My Tante Virginia was diagnosed with breast cancer followed by liver cancer and passed when I was 15 years old. Most check-ups were in Halifax, a three hour drive away. My mother was the only family member willing (although I'm sure they had valid "excuses") to drive her even though the drive to the city terrified her. She was the one who stayed with her those last few days in the hospital, during which she listened to her say how she didn't want to die yet, smelled her rotting breath with each painful turn on the bed, saw how she bled from all orifices and prayed with her.
I could go on, the list is ridiculously long, aunts, cousins, friends (including my 26 year old childhood friend who was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and at the age of 27 he is now a survivor)...and I am certain that there must be some sort of pollution effect from the gulf stream up to Yarmouth County. Needless to say, cancer is a big deal for myself and my family.
As rising evidence is linking our chemical soaked lives to cancer it just makes sense to cut out as much as I possibly can from my life.
Antiperspirant has been a looooong time coming. Containing ingredients such as aluminum and parabens (both linked, although controversially, to cancer) and being used daily for decades I would say there is some concern. The U.S. National Cancer Institute sums up the political correctness of this entire thing: first stating that there is no link to antiperspirants and cancer... followed by statements indicating that research HAS shown hormonal effects and links to cancer with regular skin exposure to aluminum and parabens. Although the terminology is so caught up with the word "cause", essentially there have been studies linking ingredients in traditional antiperspirants and deodorants to cancer-type precursors (FAQ sheet on NCI). Unfortunately my antiperspirant- Degree, doesn't list anything beyond aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly on the actual container OR on their website. So I can't even check to see whether there are parabens (which the NCI recommended to avoid).
If there are chemical-free alternatives why would we want to take the risk?
Now here's the part of the overshare! Ok... I am confessing that I, Lisa, am a profuse "body-tears" extraordinaire. Ahem, I sweat a LOT. No really, it's most likely at the upper limit. I hate this about my body... and have resisted anything other than antiperspirants with the *hope* that it would reduce the amount even by a tiny bit. Nothing has worked. As a result, I'm left with stained clothing, smelly arm-valleys (who likes the word "pit" anyways?) and increasing feeling that I don't want these synthetic chemicals absorbed into my skin every day.
So, over the past few years I've tried quite a few chemical-free alternatives. None of them worked well at all. Most of them were grimy, slimy and honestly I had terrible wafts of smells every once in a while. I'd run to the bathroom and make sure that smell really was coming from me!!! (oh the horror!!). I tried NO deodorant... THAT was a catastrophic idea. So back I was, using regular antiperspirant and accepting that I would be sweaty and chemically for the rest of my life. I would NOT become one of those weird hippies who used a rock. WHO does that??? We made fun of my friends mother for YEARS for having that weird rock in her bathroom.
Finally, my friend H. announces that she caved and bought the mineral salt deodorant (I laughed at her inwardly but as a fellow eco-warrior showed some support). A few days later, while practicing yoga, she proclaimed that "Holy crap, it actually works!!" NO WAY. I didn't believe her. Then, Andrew ran out of deodorant and we both decided, what the eff, we were taking the mineral salt plunge. (exhibit A)
I felt so embarrassed buying this little pillar of mineral salt encased in a pretty container (make sure no one is watching me peruse the B.O. section! I'm not stinky I swear!!). I had zero hopes. Even after reading Crunchy's posts on the "rock" and her excellent reviews I seriously thought it was b.s. Whatever, maybe for you "non-sweating buckets" people.
We are now on week two of the mineral salt and I am appropriately humbled. Holy POOP it actually works. It's the most weirdest thing to rub a wet rock on my arm-valleys but even after over 12 hours after application, a sweaty yoga practice (this has been several sweaty yoga practices in the past week) and sleeved shirts I am smell-free. NO SMELL AT ALL. Andrew actually spent sporadic moments throughout one of his first evenings saying: "Seriously, SMELL THEM! Nothing!!! WEIRD". We looked like a bunch of dorks walking around the apartment smelling our armpits.
How does it work? We purchased Lafe's Deodorant and according to their website, the mineral salts used naturally destroy odor causing bacteria. The crystal deodorant is made with natural mineral salts (potassium alum) and is 99% natural ingredients. Unlike aluminum in traditional antiperspirants or deodorants, potassium alum in crystal form does not inhibit sweat and is a compound as opposed to a metal. Alum molecules are too big to be absorbed through the skin. Further, according to "The Crystal" (another brand) website, Aluminum chlorohydrate (familiar?) is a neurotoxin and is rated a 3-4 on Skin Deep's website. According to Skin Deep: potassium alum rates only a 1-2 risk level (although lacking in research). No parabens and no other preservatives.
A few little tips I have learned:
- It works best when you apply directly after washing (I apply mine right after the shower)
- Wetting and applying liberally worked much better for Andrew (i.e. SLATHER, it will dry :) )
- Careful after shaving- may be stingy! I've been trying to shave the night before to allow "heal" time.
- I do not actually sweat "less" that I can tell. But NO residue whatsoever!
Article and photos copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com