Day 15: Personal Hygiene – Pits, sexy time + time of the month

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Today is a broad topic that I'm going to separate into a few sub-topics.

Here's what we'll cover:

Let's start with a topic that applies to both men and women right after I share a little word or two for anyone who might be quietly feeling worried or upset at this point. It can happen, especially if this is all completely new to you. I want to make sure we're not leaving you behind. It's not a race.

You might want to just take this month to learn and then start changing things after the course is done. Your pace. Your way, and everything you are doing big OR small, is enough. Use the more experienced, and amazingly supportive people in our group as support. Ask lots of questions (none too silly!) and be excited to be here, being a part of this amazing change.

Hair Removal

Safely and effectively wax hair from the arms and underarms using natural sugar wax made from pure sugar syrup and water. This brand is eco-friendly and designed for use on all types of skin and hair and 5 star rated in reviews. You can also get the refill to reduce packaging consumption. Need fabric strips for the job? They've also got you covered there with a 48 pack that you can wash and reuse.

 

Deodorant

Dr Peter Dingle, PhD in environmental toxicology says the number one indoor air pollutant in your home is deodorant spray. Yep. *Cue tossing of deodorant sprays across the world as we speak*.

"But my deodorant is the only one that works... but all natural ones have failed..." Read on. Trust me.

What to avoid

Let's build the case for why today is the last day you'll use that toxic can of badness. These simple, concise ingredient breakdowns come to us courtesy of Natural Cosmetic News.

Aluminium

  • Aluminium based compounds are the element that makes an antiperspirant do what it says. Some research has suggested that these aluminium compounds may be absorbed by the skin and cause changes in estrogen receptors of breast cells. Because estrogen can promote the growth of both cancer and non-cancer breast cells, some scientists have suggested that using the aluminium-based compounds in antiperspirants may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer.
  • Studies have looked at the aluminium content of breast tissue, and aluminium absorption through the skin, but no clear link to breast cancer has been made. Researchers continue to look at this possible breast cancer risk factor and more studies are needed. (American Cancer Society) The way it works as an antiperspirant? The aluminium ions are taken into the cells that line the eccrine-gland ducts at the opening of the epidermis, the top layer of the skin, says dermatologist Dr Eric Hanson of the University of North Carolina's Department of Dermatology. When the aluminium ions are drawn into the cells, water passes in with them. As more water flows in, the cells begin to swell, squeezing the ducts closed so that sweat can't get out... Does that freak anyone else out just to read it?

Parabens

  • Parabens in their many forms (methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, or butylparaben) are a class of artificial preservatives widely used in cosmetics and personal care products that are being investigated for their possible role in breast cancer. Parabens mimic the activity of estrogen in the body. Since estrogen promotes the growth of breast cancer cells and a woman is eight times more likely to develop breast cancer in the part of the breast closest to the underarm, scientists are studying the connection.
  • Although parabens have estrogen-like properties, the estrogens that are made in the body are hundreds of times stronger. So, natural estrogens (or those taken as hormone replacement) are much more likely to play a role in breast cancer development.

Propylene Glycol

  • Propylene glycol-a humectant which means it keeps substances from drying out, and it was originally developed as an anti-freeze, but is now included in some deodorants and antiperspirants - oh, and many commercial ice creams! It is a neurotoxin known to cause contact dermatitis, kidney damage, and liver damage. In propylene glycol's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), published by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, workers are urged to avoid skin contact with the toxic chemical as it may cause eye and skin irritation, gastrointestinal irritation and discomfort, nausea, headache, vomiting, and central nervous depression.

TEA & DEA

  • TEA and DEA (triethanolamine and diethanolamine) adjust the pH and used with many fatty acids to convert acid to salt (stearate), which then becomes the base for a cleanser. They both could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time where DEA can cause liver and kidney damage and TEA can cause allergic reactions. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects.

Triclosan

  • Here he is again - getting rid of all those 'harmful bacteria', hey? - Triclosan is an artificial antimicrobial chemical used to kill bacteria on the skin and other surfaces. Triclosan is a skin irritant and may cause contact dermatitis. Recent studies suggest this chemical may disrupt thyroid function and other critical hormone systems. The American Medical Association recommends that triclosan and other "antibacterial" products not be used in the home, as they may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics that can allow resistant strains to flourish. The FDA has now banned effective 2017, the use of triclosan in cleansers and handwashes - WINNING!

FD&C colours

  • FD&C colours are artificial/synthetic colours approved by the FDA for food, drug and cosmetics. Some are made from coal tar derivatives and have been known to be carcinogenic; they also often cause allergic skin reactions.

Talc

  • Talc, hydrous magnesium silicate, is a soft mineral used in personal care products as an absorbent and colour additive. It is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer if it contains asbestiform fibres. The quantity of asbestiform fibres in cosmetic grade talc is unregulated. If talc is listed on the label, there is no way of knowing whether or not it contains asbestiform fibres, therefore there is no way we're using it, right? While some researchers say the evidence is inconclusive like here, I find the overall findings as of June 2015, are inconclusive, which to me always means prudence. If we can find talc-free products that perform, then why not? If there's a doubt, then why 'stay'? It's not about freaking out or unnecessarily fear. For me it's always about 'if I can find a doubt-free product, then why not choose that one?'.

 

Is it any wonder our bodies revolt eventually with allergies, inflammation, and even possibly cancer, when one of the most permeable parts of our skin is pumped with the above list of chemicals and all the nasties we've learnt about up until now, every day? Once again, it's crazy to think how we might have got here but the best news? We ain't staying here, right? 

Here's a nifty spreadsheet with international resources

Ditch my deodorant? Are you crazy? I'll stink!

I hear you though, you don't want to stink. I don't either!

I've used natural fragrance-free deodorant for 3 years now, and no synthetic fragrance skincare or bath/shower care of any kind. When I went to Tasmania on a business trip recently, I forgot my soap. I had to use the hotel's, and I firmly believe in a 90 / 10 vibe, so I was really relaxed about it: Out of my control, just this one time, move on... BUT, what ensued was terrible BO on conference speaking engagement day - delightful! I can assure you it wasn't. I hadn't had BO for a couple of years so it was really unsettling and I felt super self-conscious. So, the moral of the story? These synthetic fragrances could actually be causing some of the BO you might get, yet we ironically reach for heavier fragranced products to cover up the excessive BO. Where's the logic? Yet another reason to explore the natural options.

So, what are the best natural deodorant options?

I have quite a few tried and tested options for you that all work really well and are free from nasties! Our pits are all different, however, and it will no doubt be trial and error to find the one best for you. At this point it's worth reminding you of the time you moved out of home and started buying your own products -. did you repeat-buy the very first one you got? Nope! Usually, with the trickier products like shampoo, deodorant and mascara, you try a few before you 'land' - give low tox deodorants a chance and keep going if the first one doesn't float your boat.

You can also prepare for the low tox deodorant swap by doing a - yes, you heard me right - armpit detox. Try not to giggle at the prospect! Read more HERE.  An armpit detox will help you avoid rashes, especially with the Bicarb containing Axilla and paste-style deodorants - the most effective of them all - below. If you need bentonite clay for the detox, you can find that here.

Fresca Unscented

fresca deodorant

Axilla Deodorant Paste, Black Chicken Remedies

Axilla_store

Axilla rates best for intensive sports and men from public reviews and also has a sensitive version that is bicarb free if you tend to get irritated easily. I'm a big fan of their mini twin deo set where you get both styles so that you can try each of them for a couple of weeks and see what suits you better in the long run. 

 

(NOTE: To apply, you don't need to rub the paste in aggressively. The bicarb ingredient in it might prove irritating if you do that. Just hold it to your underarm for a few seconds to soften with the temperature, and gently rub in. Chey has even created a blog post that has a couple of tips around irritation.)

Sarah Wilson from "I Quit Sugar" recently posted on Facebook "Put down that toxic roll-on - I've finally found The Toxin-Free Deodorant That Actually Works. It's been a five-year search. I've traversed all kinds of stinky cesspits and scaled heights of compromised comfort. But I now stand under armed with @blackchickenremedies "...Aussie made, works, job done" - and then proceeded to bring down the Black Chicken website for 2 days with order inundation which Chey almost had a nervous breakdown trying to create hand-made and poured as she does, all the Axilla that was required in response!!

Still sensitive/rashy in the face of bicarb containing deodorants? Try a Pit detox with DETOX-A-PIT. It seems to be working wonders for many.

For Weleda fans out there, try the Sea Buckthorn 24 hour roll-on deodorant. Made with certified natural ingredients like organic liquorice root extract, known for its soothing, antimicrobial properties, and organic astringent witch hazel distillate, which also helps to calm the skin the roll-ons are dermatologically tested and suitable for sensitive skin. My mum loves this one!

And for the rest of the family?

I've recently tried this deodorant from Weleda as has my husband. Delicious smelling and will pass for the teen boy set wanting to 'spray' something.
Unisex Weleda Sage Deodorant- Great for teens too as is their citrus one. Weleda also recently released a range of 24h roll-on deodorants in Citrus for Men for those of you who prefer that option over a spray. 

weleda sage-deodorant

 

For teens, you have the 808 DUDE Roll on for the boys

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For teen girls, you have KIND-LY

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DIY Deodorant

"But there is no way I'm going to spend upwards of $10 for a deodorant. What can I do?"

Fair enough. The good news is there are several reportedly effective home DIY jobbies in the land of not being too stinky!

  • A slice of citrus wiped under the arm. Plain and simple.
  • A bit of bicarb soda & tapioca/corn starch/flour 'mix' (be sure to use an aluminium free bicarb for under the arm!)  What to do?  Mix 1 teaspoon bicarb with 5 tsp tapioca flour or organic/non GMO cornflour well and pop in a jar. Splash a little under your arms after the morning shower. Many report this working for them for a day, sometimes even two! For a scented version, pop a scraped out 'spent' vanilla bean you've used for cooking, into the jar to have vanilla bean deodorant!
  • Coconut oil. Now, a disclaimer here, this doesn't work for me. BUT, many say it does, so I'm just sharing all the low cost options out there in case you want to work through them.
  • Want to make your own deodorant paste? You can! Inspired Little Pot has you covered.

 

Irritated under arms? This FUR oil is fabulous for lumps, bumps, irritation and ingrown hairs.

 

Low Tox down-under for couples (aka sexy time!)

Now, on the topic of getting intimate. I'm not meaning to offend anyone who doesn't use contraceptives or intimacy-related products for personal or religious reasons at all here. Please move down the page if this is sensitive for you in any way. Lots of people are looking for all sorts of natural alternatives during their low tox life changes and I want to share this for those of you that will find it useful.

Firstly, hormone replacement/fiddling contraception is a big no-no for the low tox life, I'm sad to say for those still using it. You are not only fiddling with your long-term hormone health, but also with your gut health, as the pill affects the gut flora too! I would see a naturopath and discuss a strategy for coming off it and the best alternatives for you moving forward.

I really recommend that you take a listen to my interview with Francesca Naish over on the Low Tox Life Podcast. Francesca founded the first holistic health centre in Sydney in the mid 70s in Paddington, who for decades has been building her expertise in the area of women's health, fertility for couples and natural contraception. In this show, we discuss the pill and other modern contraception methods, the cons, the deficiencies or body imbalances they breed and how to successfully come off them. Then, Francesca takes us through how we can get to know our bodies' rhythms and temperature variations, to have as successful a time preventing conception naturally as using any other main form of contraception - It's a JAM PACKED episode for women's reproductive health and empowerment, that's all I'm going to say. Listen to the podcast here.

Condoms / Contraception

This condom recommendation is in fact so old school that we go back to 19th Century and prior contraception technique: Lambskin condoms. The only fully natural condoms to my knowledge. Note: These are only recommended for monogamous partners, as they are not STD preventative, and only contraceptive in their effectiveness. The good news is that they are as effective as other condoms, so there's no issue there other than the 2% risk associated across all condoms. Of course, as with many things eco, the lambskin variety are 3 times the price! You and your partner are worth it though, right?

Vegans are in a predicament here obviously with the lambskin, but Glyde in the USA is worth a look.

You could go the latex condom of course - just skip any flavours or lubricants that might come with some of the varieties.

Jonny is a latex condom without all the mainstream additives and also without the casein derivative, making them vegan. Use with a water-based lubricant like - wait for the name - BONK. True Story.

You could also consider a diaphragm which is most often made from pure silicon and reasonably low tox.

There's also DAYSY - A fertility calculator that's incredibly accurate. This is especially good if you have a regular cycle and you might want to listen to the show I did with Francesca Naish on natural contraception. It is EXCELLENT.

For personal lubricant, YES is a good option as is LARIES. 

There's also this intimacy oil from Noosa Basics.

 

Alternatively, you can use coconut oil (but definitely not with latex condoms, as this or any oil-based lubricant will break down the condom).

For 'toys', be wary here, as many are made with PVC and our private 'bits' on both men and women, are the most permeable tissue we have on our bodies - No good for phthalate exposure at all! Lelo is a phthalate free brand and Nourished Life has you covered with the Smile Makers brand. 

 

Are you a bit out of touch with getting sexy at all these days?

Your head is too full, you are too busy, your hormones are screwed, and you've forgotten how cool your partner is... in a nutshell. Hee hee, I have to laugh here because I have been guilty on numerous counts of all of the above! BUT, we can always strive to do better, and so, I offer up some low tox mind tips to make space for each other - not just on the couch to watch tv but the kind of space that reminds you both that you're awesome and not just at doing the laundry, picking up kids or taking the bins out, but truly awesome!

6 tips for making space for & actually feeling like sexy time:

  1. Daily meditation will help empty your head a little as does a long daily walk.
  2. Taking regular deep breathes works wonders. You will be lowering cortisol, which will prevent high estrogen which will allow better uptake of thyroid hormones which will ensure your DHEA levels remain healthy which will ensure you have the energy and inclination towards a bit o' sexy time.
  3. Be sure that not all your date nights are out with the family - leave the kids at home and do fun stuff together. We become so functional in family and long term couple life, that we forget how fun we are. This leads me to the next point...
  4. Double date - It's so much pressure conversing just the two of you. By hanging out with other friends that you both like, your partner will see you making a funny call, laughing at a good story, discussing something passionately that has nothing to do with your lives together... They see you 'new' and you see them new too, a little bit. We need this to have the 'man, you're pretty cool' moments that remind us why we're together in the first place.
  5. Step away from the screens - ironic, true, given you're all glued to the modules and the Facebook group during such an intensive learning process. But AFTER 30 days, how about you try no screens after 8 pm. Normally I do this a couple of nights a week - You'll remember what you enjoy doing away from technology - books, a good movie, a board game with a glass of wine, and oh - sexy time for example! Don't forget your favourite music. Why oh why does the good music leave the picture in long term relationship sex? It's weird. Good music is the best background for most enjoyable things in life - cooking, sexy time, dinner parties with friends... and it sure makes cleaning the house less of a chore!
  6. Single? Stop hanging out with married people. Recruit more single friends who want to go out and be spontaneous and be in spaces where other people are. And of course, the age of internet dating is nothing to be ashamed of... My brother-in-law is now expecting his first child with his beautiful wife thanks to RSVP. True story.

There's not much room for sexy time if you're in another world! Is this you?

couple-in-bed-on-phones

And now for a romance stock shot that I just couldn't resist! Where are the kids? Grandma's house? No, this grass isn't full of bindis and bull ants at all. We could lie here forever and ever 😉

couples+in+love+wallpapers+56

Now onto the time of the month...

GENTS doing the course with us, while this bit isn't for you - please share with your partners, as it's important. Onto the women's stuff!

That time of the month doesn't need to be toxic mayhem. We are on average, to use 12,000 tampons over a lifetime and don't feel bad if you've not thought about what exactly might be in those tampons and pads up until now. Just get excited that today, you make the change and you go low tox down under!

Mercola.com can be a little alarmist in its writing style, but the article through here and this one summarises the critical importance of stepping away from toxic feminine hygiene products pronto! Every bit of it is true and we and the environment are harmed by the current mainstream products in the long term.

Tampons and pads

I have an amazingly talented friend Aimée Marks, who created the TOM Organic range. I interviewed her a couple of years ago on my blog about her inspiration for creating her range, which you can read here.

TOM

So, for Aussies, TOM Organics  is my number one recommendation if you like to buy 'ready to go' personal hygiene products. They're available from you guessed it, Nourished Life and BIOME as well as in supermarkets, health shops and directly from TOM. What is awesome about their liners is they use bioplastic and not actual plastic so they go the extra mile!

Other brands that are organic, more sustainable and available internationally are:

Then you have cloth pads which are available - Hannah Pads from Nourished Life which are made from organic cotton! Various sizes available to suit your needs. 

Twinkle Lily - A great site with a range of breast pads, pads, nappies and maternity.

Menstrual Cups

You might have heard of the "menstrual cup" - People rave about them once they get the hang of them and find the right size. If it's something you want to explore as an option, it's a great economiser and pays for itself after 3 months, so you save from there on in, for the rest of your time-of-the-month needs AND you save oodles of landfill! Check out the brands out here.

lunette-menstrual-cup

Period-proof undies

I also love the Modi Bodi undies although I have to say they're not entirely transparent in how the bamboo is produced! So cool and they totally do what's on the packet!

International options

US and International Option 

The Luna Pads site ships internationally and has an incredible range of cloth re-usable pads, time of the month undies, Diva cups and more.

UK/Europe option

Wuka and TOTM are your best resources for low tox and reusable options. Natissy is an organic, natural fibre option too.

Hot Water Bottle Note

Hot water bottles can be a favourite at certain times of the month. Make sure you choose a pure latex / pure rubber brand, NOT plastic as the plastic ones are PVC AND they're hot... disaster!

One for the loo

And finally - POTTY. If you find it hard to fully eliminate and struggle with constipation, check out the PROPPR. It's a stylish, Australian designed and made bathroom footrest to get you in the proper 'squat position' during your 'official bathroom business'. Super effective for opening up the bowels properly and allowing full evacuation. They were event the recipient of a 2019 Good Design Award for combining form and function to 'unkink' the colon for a more effective release.

You might also want to check out my episode on the podcast on POOP. Yep, A whole hour talking poo!

Enjoy ditching the fake, weirdo deodorants and pesticide-laden and unsustainable personal care and moving to more natural products and DIYs. 

Low tox. Happy Bodies. Fresh smelling armpits and happy sexy time 😉

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PS. FAQs about deodorant

A question that often comes up regarding crystal deodorants is: Doesn't ammonium alum contain Aluminum?  Isn't aluminium bad?  Should I be concerned about the safety of Ammonium Alum or other Aluminum products in deodorant?  Yes and no.  Gasoline, Sugar, Water and Hydrochloric acid all contain Hydrogen and/or Oxygen-some will kill us and some are necessary for life.  There are two main differences between Ammonium Alum and Aluminium Chloride/Chlorohydrate/Zirconium (the toxic aluminium forms). These latter toxic aluminium compounds react with the chemistry in the skin to form a gel that blocks your sweat ducts and glands and keeps you nice and dry. They also have a small molecular mass (typically 250-350 Daltons) meaning that they can readily cross right through the skin/blood barrier and enter your body (not good).  Ammonium Alum (in the crystal deodorant) has a much larger molecule (around 650 Daltons) which is too large to be absorbed through the skin (less than 500 Daltons can be absorbed). Instead of forming a pore-blocking gel, Ammonium Alum stays on the surface of the skin where it prevents the bacteria (responsible for causing B.O.) from multiplying.

I know that was a long explanation, but I want to make sure you are informed in your decisions-and deodorant (not stinking) is an important part of our cultural norms.  More important than not stinking, is your health.

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  1. I may have just gotten a bad batch but sad to report was VERY disappointed with my Modi Bodi undies – returned & was refunded purchase price. Modi Bodi very accomodating to deal with & matter was resolved very quickly. Now using Baby Beehind Cloth Pads that found when searching for re-useable nappy liners for baby’s nappies.

  2. Hi Alexx, how long do we have access for to this after the course has finished, i am still catching up on some videos 🙂

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  3. My partner and I are big fans of crystal deodorants. I was bracing myself for news that they might not be so good for us. I am relieved and really grateful you shared that ps “facts about crystal deodorants” and the differences between Ammonium Alum and Aluminium Chloride/Chlorohydrate/Zirconium (the toxic aluminums). Thank you!

  4. I absolutely love ‘No Pong’ deodorant it works sooooo well better than the awful 48hr stuff I wore 2 years ago. It is the best!! similar formula to black chicken by the looks.

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      Yes lots of people enjoy that one Laura. Glad it’s working for you and sorry I didn’t see this comment in April! xx

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