Monday, July 20, 2009

The Stink About Deodorant

Ok, girls. Let's get real.

For the past four or five months (actually about the past year), I have been on the search for a decent antiperspirant/deodorant. I used to be an Unscented Secret girl all the time. I didn't want vanilla, or chai, or flowers, or powder, or anything. Just plain. It worked all the time. I was happy with it. And then... the 30s happened. Suddenly, I don't know why, but my body chemistry seems to have changed somewhere around age 33. Now, I'm suddenly stinky. Or rather, my body + Secret (or any other deodorant) is suddenly stinky. Without deodorant I just smell like... a person. Not necessarily stinky (until I start to sweat). However, something in those deodorants are causing some ungodly chemical reaction and it's seriously gross. I try not to be overly dramatic about things, but the smell actually kind of burns my nostrils. Embarrassing, but true. It's really gross.

Not to mention how icky most deodorants feel. Sticky and slimy and like I have a chalky film over my armpits all the time. It's really kind of gross. I can't stand it.

At our last bookclub, we had a minor discussion about this. Everyone agreed that most mainstream (aluminum) antiperspirants/deodorants were stinky and gross, and most natural deodorants didn't work. I had most recently tried Dove (two kinds) and was sort of happy with it... but in the past week or two, it's back to grossness.

WHY?!?!?

I have gone through at least five different brands in the past six months (I have seriously tried everything recommended. It was all grossness). I've tried the crystal (which I used to love). I'm wasting $$ left and right, and you know how much that drives me crazy. However, the horrible burned-chemical smell drives me to try anything at all. Seriously, this did not used to be a problem. Is it just me?

So, today I decided to just go crazy and try making my own. I saw a post by Amy Karol on Angry Chicken on how to make your own, and I had all the ingredients (well, mostly) here at home, so I thought I would give it a try. Also, since we are going to be moving even more towards minimal chemicals here at home, I figured since this was super-cheap and easy, might as well give it a shot.

So far, so good. It's not terribly hot today, so I'm not sweating at all. It smells super-yummy and no chemical stink. I'm going to try it tomorrow and see how it goes out in 'the real world,' but so far, so good. I don't know how much wetness will be an issue. We'll just have to see.

Maybe I can go with this option on all but the hottest or most-anxious days. Because I would do anything to not smell that horrible deoderant-stink on myself again. Seriously, yuck.

There seem to be many variations on this out there, including how to get it into an old deoderant stick container for easy application. I'll wait until I see how I like it before taking that step. Here's the recipe from Amy, and here's what I did:

* About 1/4 cup baking soda
* About 1/3 cup cornstarch
* A tablespoon or two coconut oil
* A few drops of nice rose-jasmine essential oil
* A few drops of tea-tree oil

Mix it all up to form a cream. Apply. I smell very faintly like roses and jasmine and coconut, with no burned-chemical smell. I also have a feeling this would be very effective on feet to mitigate that summer-sweaty foot problem. Even if it turns out I don't like this for armpits, I think I'll keep using it for the feet.

I haven't tried the deodorant from Lush, and I haven't tried the other kind Amy mentions in her post. I'll give this homemade stuff a try for a little while. I'll report back.

15 comments:

Tammie said...

interesting. i was just thinking the other day about how i need to try to make my own deodorant. (are you in my head?)

i have had issues with deo. the last few years too. nothing seems strong enough. ive switched numerous times without much luck. i did like the clinical strength one that i think was made by Secret, but something about it freaked me out--i didnt like the idea of using something that strong on a daily basis, plus it was like $9.

Daphne said...

Yes, Tammie, I am in your head. Stop thinking those things (you know what I'm talking about...)

I am concerned about the non-antiperspirant qualities of making your own deodorant, but so far, so good. I'm wondering if I can just use the homemade stuff usually and then keep the clinical strength stuff to use on really hot and/or really anxiety-ridden days. Who knows? The regular-strength stuff doesn't seem to do anything and is just stinky.

Kate said...

I too have deodorant issues...we in my family strongly believe that a body can adjust to one formula or another after awhile so I never have fewer than two open at any time. My dad - seriously - has like six going at all times. We switch out every other day or so. Weird, I know, and they're all the drugstore stuff so not what you're looking for. But maybe switching deodorants every few days might help out.

I tried the Lush stuff once and it didn't work at all - in fact, the smell of it combined with the smell of ME was hideous. I can't recommend it.

Your recipe looks nice for my feet, though...I may have to try that. Is there a sort-of shelf life for it? What are you storing it in?

Daphne said...

Hi Kate-

Hmm, I hadn't really thought of that. By now I have enough of a selection I could just bounce around between them all... I may try that if the homemade stuff doesn't work. It's 6 pm now and I've been hauling stuff and working in moderate heat all day, and no stink (and not even very much sweatiness, to my surprise), so I'll try this for awhile. Seems to work great on the feet. I used coconut oil which is relatively shelf-stable, and I only made a small amount, so I'm just keeping it in a small yogurt container in the bathroom. Glamorous, I know. You could make a half-batch and just replace it often. I'd add a little more oil to make it smooshy -- coconut oil absorbs wonderfully and smells good (it's kind of smooshy when it's warm and hard when it's cold). You could add peppermint oil and it would be quite nice foot cream, I think.

Carl V. said...

Kudos to you for going the extra mile! I've been reading some do-it-yourself stuff like this on some forums for people trying to save money and I think its great that people are that adventurous. I hope it keeps working for you.

Daphne said...

Carl-
Thanks! Actually, it's like the extra .005 mile, since it took all of two minutes to mix up. If it doesn't work, no biggie. I lost about fifteen cents. I love mini-adventures!

Kate said...

Here's a dumb question, but where would one acquire coconut oil? Is it a grocery store thing or do I need to look at natural food stores? I think the rest of it I could rustle up...

Daphne said...

Not dumb at all! You can probably get it at any natural food store. Probably not a grocery store item. You could also use shea butter or cocoa butter (I think) although I like coconut oil because it absorbs so well. It also makes a great massage lotion or dry-skin treatment. Oh, I guess you can also cook with it! Multi-purpose!

Stefanie said...

My body chemistry has changed in the last few years too and the crystal deoderant which used to work great doesn't work anymore. I have also noticed a monthly cycle to when pits are stinkier than others. I find that Tom's of Maine works pretty good. It's natural and filled with herbs and aluminum-free. I like the scent-free and also the calendula. And I keep one at work for those extra stinky days. Good luck with the homemade. I hope it works. If you report that it does I might have to try it sometime!

Daphne said...

Stef: actually, it's totally working! I'll give an update in a few weeks once I've gotten used to it, but so far, so good. It's even holding up to anxious days at work. I love it!

Melanie said...

I was just searching to see if anyone had this problem!

Every time I work out now I get the most awful chemical smell coming from my underarms. I've always used Mitchum because it works the best as an antiperspirant, but in the last month or so it's creating some sort of awful chemical reaction. I know it's the product as I never have this issue if I'm not at the gym, but I just can't find an deodorant that's as effective as Mitchum. Perhaps I should try the DIY route...

Kate said...

I just got coconut oil and tea tree oil! Forgot the cornstarch and other essential oil. Ah, well, nothing's ever easy the first time :)

Daphne said...

Melanie: you should try it! It's cheap to make, easy to use, and really works. It is NOT an antiperspirant but I'm find that to be less of a problem than I had feared. Mostly because there is no gross chemical smell nor sticky deodorant crap all over the place. I'm pretty pleased with it. I think I will reserve the regular antiperspirant for 'special occasions' and stick with this most of the time. SO MUCH BETTER. I can't even tell you.

Kate: you'll get it! Let me know how it goes...

Kate said...

Ok...back with a dumb question. Is there a difference between corn meal and cornstarch?

Daphne said...

Kate: You weren't kidding when you said you didn't cook, were you? :) Um, yes, there is definitely a difference. Corn meal is yellow and rough and you make cornbread with it. Corn starch is white and powdery and is sometimes used as a thickener (and for cool science projects). You definitely want the corn starch. I guarantee you will not like the results if you use corn meal. :)