the deodowich

Staying fresh all day. And comfortable. The better to dedicate oneself to the gentle art of being fresh.

I used to use proper antiperspirant deodorants: my mainstays were (cruelty-free) Almay and Mitchum unscented solids; last one used was the Mitchum SmartSolid, either the men’s or the women’s one, whichever was cheaper at the time. I now use non-antiperspirant deodorants. I’ve seen enough research on aluminium chlorohydrex etc. to be cautious about it. I’m not usually one to avoid something just because people have been avoiding it, or because the jury’s out, or there’s a data gap, or the merest whiff of mortal peril about it. In this case, though, I’m going for caution.

***RANT ALERT***

Not as cautious (and scientifically stupid) as this:

Stop Using ‘Natural’ Deodorants Until You Read This! (Dr Mercola)

Some of the most popular natural deodorants are the “crystal” deodorant stones and sprays. But most people don’t know that these crystal deodorant products contain aluminum.

The crystal deodorant stones are made from alum. The most widely used form of alum used in the personal care industry is potassium alum. The full chemical name of potassium alum is potassium aluminum sulfate.

The reason that most people try to avoid aluminum in deodorant is because of its possible link to Alzheimer’s disease. There is some strong evidence of a link — for instance, in 1988 a truck driver accidentally dumped 20 tons of aluminum sulfate in to a town’s drinking water.

Now, over 20 years later, they are finding a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s in the people of this town.

Incidentally, the article linked below notes that, “many doctors such as popular web guru and natural health expert Dr. Mercola suggest avoiding aluminum as much as possible.”

Let’s get this straight. Even though aluminum is widely distributed in the earth’s crust, it is NOT needed in ANY amounts in your body. All evidence to date points to aluminum as a poison that serves no beneficial role in your body and should be avoided.

Aluminum is widely recognized as a neurotoxin, which has been found in increased concentrations in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Unfortunately, if you use antiperspirants or some deodorants, you are most likely exposing yourself to aluminum.

Aluminum salts can account for 25 percent of the volume of some antiperspirants.

A review of the common sources of aluminum exposure for humans found that antiperspirant use can significantly increase the amount of aluminum absorbed by your body. According to the review, after a single underarm application of antiperspirant, about .012 percent of the aluminum may be absorbed.

Multiply this by one or more times a day for a lifetime and you can have a massive exposure to aluminum — a poison that is not meant to be in your body.

Antiperspirants work by clogging, closing, or blocking the pores that release sweat under your arms — with the active ingredient being aluminum. Not only does this block one of your body’s routes for detoxification (releasing toxins via your underarm sweat), but it raises concerns about where these metals are going once you roll them (or spray them) on.

Alzheimer’s disease is not the only reason to ditch your aluminum-containing antiperspirant and deodorant, as this metal has also been linked to cancer.

A 2006 study found that aluminum salts can mimic the hormone estrogen, and chemicals that imitate that hormone are known to increase breast cancer risk. Animal studies have also found that aluminum can cause cancer.

Given that antiperspirants are used on your armpits, the aluminum salt concentration is highest near your breast tissue. Further, when women shave under their arms it can result in a higher aluminum-salt absorption rate due to the damaged skin.

In a 2007 study published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, researchers tested breast samples from 17 breast-cancer patients who had undergone mastectomies. The women who used antiperspirants had deposits of aluminum in their outer breast tissue. Concentrations of aluminum were higher in the tissue closest to the underarm than in the central breast.

Aluminum is not normally found in the human body, so this study was a pretty clear sign that the metal was being absorbed from antiperspirant sprays and roll-ons.

It’s worth mentioning that deodorants are not the same thing as antiperspirants. Deodorants may actually be less problematic than antiperspirants, as they work by neutralizing the smell of your sweat and by antiseptic action against bacteria, but do not prevent sweating.

However, many deodorants also contain aluminum, along with chemicals called parabens, which have also been linked to breast cancer. So, you’re clearly better off avoiding both antiperspirants and deodorants.

“Crystal” deodorant stones are a popular natural deodorant alternative, often used by health-conscious shoppers looking to avoid the aluminum and other chemicals common in most antiperspirants and deodorants.

However, if you’re looking to avoid aluminum, crystal deodorants may not be your best choice.

While many claim to be aluminum-free, they are referring to aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride, aluminum hydroxybromide or aluminum zirconium.

These types of aluminum are widely used in antiperspirants and deodorants. The aluminum is taken into sweat ducts in the top layer of your skin where they act as a plug, stopping the flow of sweat to your skin’s surface.

There is evidence, however, that this aluminum is absorbed into your body where it may cause serious damage.

The aluminum in crystal deodorant stones is a different type of compound known as an alum, the most common form being potassium alum, also known as potassium aluminum sulfate.

Potassium Alum or Ammonium Alum are natural mineral salts made up of molecules that are too large to be absorbed by your skin. They form a protective layer on your skin that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. These deodorants are recommended by many cancer treatment centers.

But while this may be a better alternative to most antiperspirants and deodorants on the market, it is not completely aluminum-free.

On which (copy-pasted comment from your truly from way back whenever February 2010):

it’s a different chemical substance

While the tone of the article is not entirely neutral, Dr M isn’t being entirely irresponsible: though he should have said that the research looking at the presence of aluminium salts in excised tissue from breast-cancer patients and postmortem tissue from Alzheimers and cancer fatalities found neither straight-up aluminium (cos it goes through another chemical process before being laid down in tissue), nor the same compounds that had been originally used or consumed (dues to said process). Nor potassium alum, for that matter.

And research is still looking into some other important things: (1) relations of single cause and effect; (2) that relation being a necessary one; (3) interactions between items playing a part as causes, triggers, catalysts, etc.; (4) presence of these compounds (same is true of parabens) in other body tissues, and indeed in organs–so doing a full-body full-system analysis.

Note two things:
(1) ingesting aluminium compounds, ex. in tainted water, food, from working on hazardous disposal sites… all quite different from topical application (the skin is after all a semi-permeable barrier).
(2) different aluminium compounds applied to the skin act differently. Errm, forgive me for saying this, but we did this in compulsory basic science, 1st year secondary, so we’d have been 11 or 12. And more of same in later chemistry. But this is school-level stuff, not rocket science!!!

Avoiding all aluminium-containing compounds is at the same level of rationality as avoiding the dangerous “dihydrogen (mon)oxide” that’s tainting all our water supplies because it’s “chemically related to bleach” (famous, errm, internet incident of a few years back).

This is actually quite well said in the bit I’ve excerpted below. Though could have been more clear and explicit–but we don’t know how far this has been edited to fit with the intended overall message (i.e., “fear aluminium! avoid it! and greenies are out to poison you and steal all your money!”). If you read the article more fully, you’ll get to this section (which is not silly and scaremongering…):

“Crystal” deodorant stones are a popular natural deodorant alternative, often used by health-conscious shoppers looking to avoid the aluminum and other chemicals common in most antiperspirants and deodorants.

However, if you’re looking to avoid aluminum, crystal deodorants may not be your best choice.

While many claim to be aluminum-free, they are referring to aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride, aluminum hydroxybromide or aluminum zirconium.

These types of aluminum are widely used in antiperspirants and deodorants. The aluminum is taken into sweat ducts in the top layer of your skin where they act as a plug, stopping the flow of sweat to your skin’s surface.

There is evidence, however, that this aluminum is absorbed into your body where it may cause serious damage.

The aluminum in crystal deodorant stones is a different type of compound known as an alum, the most common form being potassium alum, also known as potassium aluminum sulfate.

Potassium Alum or Ammonium Alum are natural mineral salts made up of molecules that are too large to be absorbed by your skin. They form a protective layer on your skin that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. These deodorants are recommended by many cancer treatment centers.

But while this may be a better alternative to most antiperspirants and deodorants on the market, it is not completely aluminum-free.”

***RANT OVER, BACK TO USEFUL PRACTICAL STUFF***

Things known to have some deodorising properties, and worth looking out for in a deodorant:

  • potassium alum, a.k. mineral salts, the thing in “crystal rock” deodorants (be they plain rock or solutions of it). Note that this is chemically unrelated to alumin(i)um salts in antiperspirants.
  • bicarbonate of soda, a.k.a bicarb, baking soda: the plain old Arm & Hammer etc. kind. Also works well for deodorising refrigerators.
  • cornstarch
  • clay
  • sage
  • lichen
  • assorted mosses
  • and assorted things to cover odours and smell more fresh: herbs and spices such as coriander and sage; lemon and other citrus, lavender.
  • and zinc oxide to get rid of bacteria.

There’s a bunch of “greener” aluminium chlorohydrex etc.-free deodorants out there that smell nice enough–range of scents to suit all tastes–but that do exactly the same as any other scent does:

  • covers up one scent with another. Same goes for any of the other scented deos etc. on the market. Unless they actually have stuff in them that
  • stops sweating (=”antiperspirant”) by sitting on top of pores and blocking them–aluminium chlorohydrex or other aluminium salt based ones. Potassium alum (NB: different stuff) does act in a similar way, but the molecule is bigger and sits on top of skin: not “plugging” the pores and sweat ducts, nor risking going inside…
    and/or
  • kills of bacteria or stops them proliferating: bacteria eating and breaking down the sweat being the source of the smell; it smells a bit like sour milk/cheese because the resulting compound is related via lactic acid …ZnO and some copper salts act as anti-bacterial agents. Hence baby nappy/diaper rash cream or discared ZnO-based unusable Badgerlike sunscreens can be made useful.
    and/or
  • absorbs sweat: talc, corn starch, baking soda, and some lichens and mosses do this. Simply absorbing dampness.

I’ve tested out several “green” – and aluminium-free – deodorants.

THE RUNNERS-UP:

Simply cover up scent, and basically this is perfume of sorts – beware irritation from alcohol:

  • Weleda
  • Dr.Hauschka: the fresh is a gorgeous scent, though, and could happily be used as such
  • Neal’s Yard: mainly coriander and lemon.

Not good – start to smell by the early afternoon:

  • Jason stick
  • Kiss My Face other and older deodorants
  • Nature’s Gate stick
  • Tom’s of Maine – possibly the most useless deodorants I’ve ever used, alas
  • errm, and various others that were just based on bicarbonate of soda and various herbs. Might work for others, didn’t work for me.

Not bad, but still more smell (and including that slightly sour smell of sweat being decomposed by bacteria…) at the end of the day:

  • Lafe’s stick (I didn’t get the crystal: seems the same as the two above – the same salts in it – but less convenient to apply than the ready spray; have used the crystal ones in the past, and while they’re effective enough, a pain to apply)
  • Earth Science Liken unscented solid stick

Second best:

  • Lafe’s unscented roll-on – very similar ingredients to above: my dislike is that it’s more expensive, and I found the spray applied easier and dried faster. This is pure personal preference, the stuff works!
  • Kiss My Face Liquid Rock – similar ingredients, plus lichen. Ditto re preferred application method.

All  have pretty decent results. Applied around 6 or 7 a.m., followed by a fairly active day with a lot of moving around and by the evening, I still smell of the powder, with a slight hint of, well, human muskiness. In a nice way.

ALTERNATIVES

There’s lots of recipes online (and excellent ones on MUA) for DIY coconut-based cream deodorant, and several that have received great reviews on Etsy. Soapwalla for instance; but I can’t use it due to the specific essential oils in it.

My best results were from THE DEODOWICH© i.e. deodorant sandwich. Here’s how it goes:

  • keep armpits shaved smooth…

+ then layering

  • ONE: ZINC OXIDE CREAM: errm, basic baby nappy-rash variety, or else unusable Badgerlike sunscreens:
    Two caveats: (1) many will also have lanolin, (2) many will also have fragrance, usually lavender-based (often some combo of lavender, chamomile, calendula). Either or both of these may be issues depending on individual sensitivity, (1) an issue if you’re vegan and avoiding animal-derived ingredients (though it’s usually just a by-product of sheep-shearing, doesn’t involve death, unlike emu oil…), and (2) some people love the scenty stuff, I happen to be allergic to both chamomile and lavender, and there’s some evidence out there on lavender’s cytotoxicity and on hormone influence in infants.In granolemporia, there’s lots: Burt’s Bees, Weleda, etc.Given how much cheaper nappy-rash cream is than sunscreen, it makes a lot more sense to use the cheaper of the two. Unless you’re trying to get rid of the UV Naturals by using it up. %age wise, a higher one would be drying; but the only higher ones I’ve seen here where I am all have lanolin and/or lavender, so I haven’t bought or used them, so can’t comment. NB: it shouldn’t be rubbing off on clothes if you’re using at least a deodorant on top. I find the Lafe’s on top leaves no marks on clothes, but dusting-powder (aka talc minus talc) does, but easily brushed off.My personal favourite is A-Derma’s Dermalibour. It has no lanolin, also has copper salts, and can be used as a general anti-irritant cream including on zits/face breakouts. Cruelty-free and pretty ethical company but not super-green. I get their stuff from London Drugs here, also online pretty much everywhere.
  • TWO: CRYSTAL-ROCK SPRAY (water + potassium alum): the first one I used, and continued to use for ages, was Lafe’s.
    Same effect as applying their crystal rock, wetted: in that it is exactly the same stuff in a solution of water and aloe vera, but a lot easier to use than the solid hard rock. Lafe’s roll-ons are a similar composition, but I’m not interested in the scented ones, and at any rate they’re more expensive than the spray. Other than that it’s individual preference: some people dislike roller-balls, plain and simple. Lafe’s solid stick doesn’t contain potassium alum and isn’t as good.
  • THREE (once the deodorant is dry): DUSTING POWDER

Recent variation: can’t use aloe vera, or at least, not the form of it used in all the products I’ve used recently that contain it. So my previous mainstay, Lafe’s, is now out.

CURRENT DEODORISING METHOD

Using one of the plain potassium alum + water ones. These so far all have amazingly unattractive and/or extreme granola/Power Of Crystals imagery. This cues visual and aesthetic allergies, so I remove labels and relable with plain white address-labels, using a fine-tip black sharpie to write on DEODORANT. You know, in case I get the stuff mixed up with anything else in a spray bottle.

  • I apply the deodorant sandwich every morning
  • First, I apply and rub in the zinc oxide cream, rather than leaving a layer. I’m using zinc oxide cream as the first layer for a boring practical reason: it’s easier to do than after deodorant.
  • Then the crystal magic
  • I wait till that wet layer dries, then apply dusting powder: that fixes it and there’s no transfer to clothes. Often I don’t apply that layer at all: usually just in really hot swaty weather, when going to the gym, or if out running (helps chafing).
  • no staining of clothes
  • but if using dusting-powder (my top layer), I do usually get it on my clothes. Often my own handprints on own thighs and bum. Note that I do not feel myself up as a regular thing, especially first thing in the morning, but I do need to be careful about that sort of thing as my job involves the public (a.k.a. students).
    So check mirror, 360 degree view, before leaving home…

***BONUS RANT: THE EVILS OF TALC***

***RANT OVER***

Image at top: The Unemployed Philosophers’ Guild:

The Why and How of The Unemployed Philosophers Guild

There’s a bad joke: The engineer asks ‘how can I build that?’ the scientist asks ‘how does it work?’ and the philosopher asks ‘do you want fries with that?’  In all fairness to the McPhilosopher, he’s probably not referring to ontological French fries, but the 18th century thinker Jacob Fries.  Or maybe, post 9-11 he’s thinking about freedom.  Anyway, some people think unemployed philosophers are funny.  But why?  Was it funny when we philosophers gave you Democracy, Justice, Truth, Science, the analysis of intramundane social practices,  Freudian Slippers?

“What was that last one?” you’re asking.  How did that get slipped in there?  Let me tell you.

In your first philosophy class you’ll read about Thales, the first Greek to ask the big philosophical questions.  He’s famous for asking about the fundamental structure of the world (less famous for his answer: the world is water), but really it’s that other fact about Thales that makes him a favorite anecdote for philosophers.  Thales reportedly used his knowledge to predict a huge olive season, bought most of the olive presses in town and made gobs of money out of it. (The question is never answered as to how his philosophical thoughts led him to this conclusion, we’re left to surmise that maybe since the world was water it would rain a lot?)  Anyway, Thales stands out because he was not only the first western philosopher per se, he was also the first philosopher to actually make some money out of it, pro se.

Moving on, in the 19th century philosophy retreated to the university and became a strictly professional if not esoteric and silly affair.  (I mean is there any wisdom in the modalities of the apodictic proposition, let alone a job?) For decade upon decade philosophy searched in vain for its own purpose until late in the last century when it was declared dead (paradoxically, this was declared by philosophers).

Well, not everyone took those Cassandras to heart and out of the ashes like a phoenix rose the Unemployed Philosophers Guild.  Here in the Ivory Tower we haven’t yet discovered the first principles of Being (though we concur that the world is watery and pace the whole 20th century Anglo-philosophizing, not formalizable!), but we have discovered that people seem to really like the giants of our educations reduced to little finger puppets, mugs and witty jokes. (Alright, we really should leave Hegel alone, but oddly he sells!)  The Unemployed Philosophers Guild kills two birds with one stone:  We make people laugh and earn enough money to read Spinoza and raise some families.

Despite what you may think, we think deeply about the things we do and the objects we bring into this world. Personally, I tested the Kierkegaard finger puppet while reading Hegel’s Geisteswissenschaften.  (I knew Kierkegaard didn’t know shit about Hegel!)  David and Alison did temporal thought experiments while wearing relativity watches.  Subsequent to eating a “Will to Power Bar” Jay had the energy to continue his day after declaring “God is dead.”

Anyway, suffice it to say we’re proud to return philosophy to the days of Thales, when a philosopher could, with some crackpot ideas, make a living and make the world a better place. How do we do it?  We just do.

And what’s better, part of every purchase you make goes to philosophically profound causes.  The other part goes to extra gold plated faucets in the Ivory Tower bathrooms.

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