DIY Sage Deodorant

whtie sage

I like Weleda because they are one of the few cosmetic companies that makes products simple enough for my tastes. Their website is also well done in that they break down and explain every component in their products. The downside to Weleda is that their products are very expensive. However, that very simplicity makes it possible to re-create some of their products at home–such as their alcohol based deodorants.

I bought a bottle of Weleda’s Sage Deodorant while on a trip and I really love the scent. I have a particular fondness for sage and related scents, and this was a lovely, subtle scent, unisex and clean. The deodorant action is simple–it’s all down to alcohol, which kills bacteria on contact. The essential oils, which are all from the family of cleansing, antibacterial oils, probably help as well. There’s really not much else in it. It’s not the sort of deodorant which prevents sweating, which is unhealthy. It’s of more use in freshening up, which suits me just fine. When the bottle ran out, I decided to make my own version.

The ingredients of the Weleda version are as follows: Alcohol, Water (Aqua), Fragrance (Parfum)*, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Limonene*, Linalool*, Geraniol*, Coumarin*.

You can follow those links to Weleda’s site to find out more about each ingredient, but the last six are essential oils and essential oil based fragrances.

Essential oils I have a plenty, and for alcohol I used Everclear. I keep Everclear around for doing herbal tinctures, because it’s the purest alcohol available to the average consumer. I don’t know if Everclear is available outside of the US, but wherever you are, if you want to try this at home seek out the highest proof alcohol you can find. It should have no scent. I didn’t choose to use vodka because I think it has a boozy scent, but if you decide to use vodka, remember it’s already diluted with water, so adjust your water accordingly.

The Ammonium Glycyrrhizate is from licorice root–it’s used here, I believe, to soothe the skin from the alcohol’s sting. This I don’t have, so my homebrew might be a little harsher on the skin, but it hasn’t bothered me yet. The 3rd ingredient, Fragrance, is a mystery ingredient. They say it is made up of essential oils, but they’re not saying which, exactly. The essential oils listed later are sage, tea tree oil, citrus-type oils, rose-type oils and lavender type oils.

It would take a perfumer’s nose to replicate the fragrance exactly, but any of us should be able to make something pleasant smelling from whatever essential oils we have on hand, and whatever scents we like best. Weleda deodorant comes in a few different flavors, actually, so those might also inspire you if you’re not a fan of sage.

In the end, the entire process took approximately one minute. I decided on a 50/50 mix of Everclear and water. I may change this in the future if I find it’s not strong enough, but I didn’t want the alcohol to sting or dry my skin. I used a funnel to put this in the original bottle, which is, happily, glass with a pump top. The label from the bottle even peeled off easily! Thank you, Weleda.

Then I added about 20 drops of essential oils to the bottle, which holds 100 ml/1/2 cup. I used a blend of sage, lavender and tea tree. I can’t tell you how much of each, because I was fiddling with it as I went, but the sage and lavender dominate. I held back on the tea tree because it has such an assertive odor.

I like the result. It’s not crystal clear, like the original–that’s probably due to our water–I should have held out for distilled water.  And the scent isn’t as magical as the original–I really liked that scent–but it’s plenty good. The nice thing about this is that it will be so easy to adjust as I figure out what I want. I can add essential oils any time if I want to strengthen or change the scent. I can pour off some liquid and add either alcohol or water to adjust those proportions.

Shake before using.

Note: Extreme DIY folk might note that they can tincture fragrant herbs in alcohol, and then use that infused alcohol as a deodorant in the same way, skipping the expensive essential oils. This is true. The only caveat is that the herbs darken the alcohol, and I’m not entirely sure the resulting tincture wouldn’t stain clothing–or maybe even skin? Sage infusions are especially dark. I once tried a homemade sage-infused oil that was supposed to darken eyelashes. It didn’t work, but someone thought it would!

Update: A couple of good points from the comments. One is regarding the cloudiness:  Add the essential  to the booze first, then add the water slowly. At some point of dilution it will turn cloudy, but you can keep track of where that point is, and try not to exceed it.  Then shake the mix and put the jar in the freezer overnight. This also might help with the cloudiness. Thanks, Maggie!

Point #2:  I should have mentioned that in California (and other states? I’m not sure) it’s not legal to sell full strength 190 proof (95% pure alcohol) Everclear in liquor stores. They sell 150 proof, which means it’s already a little diluted. I always pick up a few bottles of the real stuff whenever I visit my mom in AZ, feeling somewhat like  a suspicious lush when I do. Thanks for the reminder, Jess. Also, cmmenters Maggie and Nancy, both give alternate sources for high proof grain alcohol.

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14 Comments

  1. i see on the list of ingredients the third ingredient shows as “fragrance” (which are listed from most content to least from what i understand) from what i have read the ingredient “fragrance” is not regulated and can be really any sort of chemical. there is an asterisk and i don’t know what the asterisk disclaimer is so maybe it breaks down the “fragrance”?

    i make my deodorant out of magnesium chloride flakes and essential oils.

  2. This was exactly what I needed today!

    I’m dating a girl, going on 2 months now (we used to work together, so I’ve actually known her professionally for 3 yrs).

    Although I did not notice it at work,

    being close to her these past weeks, I noticed she has horrendous B.O.

    My question now is how to make this into some sort of project for us to do together, w/out offending her.

    If it doesn’t work, and this DIY project makes things awkward,

    can sage or other herbal infusions be made into ointments

    and do you think dabbing a little (or a lot) near my nostrils will prevent the smell from passing thru or at least mask it.

    I love being intimate with her, but this B.O. situation is putting a damper on things.

    She loves to nestle her nose in my armpits, and it’s so sexy when she does it. I want to reciprocate this by doing something similar, but the B.O. situation is just so serious that I cannot.

    If you have any other infusion or even dietary ideas, I’d be so grateful.

    Thank you.

    • I tried that, then it seems like she caught on, or just prefers showering afterwards, so she preempts the shower by a variety of means, that women seem to be masters of, so basically no shower, then

      doing the nasty, but as expected, the smell doesn’t really play a crucial part, it’s after the dirty deed, when spooning or just whispering sweet nothings, cuddling, etc. that is

      when the smell again becomes very burdensome.

    • Matt,
      Ask her what kind of deodorant she uses. Ask her if she has noticed it has failed to do it’s job. My daughter and I change deodorants when one starts not to be effective.

      If I am intimate with a stinky guy, then my hair smells from contact with his underarm. Plus, once I was alone in public and smelling his bo ON MY HAIR that I am sure others could smell and thought was my bo. Since I was in an electric grocery cart, I just knew others could smell it.

      Quit being subtle. In the end that is insulting! Well, it would be for me. You don’t have to be cruel, just concerned for her future professional life.

      Maybe she has a medical problem that she is working on curing. At any rate I dislike people who claim they don’t stink when they do. You like being intimate with her, but if you really like her, bring it up. Maybe she the anti-deodorant, no shaving type. Those women have BO, and I am not close to them at all, maybe three feet away.

    • PP:

      Actually she is an anti-deodorant, anti-factory made soap/shampoo type, born in the Farm, TN, she left and attended the big liberal UC, stayed in CA to work.

      When I said the smell didn’t bother me all too much during love making, I think I am actually somewhat turned on by it, as it adds to the primal, even primitive nature, especially during hot nights/days.

      I’m a suit and tie type, an avid reader of GQ magazine, so this is the first time dating an admirer of nature for me,

      I can’t just leave a bar of Safeguard or Dial in the shower, the impasse is somewhat more nuanced and one sided than that–meaning me, it is my problem, she has absolutely no problem and equates her B.O. to nature.

      So the only way to influence her is via these DIY fragrance making projects or a change in diet, or a special dish that will neutralize the B.O.– for a Vegan I have no idea from where the B.O. comes.

      So it isn’t so much about hurting her feelings, since she is quite aware & content, the battle here is to surpass her level of gratification in this relationship we both are in or at least equal it–she’s having a blast, while for me her B.O. is like a third-wheel in the relationship.

      I fear that her B.O. will just grow on me, and in a year’s time I’ll have accepted this as one of the things that make her unique. Such is life.

      But I won’t go down without a fight.

    • To answer one of your questions, Matt, you can put essential oils in balms, which are really easy to make out of oil and beeswax (I have a how to here on the blog somewhere) but the balm won’t mask the odor, it will just join the odor–same with adding essential oils to a carrier oil to make a massage oil. You really have to go after the bacteria with soap and water or alcohol to remove the scent.

      As to what to do, I have no idea. It’s a tricky situation. With the bluntness of marriage, I just tell Erik that he reeks–and then he takes a shower. 😉 But seriously, in this relationship you do have the right to be comfortable, and to state your preferences, and to expect that, within reason, she would be willing to accommodate you as her lover. Relationships are always about negotiation and compromise in the end.

  3. The reason your deodorant is cloudy is because there is too much water in your solution. Essential oils are not miscible in water, so the next time you make a batch try adding the EO’s to the high proof alcohol first (minimum 190 proof which is 95% pure alcohol and 5% water) and then add your water gradually until it starts to get cloudy. If you do this on a scale, you’ll be able to know how much water it takes until the EO’s start precipitating.

    At that point you can shake for a few minutes and leave the jar in the freezer overnight. Sometimes that helps with cloudiness. You need to maintain at least 21% alcohol so that your product is preserved. That’s because you have oil and water mixed together.

    Try adding a couple grams of glycerine to substitute for the skin soothing Ammonium glycerriate.

    I love Alchemical Solutions and use them for the products I sell, but for a more frugal option (and local which saves you on exorbitant shipping costs) try Remet Alcohols in La Mirada. I use them for all my experiments that could go awry. Their alcohol doesn’t have that off note that Everclear has. If you prefer Everclear for its convenience, I recommend filtering it with a charcoal filter.

    Finally, the confusion with the term “Fragrance” stems from recent EU’s laws that no longer require companies to list ALL of their ingredients the way they used to, i.e. essential oils used for fragrance. Instead, they can simply list “Fragrance”, but must add all of the chemical constituents that could be possible allergens. So for example, if a product has rose in it, they need to list the constituents that could cause an allergy like Citronellol, Geraniol, Phenyl ethyl alcohol, etc. Or if a product has lavender in it, they must list Linalool. But they don’t have to list the EO itself. I know for a fact that Weleda uses only essential oils so there is no fear they’re substituting synthetic aroma chemicals in their fragrance compounds. But there is no way of knowing if a company uses synthetics, which sucks and is a MAJOR flaw in the regulation, IMHO.

  4. Thank you so much for all of this — I’ll try that technique with the next batch. And thanks esp. for the clarification on “Fragrance” — with most companies that would set off alarm bells, but Weleda does claim all their fragrance comes from essential oils. Now I understand that better.

  5. Are you using everclear purchased in California? Just curious because if so it is watered down and only 150 proof instead of the normal 190. Interestingly even the 150 is technically illegal to sell in California but distributors decided they wanted to carry bicardi 151 so that’s where they set their limit.

    • No. I should have mentioned that. I buy Everclear when I go to AZ to visit my mom. It’s really frustrating that I can’t get it here.

  6. Another option is using an herbal hydrosol (lotioncrafter.com is where I get mine) or plain witch hazel instead of water. This would both help with the deodorizing and avoid any preservation issues you might have (always a concern with recipes that use water). I make this at home and use calendula-infused alcohol and haven’t noticed any staining as a result. Calendula is a great option as well as it’s benefitial for lymphatic system (promenent nodes lie in your underarms). I also use this deodorant as a sort of “natural Febreeze” on my clothes.

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