We had a record heat wave in Los Angeles last week, sometimes getting as hot as 108 degrees, in the middle of September! It’s the kind of heat that hits you like a thick hot curtain when you step out of the AC. You basically get accustomed to being a bit drippy all the time. In a civilized society, this requires lots of showers, and an ongoing struggle to stay dry and sweet smelling.
Now I know the internet has been quite abuzz in the last few years with the fear that antiperspirant is linked to breast cancer, due to the aluminum and parabens it contains. The theory has been tested and for the most part, science has concluded that there is no definitive link. However, my gut tells me that slathering an array of chemicals all over yourself everyday might have some negative effects down the road that science has yet to discover. Plus, even a low maintenance beauty regimen can get pretty pricey. Just think about how many products you apply to your skin on a daily basis, shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, sunscreen, makeup, lip balm… Your skin is the biggest organ on your body and highly absorbent. How often do you read the ingredients? What do you know about them? Why do you need them? Are they included because they are good for you? Or is it for shelf life, texture, or scent masking? How were they produced and what effect do they have on the environment? How much packaging goes into a landfill from this stuff? How much money is it all costing you? Are you totally in love with the products you use or are you always on the hunt for something better?
The Environmental Working Group has created a fantastic database of just about every single cosmetic product on the market. They give each product a score of 0-10 based on the safety of it’s ingredients (0 being safe and 10 being toxic sludge that you must burn with fire and then bury 10 feet underground in a remote desert). Go check it out and see how your toothpaste, face wash, or shaving cream stacks up. I guarantee you will be alarmed to learn that you are dousing yourself with chemicals that are known to be endocrine disruptors, carcinogenic, or that are toxic to your reproductive and general organ systems etc. There are very few products on the list with a good score. The EWG also has a very useful article on the myths and facts about the FDA approval process and why it’s important to be an informed consumer.
This body balm is basically a homemade deodorant, but I encourage you to rethink all the different types of products you use.
There are two ways to look at this going green thing: The first is that we are all probably going to break down and die sooner or later, and you feel fine now, and your favorite commercial products are generally considered safe, and you want to smell good dammit, and major cosmetic corporations have to make safe products or else they would get sued wouldn’t they? So honestly, what’s the big deal? I really do appreciate this perspective because you can’t go through life worrying too much. Also, it’s convenient because it is much easier to navigate society with this mindset.
The other way to look at it, (my crunchy perspective) is this: Let’s say you hypothetically have two products- A and B.
Product A was made in a factory that you’ve never seen and made with many chemicals that probably aren’t- but might be- bad for you. I mean if you accidentally swallowed it, you might want to call poison control and the bottle has directions for how to flush it out of your eyes.
Product B on the other hand, is made out of natural organic materials that you could bake into delicious cookies.
Product A costs maybe eight bucks, while product B costs about one dollar.
Product A has clunky plastic packaging that you will eventually throw in the trash, and the lingering contents could seep into the groundwater or contribute to ocean contamination, kinda like this stuff.
Product B is stored in a reusable glass container that you can use for something else when it is done.
Product A is produced by a corporation that is destroying rain forests and doing things like running orangutans into extinction.
Product B is made by you in your kitchen with natural ingredients.
Product A will make you smell like a baby’s butt or a gold chain wearing, hairy chested night club owner, while product B can smell like whatever you choose, like roses or tangerines.
And most importantly Product A and Product B achieve the exact same solution to your problem.
So it’s pretty obvious that Product B is a much less worrisome solution right? It’s also a reminder that the little ‘insignificant’ purchases we make on a daily basis have a huge impact on the world around us and our bodies, so it is up to us to become conscious and conscientious consumers. (And there’s nothing wrong with baby steps!)
I have been on a mission to ‘green my routine.’ It’s been a super fun project with lots of experiments and research. So far I have been able to make all these things from ‘scratch’: body wash, body scrub, body and face lotion, wrinkle cream, toner, lip balm, hair mask, deodorant, kitchen cleaning spray, perfume, and face mask. If you like DIY projects, this stuff is really fun and they make great gifts. Some of these things aren’t necessarily a concoction, but rather a simple, natural, 1 ingredient solution to the expensive chemical goos I used to use; such as using ethically sourced Argan Oil as a wrinkle cream. (If you haven’t tried Argan oil on your face, go buy some immediately and thank me later, like in 10 year when you have the smooth, supple eye skin or a 12 year old girl.) For the things I have yet to successfully DIY, I try to do a lot of research to make sure they are made out of the good sort of stuff, by the good sort of people, that they are less expensive, and of course that they work as well (or usually much better!) than their commercial counterpart. Here are my favorites: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, and all purpose cleaner, sunscreen, make-up, and toothpaste. One book I highly recommend if you are also interested in a greener routine is Gorgeously Green by Sophie Uliano.
When I get out of the shower I am glowing from head to toe from the sweet smelling, homemade, luxurious, silky-soft potions. It feels like a spa experience! The most important thing about ‘going crunchy’ with your beauty routine is that the stuff has to work. (I should mention that the first step in smelling lovely is eating a whole foods plant-based diet. I hate to break it to you guys but eating meat and dairy makes you smell …not so lovely. (Sorry y’all, don’t kill the messenger.)
So, back to the weather. I know deodorant is that one product that you really can’t live without right? Well, I took this ‘body balm’ out for a test drive in the 100 degree heat. The result: I still smell like a delicious tangerine dream!!!!! Others have said it smells like a lemon sugar cookie. The first time I tried it, it lasted all day in the heat, but not through an intense cardio class, although neither does the commercial stuff. The next day I went to the gym and I reapplied right before the class, and voila, it worked. Easy.
Disclaimer: this is primarily a deodorant. Traditional antiperspirants use aluminum to plug your sweat glands, preventing the sweat from emerging. Yikes that sounds stressful to your poor little pores! This formula uses organic corn starch which does help absorb a bit of the moisture after it’s reached the skins surface, which is a much better strategy in my opinion. Honestly people, sweating is good for you. A little moisture is going to evaporate the second you walk back in to the AC, and it will do it’s job of cooling you down in the meantime. Do something that makes you sweat everyday, because you are an animal! Use your body like the primate you are and Dance! Run! Swim! Stretch! Get out there!
Tangerine Dream Body Balm
Makes…. a lot. Probably a 3 month supply if you can keep it bacteria free
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/8 cup organic corn starch
1/8 cup arrowroot powder
1 tbs tangerine essential oil
2 drops tea tree oil
Melt the coconut oil and mix everything together in a small glass mason jar. You could also pour it into an empty deodorant container. Refrigerate it to firm it up into a solid. As you know, coconut oil is liquid in a warm room, and solid in a cool room. You can still use it when it’s liquid, just give it a swirl in case the powders have sunk to the bottom. Use whatever essential oils you like! Tea tree oil, rosemary, peppermint, cinnamon, clove and eucalyptus are all oils with antibacterial properties. If you use raw coconut oil, it will smell very coconut-y, which is why I went for the complimentary tangerine oil. But, if you use expeller pressed coconut oil, it has a less noticeable coconut smell and you can use any other essential oil. The more tea tree oil the better, I just don’t like the smell, but if you don’t mind it, it will work even better the more you use. You can even skip the oil and go fragrance-free!