Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I'm Funky In Spirit, Not In My Armpits

Armpits. Some are hairy, some are hairless, some are in that odd regrowth stage between waxes (ouch!). Some are stinky. I know, I know. Our scents are natural and beautiful and are designed to attract a mate. Maybe. That may have been true hundreds of years ago when our bodies weren't subject to all sorts  of processed foods and environmental toxins which we exude through our pores. I, personally, do not like the smell of my  own body odor. I have no problem with people who think a bit of eau de naturale pit is fine. For me, I like a little stank control.

And boy do I stank. No really. I stink post partum. I've heard this is common, so I'm not the only one. I'm sure it's related to the complete hormone seizure that takes place in our bodies after we have our babies. It's a nice kick in the vulva after we've given birth - here you are, leaking goo from your vagina, leaking milk, you haven't slept since Tuesday and you can't even remember where the shower and is and, on top of that, your body is going throw in a little extra fragrance just for kicks. I'm sure there is a perfectly wonderful evolutionary reason for it. It was probably to signal to other potential mates. The scent says, "Hey, this lady just had a baby. She is extra stanky. Do not try to make love sweet Neanderthal love with her." Really...I love the natural life and I think our bodies are amazing. There are so many things that our bodies are designed to do that just blow the mind. The subtle messages contained within our odors are part of that amazing design. But, again, I choose to mask those a little bit.

Like most Americans, I spent years using typical anti-perspirants from the store. I never thought twice about loading my pits up with the white stuff. Years later, information came out that maybe, just maybe, the aluminum which keeps perspiration at bay can be toxic to our bodies. I also learned that it's the aluminum in anti-perspirants that is responsible for the yellow stains under the arms of our clothing. Not cool. So, I switched to a more "natural" deodorant. Personally, there aren't many natural deodorants that I have liked. I find that they still contain other questionable ingredients, such as parabens, or that they plain don't work. Or, they assume that all of us hippie folk want to smell like a garden of patchouli, lavender and oregano. I have nothing against those scents. My dad uses patchouli all.the.time. I just don't like it on me. The only brand I have really liked is Bubble and Bee Pit Putty. There are no scary ingredients and they work with you to find a scent combo you like. However, like many other natural deodorants, it's expensive. I cannot afford $10.00 for deodorant at this point in time. So, I looked for other options.

A few weeks ago, I switched to just coconut oil. Coconut oil is antimicrobial and helps to kill the stank bacteria in your pits. It's also pretty soothing. I can easily become satisfied with just using coconut oil. However, I like to tinker with things and I like whipping up concoctions. I also wanted something that may afford me some wetness protection. In my research, I have found that the following will help keep some of the sweat at bay; arrowroot powder, cornstarch and baking soda. I just needed a recipe that included some combination of those.

I found a recipe on Naturally Knocked Up. The directions are as follows:

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup organic cornstarch or arrowroot powder
5-6 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
5-10 drops tea tree oil
Mix all ingredients together and press into an old deodorant container. To use, let it rest against your skin for a couple seconds to soften the coconut oil, do one slow swipe under each arm and use the palm of your hand to spread it around.

I modified that recipe. Baking soda has the potential to be irritating. I already know, from trying to make a facial scrub with it (don't ask) that it irritates my sensitive skin. So, I cut out the baking soda completely. This is what I ended up doing:

1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/8 cup cornstarch
Another 1/8 cup arrowroot powder (I'm so sorry, I literally have a math disability - dyscalculia - and it's impossible for me to add fractions. I wrote it like this because I can't add 1/4 and 1/8. Yikes)
6 tablespoons softened coconut oil. 5 drops lavender oil. 2 drops orange oil (done by mistake).

I combined all of those ingredients in a bowl and mixed them together. I didn't soften my coconut oil, so it was a little hard to work with at first. So, I decided to mix it with my hands since the warmth of my hands would soften my coconut oil. It worked, but don't do it. It took forever to wash off. Once mixed, I stuffed it into an old deodorant/anti-perspirant container. It did not all fit into the container. I ended up storing the rest in a 4 ounce Ball jar. It can be stored in the refrigerator. Technically, you should be able to store it out of the fridge if the ambient temperature is less than 74 degrees Fahrenheit as this is when the coconut oil will liquefy and that would be a big mess. Our house is at 65 degrees, so I figured it would be fine to store on the counter in the bathroom. Wrong. When I took a shower and the room steamed up, I was met with a gooey mess when I opened the container. So, I'm keeping it in the fridge from now on. Refrigerating it may cause the cap of your deodorant container to stick or it may cause it to be difficult to push the deodorant up. No problem, just warm the container in your hands or between your boobs for a minute and it'll soften enough to work. As stated on Naturally Knocked Up, you only need a swipe to avoid getting clumps. I swipe it under my arms and then I rub it in by squishing my pits together and doing a modified bird wing flap. You can just use your hands instead.

Does it work? Well, I think so. I definitely don't smell B.O. funky, but I kinda smell like tacos. Remember where I said I added 2 drops of orange essential oil? That was an accident. I grabbed the wrong bottle at first. I immediately switched to lavender when I realized my mistake. It smelled fine in the bowl. Remember how I said I put my leftover mixture in the 4 ounce Ball jar? That one smells fine, too. My issue is with my deodorant container. I used an old container from Lady Speed Stick Anti-perspirant: Freesia Scented. I cleaned the container out, but I believe the scent is so embedded in the plastic of the container that it will never come out. It created some weird combo of lavender oil, orange oil and chemical freesia that comes out smelling like a floral taco. After I first used it, I had to go to a Mexican restaurant because the smell of tacos put me in the mood. In that aspect, this deodorant was a fail.

The deodorant that I put in the 4 ounce Ball jar works just fine. The scent is fine. It doesn't stop wetness completely, but it does help. Next time I plan on making a few changes. I will, obviously, change my container. I may try to soak it in vinegar to remove the smell. If that is not successful, I will discard it. I have a leftover container from my Bubble and Bee Pit Putty, so I will try that. The jar is still an option, you just have to use your hands. I will also decrease the coconut down to 5 tablespoons and I'll add in an extra 1/8 cup of arrowroot powder. That would bring it to a total of 1/2 cup arrowroot powder. So, I'm still experimenting, but I wanted to share what I have so far.

You can find all of these ingredients at a health food store, Whole Foods, Mountain Rose Herbs or some supermarkets (mine sells essential oils). Experiment with essential oils to find a scent you like, or leave it out altogether. If you try this, please let me know how it works!


Anonymous said...

I made a deodorant very similar to this a while ago. It worked pretty well for a few weeks, then suddenly it just stopped. Within an hour or two of applying it, I'm sweaty AND stinky. I work full time and don't want to be the stinky person at work, you know? So I was forced to go back to Degree because it's the only thing that works on me. Anyone else have the same issue?

Mrs.Wade said...

I've been using coconut oil, arrowroot powder and baking soda Deoderant for the past two years and LOVE it. I was super stank before and using prescription strength Deoderant. This works better than anything!

Funky Little Earthchild said...

Anon - a lot of it is body chemistry. There is another component to it besides using deodorant. Sometimes, body odor can signal something going on inside the body. For instance, if you spent a week eating lots of processed foods, you may notice an increase in BO. In addition to deodorants, maybe check in with your nutrition, take a fabulous probiotic and stay hydrated. Also, your body will detox from using chemical products. So, it may take a few days for your body to realize, hey I'm using groovy stuff here, and it detoxes from any chemical products you have been using. It can take a couple of weeks for your body to detox and you can definitely notice an odor then. Perhaps that is what's happening in your case? That being said, my friend has switched deodorants every few weeks. She has a select few that are her favorites, but she rotates through them because they only work for a month or so at a time.

Mrs. Wade - isn't it great when we find simple solutions and no longer need to rely on the store bought stuff?

Bess said...

Will definitely try this. I also found just plain deoderant to not be helpful for the BO so I had to switch back. Finding out so much great stuff from you! :)

Shayne said...

It is most definitely body chemistry. I am also one of those people who has to keep a stash of deodorants and switch them out every couple of weeks because they stop working. It sucks!

I started using coconut oil and it worked for a couple of days, then I had to add in the baking soda. That worked for a couple of days, but it's irritating. When it stopped working, I added the step of wiping down with a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel before the oil and baking soda.

I bought the ingredients over the weekend to make your baking soda free version. I can't wait to try it.

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