By Laurie Stone, L.Ac.
You want me to detox what? Are you kidding?
Okay, yes, we are really going to have a talk about armpits. A.k.a. axilla, underarms, pits, whatever you want to call that area.
About 4+ years ago, I went on my “I’m finally going to get rid of all the toxins in my house” mission. Removing toxic products from your home and body doesn’t just have an eco-friendly, hippy-dippy, hug-a-tree kind of importance.
It’s an ohmygoodness “chronic diseases like autoimmune disorders, cancers, major depression, major anxiety, asthma, allergies, skin diseases and gut disorders are on the rise” kind of mission critical importance.
Being a busy bee and tight on cash at the time, I wasn’t prepared to overhaul everything overnight. So my plan of attack was to replace each item one by one as we finished it up….
Shampoo bottle finished – find a better, non-toxic substitute.
Body wash finished – find a better one.
Hand lotion finished – find a better one.
(… you get the idea)
I started with ewg.org/skindeep to look at toxicity levels of ingredients and to find products that are in the green safety-wise. And Google came in handy – there are TONS of ideas and recipes on the internet. And now I have the entire doTERRA body product line to choose from which makes it so much easier.
Granted some ideas took a few different trials, but eventually I landed on products that agreed with my hair and skin.
But the one body product that has kept eluding me, my white whale, so to speak, is natural deodorant.
I researched the heck out of deodorants at the time. I knew more about the pH of an armpit than I care to admit. Do you want more acidity or more alkaline? Which types of bacteria grow in low pH vs high pH? Which bacteria causes the most smell?
I thought I landed on a solution. I tried lemons. Straight up lemon slices from the real fruit. How easy and natural is that?! It was soooooo amazing.
For four days.
The first morning I wiped a slice of lemon under both arms and let them air dry. And I went a full 48 hours, two full, busy days of work, without a single hint of any body odor! Amazing! You bet I was going to do that again on the third day.
But by the fourth, I had a painful acidic burn on both sides. It looked almost like a sunburn except it was brown instead of red, but it peeled off the same way. It healed quickly, but clearly lemons were not the way to go. Learn from me – don’t do this!
So I again went on the hunt and started ordering different natural deodorants – I probably tried 10 different kinds. Some were just weird feeling, so I didn’t use those again. Some were crumbly, some were goopy. Others smelled fine and had an okay texture.
But guess what? I got chemical burns again! I compared ingredients and realized that I am sensitive to baking soda. As are a lot of other people, I have since discovered.
The irony is that baking soda is alkaline with a pH of 9 and lemon juice is acidic with a pH of 2 – and BOTH gave me the exact same reaction.
Disgruntled, I gave up for awhile. Years actually. It wasn’t until last year that I decided to try again.
doTERRA has a lovely-smelling deodorant using the Balance blend that I really, really wanted to use and I thought maybe my I can handle the baking soda now. What I discovered is that I can do two days max. By the third day, I’m starting to head toward irritation again (more on this in a minute).
So I worked out a system where I alternated days switching off between regular store antiperspirant one day and doTERRA Balance deodorant. I figured for a third to a half as often at least I’m not accumulating more toxic aluminum.
Aluminum is toxic.
Aluminum is what they put into antiperspirants to block your sweat glands and make you not sweat. And did I mention it’s toxic?
I offer a mineral hair analysis at the clinic and in the five years I have been doing them, I have yet to run into someone who doesn’t have aluminum showing up in their toxic metals results. Down below I have some links to research on aluminum and its possible links to health issues.
So now what do I do?
In comes doTERRA’s new Douglas Fir/Wild Orange Gentle Formula deodorant. This product is a sensitive skin formula using tapioca and magnesium in place of baking soda.
I just got it in so I am starting my own personal experiment! I can’t tell you yet the ending of the story, but I’m excited to see what happens and I will report back to you.
In the meantime, there are a few things I want to make sure you know….
Antiperspirants and deodorants are not the same thing.
You will sweat with a deodorant. Your body is SUPPOSED to sweat. I know no one likes to sweat except maybe at the gym when they can have an awesome shower afterwards. But you’re supposed to.
Sweat is good. Stink is not.
Your skin is your largest organ of elimination. It gets rid of so many things your body doesn’t want. And when we block that, we keep toxins in, letting them roam around reeking havoc.
It might take up to a few weeks to detox your armpits.
How many decades have you been shutting the pores of your underarm skin with aluminum-based antiperspirants? It might take some time to work through that. It should mostly be the first few days, maybe a week, and maybe up to two or three weeks.
And this goes for those who tend to sweat heavily or frequently – I have talked to a number of people who noticed more sweating and more odor in the beginning, but felt that it tapered off to a more comfortable level of sweat and little to no stink after the transition period.
So be prepared. No matter if you’re at home or at work, find a way to discreetly wash your underarms halfway through the day – even if it’s just with a damp paper towel – and then reapply the deodorant if needed. Have an extra shirt in your car or at work in case you have an extra-sweaty day and would feel comfortable with a quick change.
Use doTERRA’s Mud Mask.
One of my favorite hacks to help it along is to use doTERRA’s Spa Detoxifying Mud Mask.
Yes, there it is. I want you to mud mask your armpits. Just like you would do for your face.
This is something I’ve been doing for the past year because I figured it would help with balancing out the fact that I’m still partly using an antiperspirant.
The easiest thing is to apply a thin layer to your underarms for about 5 to 10 minutes before hopping in the shower. Then rinse off.
And while I’m not about to show you a picture of my underarms, I will tell you that the skin of my underarms looks much healthier since I started using the mud mask.
FYI, if you are new to doTERRA you can get 25% off your products if you sign up for a wholesale membership. Click here to get the Douglas Fir/Greek Orange Sensitive Skin Natural Deodorant plus the Spa Mud Mask along with your membership.
A chemical burn is not the same as a detox reaction skin irritation.
I’ve had some die-hard natural deodorant advocates tell me that my reaction was nothing more than a detox reaction and that I should keep going with the baking soda deodorants.
That is not true, I was definitely burned, and it’s important to know your body and know the difference.
You might get a little itchy or a little redness when you first start with any natural deodorant. It’s hard to tell at that stage – it could be simply a detox reaction (especially if you have an overburdened liver or difficulty eliminating regularly) or it could be the start of something worse.
If it’s a mild detox reaction, it’s up to you if you want to continue but if you do, then slow down the transition – let the irritation heal before continuing, try alternating days, and try a sensitive skin formula like the new Fir/Orange, etc.
Also, check your eating by reducing high inflammatory foods like wheat-based ingredients, sugar, junk food, artificial colors and flavors; add more veggies; eat smaller portions of meat, etc. These foods create more that you have to clear out of your body in some way, creating body odor.
However, if you are getting a chemical burn like I do with baking soda, then stop the product. That is skin damage. You’ll simply have to switch and try something different.
It’s worth trying to get off of antiperspirants. Your body will thank you.
I promise I will do a follow-up on this post in a few weeks after I’ve had time to test out the new sensitive formula. If you try it along with me, send me a message and let me know how it works for you!
*P.S. Research on Aluminum
For my research-loving friends, here are three studies that investigate the effect of aluminum and its uptake in the body, especially in the local area of the chest and axillary lymph nodes.
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