Why would I talk about making my own cheap deodorant on here? Why the hell should you care? I used to spend $3.99 on my deodorant back in the early 2000’s. And later I wanted to be more health-conscious which led me to spend $5.99 for Tom’s sticks.
Fast-forward to 2015 when I started doubting the ingredients in the stick. Then I wondered who was policing this shit and I realized it came down to the FDA. And … I realized that the FDA didn’t want anything to do with it. Which meant that nobody was policing what I was rubbing against my pits.
Let me save you from reading any further: I make my own deodorant and have done so for the past 5 years. It’s baking soda, water, and lavender extract.
A DIY Deodorant Recipe
I started looking for a DIY deodorant recipe and came up with something that needed me to buy shea butter and jojoba oil and some peel extract and an emulsifier.
I tried it. It was ridiculous. Stained my shirts and smelled like a wet dog once I started sweating. I was disappointed, especially because I had spent a lot of money on those other products.
Okay, so I got had. Someone who wrote that copy on that website probably was some shea butter dealer. Trust me, shea butter ain’t got no place in no homemade deodorant.
I tried a few other ones which all had coconut oil. I definitely was getting closer but coconut oil smells after a while. And it stains. And it feels a little weird under your arms.
Weaning off the Stick
For the past 2 decades, I was rubbing a stick with alcohol and some crazy chemicals on my axilla. My skin bacteria had gotten used to it. So, when I stopped the stick I was smelling to high heavens.
I was sweating more than ever and I wasn’t smelling too fresh. It was a bit frustrating because I was chasing the performance of a deodorant stick or an antiperspirant stick.
Fortunately, I’m a determined fellow. I remember I had just moved to Portland and figure that people would understand there even if I smelled a touch past my prime.
About 1.5 months after stopping antiperspirants and deodorants my axilla smell was only mildly nauseating. I essentially went through this rebound phase and came out the other end smelling a little funky but not bad at all. Definitely tolerately. Not ready for a date but good enough for a public debut.
Obsessed With the Stick
I kept trying a recipe that would behave like a stick. As in, something that I could extrude from a container and rub against my armpit. I just thought that was the easiest way to handle my axillary hygiene.
Eventually, I realized how useless that was. In order to have a deodorant be solid, you have to add a lot of chemicals and oils. It’s stupid. I realized that my finger sufficed. But I had to make some adjustments.
I always trimmed my armpits somewhat even as a dude. I realized this was helpful in decreasing odors. Apparently, the bacteria live on the hairs too.
Next, I needed to wet my axilla a bit before applying the DIY deodorant. So, to do that I just wouldn’t dry my armpits after the shower and immediately applied the paste on there afterward.
Nothing But Baking Soda
I got so spartan that for a while I was only using baking soda. The problem is that it’s a bit abrasive by itself and dries the area out. It’s also that it likely kills too much of the good organisms in that area so the skin gets irritated quickly.
Instead, I realized that if I mix some water in there, as in, diluted it, it worked much better.
So that was the ticket, start with less and add more as needed. So I added the water, essentially making a paste which I used forever.
After a year I decided I would try an essential oil which I thought was a big scam but I chose lavender because Dr. Bronner uses it and I read that the extract might have some antibacterial properties.
The Final Recipe
The final recipe is:
- baking soda
- lavender extract
You can get more creative and put some lemon extract or patchouli extract in there. You can put a touch of coconut oil – a tiny touch. But that’s about it.
It works amazingly. I work out like a madman and I don’t stink and I don’t stain my shirts. I don’t sweat excessively and my armpits aren’t irritated.
Doubting the Status Quo
Discovering my own deodorant stick meant that I could break away a little from the status quo. I didn’t have to rely on a stick to make me tolerable in society.
I also started doubting the cosmetic and beauty industry. Why did they have so many ingredients if I just needed some diluted baking soda? It’s not like I’m the only one. I’ve given away tubs of this shit to friends and they rave about it.
What was in my toothpaste and soap that I didn’t need? What was in my food I could do without? What was in my life overall that I could cut out?
My deodorant took me down the path to doubt a lot of stuff. Did I really need to eat wholewheat flour which is the addition of white flour and the fibers which were separated and then added back in? Did I have to grind my own grain?
A Healthy Dose of Doubt
As a digital nomad physician, I want to and need to live an alternative lifestyle than the average physician. If I drank the same KoolAid as my colleagues I would be stuck with the Tesla & Prius combo, living on pill hill in the suburbs, and trying to max out my 401k.
I have had the time to vet and doubt a lot of things in my life. Having been single for so long and having retired from medicine in my late 30’s offered me the luxury to doubt some of the status quo.
I will admit that I’m a little sad that so much of what I believed to be true has been a lie. From how effective statins are to how life-saving antibiotics are to how important your toothpaste is for your dental health. Not to mention that I don’t need the health insurance industry to make my money in medicine. In fact, I don’t even need patients.
The Savings Add Up
Life is about a thousand little decisions which add up to 1 big fucking advantage.
You choose to invest $500 every week in index funds for 2 decades and suddenly you are halfway to being a millionaire.
You get rid of your car or park it most of the time and your health catapults to another level. So do your mental health and your pocketbook.
I probably only saved about $780 these past few years on deodorant. But the mental savings of feeling detached from the “system” is worth maybe $500,000 over my lifetime.
Knowing that I can do something for myself which I previously only assumed others can do for me helped me feel a degree of freedom and peace which I didn’t even know I could have.
You can make cheap deodorant or bake your own bread or pick your own wild herbs. You can hunt for wild mushrooms and you can make your own toothpaste.
You can learn to fix your own plumbing, run your own electrical, and troubleshoot your own appliances. All of these are ways in which you get to enjoy a degree of decoupling.
What matters is what matters to you. Each of us values something different. My decoupling took me down the path of figuring out how I could customize my own medical career.
I learned that I could sell my medical knowledge. I didn’t have to wait for a preassigned patient to come to me in order for me to do whatever they wanted. I could find my own clients, point out to them what they didn’t know, and sell them the knowledge they were missing – aka healthcare consulting.
One reply on “My Cheap Ass Deodorant”
Hard to overstate the impact that the manufacturers of these hygiene products have on our collective psyche. The desire to not emit a strong odor is understandable but the deathly fear of “BO” was definitely the invention of a deodorant manufacturer, in the 1920’s I think.
As you stated, there’s a “rebound” that happens when one stops frequent use of these products. There may be a brief adjustment period when the problem is amplified, but this is temporary and soon after things like odor and overall skin health become better than they were before.