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Homemade deodorant and triclosan tales: an urbanMamas green thing

Who knew such a little post on going sans shampoo would send me down so many do-it-yourself roads? It was easy (and, as they say in Pokemon, super-effective!) to give up washing my face for the oil cleansing method and I just had one personal care product holdout: the deodorant. I've been applying my trusty stick of Dove (sensitive skin fragrance free) daily for over a decade, and after reading something about how chemicals to which a pregnant woman is exposed in her first trimester affecting behavioral problems (boy do I have those around here): well, it was time to cut the cord.

I went to the package today and read the list of chemicals I'd been avoiding. What do I know about the active ingredient, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY? Nothing. And it could be fine, or crushingly destructive. Who knows? The "inactive" ingredients were equally curious, and though sunflower oil sounds fine, I've been trying to avoid conventional almond products because of the crop's excessive use of pesticides and its contribution to colony collapse disorder (many scientists believe stress from trucking bees to pollinate the almond crops, added to the detrimental effects of those herbicides and the lack of a diversity of diet when all the weeds are whacked, is a big factor in CCD), so even one of the other things I recognized, sweet almond oil, didn't have me exactly relaxed.

There was more, too, and while it doesn't appear on my Dove package (phew), it's evidently in lots of other products: triclosan. After the first few giddy years with antibacterial soaps (I was living with a bit of an obsessive when they were introduced, he was thrilled), I became suspicious and, after a few of those usual exposes in which it is shown that antibacterial soap doesn't kill any more bacteria than Ivory, or that people don't stay any weller using antibacterial soap, I went back to the ordinary variety. According to the LA Times, this doesn't necessarily prevent me from having lots of triclosan exposure in my everyday life; a bacterial inhibitor, it's also used as a preservative in soaps that aren't marketed as antibacterial, and in deodorant, face washes, mouthwashes, and toothpaste (Colgate Total is one offending brand). Why this is scary: after having approved the ingredient since 1970, the FDA is once again reconsidering its safety after research in animals shows similar effects to the super-scary chemicals like bisphenol A, dioxins, and pesticides like DDT. That's not all: one of the reasons I tossed it in the first place, the potential for it to hurry along the development of superbugs, is also a concern.

Instead of spreading chemicals of unknown quantity, quality and harm onto our skin (the best way, incidentally, of getting the chemicals into our bloodstream), why not rub on a mixture of things you know and wouldn't actually mind eating, if it came to that?

My deodorant is simple: coconut oil (which is a semi-solid consistency at room temperature), baking soda and arrowroot. I didn't measure exactly, but it's about two parts oil, one part each baking soda and arrowroot (I suggest looking for arrowroot in bulk at People's or New Seasons, it's probably cheaper than buying it in the spice aisle, as I did), stirred around to a good consistency with a little spoon and then spread on with my fingers each morning. Amy Karol has a lovely 'mail order' recipe book (it's #11) with a more involved deodorant, and some other great homemade personal care products, if you want something fancier.

It doesn't work quite so decidedly as the Dove, but it smells delicious and, as long as I apply it every morning, inhibits odor quite nicely. And there's something so liberating about the knowledge that (should I happen to without thinking) I can lick my fingers after applying deodorant. For some reason, that makes me quietly happy every day.


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I've used Toms of Maine Honeysuckle for years, I really liked it. Then I got concerned about an herb or something in there when I was trying to get pregnant and doing everything I could to get rid of any possible endocrine disruptors or herbs that might cause contractions. I decided to use the crystal salt one. It seems to work pretty good, but I don't care about the antiperspirant, I just want the deodorizing. Your recipe sounds yummy, but I think I have a few too many things little things going on and I can't take one more! I do the OCM, and I alternate that with using honey to cleanse/mask my face. I've been very happy with both, my skin tone is much better and clearer. I read on a blog about a chamomile shampoo bar that the blogger made, it sounded very tempting. But again, just can't imagine one more thing, it's hard enough to get dinner on the table!

I steered away from antiperspirants after making the Alzheimer/aluminum connection many years ago - with it running in my family, no sense in tempting fate! So I switched to T.o.M.'s honeysuckle and was happy... for awhile. But post-baby, my body odor changed and the ToM would, well, "give out" at lunchtime. Yuck! I found a spray version last year than was better & less skin-irritating (the thought of smearing a powder across my sensitive underarms makes me wince), but then they discontinued it. So I tinkered & finally found a combo that worked a few months ago... (after your post about OCM, I loved the results). I currently mix the liquid crystal with the Weleda rose liquid, add some tea-tree oil to kill the wacky bacteria & some more rose essential oil to alleviate the tea tree *smell*... and so far, it's working pretty well. I feel a bit like a mad scientist, but hey, if they're not gonna make a product that will keep me from being stinky AND not contaminate me with nasty chemicals, I'm taking it into my own hands. Thanks for being such an inspiration Sara!

I've been using a coconut oil, baking soda and cornstarch mixture for about a month or so. It worked great until I hit a patch of intense stress, sickness and pms all at the same time and then, well, I started back on the dove, because I was grossing myself out with how bad I smelled...ew. Now that the world has calmed down a bit, I think I'll switch back. A tip I got on the same blog I got the recipe was to smoosh the mixture into an empty deodorant container and use it like you would any other stick. Worked pretty well.

After reading about using Milk of Magnesia as a deodorant a couple months ago, I decided to give it a go and it works pretty well. I use a cotton ball to swab on a thin layer in the morning. It dries quickly and no white mess. The only problem I had was when I started to run out and had to water down my MoM, which wasn't so good in the smell department! Does anyone have any ideas for a natural antiperspirant?

People's Pharmacy is where I read about the MoM thing. Couldn't think of it for the longest time. Mommyhood.

We buy arrowroot at bobs red mill. They sell it in large quantities, we buy it for cooking:)

Is triclosan listed as "triclosan" or under other names?

FWIW, my husband switched to using plain baking soda as a deodorant about a year ago due to a skin sensitivity to the store-bought kind. Every morning he scoops a little in his hand and rubs it into his pits. He then bikes our daughter to school, works a full day, does yard work, etc and never smells bad. Well, unless he forgets his baking soda!

Interesting! I know coconut oil is a great antifungal/antibac, but I can imagine having oil that could stain my clothes. I use a combo of Weleda sprays, and if I really need protection Lush cosmetics (english company, there's one in NW) makes a few awesome powders that could get messy but are easy to apply and shake off the excess. Ive been using them for years and they really work! (base of cornstarch and chickpea flour? With amazing essential oils).

I also heard apple cider vinegar will neutralize any scent instantly, though I haven't tried it yet.

As for DIY, I do make our own toothpaste- did you know that the GLYCERIN in just about every toothpaste, natural and not, actually coats the teeth and thus promotes decay? We make a paste of coconut oil and pink salt- it disinfects and remineralizes, while providing mild abrasion. I am a fan of tooth powders and essential oil blends (neem, clove, peppermint and cinnamon) but my son hates any mint so the coconut oil paste is the best for him. Revolutionized our toothbrushing sessions.

Ps I think it's SO important to note that if we are too smelly (dear sister Anon) it's high time to detox! Smell is the bodys way of ridding itself of toxins)... There are a ton of easy cleanses for busy moms.

Tom's roll ons work better than the dry/creamy ones.

I've been putting a few drops of tea tree oil on my fingers and then rubbing the oil onto my armpits.

I just started this 3 days ago, but so far, no smelly (and I've skipped the shower this am, which usually=super stinky pits).

Yemango -

Can you make some busy-mom detox recommedations?

It is the bacteria under arms that cause the odor - so to remove body odor, kill the bacteria - use rubbing alcohol and wipe underarms... learnt from Dr Weill many years ago.. sweating is good for you, you just dont want odor.. dont stop the sweating..

Sure! I think green smoothies are the easiest way to detox. Even if your family isn't detoxing with you, you can have the glass in hand and be sipping it before they ask you to cook breakfast.

I use the simplest ingredients- in season fruits (frozen or not) with a few handfulls of greens, and water. It seems awfully simple but delicious. Filling, and the greens are mineralizing so your body gets a boost of real life energy. I literally make 2 huge carafes a day sometimes. Start with a mellow green like spinach but I've learned to love kales and parsleys and lettuces too. Chard doesn't work too well for me.

If u need a more filling dinner, eat as many veggies as possible steamed, baked or in a pot of water with miso added. Don't use any oils. You can allow yourself simple green tea as much as you want if you're too tired to function.

That's my personal plan; but one great (a little more complex) book that is great is Detox For Women by Natalia Rose.

another simple detox is also epsom salts baths (just make sure you use at least 8 cups of salts for a tubful)... and a great excuse to have a nice warm quiet 20 minutes!!!

I just stopped using deodorant all together; I did it in bits, cutting down a bit every application. Now, I do not use it at all. And, I am not stinky! I eat very well and drink lots of water, and take baths every morning and use some scented oils on my pulse points. I think that these products we are told to put all over ourselves interferes with our bodies natural abilities to rid toxins and do their overall metabolic jobs. I think our bodies should be trusted to maintain themselves naturally.

This all sounds very lovely, but do remember that everyone is different and that for some, this can be a real problem. I sweat. A lot. I shave my armpits NOT because of the perceived societal norm, but because more than 3 days' growth means that even my heavy-duty combo antiperspirant/deodorant can't keep me from being stinky. More smell=more clothes washing=more energy and water use, more time spent, at least one shirt change per day, and clothes not lasting as long. It would certainly be nice if a natural--or unnatural!--antibacterial to kill the skin microbes, or an essential oil to cover up the b.o. would work for me--but it doesn't. It takes a full-scale Mitchum onslaught, at least every-other-day showers, shaved armpits, AND all-cotton clothing to keep me employable and socially acceptable to the public at large!

Wondering where you get the coconut oil? I found a recipe online that calls for cocoa butter & shea butter and am wondering where in Portland I would be able to find these in bulk? Does anyone know? There's a place down in Eugene, but I'd like to avoid the shipping charges.

The "mineral salt crystal" deodorant is an aluminum crystal. If you have a history of alzheimers in your family, or if you just think "heavy metals" building up in the body is a bad thing, you might want to steer clear of it.

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