Ah, deodorant: that one natural and organic product for which we struggle and search high and low for an effective, lasting formula.  For years, I used Aubrey Organics’ E Plus High C or Calendula Blossom Deodorants.  They worked really well for me for a long time, and then for some reason they stopped working well (This is the story with me and all deodorants; I must build up some kind of “tolerance” to them…).

Then I switched to Urban Eden’s (now Olive and Oud) Lemon Myrtle Deodorant, which worked well for me until I moved from the Northeast to the Southeast, where it’s hotter and more humid, and thus the oil-based deodorant did not absorb well like it used to.  So I switched again when repurposing a room mist made of various EOs as a deodorant (it was organic and all natural).

That worked well for me for a long time (a “long time” for me when it comes to deodorants is several months), but then I ran out of that, and it gradually stopped working as well as it had several months prior, *sigh*.  When it stopped working I was in the Virgin Islands and on the east coast with clients most of the day.  So deodorant fail was not cute during that time.

Luckily, I came across a Vitamin Shoppe halfway into my trip and bought Aubrey Organics’ E Plus High C Deodorant, which now works as well as it used to (I guess I needed a break from it), but now I find the scent, though familiar, a tad overwhelming, especially when wearing sleeveless shirts or dresses.

So a few days ago, I made my own natural deodorant that uses Organic Witch Hazel as a base.  I added EOs like Spearmint, Tea Tree, and Lavender, shaked, and sprayed it under my arms.  It’s held up all day so far, even with running lots of (frustrating) errands in the heat.  Witch Hazel was one of the main ingredients in the mist I was using that eventually stopped working, so I thought I’d give it a shot in my recipe, and I’m glad that I did.

Powdered Witch Hazel Bark

We’re all familiar with witch hazel from toners, but it was also used by Native Americans to treat boils, sores, wounds, insect bites, sore muscles, and even tumors.  It is a powerful antioxidant and astringent, which makes it perfect for liquid spray deodorants to kill bacteria and keep you smelling fresh.

A simple recipe

  • 2 oz. of Organic Witch Hazel (I use Humphrey’s.)
  • 24 – 60 drops essential oil blend (This results in a 2 – 5% dilution ratio – find the ratio that works best for you.)
  • Empty travel size (2 – 3 oz.) spray bottle.

Simply add the Witch Hazel to the bottle, and then add the EOs.  Shake well before each use.  I spritz the mix 2-3 times under each pit and allow it to dry completely (or nearly so) before putting on any clothing.

I would use essential oils with particularly strong antibacterial qualities, such as Tea Tree, Lavender, Thyme, Lemon, Peppermint, Palmarosa, Myrtle, Eucalyptus, Rosalina, and Geranium (I added Spearmint to mine as well simply because I love the scent — so refreshing.).

Do a patch test before going all out, and research essential oils (especially ones new to you) before you use them, as they vary in strength and cautionary directions for their use.  Although cinnamon and clove are also highly antibacterial, I would avoid them as they will irritate most skins used in the strength preferred for deodorants.

You could also add other ingredients like aloe vera or a bit of glycerin to provide light moisture, but I find that I don’t need it in mine.  A bonus of this formula is that the witch hazel and EOs will aid your skin in recovering from shaving more quickly, as well as eliminating (for me at least) those irritating bumps that I can get from time to time after shaving.

I also do a “pit scrub” with baking soda + liquid castile soap once every week or so just to refresh them.  About 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1/2 tablespoon liquid soap should do it, but I never measure; I just add both ingredients to my hand (in the shower) and then add a little water if I need to thin out the consistency.  I then scrub this under each pit and then rinse thoroughly.  I find that my deo. is much more effective this way.

If you end up trying this recipe, or some variation on it, I’d love to hear if it works for you.  If you have other deodorant recipes (or natural store-/artisan-bought deos.) that work with you, please share them!  The more knowledge we amass on this topic, the better, as what works for one may not work for another.  (Example: Unfortunately, I cannot use any deodorants with baking soda, arrowroot, cornstarch, or other powdered ingredients because I’m highly irritated by them.  The pit scrub does not irritate, probably because it is not a leave-on product.)

Cheers to fabulous smelling pits!  It is possible, even when going natural and organic.  It just takes some experimentation and persistence.