Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Sweaty Problem: What's The Stink?

Queen Composter wonders what all the stink is about with body odour.

Over the past few years I have been striving to eliminate as much unnecessary plastic and toxic ingredients from my personal care products. The end result is that my washroom is starting to resemble my kitchen because of the ingredients that are essential to my daily routine. My counter is lined with homemade products with coconut oil, body butters, cider vinegar, baking soda, honey, essential oils and salts. Because I make many of my own products now, I often have to store them in my refrigerator because they do not contain preservatives, so on top of my kitchen in my bathroom, my bathroom is now in my kitchen.

But there is one personal care product that I have decided to purchase from a store; natural deodorant.

I am a very sweaty person, but I have long since given up wearing antiperspirant, for a variety of reasons.  I'm no longer fond of putting aluminum on my skin, and I have found that unless I use the extremely strong, and therefore questionable, aluminum mixtures (which also burn my skin horribly), it does not stop the embarrassing pit stains for me. To top it all off, antiperspirant may actually make us stinkier! I've just given up the idea that I can go about life as if I live in an advertisement; so what if I have visible sweat marks once in a while (I have adapted to wearing darker clothing on top to mask the wet marks)? 


So then the only issue is the smelly one. I had to find a deodorant that I liked, that was natural, and didn't sting, because I have very sensitive underarm skin.

I have tried multiple DIY options:

Most of the DIY recipes use baking soda as the agent to inhibit bacterial growth, which is what causes body odour, but I have found it to be very irritating. The baking soda recipes give me a horrible rash that take days to to go away, and actually increases my sweating! I have also tried some that call for either cutting down on, or eliminating the baking soda, and adding either corn starch or arrowroot powder, but even these can irritate my skin.

I have noted a few other issues with DIY deodorant. Firstly, to remain solid at room temperature they require beeswax, which is not vegan if that is a concern for you. Some of the mixtures are crumbly in texture and must be rubbed into the skin with fingertips, rather than like a solid stick, and I have found this somewhat messy. Lastly, because the deodorants are made fresh with no preservatives, some can spoil after periods of time and should be made in small batches.

If the DIY deodorants did not irritate my skin, the above mentioned issues would not bother me and I would be happy using them. In fact, several of them were wonderful for the first few days of using them, and it wasn't until the end of the first week that problems developed.

So what's a gal to do, then?

Enter salt crystal deodorants.
This is my salt crystal deodorant after many (4+?) years of use.

There are several reasons why I like salt crystal deodorants:

  • Long lasting: I purchased my most recent salt crystal so many years ago I can't remember when I bought it or where I bought it. I'm not kidding. 
  • Inexpensive: Not only is it a reasonable price (usually less than $10 and no more than $15 depending on where you purchase it), it ends up being even more affordable when it is used for many years.
  • Minimal waste to dispose: Because it lasts so long (as in years!), the plastic holder is really very minimal. Even better are the salt crystal options with no plastic holder: zero waste!
  • There are no cloying perfumes or smells associated with using it, which is good for people with scent sensitivities and allergies. You just smell like you, which is really nice for a change.
  • It is relatively easy to use and does not require a list of ingredients to make it. 
To use a salt crystal properly, it must be applied on freshly cleaned skin. The salt inhibits bacteria growth, so if your skin has had any time to perspire, bacteria may begin to grow. Sometimes I do not have a shower in the morning (I like bedtime showers to relax me, or sometimes I even <gasp> skip a day), so before getting dressed I wash my armpits with a soapy cloth, then rinse. If your skin is not wet enough to move the crystal easily over your skin, wet the salt crystal, then rub it on your skin as you would a deodorant stick.

Of course, as with anything, there are downsides:

  • It isn't as easy to use as just rubbing a deodorant stick if you aren't applying it after a shower.
  • Initially the salt mildly irritated one of my armpits (some itchiness), causing me to give up for a while and return to other deodorant options. One day I ran out of other deodorants and had to give it a go again and I was happy to notice that I was no longer irritated by it. If it isn't too itchy or sore, persist if this happens to you to see if it lessens. Many people do not have this issue at all.
  • It isn't sold in all major stores (I purchase it at a more crunchy grocery store)  and may be difficult to locate outside urban centres or places without access to more natural products. Of course there is always on line shopping.
  • There is no scent, which some people find hard at first. We are so programmed to expect a pleasing scent with our personal care products and it can be a hard transition to get used to this.
  • On very warm days, or more active days, I can smell body odour part way through the day, but I believe this is the same with any deodorant, and even antiperspirant. For those times, I keep a container of commercially produced natural deodorant in my bag. It has essential oils for a scent to cover my body odour. Or I just deal with being a little smelly. It isn't the end of the world to smell like a sweaty body once in a while.
I keep this deodorant spray in my bag for smelly emergencies.

So if you are not willing to jump into DIY deodorants, or you have tried them and they do not work for you, perhaps give salt crystals a chance. I was dubious at first, but am now completely sold and love it!

If you have other DIY recipes that are suitable for sensitive skin, please comment. I am always open to trying something new.

Salt crystal deodorants do contain aluminum, but it isn't the pore blocking aluminum compound of other deodorants and antiperspirants. It is potassium aluminum sulfate that is not absorbed into the skin. 


Green Bean said...

Boy, this is timely! I was just thinking today that the only natural deodorant that I've found which does not irritate my skin too much and actually keeps me from smelling is the crystal one. I'd love to find another but one is better than other.

Betsy Escandon said...

My husband uses and likes the crystal rock and it does last forever. They have a roll-on which is easier to use at first, but now he is used to the rock. I am confused about whether the natural aluminum (I like it's potassium alum salts or something) is harmful or not -- some sources say no, some say maybe. Confusing. I'm using Tom's but I know that's not good enough for many (including my sisters).

Lisa said...

I don't love the salt deodorant because of the aluminum. I use baking soda and coconut oil right now but thinking about trying Schmidt's Natural Deodorant, because like you said baking soda is harsh.

Mindful Momma said...

I've used a crystal deodorant in the past and it works pretty well for me - although I prefer to have a bit of odor masking scent - just in case! I've been into cream deodorants lately. Here are a few that I have tried: http://mindfulmomma.com/2014/04/rethink-your-deodorant.html

Norm Brown said...

I don't know how; but I've not heard of salt crystals as a deodorant prior to this article. I'm sure I've come across articles before but just kept on going. This is very interesting. I'm not sure I'm ready to be an instant convert; but it certainly will cause me to research the topic further.

Awesome work!
A Green Leaf Home.

katalana said...

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