Spring is here and the days are getting warmer. Good news. But for many of us it brings with it some very real problems. Sweat. Yes, for many of us still looking for the perfect remedy for stained armpits and that au so naturale aroma that comes with it. Well I think I may just have found the answer.
I recently read an article (Google it, you'll find plenty more) that made me try a different tact. Nothing. Yes, nothing. Seems the body likes to maintain equilibrium and the more you destabilise that balance the harder it works to fight you. 24/48 hour antiperspirants, manly deodorants do nothing but put a veneer of chemicals over the smell that must be smelt. Your skin is the largest organ of the body and it works hard to protect us from the elements while maintaining suppleness and supporting bacteria that shield us from airborne pathogens. For this it needs natural oils that we work tirelessly to eradicate.
The reason that this resonated so much with me is because it is not an entirely new idea. In my 20s, I had long hair. My hair is quite curly and as a result whenever I washed it my hair became dry and frizzy. I tried gentle shampoos, conditioners, I even tried olive oil but the result was always the same, unmanageable frizzy hair. Obviously the solution would be found in the right product. There are products that save us from all our human flaws and there would be one for this too. A simple transaction at the supermarket or body shop would surely fix this one and my hair, like so many other problems would be cured.
Then, I had a talk with a Norwegian girl with beautiful platinum hair. She told me that she hadn’t used shampoo for years and my reaction was probably similar to your right now. But, she did not look like a vagrant or a patchouli-smelling BoHo. I tried it and have used shampoo a hand-full of times since. The first month was hard, my hair went into withdrawal. Greasy and lank. I washed it everyday in the shower with plain water but kept soaps away. I have never looked back. Even using gels and styling products was no problem, they just wash out with water leaving the hair in a natural state of equilibrium. My scalp is healthy and dandruff-free.
So, when I read that the same could work with the toxic cesspits that are my armpits I ditched the expensive fragrant shower gels in favour of a simple olive-oil soap from the supermarket for less than 50c a bar and completely ditched the antiperspirants and deodorants. Antiperspirants contain aluminium chloride (aluminium and bleach), aluminium oxide (aluminium rust) or aluminium sulfate, you get the picture. Metal which blocks the glands to stop the nasty stuff getting out (also linked to breast cancer). in fact, the wife has found lumps before that at her annual checkups have been dismissed as blocked pores caused by antiperspirants. Deodorants contain antibacterials which kill the natural friendly bacteria which helps the skin protect us from airborne pathogens. The result is that the skin, the body’s largest organ, goes into defence mode and works harder to cool itself and protect us from the world by producing more stinky bacteria. Result, more sweat, more smell.
I have been doing this for just over three weeks now and have already noticed a marked reduction in sweat and almost no smell at all. In fact, a couple of people have remarked on how I (don’t) smell and asked what I use.
Now, the other part of the study recommends showering less. There I draw the line, even if it is really eco-warrior. I enjoy my steamy winter showers and my invigoratingly icy showers in the hot Greek summer. I will not give them up for the penguins or anyone else. The waste of drinkable water could just as easily be reduced by buying less bottled water. But, I don’t try to soap myself up like a snowman. I concentrate just on my stinky bits and I don’t have that tight feeling anymore like my birthday suit shrunk in the wash.
I have had to throw out so many shirts and my favourite Fred Perrys due to pits crusty with aluminium deposits. Every year we spend fortunes fighting the foulness that springs from every pore on those balmy summer days while we are trying to look cool. But when it doesn’t work, we do more of the same. More showers, more deodorant, more powerful antiperspirant, more, more, more.
Sometimes the answers are not to be found in the relentless pursuit of more of the same but in starting with an entirely new slate. Don’t try to think outside the box, rub the damn box out and get lost. You never know what you might find.