Archive for November 2012

My Deodorant Journey, So Far   Leave a comment

I’ve been meaning to write this post for months, and figure that I really need to do it before life turns upside down and I forget everything that I tried on my “deodorant journey”. This journey really started several years ago when I realized that I no longerĀ needed to use an antiperspirant. I was also starting to wonder if there might be subtle health effects from preventing the skin (and major lymph nodes?) from detoxing through the underarm. I was putting a lot of attention on how to best support my body’s natural detoxification systems, and at the best antiperspirant didn’t seem to be something that would be helpful. So I switched to deodorant, buying it at the grocery store. At first I liked the variety of scents much better than those available for antiperspirants, and I found that for the most part deodorant was really all that was needed. But as time went on, I got tired of paying what seemed like a lot of money for these products that have really long ingredient lists and really only provide marginal utility. Plus I was tired of being stuck in between the “feminine” scents and the “masculine” scents.

So a year and a half ago I started a new journey: making my own deodorant. Here’s a list of what I tried and how it worked.

  • Nothing (a la “European”). Hey, it’s a baseline. And you know, some days (especially calm days in winter) I found that bare underarms made it through the day just fine.
  • Straight baking soda. As far as prevention of odor goes – baking soda is amazing! It worked successfully through a hot July day at the State Fair. It’s cheap and readily available, and doesn’t leave any markings on clothing (as long as it is applied first). It is not, however, easy to apply. I tried dusting it on with a facial powder puff over the sink, but there was no way to not make a bit of a mess. The biggest problem? After a while one of my underarms turned dark pink/purple, started to ache a little, and then the skin peeled off.
  • Straight essential oils. Works great, for about an hour. I would put a drop of a safe essential oil (like lavender) directly on each underarm and then rub it in. Smelled great at first, but then wore off and by the end of a work day I think it was worse than nothing.
  • Essential oil in a carrier oil. Same problem as the straight essential oils: wears off quickly and then it seemed like the underarm smell was worse afterwards. I was worried that the oil would start to stain my clothes, but that never happened, at least not that I noticed.
  • Oil and baking soda. Almost a winner, almost. This was an attempt at combining the benefits of the baking soda and the essential oil in carrier oil. I would apply a layer of oil on the skin first, and then dust on the baking soda. It worked great for odor (courtesy of the baking soda), and the oil prevented the baking soda from making my skin peel off. But there’s still the messiness of applying the baking soda. And turning the application of deodorant into a two-step process is annoying.
  • Homemade coconut oil deodorant. I sort-of tried a recipe for homemade deodorant that calls for mixing baking soda and corn starch into melted coconut oil, and then pouring it into an old deodorant stick. I didn’t measure, though, and went purely by consistency. I also left out the corn starch, maybe it would have worked better with the corn starch. There were three problems, all of which could possibly be remedied but I’m not planning to try. (1) The coconut smell isn’t really strong, but it is there, and as I was trying this remedy at the beginning of my pregnancy that was a problem. (2) At temperatures above 70 degrees F coconut oil liquifies and starts to seep out of the bottom of the deodorant tube, making an oily mess. I thought about trying it in old toilet paper rolls with some kind of cap on the bottom where you just tear the paper down from the top. But I got tired of the smell first. (3) After a bit, my underarm peeled again. Apparently mixing the baking soda into the oil isn’t as effective as using the oil as a barrier. Maybe the corn starch would help? I gave up before doing a Take 2.
  • Homemade beeswax deodorant. I didn’t actually try this myself since I already discovered years ago that my skin gets red and itchy when beeswax products are applied to it. My friend Brown Thumb Mama tried this, though. If I remember correctly she did encounter some staining on clothes, though.
  • Crystal. Jury’s still out on this one. I used to think the rock crystal deodorant was a ridiculous idea, but since baking soda was so successful I figured that maybe the crystal would work. I’m not overwhelmingly impressed, but it’s also not worthless. It didn’t fare quite so well through a day at the State Fair, or stressful days at work, compared to the baking soda. But it works fine on normal days. It really only works when applied on fresh clean skin, though, which is a problem after shaving: it stings! The rock is supposed to last over a year, and I haven’t yet seemed to make a dent in it, so I’ll keep using it. I’m saving a final verdict for when I’m not pregnant, in case that changes things.
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Posted November 21, 2012 by mayakey in frugal living, personal care, unshopping

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Pregnancy Exercise   Leave a comment

I really wanted to run through my pregnancy. Oh well. How some women train for and run in marathons while pregnant is beyond me. I dropped as soon as the first trimester exhaustion train hit me. For a couple of months I could barely go for a mile walk. At one point I thought I had my energy back and I went running. I went on my previous short run route of two miles, and got almost three-quarters of the way before I had to stop and walk because I was afraid I’d collapse. I waited a few weeks before trying again. Then when I finally did have my energy back I got in one run before the temperature shot up into the mid-90’s. Given how difficult it is to stay hydrated while pregnant, and the risks of elevated body temperature to fetal development, I would not run while the daytime temperatures were above the low-90’s. And since we started October in the 100’s, that meant that I’ve only had a month of cool enough temperatures to even think about running. I was hoping to get in one 1-mile run per week, but I’ve only managed two runs in a month. I’ll take it. Unlike all the people who warned me that I wouldn’t be comfortable running with all the relaxin coursing through my body and stretched ligaments in my belly, I’ve had no pain in joints or abdominal region while running. Really intense soreness afterwards, yes, but pain no.

Since I couldn’t run through the summer I tried to figure out alternatives. Walks with the husband are good. Healthy for the body, the mind, and our relationship. Belly dancing, “slow calisthenics”, and light strength training have also been on my list. I’ve been trying to get back into regular strength training for a while now, with no success, so it’s not surprising that I haven’t been able to make it a go in the last few months. Occasionally I’ll do a couple arm exercises and some lunges or wall sits, but it’s been really hit or miss. I’m doing a little better with the slow calisthenics. By slow calisthenics I mean most of the same exercises I did back when I ran track and rowed crew: high knees, butt kicks, shallow jumps, and deep jumps. But what makes them slow is that I’m doing them without the jumping part. Even without the jumping aspect a few minutes of these exercises are both an aerobic and a strength workout. They are also the perfect way to finish off a little belly dancing session, as well. I never managed to drag myself out of the house to take a belly dance class, so I’ve only used the one video that I’ve had for years. At this point I know the basic moves from the video, I just suck at doing them, so I wrote down the list and instead of belly dancing in front of the TV in the living room I’m now belly dancing to a CD in our bathroom where I have a couple mirrors. One thing about belly dancing while pregnant is that I can’t see what my hips are doing, and my perception of what my belly is doing is totally off since in my peripheral vision it looks like my belly is always sticking out. Using the mirrors helps me know what I’m doing, and also helps to make sure that I’m not arching my back.

But what about those exercises that pregnant women are “supposed” to do? Things like pelvic tilts (aka cat and dog), leg lifts, and groin stretches? Well in my opinion slow calisthenics and belly dancing are a more fun way of doing pelvic tilts and leg lift-type exercises. I don’t do them every day, but hopefully it’s enough to keep my muscles toned and ready for the squatting etc of labor. I don’t have back pain, so I’m not worried about not doing daily cat and dog stretches. When I get out of the shower at night and my body is warm I try to remember to do some quick stretches. I’m rather proud of the fact that I can still touch my toes (I don’t think it counts as cheating that I have to spread my legs a bit to make room for the belly). In the next month I hope to focus more on flexibility and stretching, as well as not stressing out and tensing up my muscles. While I’m an expert at making life difficult for myself, I’d really like to have toned and relaxed muscles for labor and not make that any more difficult than it has to be.

Posted November 7, 2012 by mayakey in health, pregnancy

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