Monday, September 22, 2014

(Mostly) Environmentally Friendly

It seems as though I have started veering off toward that crunchy trail known as being “green”.  It really wasn’t an intentional turn down that fork in the road, I’m not a granola head or a tree hugger (I don’t think I am, anyway and no hate to those who are).  Standing on the precipice of turning 40 next year, my skin has decided to go from “kinda” sensitive to “OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU PUTTING ON ME….IT BUUUURRRNNNS” sensitive.  Maybe that was a little extreme but that’s how it feels.  Everything makes me itch.  I have ruled out my first fear, none of the animals have fleas (whew).  It all started back when my armpits decided that they were just too good for Teen Spirit.  I’m using that to date the experience, I have no idea if they even still sell Teen Spirit, but that was the “fun” version of Lady Speed Stick with awesome flavors like Orchard Blossom and Sweet Strawberry because, well, doesn’t every girl want her pits to smell like fruit?  When I started itching from that, I moved on to the grown up Lady Speed Stick.  I had relief for a while and when the itch returned, I changed again, this time to Mitchum for Women gel.  All in all, as long as I switched it up every few months (basically, when I emptied a stick, it was time to change brands) my pits seems appeased.  Until a few years ago.

It no longer mattered which brand of anti-perspirant I slathered under my arms.  They rebelled with a fiery itchiness that I can only assume is the equivalent of keeping tarantulas in your pits…oh, and the tarantulas are carrying poison ivy, that defies all nature by staying at a consistent temperature of around 112°.  So I switched to deodorant.  What do you mean, isn’t that what normal people use, you may be asking?  That’s what I thought.  Normally, the crap we buy to stop our pit-stank is anti-perspirant/deodorant.  It’s the anti-perspirant that stops the sweating and it does that by using magical aluminum.  And my underarms hate magic.  I started using Crystal Essence Liquid roll-on in Pomegranate flavor, because, again…fruit.  That worked for a couple years.  Oh, and in between new products, I always had to use a combination of anti-itch lotion and medicated powder to calm Cthulhu, the petulant elder god that had taken up residence under my arms….which works great for healing, not so much in the not-smelling-bad arena.

A word about having to stop using anti-perspirant in favor or deodorant.  You will sweat.  It is inevitable.  Unless you live in a perpetual frozen wasteland, dress lightly and move very little….you will sweat.  When you find a deodorant that works for you, even though you sweat, you don’t stink.  But therein lies the problem, finding one that works with your own body chemistry.  And apparently my body’s chemistry is along the lines of some poorly trained meth cook that indulges in his own creations: irritable, unstable and sometimes vulgarly explosive.  When the liquid crystal crap stopped preventing malodor, I tried a battery of other natural deodorants and let me tell you, they can get pretty pricey.  I tried Tom’s, The Body Shop, Kiss My Face, some weird brand I’d never heard of from the health food store…none of them lasted the day.  I found LaVanila – The Health Deodorant, and it comes in nice scents like vanilla lavender, vanilla lemon and vanilla summer (kind of coconutty-mango..yeah, fruit again).  But it’s expensive at $14.00 for a 1.7 oz. stick…..and it only works intermittently for me.  Damn.

So I took to the interwebz and found a recipe for DIY deodorant.  I was skeptical about covering my irrational underarm skin with a product whose base is extra virgin coconut oil.  Quick side fact for anyone who isn’t familiar with coconut oil, at lower temperatures (like room temperature), it’s solid with the consistency of really, really cold Country Crock buttery spread or all-natural almond butter if that’s more your thing.  This homemade deodorant consisted of the coconut oil, arrowroot powder, organic baking soda and, if you were brave, essential oils of your choice for fragrance.  I traipsed over to the health food market and picked up the ingredients and bravely selected two different bottles of essential oils – tea tree for its antiseptic properties and sweet tangerine (damn it all, why do I always want to smell like fruit?!).  Got home and got to makin’ me some sweet deodorant.  It was easy to make and, guess what, it actually worked.  And it kept on working….except…..yes, there’s always a but, isn’t there.  It was turning my formerly red and angry-looking pits a sad shade of taupey-gray.  And the skin was becoming akin to something I once saw on a TLC special called Half Man, Half Tree….and I could take my fingernail and scrape off the top layer.  Too much information?  Deal with it, it was gross, I know….moving on.

So, I went back to the LaVanila alternating with Anti-Monkey Butt powder and Lady Anti-Monkey Butt powder, which has calamine in it so it’s soothing yet it somehow stops the stink, most of the time.  I was clicking around the interwebz when I found myself on a blog by a young woman who also has very sensitive skin and tried every natural deodorant known to woman (just like me!), including her own very similar DYI recipe.  She was ecstatic when she found Soapwalla’s line of natural body care products and now swore by their deodorant cream (find it HERE and HERE).  So, despite the $14 price tag for 2 oz, I ordered it.  It arrived three days ago and, so far, so good.  It smells slightly of lavender, is easy to apply and works all day – even into the next morning.  I will continue to use it, crossing my fingers that it doesn’t lose its efficacy like some of the previous brands I’ve tried and doesn’t make my pit skin go all cadaver.  But I kind of got lost in my armpits there, let me get back to my accidental journey into the environmentally conscious.

I've been buying nothing but organic, gluten-free pet foods for years.  They cost more but they have afforded my pets excellent health, bright eyes and extremely shiny coats (my eldest cat is almost 16 and shows no signs of slowing down).  I only use local, unpasteurized honey in my tea.  I love to make my own salad dressing and really love it when I can buy produce from the nearby farmer's market.  Along with exchanging my traditional anti-perspirant for tree-hugging….oops, I mean…natural deodorant, I also found myself pitching my body wash (citrus mango, did you really have to ask?) and laundry detergent for their hypoallergenic cousins.  I haven’t ventured too far into the world of hippy…dang it, sorry again…natural body cleansers because I seem to do alright with plain old Ivory bar soap and I’ve learned, if you find something that works and doesn’t infuriate your skin, stick with it until something changes on either front.  I’m still struggling to find a laundry detergent that doesn’t cause the itchies yet isn’t priced according to the current value of a troy ounce of platinum.  I am trying to be frugal and finish out my luxury purchase of Caldrea Lavender and Pine dryer sheets but I fear that they are now the cause of my current skin crawlies.  The dryer sheets and the All Free and Clear which is clearly poison to my pores despite its benign, colorless appearance.  I did just crack open a new tub of Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder which boasts its non-toxic, bio-degradable cleaning prowess but as I’ve learned in the past, just because something is all-natural, doesn’t mean my skin won’t violently reject it.  The boy commented that it “looks generic”, probably because the packaging is white with minimal colors and graphics but I’ll use it and see if it makes a difference.  I am also curious to see what soap nuts and felted wool dryer balls are all about.  They seem intriguing but I’m afraid.  Maybe once the tub of Charlie’s is empty.  I’ll let you know.
I think it’s great to do things that can reduce my carbon footprint, especially if it benefits me in other ways and ends up costing less in the long run (the DYI deodorant was cheap to make and if the soap nuts and dryer balls end up to be effective, they are less costly than even store brands of detergent and fabric softener).  I did enjoy my veggie garden this summer even though the cucumbers weren’t very fruitful.  So it doesn’t seem too far off that I’ll soon be posting my latest blog entry about dreadlocks from my tree, above my compost bin/toilet hole, baking crickets in my solar oven and drinking my own distilled urine.  Ok, maybe I took it too far, I would never have dreadlocks.

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