Natural Deodorants: My Experience

Chemicals, and carcinogenic chemicals, are everywhere. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of research about the effects of these chemicals on our bodies and regulatory bodies in the United States are underfunded and underpowered to address this. For example, right now the EPA is tasked with investigating chemicals that are in everything from cleaning products to household objects, but outdated laws exempted 64,000 chemicals from being tested for years, and only in July 2016 did the law get an update to address this backlog. However, they are capped at only investigating 20 out of those 64,000 chemicals per year.

For deodorant, this is pretty important, because it’s something that is directly applied to the skin and frequently contains chemicals (particularly in anti-persperants) that have been linked (although not conclusively) to cancer and hormone disruptors.

In light of the ubiquitous presence of chemicals in our daily lives, I think one of the best ways you can be an informed consumer is in knowing what the ingredients are in the products you use, and trying to limit your exposure wherever possible. Sometimes it’s just not possible. There are lots of things in air, water, things around me that I do not have control over. But I make the choices about what things I personally put on and in my body, so choosing products that limit your exposure is helpful. (For example, using nail polish that is 5-free)

Deodorant is tricky because it involves personal comfort in a way that say, nail polish, does not. When I decided to make try out natural deodorant, I didn’t stop using traditional anti-perspirants initially, which I think made the transition harder. And the thing about using products with fewer chemicals is that… your body actually can react to them. So when I used Tom’s of Maine deodorant, I found that it actually made my body smell worse. Like, worse than if I hadn’t put deodorant on at all. Feeling like I was emitting a particularly poisonous scent didn’t make me feel great. But that’s just my experience with that brand! There are fortunately other options. 

I know some people make their own deodorant, which is great for them, but not something I particularly want to do, at least yet.

So here are two products that I like and use:

Duross & Langel deodorant – Duross & Langel is a local Philly brand that uses natural ingredients to make soaps, candles, lotions, etc, and their deodorant uses vegetable enzymes to fight stink, rather than aluminum in anti-persperants. If you want a natural deodorant that looks and feels like something you’d get at a drug store, this comes in a typical stick applicator package, goes on clear, and smells great. In my experience, if you’re going to be moving around a lot, you will have to reapply. (This is life without aggressive anti-persperant chemicals.) But if I’m just going to be indoors doing homework all day with maybe a trip to the grocery store, I’d probably be fine with one application.

PiperWai natural deodorant – PiperWai is another Philly brand that is also a women-owned company (heyo!) that uses activated charcoal and magnesium to neutralize odor. This comes in a pot and a stick, although I have only tried the pot. You scoop out a little with your finger, rub it in to your skin until you can’t see it, and there you go! It’s not the most distinctive smell (the D&L deodorant I have in “violet” is definitely flowery), but it’s not bad. It definitely feels more substantial and on hotter days with lots of activity, it does well. I have felt like sometimes at the end of the day I need to reapply, but it really depends on what you’re up to and what kind of humid swamp hell you have chosen to live in.

If you’re going to try any natural deodorant, I’d definitely recommend going all-in for at least 2 weeks to see how your body adjusts to it. You will probably feel differently than during anti-persperant use, but like all things, your body adjusts and with consistent use, you’ll figure out if it will actually work or not for you.

 

Summer Staple: Striped Dress

4ea736de_db1d

I love a good striped dress. And this is a good striped dress.

(sorry that I take only the worst mirror selfies.)

There’s something about a nice striped dress that just screams summer, right?

What I like about this dress (the Everlane Gia Mini Dress) is that it’s a heavier cotton, it does not at all feel like a traditional t-shirt dress, so it’s not clingy. I usually prefer dresses that have a defined waist, but this is very comfortable and well-made, works over navy tights in cooler weather and is good during the summer.

It’s a very casual-looking dress (although I think since it’s not a traditional t-shirt material it looks a little nicer), so when I wear it to work I throw a blazer on to make it look professional. It was one of my favorite purchases last year, so I’m pleased to say that  though no longer on the page of dresses, is (as of writing) still available in size small, medium and large on their website, so it’s probably in very low stock. Anyway, if you need a striped dress, I recommend the Gia, but I’ve linked a couple other responsibly-made striped summer dresses if the Gia isn’t your exact style:

Gia Mini Dress – Everlane, $48
Similar:
The Cotton Striped Tee Dress – Everlane, $38
Blake Short-Sleeve Dress – Amour Vert, $98 (made in USA)
Celine Swing Dress – Amour Vert, $98
Teah Dress – Amour Vert, $138

 

Feels like Summer

Maybe because it’s June (!) or maybe because the weather has been so nice, it’s just starting to feel like summer.

Ice cream for lunch from an all-you-can-eat ice cream fundraiser (we got to keep the bowls!)

Spa water is my favorite summer drink (lemon, cucumber and mint) and CHERRIES are my favorite summer snack (in the same bowl I had ice cream in earlier).

My summer isn’t going to be much of a break with my class schedule, but I am definitely trying to make the most of my weekends.

What makes you feel like summer has started?

Dressing for Extremely Warm Weather

We just got back from a short trip to Puerto Morelos, Mexico, which is about an hour south of Cancun. Two of my friends got married (!!) at a nearby resort so we just had to make the trip down.

Since my partner and I both work at non-profits, an all-inclusive resort was not really in our budget (or style), so we stayed at a nearby AirBnB that was still beachside and had a pool so we weren’t exactly roughing it.

I think in general I am a pretty good packer, and especially for how hot and humid the Mayan Riviera is, it really doesn’t make sense to feel precious about what you’re wearing because you will sweat right through it. In hindsight, I probably could have packed even less because I just ended up re-wearing sweaty t-shirts when we weren’t out on the beach, but a few pieces I brought really stood out as MVPs.

20170528_174534

 

I wore my Brass Clothing tank maxi to my friends’ wedding, which was on the beach (thankfully) with a bit of breeze. The tank maxi is jersey fabric that feels like pajamas but looks quite fancy. I tied it at the bottom so it wouldn’t get sandy during the ceremony so this picture it looks quite dorky, but it was a good weight and choice for an outdoor, tropical wedding. (My partner wore an Everlane linen shirt, which looked great and probably saved him from heatstroke, although he still felt quite near death from the heat.)

20170527_222811

 

 

I got this Athleta Wailea astra dress off Poshmark about a year after it came out, and boy am I glad I had it.

I wore this to my friends’ cocktail reception the day before the wedding and I believe that truly there is no better fabric for hot temperatures than featherweight stretch because it doesn’t wrinkle, is basically water resistant, quick-drying and lightweight. It’s even better when you can find it secondhand.

As for swimsuits, I brought an Albion Fit top (*that doubles as a sports bra) and a pair of old black bottoms as well as a vintage-inspired suit from Beverly Swimwear. Albion Fit is an ethically-minded fitness and swimwear company based in the US with a factory in Guatemala, and Beverly Swimwear is a one-woman operation in California with materials purchased in the USA.

I really didn’t take too many pictures, since mostly we just relaxed on the beach, read, and then found food in town to stuff our faces with, but it was a lovely trip and I totally recommend the AirBnB route if you’re thinking about going to the Yucatan!

Secret Lunch Weapon: “Emergency” Burritos

20170521_200943

I hate buying lunch out, so I try to always have lunch made or leftovers ready to go in the morning. If buying lunch costs something like $4 – $8 depending on where you go, if you did that every day that’s $20 – $40 a week! Not to mention probably a lot of plastic. Making your own is better for your wallet, the environment, and is usually healthier.

But, for the times I don’t manage to get it together, I like to have “emergency” burritos in the freezer. I usually make a few at a time, wrap in foil (which you can reuse when its done, and depending on your city, recycle if it’s clean), and stick in the freezer and forget about them until you realize you have to run out the door and don’t have a lunch to bring! The beauty is you can literally fill them with whatever you want, I often do a kitchen-sink kind of thing where I just take stock of what I have already and combine. (My most recent batch were tahini, spiced chickpeas, kale, and roasted sweet potato).

Another life/money-saving trick is making snacks and freezing them – my favorite is these No-Bake Peanut Butter & Jelly protein bites from Minimalist Baker which I freeze and then I’ll take 2 with me for a good snack at work or class.

How to Hand Wash Silk

When I started researching more ethical clothing brands, I noticed that many of them used fabrics that I always thought of as a fussy. Over the last few years, especially with athletic clothing, I’ve starting amassing more and more items that can’t go in the dryer, so I figured silk might be worth a try since I’m already dealing with so many “fussy” pieces, and especially since it’s a natural textile.

Hand washing was totally new to me though, since I’ve always been a lazy washer and would toss things in the washer anyway… but investing in a high-quality garment is pretty good motivation to take care of it as you should. And actually, hand washing is not that hard. Here’s how I do it:

First I got some Delicate Wash detergent from the Laundress, because it’s specifically designed to be good on silk. I use it for hand washing and in washing a load of delicates that are OK to go in the machine washer. Just a few drops is all you need.

For the actual washing, I place a plastic container in my bathtub and fill it halfway with cold water. Add a couple drops of the detergent, and drop in the silk shirt. Silk should not be soaked for more than a couple minutes, so I swish it around, then run the faucet over it to wash out the detergent and go on to the next shirt. I started washing my Osei Duro shirt first because it’s light, and kept the water for my Everlane shirt, which is a darker dye and does run a bit while being washed (but looks the same afterward). When rinsed, let it drip out excess water but do not wring out.

Lay out a clean towel and place the shirt flat on top. Roll the towel (like you’re rolling a sleeping bag) to get the excess water out. Repeat if necessary.

20170514_111335

Lay flat to air dry.

The whole process takes … about 15 minutes? I definitely put it off and these 2 shirts have been languishing in my delicates laundry bag for about 2 weeks because I am lazy, but it is really simple.

Healthy Snack: Spirulina Cookies

Between working full time and then heading to class after work for my graduate program, I need to have snacks I can grab and go or else I cannot be trusted to stay away from store-bought junk food.

I had to try this recipe a couple times but this is one *healthy* cookie I like:

Spirulina Almond Butter Cookies 

Processed with VSCO with  preset

(Recipe adapted from Organic Burst)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup almond butter (or sub peanut butter or sun butter- could probably also work with tahini. Whatever you got!)
  • 1/2 cup rice malt syrup
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon spirulina
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 cup almond flour

Instructions: 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Mash banana, then mix in almond butter, rice malt syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Rice malt syrup is very sticky and thick, so don’t be alarmed by the consistency.
  3. Mix in baking soda, cinnamon, sea salt, spriulina. Mixture will be very dark green.
  4. Mix in almond flour.
  5. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon mix onto the paper. It’s very thick. That’s OK. I fit about 6-7 per (decent sized) baking sheet because they spread out.
  6. Bake for 6 minutes, cool for a couple minutes and transfer to cooling rack.

TIP: Store in an airtight container using the parchment paper from the baking sheet between layers of cookies. These are so soft and chewy that they will fuse together (hey, who doesn’t love a super cookie?) if stacked directly on top of each other.

WHY ALL THESE RANDOM, HIPPIE INGREDIENTS? 

  • Spriulina is an algae that is also a complete protein, which means it has all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need, and also contains vitamins, iron, and potassium.
  • Rice malt syrup is a sweetener that is a blend of glucose and maltose, which are easier to digest than fructose, which is in most processed sugars and sweeteners. It’s not as sweet as common sugar sweeteners, so I think it takes some getting used to, but it’s a good option if you’re trying to cut back on sugar.
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt – Basically its less processed than table salt and has better nutritional value.
  • Almond flour is gluten-free, and has healthy fats and protein. It’s also a very fluffy flour and I think balances out the heavy rice malt syrup nicely in this recipe.

These cookies are a good protein boost and satisfying snack, and being lightly sweetened, will satisfy a craving for sugar but won’t trigger you to go crazy. I found a 6 minute bake time is perfect–they get slightly browned at the edges and are thin but very soft.

Processed with VSCO with  preset

Whoever wrote the Organic Burst recipe got a good base but apparently never baked these, because when I followed the recipe exactly, the bake time in their recipe was 15 minutes and they came out black and hard as rocks. Moral of the story – trust your instincts when you think a recipe’s instructions look off. The recipe also didn’t include a flour, and when I added some, they got better, but were still way darker green than the picture on their website. I’m still not sure how they got the cookies to look like that for the picture. Anywho, these are great and I recommend them.