From “No-Poo” To “No-Deo” -> 3 Reasons To Join The Deodorant Free Movement!

This blog post was inspired by some of the reader questions about Peppermint Oil from Sunday’s hilarious mouse episode. Thanks everyone who commented and shared their own mouse (or snake!!) horror stories. What a total blast!! We have 97 comments and counting!! For those deo-curious, here’s the next installment…..

I'm a free-flyin' kinda gal!
I’m a free-flyin’ kinda gal!

I have a confession to make. For the past 6 months I have not used any deodorant, at least not the kind you can buy from the store. No, this is not my regression into some kind of primal cloth-wearing savage (although one does get those urges in the boonies). Rather it’s an experiment and a progression from my no-poo transition over a year ago (which I still love and which, by the way, is still the most popular post on my blog at over 500 views per week!)

Can you say 101 uses for Baking Soda?
Can you say 101 uses for Baking Soda?

I’ve been keeping this a secret mostly because I wanted to see if anyone noticed. You see, despite a love of all things fragrant and flowery I have a rather poor sense of smell so I’ve had to put my new underarms through more rigorously scientific tests. The first test was whether anyone actually mentioned anything. Now this is a poor test I admit since in polite society few people actually do. Despite this, I’ve kept a vigilant ear on the topic so to speak, and so far no-one has mentioned anything untoward. Check one. Accepting this as a success I’ve moved onto Beta stage and looked for more subtle signs of issues -> people suddenly fainting in my presence, urgent gasps for breath, apparent dizziness…that kind of thing. This stage has also passed with flying odor. Check two. Beta-Plus stage involved putting the substance through the daily motions…you know hiking, walking, lounging, general miss-behavior. This stage too was overcome with scent success. Check three.

Thus, with three flying checks I have declared my Deo-free experiment a success and am finally ready to blog about it.

In all seriousness though, why would I do such a thing?

1/ To Avoid Weird Chemicals -> I try to live my life with as little weird chemical interaction as possible. Many deodorants, especially the stronger kind contain various fun ingredients like aluminum compounds (which can accumulate in the body), parabens, triclosan etc.This leads to many deodorants that come with a warning label of the sort “avoid use if you have kidney disease”…rather scary I think. Chemicals are everywhere in life, but I try and stick with as natural stuff as I can.

2/ To Save Some Moolah! I always love saving $$. Home-made deodorant cost pennies, has only a few ingredients and is super-easy to make. Why not try it?

Peppermint...the secret mouse-repellant?
It smells good too!

3/ Because It Works! The last reason was a side-effect I did not expect when I started this experiment. To put this in perspective keep in mind I was the woman that used Clinical Strength deodorant because that seemed to be the only stuff that worked for me. Really!! That’s before I started to get reactions from the stuff and decided I really needed to change. I tried all kinds of brands with no results until Lu wrote her post on home-made deodorant last year. Although initially a huge skeptic I decided, finally, to give it a try. When I moved over to the home-made stuff it took a while for my body to adapt, but after a few weeks I was sweating less and had better odor control, and within a month my body had reached a happy equilibrium. Amazing, but true.

The recipe for the home-made stuff is super-easy and comes from this site. I use the 2nd combination which works out as follows:

  • 6 T coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) arrowroot
  • Peppermint Essential Oil (optional)
This little cup of deodorant will last me many months
This little cup of deodorant will last me many months

Just mix and store. I keep it in a small ramekin since it does get soft when hot and this prevents it from flowing out and making a mess (conversely it can get rather hard when cold!). You only need a small dab each day so this one recipe will last me many months. The peppermint oil is optional, but it smells really good and gives you a pleasant minty freshness (plus, you now know other uses for peppermint oil, right?).

It may not be everyone’s cup o’tea, but for those of you curious enough to try it I invite you to join the experiment and give it a go. Let me know how it works out for you!

P.S. We’ve got lots going on in Moab and will get back to regular blogging next, but just in case you didn’t know it’s Free National Park Pass week (Apr 22-26) which means you can get in FREE to many of the fabulous National Parks across the US all this week!! We’ve been taking advantage of it here and hope you do too.

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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

  1. Gene says

    ok I want Paul to chime in here. Between the hair and pits, does Nina stink now? Not that I expect Paul to give an honest answer, but if he says “yes, Nina stinks now” then I believe that. If he says “no” then I’ll hold out and smell you thoroughly the next time I see you and give you an honest answer. 😉

    • libertatemamo says

      It’s a good thing you’re an old friend my dear. Paul reports all good in scent-land (and he’s not one to hold his tongue on such matters), but I’m happy to submit myself to your excellent nose next time we meet. Should make for an interesting reunion LOL.

  2. Rob James III says

    Thanks for all your post. You two are fun to follow. My wife and I are rving more and more each year. I can work from the road but she is a realtor on the island where we live and can only get away for short stints. I have not gone poo less but use Ecover dishwashing liquid instead of shampoo since it is a soap and not a detergent. My wife’s question is once it has harden how do you apply it?

    Thanks Rob

    • libertatemamo says

      I keep the deodorant at room temp, and for the most part that keeps it soft enough for easy application. I did try the fridge for a while, but it got too hard for my liking. Outside temps do affect it, but I’ve only had issues when it’s been *very* cold, and in those cases I’ve had to hand-warm it before I could apply…we try to stay out of those temp extremes though!

  3. says

    Woohoo!! Hooray for reducing chemicals!

    My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago, and she was introduced to crystal deodorants while she was going through radiation treatment (you can’t use most commercial stuff, because of the metals in them).

    Ever since, she and I both have used that instead with great results.

    But my little secret? I’ve actually hardly ever use that anymore either and go completely deo-free most days… and no one has ever noticed. Every so often on a hot humid day, I’ll wet a little crystal on my pits.

    The body does adapt to regulating its own if you give it a chance. I might try this concoction, if only as a way to wear a little essential oils every so often.

    • libertatemamo says

      Thanks so much for sharing that story. We’ve got a relative with kidney disease which is how I originally discovered the problem ingredients in my deodorant. Just amazing…

      I so agree with the body self regulating too. I’ve certainly seen that with my hair, and I’m experiencing the same thing with my pits. Not much needed except to keep ’em clean and a little dab for fragrance. Some days I forget the dab, and all is still ok. Just the body doing its own magic.


  4. says

    Thanks for the plug Nina. I’m glad you are now a convert to being deodorant-free. I must admit to being a bit of a skeptic myself at first, wondering if I could go days without deodorant. I looked back at my calendar and realized I had made my last batch last August, one for both Terry and I to share, and we still have some left. Given the laboring we have done lately we have definitely put it to the test and we came out smelling like a rose, or in our case calendula! Gotta love it! :)

  5. says

    I’ve been using the salt crystal deoderant for years now due to allergy problems with most commercial personal care products. One “stick” lasts me about a year, I swear! I’m going to give your recipe a try because my stick does NOT hold up to a workout and I smell pretty scary when I leave the gym!

    • libertatemamo says

      I’ve found this recipe holds up really well, even with workouts. It’s thanks to the coconut oil (and peppermint)…both natural anti-odor ingredients! You’ll still sweat of course, but the odor should be much improved.

  6. says

    I am definitely giving this a try. I have really sensitive skin and have yet to find a deodorant (even the natural ones like Tom’s) that doesn’t irritate my underarms. This just might be the solution. Thanks for the recipe!

    • libertatemamo says

      Excellent! Hope it works out for you! I have a personal preference for peppermint, but any essential oil will work. Kit (other commenter) gave some good recommendations for other mixes, especially for more sensitive skin.

  7. Kit Gordon says

    Hi Nina, Isabel & I have been using a version of this deodorant for years. I sometimes just use equal parts coco oil & baking soda. We usually just make a batch with 1 T of each. Smaller batch stays fresher. Peppermint may be to harsh for pits, especially for shavers. We use an essential oil blend with orange, lemon & rosemary &/or lavender. Have your read “Green Beauty Guide”, “No more dirty looks”? There are great websites on all this. WAPF is a good source too.


    • libertatemamo says

      Hey Kit. Good tip on the essential oils, and thanks very much for the book recommendation. Excellent stuff.

    • libertatemamo says

      Very nice link. Does a great job of explaining why coconut oil is such a great antibacterial and odor inhibitor too. I love coconut oil!

  8. says

    Finally got back to internet that will allow me to read and comment on posts so I’m going to have to catch up with you. Haven’t used deod in years. Not sure why I used to need it but don’t any more. I have a great nose and I know. When I notice all I have to do is wash my armpits and voila. I too am concerned about what goes into my pores and thus into my body’s system. Personal care products seem to be made of nothing but chemicals no one can pronounce. What do you use for skin cream? My skin is so dry I have to oil it. Olive oil makes me too greasy. Do you brush your teeth with baking soda? Love your blog. So interesting.

    • libertatemamo says

      I’m a huge fan of coconut oil. Use it for everything! I find a thin film on the skin after bathing is not oily and does a fabulous job of moisturizing. Far nicer than olive oil IMHO and smells good too.

      For my teeth I do apply baking soda, but also still use commercial (natural) paste. I’m looking to make my own recipe soon. Baking soda seems to do an awesome job on my teeth so undoubtedly that will be the base of whatever I finally end up making.


  9. says

    I have to admit I had to look up arrowroot – on my shopping list! So many wonderful essential oils out there and I can’t wait to get on the road (soon!) and try making up some healthy batches of love! Anything to rid the nasty chemical route…so many healing results to be found the natural way! Right now I’m working on a nasty mole… Thanks for the post Nina – you cover it all and more!!!

  10. jenniferjohns says

    Thanks for the info. I have been noticing lately that I seem to be allergic to deodorants and this seems like the perfect solution. I have been looking into the no-poo stuff also. BIggest problem on the road when I don’t have a the van.

    • libertatemamo says

      An allergy to my existing deodorant was the first thing that prompted me to look for other alternatives…this has worked out well for me. No irritation or problems so far.

  11. says

    This sounds lovely and fragrant in all the right ways. I can attest that I noticed nothing memorable in your aura.

    I’ve been using vinegar for about a year and a half, and I DO NOT ASK if it’s working. I first put a few drops of clove into the vinegar (once the vinegar loses its scent, there’s a mild fragrance), but Annie kept saying I was putting on pickles. When I stopped using the clove, she started asking when we were having salad.

    However, the vinegar smell goes away, and it seems to work, but I miss pickles.

    • libertatemamo says

      LOL….I can always count on you ducks to come up with a good story. Vinegar and pickles are not things I would have thought of in this context. I must say I noticed neither in your presence, although I did go home and eat something crunchy…hmmmm…

    • libertatemamo says

      I’ve mostly stopped using sunscreen except (on occasion) on my face. Haven’t found any good alternatives to that. I wear long-sleeved stuff & a hat if I’m out hiking, but sometimes still have to apply sunscreen depending on time of day/strength of sun.

  12. Diane says

    Having a great time reading your blog. Have followed in your tracks and found some wonderful boondocking spots. Thanks so much! I was just wondering, do you use the same no-poo on your dog? We travel with a Golden and his hair has become so static in this dry climate. Thanks and continued Happy Trails.

    • libertatemamo says

      That’s a great question. I have to admit we rarely wash the dog. Maybe once every 6 months at the most? She is 100% raw fed and that seems to keep her skin/fur in excellent condition. On the rare occasion we do wash we use an oatmeal rinse that we got at the pet store. I’ve ne’er thought about doing no-poo on her, but now that you mention it I think I’ll give it a try. Can’t see why the vinegar rinse wouldn’t work to condition doggie just as we’ll as us. Thanks for the idea!

  13. says

    Hi, Nina. I’ve been searching for a natural deodorant for awhile, but haven’t found one that works well. I LOVE coconut oil and use it to make some natural skin products, so will definitely try this recipe. I have very sensitive skin so will not use the peppermint essential oil…the mildest essential oils I’ve found are lavender, rose, and neroli. Thanks for sharing!

    • libertatemamo says

      Excellent! Hope this one works out for you. And cheers for sharing the info on the different essential oils.

  14. Peter says

    I have used a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water in a small spritzer. It kills the germs that make you stink…err, smell unpleasant…

    • libertatemamo says

      I bet that works although it might be a tad rough for most folks (sensitive) underarm skin.

  15. Joanne says

    Thanks so much for sharing this great recipe! For years I relied upon the self regulating feature of my body as I am allergic to some ingredient in most commercial deodorants. This did not always work out too well! But I absolutely love this homemade deodorant and it works perfectly! (Or so I am told!)

    By the way, I absolutely love your blog! Thanks so much for putting all the time and attention into all your posts.

    • libertatemamo says

      I am so happy the recipe worked for you! We love the deo-free method and don’t ever see ourselves going back to store-brought deodorant. Even hubby has converted and loves it too.


  16. George says

    I’m a trucker, so I don’t always have reliable, consistent access to shower facilities. Between showers, I take sponge baths using a mixture of rubbing alcohol (70% solution) and distilled white vinegar (5% acidity). The vinegar lowers the pH of the skin and does a good job of keeping the bacteria that naturally live on you from getting too ambitious.

    Another good product are these disposable makeup removal wet-wipes sold at Wal-Mart (for washing your face without running water). As a dude, I never previously knew that these existed.

    • libertatemamo says

      Great tips! We use wipes when we’re boondocking, but I never knew about the alcohol/vinegar solution. Cheers for sharing.


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