messaging that it becomes overwhelming; sometimes it’s easier to just block it out. However, given I’m now promoting a DIY alternative, I have looked briefly into the research on the key ingredients and their toxicity…read on for more knowledge, or feel free to continue blocking it out (like I did for years!).
Aluminimum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly
The US National Library of Medicine describes this as a mixture of monomeric and polymeric Zr4+ and AI3+ complexes with hydroxide, chloride and glycine.
Its basic function is to form a colloidal plug in sweat pores, preventing sweat from leaving the body – fairly innocent right? Not really. Clinical studies have shown a disproportionately high incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, consistent with where deodorant is applied and because Aluminium is known to have a genotoxic profile – capable of causing DNA alterations, this points to it playing a role in the development of breast cancer.
A trial by Dabre P.D (2005) reported results demonstrating that aluminium forms can interfere with the function of oestrogen receptors of MCF7 human breast cancer cells.
Even if you’re not ready to give up deodorant for the DIY version, it’s certainly cause for paying more attention.
This ingredient is an emulsifier which helps to combine oil and liquid ingredients in body care products. The ingredient itself is fairly innocent, but to be created it has to be treated with ethylene oxide which may then become contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane – a known animal carcinogen. We can’t be sure whether this is the case with roll on deodorant, but it’s a concern since it’s a daily use product. You can read more about 1,4 Dioxane in this fact sheet if you’re interested.
Hydrogen Peroxide is something I actually occasionally use as a stronger home-made cleaner, so it’s surprising to find it as an ingredient in deodorant. In general, it is deemed safe for use as it is poorly absorbed through intact skin. However, in stronger dilutions it can be irritating to skin and mucous membranes. Considering it is used as a bleach for textiles and is useful as a disinfectant and hair bleach, I’m happy to steer away from putting it on my skin daily.
Also reported to have a potential contamination of 1,4 Dioxoane by the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetic Database this ingredient is found in many cosmetics, so it is best avoided where possible. Most studies on this cosmetic which deem it safe are done in isolation, so they don’t take into account that you may be using 5 – 10 products a day which contain low doses of the same ingredient base.
A fragrance ingredient, I was expecting this one to come up clean. However, the EWG Cosmetic Database has several concerning listings for this including possible immune system toxicant or allergen and suspected to be an environmental toxin. It has still been classified safe for general use in cosmetics in small proportions.
But what if I don’t want to make my own deodorant?
I get it, you’re busy right? No problems, here are a range of non-toxic, plastic free options you could try…
- Schmidts Deodorant Jar – Bergamot and Lime
- Earths Purities Bicarb Free Deodorant Paste – Coconut and Mango
- Honestly pHresh Natural Deodorant Cream – Geranium and Patchouli
If you’re keen to try out our DIY Shea Butter Deodorant recipe, keep scrolling! I’ve found it great, it’s worked for me (granted I’m not a particularly sweaty person) and I’m happy to keep using it. I’ve heard that your body can go through a period of de-toxification as your pits remove all those years of colloidial plugs that have built up but I’m yet to experience this.
Mix the bicarb soda and arrowroot You can substitute the essential oils for your favourites and this recipe can be doubled if your jar is a bit bigger
Using your fingers, work the shea butter into the powder mix until it’s well incorporated
Add the essential oils
At this stage, I put the mix over a bowl of hot water for a minute to soften the mix, then added it to my stand mixer and whipped until it had doubled in volume
Pack into your deodorant tin and you’re ready to go!
To use, take a small pea sized amount and smooth onto your pit until it’s absorbed.
Mix the bicarb soda and arrowroot
You can substitute the essential oils for your favourites and this recipe can be doubled if your jar is a bit bigger