New News and pH Balancing Your Old Homemade Deodorant Problems


Hello, strangers!

So, I have some good news and I have some bad news. Which news do you want first?

The good news? Yes. That is what you want.

Crunchy Betty is getting a makeover! I’ve been diligently working with a lovely site designer over the past few weeks, and we should (hopefully) be ready to roll it out on August 1st. Better news? With the new design will come a new format, a new way of thinking, a new way of looking at our lives RIGHT NOW AS THEY ARE through what we do.

(I’ll fill you in more about the superb details later, but for now, let’s just say the new concept for Crunchy Betty is “Go Deeper.” Yeah, baby. Go deeper.)

Now for the bad news …

The bad news is, I can’t think of any bad news to tell you. Sorry I got your hopes up.

Until August 1st, I’m going to try to share a few little things I’ve learned over the last few years, to kind of tidy up the “old” Crunchy Betty and make sure you have all the information you need to solve a few little problems you may be having.

Today, I want to talk about a problem that’s pervasive – one I hear about occasionally, one I’ve solved one-on-one with several people, but I think it may help you with your baking-soda-based homemade deodorant – now or in the future.

(And here I was hoping I could never talk about deodorant ever again.)

Fixing Your Skin When Your Homemade Deodorant Leaves You Itchy

Without a doubt, one of the only complaints I ever hear about homemade deodorant goes like this:

“I’ve been using homemade deodorant with baking soda for about six months. The first week was awful. Like a million red ants were setting up a tent and picnicking on my skin. After a three days of preparing to gnaw my arms off at the shoulder, things got better. Much better. PERFECT, really. I wasn’t stinky, my skin was soft and smooth, and little birdies would alight on my head, thinking I was the origin of nature herself.

And then, last week, itching started. It’s not horrible, but it’s not comfortable. I don’t want to feel like this forever, so I might just give up. Help!”

And to these lengthy queries (which are always worded the exact same way, complete with the shoulder gnawing – I’m convinced there must be a copy/paste script out there), I give this possibility.

And all the feedback has been wonderful.

So, if you’ve ever experienced the itching, giving up, gnawing, and otherwise slightly irritating feeling that comes with homemade deodorant, I want you to try this remedy first, before you throw in the towel.

Balance Your pH with Apple Cider Vinegar, and Make Your Homemade Deodorant Work Again

The main problem with baking-soda-based homemade deodorant is that it throws your pH balance out of whack after some amount of time. You’re constantly applying an incredibly alkaline substance to your skin, and as a result you end up with raw, itchy irritated skin. Although some people can go a lifetime and never have the pH imbalance. I call these people SupHer Heroes, and there are a LOT more of you out there than you would think – in fact, I’d say 75% of the people I’ve talked to have never had an adverse reaction pH-wise to baking soda.

To bring some relief to the pH imbalanced skin, all you need are two things:

  • Distilled or well-filtered water
  • Apple cider vinegar

This is, perhaps, one of the easiest things in the world you can do.

Mix together water and apple cider vinegar.

No pHd required. (Get it? pH? D? Hilarity).

Anyway, here’s a great proportion:


One tablespoon ACV to 1 cup distilled (or well filtered) water.

Mix that together in a small container (if you have a spray bottle, this would be absolutely awesome as a little spray).

How to Apply Your pH Rebalancer

Before you apply your homemade deodorant, dab on a small amount of your sweet, simple rebalancer, and rub it all over your armpit area. Hold those arms up there and let it dry completely. Then, once it’s dry, apply your deodorant.

Protip: Don’t forget to wait 30 minutes to an hour to apply baking-soda-based deodorant (or apple cider vinegar) for that matter, if you’ve shaved in the shower. Nothing says ouch like applying either of these things to nicked, irritated-with-a-blade skin.

Now, if you’ve let things build up until you have rawness, you might want to take a total break from your baking-soda-based deodorant for about a week, and apply this pH rebalancer two times a day. In fact, you may even find that THIS (the apple cider vinegar and water mixture) is the only deodorant you need at this point.

But, either way, spend some time allowing your pH to come back to a good baseline (you’ll know you’re there when the itching and redness is completely gone).

From then on, you can just use the rebalancer before you apply your deodorant, as outlined above.

And that’s it! Simple enough, ain’t it?


But … But … Baking-Soda-Based Homemade Deodorant Made My Skin Dark

Okay, so this is a MUCH more infrequent complaint. When I first started hearing tell of this problem, I was pretty stumped.

And I won’t lie, I still am. I honestly have no  idea why the deodorant gives some people an “armpit shadow.” But, everyone who’s had this problem seems to (and I may be 110% wrong about this) have one thing in common: They have darker skin to begin with.

It may have something to do with melanin and how it reacts with one of the main ingredients (coconut oil, arrowroot/cornstarch, or baking soda), but the “fix” I’ve found that works for most people who have this little issue is two-fold: Apply the pH rebalancer as described, but also make sure to exfoliate your underarms when you bathe (using a washcloth or a soft loofah).

And with this issue – or ANY ISSUE WITH HOMEMADE PRODUCTS – if you have a reaction that makes you uncomfortable, that you cannot solve easily, do more homework. Do more experimentation. And stop any time you experience prolonged irritation.


Don’t Fret – These Reactions Are Few and Far Between

I read a blog post recently that subjectively commented that almost everyone they’ve ever talked to has adverse reactions to baking-soda-based deodorant and that no one should ever use it (citing that it’s dangerous and encouraging the use of commercial deodorant in its place – heh). Subjectively, I’ve found most people have zero issues, ever. Once you get through the early phases of readjustment, for most people it’s smooth sailing.

But the possibility remains that you could, in fact, at some point experience some discomfort. So here is a quick and dirty list of tips for you to remember, to have and to hold, ’till stinkiness do you part.

  • The first week or two may be rough. If it’s HORRIBLE, stop doing it. If it’s mildly irritating, remember that it will get better. If it does not get better, stop doing it.
  • Never apply homemade deodorant (or any deodorant, for that matter) on open skin – this includes skin that has just been shaved. Let that skin repair itself first.
  • Wait 30 minutes to an hour after showering/shaving before applying ANY deodorant. If you have open skin, you’re just inviting things to join your blood stream a little more easily (I’m looking at you, triclosan-containing commercial deodorant).
  • Maintain your skin’s pH balance by using the distilled water/apple cider vinegar balancer before applying a baking-soda-based homemade deodorant.
  • Make sure your diet is as free from foods with preservatives and other stink-causing foods as possible, and eat a fair amount of green veggies, and you may find you don’t need much deodorant at all.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you that homemade deodorant is bad, dangerous, or otherwise stupid. Thousands upon thousands of people use homemade deodorant with absolutely magnificent effect. You may find it doesn’t work for you, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for them.

And here are some homemade deodorant links you may find handy:

  • The first homemade deodorant (and the base recipe for my favorite homemade deodorant that you can buy at the Natural Market).
  • Not a Secret Deodorant (made without cornstarch or baking soda, but I found that it’s not quite as effective).
  • Soothing deodorant recipe (made with baking soda and arrowroot, but also includes soothing ingredients).
  • Spray deodorant “refresher”.
  • A Pinterest board I set up to chronicle all the homemade deodorant recipes I find on the internet.

Now, my questions to you are this:

  • Are you still using homemade deodorant? If so, tell me about your love for it.
  • Have you had problems with homemade deodorant? ESPECIALLY, have you experienced the darkening of the skin? If so, tell us more about it, so we can find the common link and why it may be happening.
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