05/18/2012 05:09 EDT | Updated 07/18/2012 05:12 EDT

You Can be Clean And Green

Any vegetarian can tell you how common it is, upon telling someone about their eating choices, to be questioned about the extent of your commitment to the lifestyle. Do you eat fish? What about marshmallows? Are you a real vegetarian?

Since I've transitioned to non-toxic cosmetics and personal care products, I've noticed a similar phenomenon. Instead of trying to trip me up on my choices, the questions about non-toxic products tend to verge on fascination. Doesn't the mascara run? Isn't the moisturizer greasy? Don't you STINK?

The transition to natural deodorant is one of the most feared steps of the path to a less toxic lifestyle. Not everyone is willing to risk smelling bad to protect themselves and the environment from toxins. For those in need of inspiration, may I remind you that many deodorants contain hormone-disrupting parabens, linked to cancer? Or, that antiperspirant prevents sweating by blocking your pores with aluminum? (We sweat for a reason, people. That stuff needs to get out!) Or, that aluminum has been proven to mimic estrogen in lab tests, and has been identified as a neurotoxin at high levels?

I know, I know. Switching is hard. And the first product you try will probably not be your favourite. As you embark on this journey of perspiration perseverance, it might be a good idea to keep an extra stick in your desk or purse, in case you need to do a "touch up." Since all deodorants react differently with different people, what works for your friend might not work for you. I'd recommend coupling any natural deodorant strategy with a few drops of tea tree oil under the arms (unless you've just shaved) in the morning.

You also need to give your body time to adjust to regulating its own natural oils and sweat. You may find that you don't need as much deodorant, or that you don't need to re-apply as much after a few months!

And, you might want to try making some of your own deodorant. Most homemade options are far cheaper, and can be made with stuff you have in the house. (If you have sensitive skin, try Googling recipes that contain shea butter or vitamin E.)

DIY Deodorant

¼ cup coconut oil

¼ cup corn starch (or less, if you experience skin irritation)

¼ cup baking soda (or less, if you experience skin irritation)

20-25 drops of your favourite essential oil


Melt the coconut oil and mix in the dry ingredients and essential oil.

Depending on the format you choose, find a container that suits you. I've tried making these in muffin tins, which will give you a puck you can wet and rub under your arms, or putting it in a jar and scooping it out with my fingers. I've also heard of making it in a toilet paper tube, and tearing cardboard pieces away as you use it. Place the cardboard roll vertically on a plate, and pour a small part of the mixture in. Allow it to solidify and then add the rest. Leave out until it is solidified and compost the cardboard pieces when you're done.

If DIY isn't your bag, there are plenty of great options on the market. Try your local health food store or green online retailers.