Summer Skin Care & Homemade Deodorant Recipe

Last month I made our summer soap. We christened it Summer Shoo-Fly as its essential oils were chosen for their insect repellent properties. It is done curing now and is ready for the summer showering, camp use, gifts and trades.

Then last weekend, in between freezing pounds and pounds of berries I whipped up more summer skin care products: lip balm, body lotion, and deodorant


My mom was running low on lotion (I'm her dealer - tee, hee) and we were running low on lip balm (getting down to the crystallized honey that seems to settle in the bottom) and I was plumb out of deodorant - a situation that needed to be remedied for summer.  

Homemade Deodorant Recipe

As I've mentioned before my first batch of homemade deodorant was based on Angry Chicken's recipe. This time around I made a few more modifications, enough to call it my own and share it here.


  • 3 tbsp cocoa butter with jojoba oil
  • 3 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp vitamin E
  • 5 drops each of clove, rosemary, tea tree and eucalyptus - these were the oils I had on hand that I thought would smell nice together. Use whatever you like.
  • 5 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract, natural preservative (optional)


  1. In a sterilized pan melt all the ingredients, except essential oils and GSE, together over low heat on stove.
  2. Remove from heat, add drops of essential oils and GSE, if using. Stir well with whisk.
  3. Pour into sterilized glass jar.

My last batch lasted months and never went bad or rancid in the bathroom cupboard. This week with such high heat the oils have melted a bit and the deodorant was quite runny so I took a tablespoon out and mixed it with some baking soda to firm it up. This worked well and I've been using this firmer mix in this high heat and humidity.

To apply simply rub some between your fingers and massage onto your skin.

Toothpaste Update:

While we're discussing natural skin and body care I wanted to mention that our family has decided on a toothpaste alternative. I have been looking for a toothpaste replacement. Something with truly natural ingredients that I could make myself, that would clean our teeth, freshen our breath and that we'd all like. Well we mostly scored with Uncle Harrys.

  • Natural ingredients - check, I even e-mailed to ask specifically what the plant essences were
  • Make myself - well maybe, I know what all the ingredients are but for now we're purchasing it
  • Cleans our teeth - check, definitely
  • Freshens our breath - check, definitely
  • Family friendly - mostly check, Brienne doesn't like how strong it is

Another huge feature of using this toothpaste is that it is great for backpacking and simplifies our packing and personal care products.

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  • debbie

    debbie on July 10, 2010, 11:16 p.m.

    Oh...I'll be trying this deodorant recipe. Not sure my husband will like the application process...but he'll get used to it. :) Thanks for sharing Renee.


  • amanda

    amanda on July 11, 2010, 1:03 a.m.

    I loved making and using Angry Chicken's deodorant recipe, until I got a terrible itchy rash from the baking soda! I'm about to try it again with just the corn starch. I was really surprised to get the rash - have you been using this recipe for long?

    To Debbie - if you save an old push-up style deodorant stick container, you can pour the mixture in that and it will work pretty well. I wasn't a fan of the application method either!


    • renee

      renee on July 11, 2010, 8:59 p.m.

      This is the second time I've made this recipe.  If I've recently shaved and it's quite hot I can get rashy from this recipe (has happened once or twice in the past year). However, I don't shave too often (getting personal here) and it's rarely that hot that I'm sweating like crazy. I think it's the recently shaved/sweating combo that makes me rashy.

      That's my personal experience. But I think cornstarch only might be a good idea. 

      The stick is a cool idea. I'm used to applying various balms, lotions, salves and herbal poultices (some messy) to my skin when needed so I don't find the application method off putting at all. 


      • renee

        renee on July 11, 2010, 9:16 p.m.

        I should also add that I don't wear deodorant every day, maybe only a couple days a week. Does that make me gross or what?? I shower everyday and honestly, I don't think I smell. I have a very sensitive sense of smell and would notice this. Maybe our diet or my personal body chemistry contributes to less smelly body odor - I don't know.


        • amanda

          amanda on July 11, 2010, 9:21 p.m.

          Nah, not gross! My husband is able to go without deodorant much of the time. I myself cannot go without, unless I want to risk alienating everyone I want to be near. :) You'd definitely notice if you had a problem!

          A funny anecdote - he's a bit suspicious of my homemade deodorant. So I figured he wasn't using any at all since I'd taken the last stick of Tom's to replace with my homemade. Today I brought the stick down to clean out and refill it, and he asked why it was in the kitchen. I explained. He said "I've been using that!" and I was vindicated!! He has survived unknowingly using homemade deodorant and is prepared to continue! :)


      • amanda

        amanda on July 12, 2010, 12:08 p.m.

        I forgot to clarify - I found the stick useful because the first batch of deod. I made was rock hard, and impossible to stick my fingers into. At first I used a spoon to try to scrape it out, but then I tried the stick and that worked well. Of course, I just made another batch that more closely resembles what you did here, and my coconut oil was actually liquid. So, this batch is staying in the little tin, and using my fingers is working nicely. I don't think when it's this hot, if you use coconut oil, the stick would work very well.


        • renee

          renee on July 13, 2010, 12:28 a.m.

          I get it. I thought you had problems rubbing your pits with your fingers!  I think coconut oil has a lower melting point than shea butter so it's not as hard. Thanks for clarifying that. 


    • Anonymous

      Anonymous on Nov. 30, 2011, 12:44 a.m.

      You might be getting a rash from the cornstarch and not the baking soda. Baking soda shouldn't break you at, but many people tend to break out with cornstarch. Try using Arrowroot Powder, its very gentle. I make my own deodorant as well, difference recipe, but I use the Arrowroot Powder and it works like a charm. I have very sensitive skin so I am very careful with what I use, which is why I started to make my own products as well. You can also just refill your old deodorant dispenser so you don't have to use your fingers to apply this deodorant. You just wind it all the way back down and then pack it with your DIY deo and your good to go! Its the only way my husband will use my homemade stuff. Good luck!


      • Zen Barley

        Zen Barley on Feb. 19, 2012, 9:07 p.m.


        Any suggestions on what to do for darkening of the skin. I am getting some sort of rash that darkens my skin and makes it peel. I've used arrowroot from the beginning. Not sure if it is the baking soda or tea tree that might be irritating my skin. Been using for about a month.



        • Hazel

          Hazel on April 22, 2012, 12:06 a.m.

          OMG I had the same problem when I bought & used the soapwalla deodorant. I had to stop using it completely because the skin got dark & hard too. Then it started to peel. After that I stopped using soapwalla. I'm using Dr. Mist right now. It's natural too but I want to make my own deodorant. The last receipe I tried with cornstarch & baking soda didn't do anything for me at all. Didn't even last one full work day. Luckily I brought it along to work so I could reapply but I still felt stinky.


          • Lara

            Lara on July 13, 2013, 2:16 p.m.

            I just wanted to post a warning about baking soda, but not to dissuade you from using it entirely.  I make & sell homemade skincare products, including an all natural deodorant which consists of coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda, arrowroot powder &, in some cases, essential oils. I absolutely love it & it works beautifully, however my mom has been getting a painful rash & peeling skin. After some experimentation & some research we've come to realize that baking soda, although natual & a wonderful odor killer, can be highly irritating to some people in solutions that are more than 1% w/v (weight of baking soda by volume of total solution). Most recipes for DIY baking soda deodorant consist of 25% w/v (or more) baking soda solution which would be HIGHLY irritating for some people. Just to clarify, not everyone with sensitive skin will have problems with this (I'm one of them) while others who never had sensitive skin issues may not be able to tolerate it at all (my mom, for example). This poses a problem when creating a long lasting natural & SAFE homemade deodorant because most "sensitive skin" versions may only last 6hrs at most. I'm currently working on coming up with a long lasting version for sensitive skin, but haven't quite figured it out yet. Grain alcohols (vodka works beautifully;)) are wonderful alternatives, but if you're looking for a gentle "lotion-style" deodorant I'm not yet certain if it would mix well. Keep searching, keep experimenting & always be diligent in researching your ingredients & recipes thoroughly to avoid unhappy skin as much as possible. The whole point of DIY skincare is to unburden our skin & keep it healthy!! Good luck to everyone:)


            • renee

              renee on July 13, 2013, 6:40 p.m.

              I agree and also think that if any product, homemade or otherwise, gives your skin rashes or discomfort, you shouldn't use it. Good luck with your product development.


    • jenny

      jenny on May 13, 2014, 8:28 a.m.

      It maybe the cornstarch that is causing the itchiness. I use arrowroot powder instead. And have had no problems. Also check which EO your using and possibly reduce amounts of ingrediants


  • Naomi Kilbreth

    Naomi Kilbreth on July 11, 2010, 11:21 p.m.

    Glen recently discovered that if underarm odor is a problem in the heat that dabbing on rubbing alcohol takes away the smell for a day. We imagine that it kills off harmful bacteria/toxins. Any thoughts on why this works or if it's bad for you?


    • Anonymous

      Anonymous on Sept. 30, 2012, 11:55 p.m.

      I have heard that prolonged use of rubbing alcohol can be bad for you but grain alcohol is safe. I have done a lot of research on homemade household products and I have found quite a few people using the grain alcohol method. You just put it in a small spray bottle and spritz it on after your shower or in the morning (whenever you would use deodorant) here's a link that has lots of helpful information


  • nicola@which name?

    nicola@which name? on July 12, 2010, 4:06 a.m.

    I love these posts of yours, Renee. You take all the guess work out of it for me when I finally get around to moving from store bought natural to homemade natural. It will happen. Soon I hope. Nicola


  • amanda

    amanda on July 12, 2010, 12:13 p.m.

    And to totally flood your post with replies from's another question I have for you! :) What do you use for insect repellent (in your soap, or otherwise)? I haven't used any for a few years, but I think we're going to spend some time in the woods next week and the horseflies and deerflies are dreadful this time of year. Not to mention mosquitos. I had some "natrapel" for the kids, but the little one poured it all over the swingset. It smelled awful, so I'm not sad to see it go. Thought you might have some tips!


    • renee

      renee on July 13, 2010, 12:37 a.m.

      Interesting you should ask. I thought this question might come up and I considered including this info but decided not to because I didn't want to clutter the post too much. I figured if someone asked I could always answer in comments! 

      We are still experimenting with what works best. Our most recent trial test has been to drink apple cider vinegar in the morning before hiking. Which we give mixed reviews. 

      Our most reliable natural insect repellent to date has been Bite Blocker. Herbal Armor Insect Repellent looks like another good brand to try. 

      Other things we've tried with no real success: 1) a homemade version of Bite blocker, it's still sitting in my bathroom cupboard 2) a cedarwood/soybean oil combination.

      Insect repellent is an area of great interest to us as we are hiking every weekend in the woods. One of the best strategies we use is to wear long sleeves as much as possible and a bug net on our heads. These bug nets have have helped more than anything.

      My Summer Shoo-Fly soap is called that because it has nice smelling insect repellent essential oils, they have a nice summery smell. I don't know that using it actually repels bugs! Hasn't worked for us so far but smells great in the shower. 


      • Sarah

        Sarah on July 20, 2013, 5:16 p.m.

        We've had great success with rubbing a little citronella essential oil on wherever needed. Lasts a long time on the skin. Costs less than $5 for a small bottle. We put a few drops on our baby's clothes. Don't need much to ward off the critters.


  • Ren

    Ren on July 13, 2010, 2:10 p.m.

    Thank you for the reminder that I want to try this! Another blogger friend made some and posted it a few weeks ago and I have been wanting to try it!


  • PurpleNothing

    PurpleNothing on Sept. 23, 2010, 3:09 a.m.

    This post is old... but I'm new :P I found a recipe for Homemade Bug Spray on another website awhile back This is what it says:

    Ingredients: 3 ounces distilled water 1 ounce witch hazel (the alcohol) 6 drops lavender essential oil 3 drops tea tree essential oil 3 drops citronella essential oil

    Apparently it works? I've never tried it. Good luck :)


    • renee

      renee on Sept. 23, 2010, 11:10 a.m.

      Thanks for sharing the recipe. I have tried making our own bug spray or bug repellent oils through the years. I've never been able to succeed, Maine has some nasty black flies and mosquitos! Bugs are repelled by those essential oils so that recipe might work but you'd probably have to re-apply very often, as in every 10 minutes, which is often the downfall of recipes I've tried. 


  • Jessica

    Jessica on Oct. 9, 2010, 11:32 p.m.

    I love learning new ideas!

    We just use a baking soda and salt combination (sometimes with some dried mint) for our toothbrushing. It's cheap, natural and gargling while brushing is great for getting rid of nasty germs - I've not had a sore throat since starting!

    I love this deodorant idea and can't wait to try it! When I'm in between batches of various kinds (can't decide which I like the best) I pat on a 50/50 mix of baking soda and cornstarch.

    Lastly, for our bug repellant, we have found that vitamin E by itself is great. If eaten in enough quantities in the right foods (or as a supplement), it makes you naturally repellent - I can't depend on that alone, so I add it to our soaps and will make a light-weight lotion of it for the worst times. I still want to try that soap though - it sounds like so much fun to make!



  • Charli

    Charli on Dec. 8, 2010, 3:13 a.m.

    For those who are getting rashes, it could be the cornstarch too. Its known to cause yeast infections when used in deodorant, instead an alternative is arrowroot powder, which thankfully doesnt cause infections. :) Hope this helps.


  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Nov. 17, 2011, 3:38 p.m.

    My daughter is allergic to grapefruit-type ingredients in things like this... Maybe it's the grapefruit seed extract causing rashes...


  • down2earthsmiles

    down2earthsmiles on Dec. 14, 2011, 7:40 a.m.

    I wanted to know how I can sterilize old deodorant tubes. Also, should I sterilize new lip balm tubes before pouring in the oils? If so, how should I do that?



    • renee

      renee on Dec. 14, 2011, 11:18 a.m.

      I don't re-use old deodorant tubes (I stopped using it years ago and never had a tube to re-purpose when I started making my own), so couldn't tell you. But the way I sterilize my jars for lotions is putting them in boiling water, this of course only works for glass and certain types of plastic.  I have never sterilized new lip balm tubes. 


  • Laura

    Laura on Feb. 13, 2012, 4:03 a.m.

    I have tried different variations of the coconut oil/other oils/baking soda/cornstarch and I was able to get some to work pretty good. However, my main problem has been that they stained my clothes like crazy. I even added beeswax to make it firm and still had oil stains. After a few months the build up of stains is so bad that I started getting frustrated and went back to the crystal deodorant.

    I would love to be able to make a non-oil based deodorant but I don't know what's okay to be putting on my skin everyday and that will work. I have to use deodorant every day and I need a fairly strong deodorant. The thought of having oil stains on my shirts and eventually having to replace my shirts more frequently is not appealing. Has anyone else had this problem?


  • Melody

    Melody on March 10, 2012, 5:21 a.m.

    New commenter, found your blog via google search for homemade deodorant. However, my comment is in response to your bug repellent issues. Get some wild oil of oregano and add a few drops to a couple of squirts of lotion in your hand and then rub all over. It works! During our dry Texas summer last year, our back door got stuck (foundation), and I had to walk around the house to feed the outside cat for several weeks. We have wicked mosquitoes here, and by using the oil of oregano, not one mosquito bit me. Just wanted to share.


  • Kelly

    Kelly on July 14, 2012, 1:25 a.m.

    Hi there! This recipe looks great, i'd love to try a solid deodorant. At the moment we use plain bicarb soda (I think that's what we call baking soda over here is Australia?) We use an aluminium-free one from Bob's Red Mill. My husband's a tradesman and doesn't stink after work, and it performed admirably in the Outback as well.

    I also use it in our toothpaste, and posted my recipe here a while back.

    It's really easy, and seems to work well-let me know if you try it! The best natural toothpaste i've used was aloe vera gel, straight from the plant-it's what we'll go back to when we move back to a more tropical climate.

    Keep on posting these tutes, i've just discovered your blog and am busy reading through the wealth of information you've provided-thanks so much!



  • Laura

    Laura on Aug. 25, 2012, 9:37 a.m.

    Hey all,

    I know this is an old post, but the comments about getting skin discoloration peeked my interest.

    Have you tried Apricot Oil in the recipe?

    Seems a bit odd maybe but down here in New Zealand quite often people get the dark age spots and liver spots and a direct application everyday of apricot oil for about a week makes them disappear. It's also fantastic for sunburn or any type of burn - way better than aloe vera as it will trap what moisture is left in the skin, you will still peel and don't worry if it is a bad burn and it crusts (happened to me about 3 times) it just means that the new skin is growing in underneath and it will be healthy and no scarring - very important when one of the holes in the ozone is right above the country. If you apply it before sun exposure it can work as a mild sunscreen.

    I have mixed it into a basic salve with beeswax - good for chafe and rough skin esp if you add a bit of ground cinnamon.

    Hope this helps :)


  • Melly

    Melly on Nov. 30, 2013, 8:50 p.m.

    I started using homemade deodorant after finding this post... It takes a bit of getting used to but I hear it's so much healthier and obviously more natural... Thanks so much for sharing this, I check back all the time to share it with friends and stuff... <3

    ~ Melly from

    How to make skin care . com  


  • marnie

    marnie on July 26, 2014, 1:49 p.m.

    Has anybody used or added honey to these homemade lotions, specifically deodorant? I know that it's used for a lot of things so I was just wondering. Thanks for all the good tips.


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