Crest Cottage Creations

Food, Family, and Fun in our little cottage…

Armpit Woes


So, I had a great post about a lactofermented success ready, but that will just have to wait until tomorrow.  This I HAVE to share today.  
A little over a year ago I decided to stop using my traditional deodorant/antiperspirant and start making my own.  I’m not sure that I believe all the negative hype about antiperspirants, but the cost of them adds up, they were leaving white caked on stains on my clothes, the smell (although delightful) wouldn’t leave my clothes, and I was trying to weed out chemicals whenever I could.  
I was scared.  I teach dance and I sweat a lot.  I did lots of research and settled on a mix of coconut oil, baking soda, and cornstarch.  The first few days, I stank a little.  Then, after about 3 days, I noticed that I was sweating less and didn’t smell.  I smelled lightly of coconut for the majority of the day.  My clothes were clean, and new things I have purchased since then no longer have that caked on deodorant nor the cloying scent even after washing.  
Our annual recital is in June.  It is a hot, sweaty, stressful week.  I hadn’t been using my recipe for too long, so I was nervous it wouldn’t hold up.  I switched back to my commercial deodorant for the first 2 days of rehearsals.  I STANK!!!! It was horrible!!! I can’t ever remember smelling that badly!!!  My guess is that my body was some how adjusted to the chemicals before, and when I gave them a break and then put them back on, my body was like “NO!!”  I went back to my home made one for the shows and smelled like a coconut again.  WHEW!
Next hurdle:  I started reacting to the baking soda.  This happened around October.  I had been using it with GREAT results for over 6 months at that point.  It was sudden.  Just one day, I started to have a rash from it, and some weird pimple like things.  I stopped using it immediately (over a weekend when I was home, don’t worry!).  I switched to just coconut oil and hoped that would fix the problem.  Not only did the rash heal (really quickly), but I still didn’t smell!  Yes, I was moister than usual because the baking soda and corn starch weren’t absorbing it, but the smell didn’t come.  
Now, I just use coconut oil.  In the summer, I might add some cornstarch in and see if that works, but I might not even need to.  Life was good.
UNTIL TUESDAY.  ::cue scary music::
I forgot to put it on!  Once I got to work, I used some commercial deodorant.  WORST IDEA EVER.  Apparently my body was no longer used to it.  Not only did I REEK, but my pits swelled up and got a rash on them.  I couldn’t even put my arms on themselves.  I had to teach in a sweater to buffer my skin from itself.  They were so swollen and painful even after I went home and took a shower.  It was horrible.  It subsided by mid-day Wednesday, which is great, but I have learned my lesson.  
I wonder, though… how is it that something I used for years and years every day is now causing my body to practically declare war?

This posted on Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS!


12 thoughts on “Armpit Woes

  1. Oh my goodness, this is half tragic, half amazing, and told in a very amusing manner. 🙂 That is the strangest thing I've ever heard! It's amazing that the coconut oil works so well for you, even with your active job.

  2. I had made a small batch with the baking soda and it irritated my skin. I started using my homemade ointment with coconut oil, vit. E oil, lavender and tea tree oils and that is working well so far. I made another batch and added beeswax as the original was getting too messy with warmer temps settling in. So far I love going without anti-persperant/deodorant. We'll see how it works in the hot summer months! Came over from GNOSFGLINS where I have two posts linked up–one on granola and one on hard lotions!

  3. I too have armpit woes. Unfortunately I have tried everything….this past year I began using coconut oil applied directly and then applying a arrowroot powder/baking soda mix (1/2 cup arrowroot powder mixed with 1 tablespoon of baking soda–Bob's Red Mill is what I've been using.) The arrowroot is supposed to buffer the baking soda and prevent rashes. This worked great until the last couple months. Again I have horrible rash/also with weird pimple things–very painful and really yuck looking.

    I have no idea what to try next.

  4. That is so strange! I really want to give up deodorant but my hubby isn't so sure he wants me too. Maybe I ought to just do it without him knowing 🙂 One question, though. Doesn't the coconut oil leave an oily residue on your clothes? (that's the other thing that has kept me from trying it)

  5. @Zoë
    Hey Zoe! I was so scared that it would leave oil, but it rarely does. As long as I don't over slather it on and I wait like a minute or so to put my shirt on, it's fine. It has only marked twice, and both times I put a ton on (not paying attention) and then threw a tight fitting shirt on after. My old deo left WAY more damage on my clothes. Also, the oil washed out in the laundry, no pre-treating necessary.

    I would try it! Just be aware that there might be a transition period where you smell worse… Mine was only a few days. Good luck!

  6. White vinegar or vodka both work well. I've used them for over a decade now. (I use a sprayer, and spread it out & rub it in with my hands. The vinegar smell will dissipate after a few minutes. No smell with the vodka.) I've tried coconut oil, but it's not as effective; it doesn't last as long. I can see how baking soda could be very irritating; not sure why it took so long to show up, though.

  7. @Thia
    I haven't heard anything about white vinegar OR vodka! I have to check that out! Which do you prefer? Would they last through an active, humid summer day? I am so intrigued right now. Thanks!

  8. I've used vodka most often, due to lack of scent. Sometimes I've added lavender essential oil. I can't really speak for your body chemistry, but I haven't had issues with it getting through the day. But, it would be easy enough to carry a small bottle filled with vinegar in your purse (I wouldn't recommend carrying around vodka!) for an extra application if needed.

    Oh! Use white vinegar!! I've been told that apple cider vinegar will smell like rotten apples at the end of the day! Ick! 😦

  9. I tried a bunch of different options when I decided to stop using regular antiperspirant. Rashes and smell kept being issues. I finally tried the spray version of the crystal deo (had tried the rollon before without success) and it's a winner. It's still not hot enough to really see how sweat will be but not a single whiff of anything unpleasant!

  10. I use coconut oil mixed with baking soda and cornstarch. I've been using it for a couple years now and have not had a problem. I used to change deoderant every few weeks in pursuit of one that does not irritate my skin. I make about a half pint a year for pennies…it doesn't get any better than that…no irritation and cheap to boot.

  11. I had the exact same problem with the coconut oil/baking soda/arrowroot (or cornstarch)! It worked beautifully for over a year, then I suddenly developed the same rash as what you described. I tried just coconut oil and baking soda, which obviously didn't help. Once I realized that it's the baking soda causing the problem, I started trying other homemade deodorant recipes, but nothing has worked. I'll start trying just coconut oil and see how it goes! Thanks for sharing your woes with us! 😉

  12. I use the same recipe too – it's posted here:

    A lot of info in the comments, and even an altered recipe sent in by one of my readers. And yes, arrowroot powder could be substituted for either the corn starch or the baking soda (or both) to help with sensitivities. It's a very lenient recipe and lends itself very well to alterations.

    I'm so sorry you went through all that, but thanks for sharing with us! I also found that if I put the deodorant on right after I shave, it does cause a little irritation, so have resorted to using just coconut oil as a moisturizer right after a shave.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience with us 🙂

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