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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Let's talk about armpits!

Seriously, I want to talk about armpits. Unless you're a coworker I've given this url to, in which case you should skip this post. In fact, you should entirely forget that I have armpits. Why don't you skip directly to the laundry detergent post. That's a nice post. Everyone else, you can keep reading.

So I tend to DIY things. I always have. Since I've moved on from soap to other body products, I've seen several recipes for deodorant and I'm a bit intrigued. I don't really like using antiperspirants. I keep doing it because, well, you have to right? Don't want to be stinky. But I have issues with discoloration and ingrown hairs. I'm very self-conscious about it. I remember at prom I didn't want to raise my arms and now 10 years later, it still bothers me. Underarms shouldn't be that big a deal... Also, antiperspirants always leave that film that never seems to wash off. Coating your skin that completely can't be good for it. It just can't be.

So I started reading labels, taking what I know of ingredients and labeling from soaping. Here's what I've come up with.

Since antiperspirants reduce sweating, that makes them a drug. There's a drug statement on the back. They are evaluated by the FDA as a drug. Think about that. It's a DRUG product that you use every day without even a second thought. Wow.

Antiperspirants contain aluminum. Yeah, you're rolling aluminum under your arms. Aluminum from antiperspirants has been very loosely linked to increased risk of breast cancer and Alzheimer's. People without fully functioning kidneys are advised to avoid antiperspirants. Now, all these "dangers" are completely unproven. There's no solid evidence that antiperspirants have any health effects whatsoever. There are also no studies that clearly refute these alleged effects, so I list them so you can decide what you think.

They work by plugging your sweat ducts. It absorbs into your skin causing it to swell which pinches off the sweat glands. Ew.

I've never been one to medicate unnecessarily and I prefer to use more natural products where I can. There's just no reason not to. So last week I decided to ditch my antiperspirant and give deodorant a try. If you want to try and your not sure if you have a deodorant or antiperspirant, just look at the back. Antiperspirants have drug labeling, deodorants have cosmetic labeling. So if the back looks like the back of an aspirin bottle, you've got yourself an antiperspirant.

I went with Tom's, which actually doesn't have great online reviews. But they have it at my grocery store and I thought it would be fine for a trial. If it really sucks, I will know not to bother putting time, money and effort into trying out recipes to make my own. If it works...well, I hope it works.

So far, I'm happy with it. It feels completely different when you put it on. It feels like solid lotion (which if you've never tried, you definitely should).  I doesn't last all day, but it lasts through my work day. And yesterday I went out to the park in the morning for 2-3 hours and I was still sweet-smelling when I got home. No final word yet on the skin issues I had with antiperspirants, but I do know it doesn't leave that film, so that's a good sign.

So far, it's a positive trial. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on a good deodorant recipe or different brand to try, let me know!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Full Disclosure

You know, the weird thing about blogging is not that perfect strangers may be reading your random musing or details about your life...It's that people you KNOW might read it.

Strange thought, huh?

I don't know about you, but I share information selectively. Not because I'm keeping secrets, it's just that the information I share with my mother is different than the information I share with my friends, or my in-laws, or my boss. Not on the internet. You put it out there and it is OUT THERE. Out there for anybody and everybody. Like Facebook on steroids.

So maybe some one will read this and maybe no one will. Maybe the reader is a stranger. And maybe the reader is my pastor or my cousin.

Who knows?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Honey & Cinnamon Clay Mask

I have to say, insomnia is good for my blog. I can sure get some posting done while I ought to be sleeping.

So, anyway, yesterday I made a run over to a local natural market. It's the first time I've ever been in there (crazy, right!) but the closest one is 30 minutes away in crazy traffic. I just never get down there at all. I think I've discovered my mecca. I think I picked up every single bottle and jar in the place. While I was there I picked up some French Green Clay and a jar of local honey. So last night I decided to do a mask!

I'm not crazy about the masks you can buy at the supermarket. They are so chemically and pricey. Here's a super simple 3-ingredient mask that feels great. And if you accidentally get it too close to your mouth, it tastes like honey. Bonus!

2 tbsp. French Green Clay or your clay of choice
1 to 1 1/2 tsp raw honey
pinch or 2 of cinnamon

At my market, they had bulk green clay you could buy by the pound and they had pre-packaged jars. I bought a good-sized jar for $5. Cosmetic grade French Green Clay is used to draw out oils and toxins. It's also said to be good for toning and tightening pores.

Honey is moisturizing and naturally antibacterial and full of nutrients. Some people swear that it's great for acne-prone skin.

Cinnamon..well it smells great with the honey. But besides that, it is also antibacterial and it causes increased blood flow, which can help plump the skin (reduce the appearance of wrinkles) and make your skin rosy. It also works as a mild exfoliant while you rub on the mask.

Cinnamon can irritate your skin, especially if you have an cut or sore or if you are allergic to cinnamon. Even without that, you don't want to use it more than about once a week.

Monster Face!
Freaked my daughter out. She didn't run away, but she couldn't stop staring! Then she decided it was funny, lol.
So...about 20 minutes. I left mine on longer...I was folding laundry. A honey mask won't harden. Next time, the hair goes in a ponytail!
Try it! Hey, after you do, leave me a comment, here or on my facebook page, and let me know how it goes.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

An Ode to Soap

Well, not so much an ode as a diatribe...Ode to Soap just sounds better than Diatribe on Soap...

I'm a bit of a soap junkie. About 3 years ago I used handmade soap for the first time and I've never gone back. It smelled better. It felt better on my skin. The lather is less bubbly, but it's thick and luxurious. I knew there had to be some difference between this soap and store-bought soap...turns out, there is.

Soap cleans as an emulsifier. That's a fancy word to describe a natural molecular process that's pretty incredible. If you've ever tried to rinse an oily pan or wash grease off your hands, you know you can't do that with just water. Oil, including oil from your skin, does not dissolve in water, so water won't wash it away. Emulsifiers have molecules that have one side that attracts oil and one side that attracts water. So it forms teeny molecule balls that surround oil molecules, with the oil-loving side inside and the water-loving side facing out towards the water. Neat, huh?

Many store-bought soaps, especially liquid soaps, are not actually soap. They are detergents, which don't contain emulsifiers. They use surfactants, which work in a similar way and reduce the surface tension of water. The thing about detergents is that they usually contain ingredients derived from petroleum by-products. It's pretty easy to tell if your soap is really a soap. The only FDA labeling requirement for soaps is that they say, well, SOAP. So, if it says soap, it's soap. If not, it's not.

Commercial soap also usually contains some questionable ingredients: parabens, sulfates and triclosan, to name a few.

Another big difference is a big difference! Soap-making is a chemical process that produces glycerin. The glycerin doesn't completely wash away. It stays on your skin, pulling moisture out of the air and keeping it close to your skin. It is moisturizing by nature. When soap is made in factories, they generally pull out a portion of the glycerin to sell or to use in other products, like the lotion they make to moisturize your skin since your soap is drying.....hmm......

Another difference is that most handmade soap is "super-fatted." Because soap-making takes lye, and lye is caustic, soapers will add extra fats - olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, etc - to make sure that there's no leftover lye in the mix. What that means for you is extra moisture, usually 2-7%, build right into the bar.

Besides all the science stuff, I also like the fancy shapes and incredible scents and additives (oatmeal, honey & shea, anyone?) and I like the idea of supporting small-scale producers.

I've since moved on to making my own soap, but I still love to try out other handmade soaps...and body butters, and sugar scrubs, and clay masks, and bath teas.....And I highly recommend that you do too : )