my MUA reviews: deodorants and other smells and bells

More on Gingerrama’s Deodowich© coming up in the next couple of days… it includes zinc oxide cream, mineral-salt deodorant, and (on warmer moister days) powder.

Current scent: Pacific Mediterranean Fig (solid).

Avalon Organics Botanicals – Silky Cornstarch Baby Powder  rated 5 of 5 gingerrama on 7/26/2011 1:47:00 PM

Current favourite dusting-powder, i.e. talc-free talc. Used as final stage of the Deodowich, for the purpose of deodorising armpits and general moisture-management there and in other sweatier bodily areas, on sunnier more sweat-inducing days.
It’s a fine-milled powder. Little scent, just a mild chamomile and marigold. Like many other Avalon baby products, Weleda Baby, etc.: think standard baby smell minus the blasted usual ever-present heavy lavender (Weleda does have some lavender, but less than many another baby range). Which may or may not be a particularly good idea on infants–that cytotoxicity business. It’s certainly not a good idea on me, as I’m allergic to the oil.* YMMV.
Absorbs well, and absorbs moisture well.
Other unscented talc-free powders used: Hugo Naturals shea butter one and Little Twig (as good, but more expensive); some UK own-brand ones (ex. Boots); DIY mixtures of plain arrowroot, rice, and cornstarch powders (sourced from cooking and baking areas of supermarkets).
Scented ones: Dr.Hauschka (lovely but unconscionable price), Burt’s Bees and California Baby (smell gorgeous but occasional irritation: should be fine on most human skin within the normal range).
Costs around USD 6.00-10.00 for 2.5 oz / 71 g. Cruelty-free.
INGREDIENTS: Zea mays (corn) starch, sodium bicarbonate, aloe barbadensis leaf juice(1), calendula officinalis flower(1) and chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower(1) extracts, panthenol, allantoin, retinol.
* Not massively totally allergic to lavender: I’m OK with minuscule amounts of the essential oil–it’s mainly my nose it sets off, then nostrils get inflamed, then histamine over-reaction and skin irritation spread. Small to medium amounts of distilled hydrosol are fine. Most of the powders with lavender contain powdered dried buds: which contain the essential oil: which is my trigger. If there’s enough for me to smell the lavender at arm’s length, then there’s enough to trigger allergy. Even if I’m not applying it up my nose. I usually have a good minute between lavender-detection and the start of sneezing. Giving me time to run away and not sneeze all over product displays, hapless customers, helpless babes in arms, etc.

 Lafe’s Roll on Deodorant Unscented  rated 4 of 5 gingerrama on 1/31/2010 8:27:00 PM

Tried this in the search for a decent aluminium-free deodorant. One of the Lafe’s offerings that do actually work (on me, anyway)–their stick is poor (different formula, no potassium alum), but this roll-on, the solid crystal stone, and the spray are all good. The roll-on works out as the most expensive of the three, and I happened to find it less user-friendly than the spray. All three formats are available in unscented, the spray is also in lavender, and the roll-on in several scents.
Better options:
I’m not a particularly pungent person, but so far I’ve found the only thing that works nearly as well as aluminium-based regular deodorants is ones based on potassium alum (a.k.a. mineral salts – and NB entirely different from aluminium chloride etc.). Hence liking these Lafe’s deodorants. The ingredient list is otherwise nice and simple and minimal and functional. Thumbs up for that.
Tip: ensure armpits are clean and dry (tends to work best on shaved pits); first apply some zinc oxide cream (diaper rash cream, that sort of thing), then the deodorant. Pat it into the skin and allow to dry. I’ll often add a top later of powder (Burt’s Bees baby dusting powder: talc-free, contains corn starch, kaolin clay, and bicarbonate of soda as the deodorizing active ingredients). No smell at end of the day.
Cruelty-free company, made in the US and regularly available there and in Canada, both in greener shops and in mainstream drugstores (London Drugs here). Decent prices, in line with regular deodorants.
INGREDIENTS: Purified water (aqua), potassium alum (mineral salts),
polyquaternium-10, certified organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) extract,
certified organic Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) oil, citrus grandis (grapefruit) seed extract

Lafe’s natural and organic deodorant stick unscented  rated 2 of 5 gingerrama on 1/31/2010 8:18:00 PM

Tried this in the search for a decent aluminium-free deodorant. Though it feels nice on the skin, as far as I can tell it does nothing at all to deodorize.
Better options:
–Lafe’s solid crystal stone: the most economical of their deodorants;
–their roll-ons: the same mineral salts as in the crystal, but in solution: available in several scents inc. unscented;
–their spray: similar to the roll-on, but cheaper; only in unscented and lavender.
Now, I’m not a particularly pungent person, but so far I’ve found the only thing that works nearly as well as aluminium-based regular deodorants is ones based on potassium alum (a.k.a. mineral salts – and NB entirely different from aluminium chloride etc.). The bicarbonate of soda in this stick might do something, but not as much as in powder form; the witch hazel soothes skin and has a teeny antibacterial action; as do the clove and coriander, which are here in such a low concentration as not to be detectable by the human nose. In higher quantities, they might at least mask odour. But they’re not, and don’t. Rest of the ingredients are just nice soothing things.
Pass on this, and go for any of the other Lafe’s deodorants instead. As they work… Cruelty-free company, made in the US and regularly available there and in Canada, both in greener shops and in mainstream drugstores (London Drugs here). Decent prices, in line with regular deodorants.
INGREDIENTS: Ingredients: Glycerin (vegetable), purified water, sodium stearate (vegetable), sorbitol, dimethyl capramide (vegetable), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), certified organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) extract, certified organic Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) oil, Coriandrum Sativum (Coriander) oil, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) extract, certified organic Eugenia Caryophyllus (clove bud) essential oil

Lafe’s Deodorant Spray  rated 5 of 5 gingerrama on 1/31/2010 8:04:00 PM

I’ve been experimenting with non-aluminium deodorants over the last couple of months, and this is the winner.
Main active: potassium alum–the same mineral salt that makes crystal deodorants work. This spray is basically the salts dissolved in water and aloe vera. Lafe’s also have other formats of deodorant that work in the same way: a solid crystal (i.e. just the salts) and a roll-on (solution, like the spray: this one comes in several different scents). They all work well, I happened to find the spray the easiest and fastest to apply: the roll-on is second-easiest and more expensive, the crystal fiddliest and slowest, but the cheapest as it should last for a good year.
Comparable deodorants: haven’t found another spray, though Kiss My Face has a nice Liquid Rock roll-on (potassium alum again) that’s very like Lafe’s roll-on. There are various other solid crystal deodorants on the market. While some people have had success with other natural deodorants–based on kaolin, lichen, bicarbonate of soda, sage, plus various herbs and essential oils to mask smell–I haven’t: I found that at best they covered up one odour with another that was stronger. Makes sense, as they’ve only had a limited effect on the root cause, bacteria feeding on and breaking down sweat. How to tell: scent somewhere between sour milk and cheese.
The potassium alum-based deodorants, however, do deal with the bacterial issue: as does zinc oxide.
Tip: ensure armpits are clean and dry (tends to work best on shaved pits); first apply some zinc oxide cream (diaper rash cream, that sort of thing), then the deodorant. Pat it into the skin and allow to dry. I’ll often add a top later of powder (Burt’s Bees baby dusting powder: talc-free, contains corn starch, kaolin clay, and bicarbonate of soda as the deodorizing active ingredients). No smell at end of the day.
The Lafe’s spray comes in slightly different formats: there’s an unscented version (currently using: available in 4 oz and 8 oz), a lavender-scented one, and a pricier mother-to-be one that’s basically the unscented version in a BPA-free bottle (though Lafe’s also say all their bottles are baby-safe; and as it’s a simple spray bottle we’re talking about, if you’re fussy about containers, just decant the stuff yourself…). Prices vary: CAD 5 or so for the 4 oz, 7-8 for the 8 oz, about 13-14 for the maternal one. Cheaper than many other “green” deodorants out there, comparable prices to the mainstream ones, and Lafe’s products are available both in health-food stores and some drugstores (London Drugs for ex.). Cruelty-free and so on.
INGREDIENTS: standard version: Purified water (aqua), potassium alum (mineral salts), certified organic Aloe Barbadensis. The lavender one has the same ingredients plus lavender.The mother-to-be: Purified water (aqua), certified organic Aloe barbadensis (Aloe Vera) extract, Potassium alum (mineral salts).

Burt’s Bees – Baby Bee Dusting Powder  rated 5 of 5 gingerrama on 7/6/2009 7:55:00 PM

UPDATE (2010-01): Using this fairly frequently on the armpits: on top of zinc oxide cream and a potassium alum-based “mineral salts” deodorant (Lafe’s spray). Works splendidly for odour control and sweat absorption, without irritation or aluminium chloride etc. (2011-07) I’ve usually been OK with the scent (have lavender issues), sometimes sets off sneezes though. Currently using Avalon Organics cornstarch powder instead (just chamomile and calendula on the scent front).
Well, even in Ireland it’s been warm enough to be wearing frocks (without woolly tights underneath and layers on top) and for thighs to be chafing with the heat. I know, cycling shorts and Victorian bloomers underneath are an alternative solution, but they do look a bit obvious under slinkier dresses. So it’s back to my favourite body powder, that had previously taken me through several sweltering New Jersey summers.
No talc. Principally cornstarch, baking soda, and clay. All good stuff against sweat and chafing. It also smells delicious: the same scent as the Buttermilk baby lotion, milky with some caramel, apricot, and vanilla; not unlike fresh-baked French apricot tart crossed with warmed milk; a comforting smell, and definitely neither cloyingly over-sweet nor one of those artificial horrors. Easy to apply, nice fine grain, and does what it’s supposed to. Cheaper than any other non-talc powder with similar composition that’s to be found in Europe. Not the very cheapest in the US, but one of the more reasonable health-food-store ones, and readily available. The only powders with finer textures I’d found were rice-starch and silk-powder based, a lot more expensive (ex. the very nice Dr.Hauschka one), and not as functionally effective.
I haven’t used this in hair or on face or anything else, so can’t comment there. But it does do what it says on the tin. Using it on thighs, lower back, and soles of feet; plus armpits (on top of deodorant) on warmer days. Recommended.
Costs around USD/EUR 8.50 ish, GBP 7.50 for 127.6 g/4 oz. The container looks like the picture here – also comes/came in a powder-puff extravaganza (not seen for a while) that’s pricier and not as good, and (North America only, I think) a 212 g/7.5 oz version. No animal testing, lots of vaunting of percentage of organic-ness, and some very silly advertising that triggered hackle-raising and growling – but it would be unfair to knock lippies off for that, as an irrelevance to how well this stuff does its job. Owned by Clorox*.
INGREDIENTS: zea mays (corn) starch, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), kaolin (French white clay), bentonite (natural clay), powdered rosa damascena (rose) buds, powdered commiphora myrrha (myrrh), powdered ulmus fulva (slippery elm) bark, fragrance
*(ahem), though according to the company website: “You can keep counting on Burt’s Bees in the ways you always have. We will always stay steadfast behind our values and commitment to making the best natural personal care products with the most environmentally sensitive packaging and nature-safe manufacturing processes. And, above all, we’ll continue on with our social mission to make people’s lives better every day, naturally. […] We remain true to our mission. We take our philosophy of The Greater Good very seriously, both as a company and as individuals.”

Fragrances -L’Occitane – The Vert – Green Tea  rated 5 of 5 gingerrama on 10/18/2007 10:17:00 AM

Lovely, green, summery. Very light and works well in hot weather; refreshing both in humid and dry heat. Also comes in a good little solid tin. It has a similar effect on the skin as fragrant iced tea to the over-heated palate. Little sweetness at all: purely verdant, and without a hint of bitterness.
L’Occitane also produces variations on this, I haven’t worked out how far these are seasonal and which are, on the contrary, permanent. There’s one with mint that’s extra-cooling in extreme hot weather, and a real beauty with jasmine. Alas they don’t come in the lovely little tin too.
Comes in 100 ml EDT, 20 ml travel-size (brilliant, and great for trying it out), and the glorious solid-in-a-tin. There’s also assorted lotions and potions for luxuriating in the bath, an excellent long-lasting scented candle, and room-fragrance (also, as with the Eau des Quatre Reines, excellent to spritz on clothes and freshen them up after a night out or, indeed, a hot sweaty day; or to use on laundry; etc.).
Just thinking about this perfume makes me miss summer. Not that we had much summer, here in Ireland. I used this in the US in *real* summers. Even the non-minty version makes me think of iced tea, mint juleps (and properly cool cocktails), porches, admiring the steaming tarmac from a comfortable distance, having one’s sweaty feet up, and the joys of wearing a very large sunhat without fear of public inappropriateness.
UPDATE: (and now in Canada) back to this due to skin irritation from alcohol (in my other usual spray-perfumes). Some might say that sucks. But I barely resent being “stuck” with alcohol-free perfume solids, as the Green Tea is such a delight. So now there’s a proliferation of tins: at home, in The Bag, at work.

Clarins – Eau Dynamisante Doux Deodorant  rated 5 of 5 gingerrama on 10/18/2007 10:04:00 AM

The poor man’s Eau Dynamisante; or a lighter version for summer.
Delightful fresh scent, a pleasant and modern take on the good old-fashioned classic cologne. Not old men, old spice, and 4711. Rather, we’re talking the classicism of Creed, Floris, Acqua di Parma, Santa Maria Novella, or (the very underestimated) Roger & Gallet. But fresher. Citrus, wood, spice, greenery. Works well on hormone-temperamental skin, the one perfume I found that stayed constant throughout spells of skin “going sweet.” Some people find this works better on them in some seasons rather than others; and some prefer it as a spring-summer scent.
Do try before you buy, and keep sniffing at it for several hours (ideally, the whole day) before making any decisions: this smells very different on different people, also settling differently after initial application – i.e. what you first smell may bear little relation to this half an hour or two hours later. At least – so I gather – you’ll know quite definitely if this is “you” or not. No half measures.
This lasts very well. Can be layered to even greater satisfaction using at least the matching body oil. The shower gel was lovely (but kept disappearing from shops? haven’t bought it in ages), the moisturiser pleasant but overpriced for what it was: I got much the same effect by mixing an unperfumed body lotion with the Dynamisante oil. All the products are supposed to be beneficial. As with many Clarins products, there’s a lot of elegant hot air of a pseudo-scientific nature, crossed with Paris-chic environmentalism. To be fair, some of the claims are a little dated, and were certainly revolutionary at the time of this product’s launch (1980s? 70s? ages ago, anyway). Going beyond fairness and into praise, it’s one of the less irritating scents out there – on one’s own person, and with respect to others. Also, it’s supposed to be unisex and indeed suits many men too. And it’s one of these scents that many men seem to like. And, indeed, other women. And both in a non-sexual way. The gist of that seems to be that if Dynamisante “sits” right on you, it seems to exude comfort, stability, and friendliness.
In a plastic spray bottle. Lasts quite a long time.

Skincare – Body -Clarins – Eau Dynamisante Satin Finish Body Oil  rated 5 of 5 gingerrama on 10/18/2007 10:00:00 AM

Delightful fresh scent, a pleasant and modern take on the good old-fashioned classic cologne. Not old men, old spice, and 4711. Rather, we’re talking the classicism of Creed, Floris, Acqua di Parma, Santa Maria Novella, or (the very underestimated) Roger & Gallet. But fresher. Citrus, wood, spice, greenery. Works well on hormone-temperamental skin, the one perfume I found that stayed constant throughout spells of skin “going sweet.” Some people find this works better on them in some seasons rather than others; and some prefer it as a spring-summer scent.
Do try before you buy, and keep sniffing at it for several hours (ideally, the whole day) before making any decisions: this smells very different on different people, also settling differently after initial application – i.e. what you first smell may bear little relation to this half an hour or two hours later. At least – so I gather – you’ll know quite definitely if this is “you” or not. No half measures. Having said that, the oil sinks into the skin than the full-on perfume and has a slightly different smell – greener? – and can be well matched with the deodorant instead, for a lighter effect. Good for summer.
This lasts very well. Great for layering with the various matching products. The moisturiser pleasant but overpriced for what it was: I got much the same effect by mixing an unperfumed body lotion with the Dynamisante oil. All the products are supposed to be beneficial. As with many Clarins products, there’s a lot of elegant hot air of a pseudo-scientific nature, crossed with Paris-chic environmentalism. To be fair, some of the claims are a little dated, and were certainly revolutionary at the time of this product’s launch (1980s? 70s? ages ago, anyway). Going beyond fairness and into praise, it’s one of the less irritating scents out there – on one’s own person, and with respect to others. Also, it’s supposed to be unisex and indeed suits many men too. And it’s one of these scents that many men seem to like. And, indeed, other women. And both in a non-sexual way. The gist of that seems to be that if Dynamisante “sits” right on you, it seems to exude comfort, stability, and friendliness.
Comes in plastic spray bottle. No leakage, and lasts for ages.

Fragrances -Clarins – Eau Dynamisante  rated 5 of 5 gingerrama on 10/18/2007 9:55:00 AM

Delightful fresh scent, a pleasant and modern take on the good old-fashioned classic cologne. Not old men, old spice, and 4711. Rather, we’re talking the classicism of Creed, Floris, Acqua di Parma, Santa Maria Novella, or (the very underestimated) Roger & Gallet. But fresher. Citrus, wood, spice, greenery. Works well on hormone-temperamental skin, the one perfume I found that stayed constant throughout spells of skin “going sweet.” Some people find this works better on them in some seasons rather than others; and some prefer it as a spring-summer scent.
Do try before you buy, and keep sniffing at it for several hours (ideally, the whole day) before making any decisions: this smells very different on different people, also settling differently after initial application – i.e. what you first smell may bear little relation to this half an hour or two hours later. At least – so I gather – you’ll know quite definitely if this is “you” or not. No half measures.
This lasts very well. Can be layered to even greater satisfaction using at least the matching body oil and deodorant. The shower gel was lovely (but kept disappearing from shops? haven’t bought it in ages), the moisturiser pleasant but overpriced for what it was: I got much the same effect by mixing an unperfumed body lotion with the Dynamisante oil. All the products are supposed to be beneficial. As with many Clarins products, there’s a lot of elegant hot air of a pseudo-scientific nature, crossed with Paris-chic environmentalism. To be fair, some of the claims are a little dated, and were certainly revolutionary at the time of this product’s launch (1980s? 70s? ages ago, anyway). Going beyond fairness and into praise, it’s one of the less irritating scents out there – on one’s own person, and with respect to others. Also, it’s supposed to be unisex and indeed suits many men too. And it’s one of these scents that many men seem to like. And, indeed, other women. And both in a non-sexual way. The gist of that seems to be that if Dynamisante “sits” right on you, it seems to exude comfort, stability, and friendliness.
Comes in spray bottle and occasionally a larger non-spray. Go for the former. The latter is certainly cheaper by volume, but a lot evaporates and spills…

Fragrances -L’Occitane – Eau des 4 Reines  rated 4 of 5 gingerrama on 10/18/2007 9:38:00 AM

If you don’t like roses, you won’t like this. It’s nearly all roses, the four being Grasse, Bulgarian, Moroccan, and Turkish. There’s some blackberry leaf I think, but mostly roses. Other versions of L’Occitane rose scent appear from time to time. The summer ones with extra fruitiness are to be avoided, that is, if you like roses and dislike fruitiness.
Intense rose; the same good-quality roses in Stella and assorted other rose-based concoctions of much higher price. So if you’re a rose/Stella junkie, this might help the wallet. OK, it’s not quite Stella – that’s slightly iris? smells like Les Quatre Reines crossed with Cacharel’s Anais Anais?
I do have two quibbles. One is the bottles: very pretty pseudo-retro fin de siecle, but crappy tops, tiny flimsy bronze things. Two is that this doesn’t last that long, and needs to be refreshed every 2-3 hours or so. Fortunately, Les Quatre also comes in a small tin of solid perfume (mineral & vegetable oil & beeswax base), which is great for taking around with you for occasional touch-ups on pulse-points during the day. A tin is kept by this desk. There are various accompanying potions and lotions, not to mention a candle (it’s excellent, and very long-lasting), I vaguely recall a room-scent spray? All excellent for a sumptuous special-treat bathing experience etc. The room-spray might be handy for spritzing clothes after a night out, while they hang and air. Or just spraying around in a liberal, liberating, and non-domesticated fashion.
Oh yes. And ignore the silly story on the side. These four ladies are real historical persons from 13th c. north-eastern Provence – part of the Occitan region from which the company gets its name – and did become queens. But there’s no known link to the roses, which have been used – independently and in various combinations – in perfume for a much longer time, and well beyond the confines of this region. I nearly knocked another lippie off for this silliness. No need, no excuse.
Two sizes of bottle are available. The smaller one (20ml/0.68 fl.oz) is perfect for travel or handbag, and not too expensive a way of trying this out. L’Occitane also do a similar mini-version + solid-in-tin of some of their other perfumes: notably The Vert and Ambre.

Lotions/ Creams -Origins – Ginger Body Gloss  rated 5 of 5 gingerrama on 10/18/2007 9:21:00 AM

Sprayable jojoba-based oil with lovely ginger scent, with a slight citrus undertone. Also some more spiciness – cardamom, coriander – which you don’t really get in the perfume proper. The matching products in this set are very pleasant, if you like the scent, and layering works particularly well with the Essence + the Gloss, making the scent last longer. It will need refreshing at the end of the day, though. The bathing products are fantastic for an indulgent treat (i.e. float + souffle). An interesting effect can also be obtained by using the Gloss and a rose-based scent at the same time.
Probably not very sophisticated, but I’m not very sophisticated on smells, and tend towards things that smell of foods I like. And other easily distinguishable natural things (flowers, grass after it’s been cut, rain on leaves). The Essence is sharp but mellow, not at all sweet. Causes very few allergic reactions in people (inc. wearer), and is utterly unlike those cloying clouds that assault one in elevators and induce nausea and the wrong sort of dizziness. Can, therefore, be worn safely in public, that is, it is safe for the public around you… And many men seem to like it, finding it at the very least nice and comforting, at the most sniffing you frequently and borrowing it. Indeed, this works well as a man-scent too.
I’ve found the oil to be best applied after the shower, on damp skin, immediately after moisturizing (be that lotion and/or oil, depending on dryiness of skin on the day). This will not substitute as a body moisturizer, unless your skin is not too dry. Sinks in well. Two neat tricks:
(1) use on armpits before using deodorant (an unscented one here);
(2) spray a little on fingertips, rub together, and apply to back of neck and into ends of hair.

Fragrances -Origins – Ginger Essence  rated 5 of 5 gingerrama on 10/18/2007 9:14:00 AM

Lovely ginger scent, with a slight citrus undertone. One on the mood-dependent rotation. The matching products are very pleasant too, if you like the scent, and layering works particularly well with the Essence + the Gloss, making the scent last longer. It will need refreshing at the end of the day, though. An interesting effect can also be obtained by using this and a rose-based scent at the same time.
Probably not very sophisticated, but I’m not very sophisticated on smells, and tend towards things that smell of foods I like. And other easily distinguishable natural things (flowers, grass after it’s been cut, rain on leaves). The Essence is sharp but mellow, not at all sweet. Causes very few allergic reactions in people (inc. wearer), and is utterly unlike those cloying clouds that assault one in elevators and induce nausea and the wrong sort of dizziness. Can, therefore, be worn safely in public, that is, it is safe for the public around you… And many men seem to like it, finding it at the very least nice and comforting, at the most sniffing you frequently and borrowing it. Indeed, this works well as a man-scent too.

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