One of the most embarrassing things that can happen, especially in the summer months, is when you lift up your arms and that smell hits. That smell that you thought your deodorant or antiperspirant was supposed to prevent could be waiting to strike every time you raise your arms. 

Commercial deodorants are used to inhibit body odor from sweat, whereas antiperspirants are meant to prevent your body from sweating.

Unfortunately, there are many ‘pit’falls when using most commercial deodorants and/or antiperspirants. Many contain aluminum, which inhibits natural perspiration, as-well-as parabens and additional toxins that are very harmful to our health. Is smelling good and reducing sweating worth the health risks associated with using commercial deodorant or antiperspirant?

Here are some popular and healthy DIY alternatives to commercial deodorants and antiperspirants.

☼ Lemon Juice 

An image of a plate of sliced lemons on a blue background

Lemon juice has so many benefits when used on the skin. In the case of using it as a deodorant, you apply lemon juice to your armpits (in the form of juice on a cotton ball or just a sliced lemon). Lemons are antibacterial, and the citric acid in the lemon juice can kill the odor-causing bacteria living in “pity city”. If you do decide to give lemon juice a try, please don’t use it right after shaving your armpits or if you have cuts… it will sting!

☼  Baking Soda and Coconut Oil 

This is another popular homemade deodorant replacement. To make this, combine ¼ cup baking powder, ¼ cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder, 4 tablespoons of coconut oil. For a pleasant fragrance add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender or rose. Mix the ingredients and store them in an airtight glass container. For use, simply massage a small amount into your armpit. Don’t use too much as it may irritate skin or stain clothing.

☼  Salt Scrubs 

Salt scrubs are great for exfoliating and removing dead skin. They can also aid in getting rid of the odor-causing bacteria that like to congregate in our pits. After use, your armpits will be left feeling soft and smelling like whatever essential oil you decide to use. To make a salt body scrub, simply put ½ cup Epsom salts, ¼ cup pink Himalayan salt, and ¼ – ½ cup organic olive oil in a glass jar. If desired, add a few drops of your chosen essential oil such as rose, lavender, geranium, or orange and stir well.

☼  Rosewater Spritz

An image of roses in a basket

This one is my personal favorite! Rosewater has a lovely scent, as-well-as a ton of benefits for the skin. It boasts anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, and calming properties. As such, it can be a gentle yet effective alternative to deodorant.

You can quite easily make your own rosewater. You’ll need a dark glass spray bottle, 6 fresh roses (organically grown/not sprayed), 1 – 1 1/2 cups filtered water, and a saucepan with a lid. Remove the petals from the roses and rinse them gently with cold water. Put 1 cup of water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat. Put the rose petals into the saucepan; they should be completely submerged in the water. If there is not enough water, add a little extra from a recently boiled kettle.

Let sit for 25-30 minutes or until the rose petals have lost all color. When the water has cooled but is still warm, strain the rose petals from the water. Strain first with a colander and then with an unbleached coffee filter or cheesecloth.  Pour the rosewater into a glass spray bottle and store in the refrigerator. Spritz your armpits with the rosewater as needed.

Alternatively, you can purchase rose water that is already in a spritzer bottle, such as Heritage Store Rosewater which is available at in two sizes.

☼  Homemade Perfume 

You can make your own perfume, which can be sprayed on armpits to leave a lovely scent. Pour 30ml jojoba oil in a small dark glass spritzer bottle and add 15 – 20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Once applied, let the perfume dry and/or absorb into the skin before you put any clothing near your armpits, as the jojoba oil may leave oil stains.

Don’t Like DIY?

An image of a small bowl of Himalayan salt crystals

If you don’t want to experiment with the aforementioned DIY deodorant/antiperspirant alternatives, you can always try crystal salt deodorant; it’s literally just salt, no extra additives or bad ingredients. It works by killing the bacteria that causes odor and absorbs some of the sweat that you may exude throughout the day. It is available online at and, and you should be able to find it at your local health food store.

You could also go to EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database to find out if a deodorant you are looking to purchase contains ingredients that are considered safe to use and won’t adversley affect your health.

Take Precautions

It is important never to use undiluted essential oils on your skin. If you have any open cuts, bites, or blisters, please don’t use any products containing essential oils as they may irritate your skin. Additionally, some essential oils should be avoided if you are pregnant or have certain  medical conditions. If using essential oils, we recommend that you do some research first and a 24-hour skin test of a properly diluted essential oil to see if you have any adverse reactions to it.

It is always worth trying a 24-hour skin test on a small area before using a suggested DIY deodorant or antiperspirant alternative.

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