Deodorant has been a problem for me for a while now. For more than a year I used (and loved) this great homemade coconut oil-based deodorant from Passionate Homemaking. Out of the blue, however, it suddenly started giving me a rash so I had to look for other options. Since then I have been trying out different natural deodorants with varying levels of success.
Now, however, I think I have finally found the perfect natural deodorant: milk of magnesia. Composed of magnesium hydroxide suspended in water, milk of magnesia is commonly used as a laxative. For reasons that I don’t really understand, however, it also works as deodorant when applied to the underarms.
My Experience with Milk of Magnesia as Deodorant
I’ve been using milk of magnesia for the last two weeks or so and I’ve found it to be amazingly effective at controlling body odor. I apply it after I shower in the morning and it keeps unpleasant odors at bay all day and often well into the next day. We’ve even had some summer-like days here lately but I’ve yet to notice any body odor even in the warmer conditions.
I’ve encouraged Jesse to try out the milk of magnesia as well and he’s reported similar success. It even worked at preventing odor during his weekly indoor soccer game, always a rather hot and sweaty affair.
How to Use Milk of Magnesia as Deodorant
Here’s how I use the milk of magnesia:
Pour about a nickel-sized amount of liquid into your palm.
Use your fingers to apply the liquid to your underarms.
Allow your underarms to completely dry before putting on your shirt.
Where to Buy Milk of Magnesia
I purchased this bottle from the pharmacy section of my local King Soopers. I bought the generic brand because it was less expensive. I’m sure that you could find it at any pharmacy–you can also order it online here. Be sure to get an unflavored version (sometimes called original) because the flavored versions contain extra, unnecessary ingredients like food dyes and sugars.
The People’s Pharmacy also makes a milk of magnesia-based deodorant if you don’t want to deal with applying the milk of magnesia straight from the bottle. That deodorant is much more expensive than just applying it yourself, however, so I opted to just buy the milk of magnesia. Personally I haven’t had any issues with it being messy or inconvenient.
Another option would be to buy a roll-on deodorant container (or repurpose an old empty container) that you could fill with milk of magnesia and then simply apply to your underarms like a commercial deodorant. (I think something like this might work as a container, although I have not tried it so can’t be sure.)
Advantages of Milk of Magnesia
Beyond the fact that it’s amazingly effective at controlling body odor, I’ve also found that milk of magnesia has some additional advantages over other natural deodorants I’ve tried:
Low cost: Milk of magnesia is very inexpensive. I got a 12 ounce bottle for less than two dollars at my local supermarket. Given how little you use at once I’m sure a bottle will last months. This is a huge savings over the price of most commercial natural deodorants.
No residue or stains: When I used the coconut oil-based natural deodorant I would sometimes end up with dark, slightly oily stains on some of my clothes. So far I have not noticed the milk of magnesia leaving any sort of stain or residue on my clothes.
No irritation: So far, at least, the milk of magnesia is not negatively impacting my skin at all. I realize that, given my experience with the coconut oil-based deodorant, it may take a while for this reaction to show up, but so far things are going well. It also doesn’t sting when applied after shaving, which is a nice side benefit that can’t be said about all the deodorants I’ve applied.
No assembly necessary: Most homemade deodorant recipes I’ve seen have been quite simple to put together, but even simple recipes can seem daunting if you’re already feeling overwhelmed. I like that the milk of magnesia is ready to use right out of the bottle.
Everyone’s different, so milk of magnesia may not work for you as it does for me, but if you’re in the market for a new natural deodorant I’d recommend giving it a try. If it doesn’t work you’ll probably only be out a couple of bucks, which is not something that can be said for most natural deodorant options.
UPDATE MARCH 2016:
Almost four years later we are still using milk of magnesia as deodorant. It’s still very effective and we still love it.
I’ve since moved away from Colorado and thus no longer have access to the King Soopers brand of milk of magnesia, so instead I buy this brand online. If you’re in search of a new natural deodorant, I’d encourage you to give it a try! (And scroll down here and read the comments–lots of people are having similar success!)
What do you use for deodorant? Have you found something you love or are you still looking?
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