The zero waste movement, which is focused on reducing waste from single-use plastics that inevitably end up in the landfill, is becoming increasingly popular. While some parts of a zero waste lifestyle are obvious and easy (e.g. bringing your own bags to the grocery store and composting food scraps), some parts might seem more difficult. Toiletries and beauty products are a challenge in and of themselves, as it seems that nearly everything in drugstore beauty aisles, from hairspray to deodorant, is packaged in single-use plastic.

So how can you abide by the zero waste lifestyle and still maintain proper hygiene? One option is to buy from responsibly sourced vendors such as Lush, but if those options aren't available in your area, you can make all your own beauty products from the comfort of your own home. As a beginner in the zero waste community, I am conquering replacing my own beauty products one at a time, starting with deodorant. Here is how I made my own deodorant using kitchen ingredients. 

Step 1: Gather the Ingredients

Lauren Wilmott

After browsing dozens of Pinterest recipes for homemade deodorant, I decided on this one by One Green Planet because the ingredients were simple and the author mentioned that the recipe did not irritate their sensitive skin. As someone who struggles with sensitive skin and armpit rashes from some deodorant brands myself, this appealed to me and I decided to test it out. For this recipe, you'll need coconut oil, cornstarch, baking soda, and an essential oil of your choice. For my homemade deodorant, I used rose essential oil.

Step 2: Combine the Ingredients

Lauren Wilmott

The basis of this recipe is coconut oil, aka a miracle worker for skin and hair care. Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial and anti-fungal agent, so in addition to not having to worry about your deodorant's shelf life, you can rest assured those stinky armpit bacteria will be given a run for their money. It is also a great moisturizer for your skin and will help keep your armpits hydrated and fresh.

Baking soda is another antibacterial agent that helps control body odor by absorbing moisture. However, the pH of baking soda can irritate your skin, so proceed in moderation. If you're skeptical, there are plenty of other homemade deodorant recipes without baking soda. Cornstarch is a polymer composed of long chains of glucose, making it another moisture-absorbing agent that helps to bind the deodorant mixture together.

Step 3: Add Your Essential Oil  

Lauren Wilmott

This recipe calls for 20-25 drops of essential oil. After sniffing over a dozen essential oils at Mountain Mama, my local natural foods store, I decided I wanted my armpits to smell like roses. I mixed in the recommended number of drops, transferred the mixture to a small mason jar, and called it a day. 

So, Does it Even Work?

Lauren Wilmott

I put my homemade deodorant to the test the very next day. Because I had put it in a mason jar, I realized I had to use my fingers to rub it into my armpits. At first it felt weird to not apply deodorant in stick form, but the weirdness turned to amazement when I noticed was how moisturizing this mixture is. It didn't leave white residue all over my armpits like traditional deodorant and it didn't leave a pool of lingering moisture like gel deodorants. While I didn't have the opportunity to put it to a real test by working out, my armpits did smell like fresh roses all day.

The next day, I decided to really put this deodorant to the test and go on a hike. If anything was going to give this deodorant a run for its money, it was going to be climbing 2,700+ stairs followed by a three-mile hike down from the summit. While the rest of my body was very sweaty, this deodorant held up and my armpits were still smelling fresh and clean by the end.

Laura Santi

While I was incredibly happy with the recipe itself, I ended up adding some grapefruit essential oil because I wasn't entirely happy with the rose scent. And honestly, how cool is that? If I had bought deodorant from a store, it wouldn't be possible to change the scent and I would have been slightly unhappy until it was time to buy a new one. 

Overall, I would highly recommend making your own deodorant. It's customizable, cheap, and environmentally friendly. Hooray for zero waste!