Non-Toxic Deodorant & Antiperspirant that Really Works

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I have an underarm sweat and odor problem. I can’t tell you how many nice tops I’ve had to throw out because of sweat stains that I could never wash out. Finally I went to an endocrinologist and he diagnosed me with Hyperhidrosis. That’s medical lingo for sweating a lot. He went over various options, like prescription-strength antiperspirants and even surgery! But one of his recommendations combined with something else I discovered has been quite effective, so I thought I’d share the solution that has worked well for me.

First, the Perspiration Problem

The doctor told me about Drionic. It’s a small device I wear in my armpit for about 1-2 hours every 6 weeks or so. It uses a method called Iontophoresis – temporarily paralyzing the sweat glands through small electrical shocks. I know it sounds like it should be painful, but it’s not. In fact, the electrical pulses I get from my chiropractor are more uncomfortable.

I realize that this might not be the most holistic approach, but I personally feel much more comfortable with this method than with using commercial antiperspirants that contain aluminum. Especially while I was pregnant and now that I’m nursing. I’m yet to hear of any negative side effects from Iontophoresis, however, I understand that heavy metals like the Aluminum found in commercial antiperspirants can easily enter my bloodstream through cuts from shaving. From there, they can be transmitted to my baby, who doesn’t yet have a fully formed blood-brain barrier. As I pointed out in my post about The Vaccine Controversy, heavy metals in the bloodstream can lead to brain damage.

My only complaint about Drionic is the reliability of the device given the high pricetag. I’ve spent over $500 on 3 sets of devices plus batteries over the years. For some reason, the devices always seem to break down. Even today I’ve got only a single working unit, which means I can only do one side at a time. The other one worked only 2 times before it broke down. Unfortunately my complaints to the company that sells this device have fallen on deaf ears.

Next, the Underarm Odor

Although the Drionic device reduced my sweating by about 90%, it didn’t entirely control the odor. I noticed this especially after I gave birth. I suspect that the hormone changes I was going through made the smell worse than usual.

I tried all of the natural deodorants that are available at Whole Foods, but none of them worked for me. What did work was the following recipe for homemade deodorant:

  • 1 part coconut oil
  • 1 part baking soda
  • 1 part corn starch

Just mix these together into a paste and spread it on using your fingers or the back of a spoon. I’m still amazed at how well this is working for me. It doesn’t leave any residue on my clothes either!

If any of you have other suggestions for chemical-free deodorants and antiperspirants, I would love to hear them!


March 3, 2013 Update: I’ve contacted General Medical, the company that makes the Drionic Unit, and recently they replaced both units for just a small charge to cover shipping. I’ve only used the new units twice, but they seem to be working well.

I have also noticed that the coconut oil/baking soda/cornstarch mixture is causing a bit of a rash and occasionally small red bumps that itch a bit. I’ve heard several others complain about this too, and have since learned that baking soda is known to irritate skin on some people. So I’ve switched to using only coconut oil by itself on most days, and then on days when I need extra protection, that’s when I use the mixture above. The antimicrobial properties of coconut oil are quite effective. Wait until you’re smelly and then apply the coconut oil. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the smell disappears! But it needs to be raw (unprocessed) coconut oil, which I am not able to find at Whole Foods. I have to order mine from companies like Green Pastures’ Blue Breeze Coconut Oil. The only downside to coconut oil alone is that it is quickly absorbed, so you may need to re-apply often.


See this post and others like it at: Food Renegade, The Healthy Home Economist, Kelly The Kitchen Kop, Nature’s Nurture and CulturedMama.

26 thoughts on “Non-Toxic Deodorant & Antiperspirant that Really Works

  1. I switched off regular deodorant last year because of concerns about endocrine disruptors. Since then I’ve been using a product from Coastal Creations that I like a lot. (SF company too!) Very similar to your homemade stuff in terms of ingredients. I also had bad luck with the products at Whole Foods. The CC product is $22 a jar though, I think, but has lasted me at least 6 months and there’s still about 1/3rd left in the jar. I’ve been very happy with the combination of value and quality.

    I also love their lip color, which I use to add a bit of color to my cheeks and lips.

  2. PS – just cheked the price. It was $6.00 for the deoderant, plus shipping. I was probably thinking of total cost with the lipsticks I also bought last time.

  3. I read another blog post about using organic acv… soak a cotton ball and wipe it on. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my todo list. In the meanwhile, I use Jason’s … it took my body about a week to adjust but now it works great.

  4. I just apply coconut oil without anything else. It’s been over a year now – I ask my husband to check me out for odors occasionally in case I am missing anything. It’s over 100 here and I’m still OK. Coconut oild is anti-bacterial and bacteria is what causes the odor – not sweat!

    • Catherine – I think potato starch should work just as well. I, too, am very leary of anything made with corn since most are GMO, but I use an organic corn starch I bought at WF. Certified organic products aren’t allowed to contain GMOs (not sure if you saw my post on “What does organic Really Mean?” Also, I think Debbie made a good point about not needing any starch. Coconut Oil itself is a fantastic antimicrobial. I think I just like the feel of the thicker, dryer consistency you get when adding the baking soda and starch. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

      • how much of each ingredient should be used to make this paste, looking forward to trying this out…thanks

        • The proportions don’t really matter that much. I use approx. equal amounts (by volume) of each ingredient. So maybe start with 1 tsp each of starch, baking soda and coconut oil. If it’s too dry/thick, add more oil. If it’s too wet for your taste, add more starch.

    • You might try arrowroot. I use a little corn starch in my deodorant recipe but mostly arrowroot. It’s much more gentle under the arms than corn starch and baking soda. So, a nice mix of both arrowroot with a little baking soda does the trick for me. Of course this is added to coconut oil and a few drops of Bergamot essential oil.
      I hope this information sharing helps someone.

  5. I have always used an antiperspirant, but over the years I developed an irritation and was always itching. A few months ago I ran across a recipe using coconut oil, cornstarch and baking soda. I still sweat but I don’t stink or itch anymore.

  6. I had the same problem when I was yougner, it started when I was about 10, and it totally sucked lol! I don’t know of a home remedy but you can get a pretty inexpensive solution at Target or Walgreens. I used to use one called B-drier but now I use one called Certain Dri because I like the roll on applicator and I think it is a wee bit cheaper. You put it on at night, it is a liquid, just like you would use deodorent. It soaks into your skin and once it is dry it helps stop your sweat. The active ingredient is aluminum chloride (hexahydrate). This is not the same as the aluminum zirconium (anhydrous) found in regular deodorent. I think it works by shrinking your sweat gland openings or something, but the main thing is you don’t sweat. When I first started using it I got really itchy and a bit dry sometimes under my arms. The itch goes away though as soon as the liquid dries and after you use it a while you don’t itch anymore. You can shower it off and it will still keep working. Some people put it on every few days but I like to use it almost every day because I don’t want to sweat at all. I avoid dry underarms by just using regular deodorent in the morning that moisturizes and gives a nice smell. I don’t really sweat under my arms anymore, and I used to sweat a lot, like pit stains and if I would wear a loose shirt it would roll down my torso even when it was the middle of winter and I was sitting still. Crazy embarrassing! I have hyperhidrosis and was seriously looking into botox injections as an alternative if this didn’t work. But it did, and I am sooo glad! I think it costs about $10 or less at Target or Walgreens and you can get it other places I am sure but I usually go to either of those.Whoop, forgot to mention. Don’t let it touch your clothes when it is wet because sometimes it discolors them, like fades the color. I avoid this by putting it on at night, which you are supposed to anyways, and wearing tank tops to sleep that don’t go high under my arms, or else waiting ten minutes until the liquid is dry to slip into my pj top. Trivial matter, but I figured I would warn you so you don’t get a nasty shock.

  7. I started making my own deodorant a few months ago and am surprised how much LESS I perspire. I was nervous because I know most aren’t actually going to stop anything but odor (and who wants soggy shirts!?) – for some reason, mine seems to work for both. I have a friend that has serious problems with wet pits (no odor), I gave her a bottle and she was amazed at how much less she is perspiring. I use essential oils – Tea tree, lavender, peppermint, lime, and a bit of jojoba or almond oil mixed with witch hazel.

    • So what is the recipe you use? Like how much of each thing? Just curious. I sweat a lot and am looking for something healthier than the dangerous stuff you buy in the store.

  8. I’ve tried other formulas for antiperspirant deodorant, and they didn’t work to well. I’ll give this recipe a shot. I’ve also tried an antiperspirant deodorant called Purax, and that one wasn’t too bad. Good post tho, ill definitely try this out

  9. I use only baking soda. I keep some at work in case I forget in the morning. I wet two fingers on each hand, dab them in the soda, and rub under my arms. This works beautifully. For a late night, you may have to reapply, but for the most part, I do this only once per day.

  10. You can substitute CORNSTARCH for ARROWROOT POWDER…. I also like to add essential oils for added antimicrobial support and nice odor.
    After a few weeks I get a rash with the baking soda, so I will try it without the baking soda in my next batch.
    It really works though! that is true

  11. I personally, get a 2 quart container of unrefined USDA organic coconut oil from Costco for around $25, might want to check it out. 🙂

  12. I know this was posted some time ago but I’m desperately trying to find information on drionic and pregnancy. You said you used drionic while pregnant? Did it turn out to be safe for you and baby? I have severe palmar/plantar hyperhidrosis and drionic has been the only thing that’s worked for me and I’m dreading having to stop it because of pregnancy, but also don’t want to hurt the baby. Please help!

    • Hi Ana. This is a good question. I did use it during pregnancy and my baby (now 2yo) seems to be ok, although it never occurred to me that it might not be safe. My suggestion would be to contact the company that makes it, which is General Medical. Their phone and email are on their website,

    • Ana,
      If you don’t mind my asking, what did you end up deciding to do regarding iontophoresis and your pregnancy? I am in the exact same situation you described above. Drionic is the ONLY thing that works for my severe palmar/plantar hyperhidrosis and it works great. Not wanting to stop, but not sure what to do. :/

  13. Thank you so much for responding. I called general medical a minute ago and was told they do not recommend it due to lack of clinical evidence as to whether it’s safe in pregnant women or not. He advised I wait until after pregnancy and if I were to nurse. However, I am torn because there is the possibility like in your situation that it will not be harmful and I’d hate to suffer through this pregnancy and starting a new job (where I use my hands a lot) with dripping sweaty hands. I guess I have some thinking to do!

  14. I just swipe my pits with a little isopropyl alcohol and go. Not the best stuff for the skin, but it’s cheap and easy.

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