Ever since my health issues a few years back, I've gone off conventional antiperspirants and deodorants. The antiperspirant/deodorant people assure me there's nothing to worry about, that a link between aluminum and breast cancer has never been proven. My doctors concur. To them I say this: Why wait for the evidence to surface? Why not be proactive? Better to be safe than smelly sorry.
Still, it was a ballsy move on my part. I don't want to stink up the joint any more than you do. My mom suggested using one of those deodorant "crystals." A crystal? Really? I'm not trusting my personal aroma to any mystical forces, geological or otherwise. But it turns out the crystal is actually rooted in science. The smooth quartz-like rock is made of mineral salts that, when moistened with tap water, are transferred to your skin and dissuade foul-smelling bacteria from taking up residence there. Bacteria don't like salt, which is why it was such a useful food preservative before refrigeration (e.g., salt cod).
I was still skeptical. Why would it be that easy? But guess what? That shit works! It works!!! I mean, the salts don't prevent you from sweating—your body was designed to do that—but you don't stink. At least not for 24 hours, give or take. In fact, I happily used the crystal for two whole years. That's how long my $5 crystal lasted before it cracked down the middle and threatened to cut a bitch. And then? Then I tried the spray version and developed a horrible rash. Poison ivy times three. Maybe the concentration of salts in the spray is different? Anyway, now I'm allergic to both versions. I had to stop using the stuff. Total bummer. (If you have sensitive skin, I recommend just sticking with the rock version.)
I was at a crossroads. I didn't want to go back to the aluminum-laced stuff, but the general consensus seemed to be that the other natural, aluminum-free deodorants on supermarket shelves work about as well as nothing at all. I can go without deodorant in the winter, maybe, if you don't stress me out too much, but not in the heat of summer and certainly not on Zumba day. Maybe you don't care if people are dropping like flies as you pass by, but I do, damnit. I do!
So I made the rounds of the hippy blogs describing all manner of homemade deodorants I will never make, with success rates that varied wildly. I scanned the comment sections, taking notes and prioritizing the experiences of rash-prone people and those who didn't sound too crazy. This is what I came up with:
Mix four parts cornstarch or arrowroot with one part baking soda. Rub a light film of organic coconut oil on your underarms, then dust a little of the powdered mixture all up in there. Don't cake it on, just dab enough to keep the oil from feeling sticky.
That's it! You smell nice and faintly coconutty all day long! I keep the powdered mix in a clean sock that long ago lost its match, give it a few whacks under each arm like a powder puff, and store it in a little jar. So far, no rash. It's been working for me for months now, even on Zumba day. Granted, I haven't tried it out in a substitute-teaching situation—the ultimate test—but you'll have to wait until my book is done for that report (FYI: there will be no reports).
I will concede that coconut oil can be pricey, but then again, so is conventional deodorant. By weight, I bet coconut oil is cheaper. Best of all, we're talking miniscule amounts of natural, food-grade stuff. I can't imagine that it's bad for you. Nevertheless, I'm sure I'll contract some weird form of coconut poisoning eventually. Is there a such thing as coconut poisoning? If there is, I'll be sure to let you know. But I just wanted to share my discovery in case you were headed down a similar path yourself. If you have other ideas and experiences, do tell.