We've been making deodorant for almost 10 years. Our own as well as selling customized lines for other companies and brands to label and sell as their own. Inevitably, we get one of two responses: "I can't believe how well this stuff works!" OR "I wish it worked for me but it irritates my skin". If you or someone you know has had the experience of getting little red bumps and irritated skin from a natural deodorant, it's likely that baking soda is the culprit. Baking soda is a really strong ingredient (I use it to clean my oven!), which is why it works really well as the active ingredient in deodorant. It's also why it's too strong for some skin types. If baking soda is not for your pits, try this sensitive skin deodorant spray that's baking soda free!
The Problem with Baking Soda
Baking soda works because it's so alkaline, it has a pH of 9. Your skin is slightly acidic with a pH of about 4.5-6. When you use baking soda, you drastically change the pH of your pits, making it less hospitable to bacteria that cause odour. Great news if your skin doesn't mind the baking soda. I find I can use our baking soda based deodorant and not reapply for days with no smell (provided I don't shower it away). This has been amazing on camping trips and when traveling to remote places with little access to showers. But, if I've just shaved or my pores are open because it's hot, using the same deo will give me angry little red bumps that itch and sting and can take days to go away. No fun.
While there are many brands that will swap baking soda for clays, like bentonite or kaolin, in their sensitive skin formulas I've personally found they rarely work for me. While clays do deodorize and they do have binding properties, they're not as effective as baking soda. Not to mention, some clays will leave a residue on your skin which can then transfer to your clothing.
Sensitive Skin Deodorant Spray
This recipe has 2 active ingredients: magnesium flakes and witch hazel. Magnesium helps to prevent odour and applying it topically is a great way to increase magnesium levels in the body. Just like an Epsom salt bath does wonder for sore muscles you could also use this spray instead!
Witch hazel is made by extracting the therapeutic properties of the inner bark of the witch hazel tree into pure alcohol. Traditional witch hazel is very astringent, meaning it closes the pores and helps to prevent excess moisture and odour.
1/4 cup magnesium flakes
pinch sea salt
1/2 cup distilled water, boiled
1/4 cup witch hazel (astringent version not alcohol free ones)
Optional: 25 drops essential oil of choice (I used sage)
- Boil distilled water.
- Add magnesium flakes and sea salt to a glass jar or measuring cup. Stir to dissolve until liquid is clear.
- Pour into a glass spray bottle using a funnel.
- Add witch hazel. Add essential oils, if using and seal tightly.
- Shake before use. Will keep for 6 months or longer.
Thanks for reading! If you're like me and hot weather + baking soda = unhappy pits, I hope you love this spray as much as I do!