“Ladies don’t sweat, they perspire.”
My fourth-grade teacher had sent the boys into the hall and was schooling the girls of her class on deodorant best practices. In the last few months, the classroom had gotten decidedly smellier with every passing day. The stench was especially notable after the hour-long lunch break when our class played soccer under the streaming California sun.
I’ll never forget her explaining exactly what was happening to the 20 sets of 11-year-old armpits in the room. “Puberty,” she said. “Antiperspirant,” she pleaded. Teen Spirit, Dove, Secret. And then that infamous quote that I’ll never forget, “Ladies don’t sweat, they perspire.”
She meant well, but contrary to societal belief, women do sweat. Sometimes a lot. And we also — sometimes, most of the time — smell, despite our best efforts at masking our natural scent. It’s a funny double standard: A sweaty, tang-smelling man exemplifies hard work and strength. But a woman with any whiff of B.O. is easily assumed as unkempt and un-groomed.
There’s a lot of shame around the way we as people smell. So much, in fact, that an 18-billion dollar deodorant industry has shot up around our embarrassment. A whopping 95 percent of people wear something like antiperspirant or deodorant daily and have been since puberty.
But lately, the zeitgeist has eschewed conventional, chemical-laden products (like good ol’ Teen Spirit) and turned its attention to natural and organic skin care products. Yes, Dove is still the best-selling deodorant on the market, but consumers are looking for more holistic options for their armpit needs. In fact, Primal Pit Paste, an all-natural deodorant made with baking soda, is on the top-five list under the deodorant category on Amazon.
It’s a funny double standard: A sweaty, tang-smelling man exemplifies hard work and strength. But a woman with any whiff of B.O. is easily assumed as unkempt and un-groomed.
That’s great news for our overall health, but there’s one big problem: Years of using traditional deodorant with hormone-disrupting chemicals can result in a pretty potent stank — one that no natural deodorant can compete with. Studies have shown that traditional chemical deodorant messes with the natural microbiome of your underarms, which causes bacteria to overproduce and make you smell even worse when you stop swabbing your pits with chemicals.
If you’re thinking about switching over to an organic non-stink option, but are worried about break-through odor, you need an armpit detox. Stay with me, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Think about it: You cleanse your internal organs with juices, diets and exercise. You detoxify your facial skin with exfoliants, cleansers and masks. So why wouldn’t those pits — that have been exposed to a whole lot of sticky, gunky product for most of your life — need a little spring cleaning, too?
The good news is that this armpit detox is incredibly easy; no juicing or sauna sessions required. All you need are two ingredients, a little bit of time and the patience to hold your arms above your head until the pit paste dries and you’re good!
The below mask relies on bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar to do the heavy lifting. Bentonite clay is made of aged volcanic ash and its unique composition actually has the ability to absorb toxins. (It’s common to find bentonite clay in purifying face masks.)
Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, is the ultimate multi-tasking pantry ingredient. High-quality ACV contains “the Mother,” a tangled mass of protein, enzymes and probiotic bacteria that give ACV antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. ACV kills the nasty bacteria in your pits, while bentonite clay pulls the impurities from your pores.
Use this mask daily until you notice your scent diminish; we recommend every day for a week for best results.
DIY Armpit Detox
1 tablespoon bentonite clay
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1. Mix together clay and ACV until a paste forms.
2. Spread a thin layer of the mix onto armpit.
3. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
Now that you’ve totally un-stunk your pits, it’s time to invest in a natural deodorant that’ll keep you feeling fresh and clean. Avoid products that contain ingredients like aluminum, formaldehyde, and propylene glycol; instead, shop for formulas that use things like baking soda, essential oils and witch hazel, which all naturally fight bacterial growth and stink!
Do you have a natural deodorant you love? Share in the comments!
Images via Tess Comrie