Amazing DIY Deodorant

The debate over deodorant and it’s links to cancer are just about as contentious as the great dairy debate. As yet “no conclusive research linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer” (see studies here and here). BUT do we really need to a scientific nod of approval to be concerned or should we occasionally just employ some good ol’ common sense?

Here is what we do know…

The active ingredient in deodorant (unless otherwise stated) is aluminium and they can also contain parabens.

  • Scientists have found that the aluminium content of breast tissue was significantly higher in the outer regions of the breast, in close proximity to the area where there would be the highest density of antiperspirant. A disproportionate amount of tumours occur in the upper outer quadrant of the breast which seems to support that this could be linked to aluminium-based antiperspirants. (read more)
  • Some research suggests that aluminum-based compounds may be absorbed through the skin and cause estrogen (hormonal) effects (that research is in here). Estrogen has the ability to promote the growth of breast cancer cells.
  • A 2004 study found parabens in 18 of 20 samples of tissue from human breast tumours (see here). These findings are not uncommon as you can see from this study or this one or this one!

So (for me) even though there is no categorical proof, I just don’t like the thought of rubbing aluminium, parabens and god knows whatever other chemicals in a sensitive region near my breasts and lymph nodes. I also don’t like the thought of a chemical blocking my pores especially when those pores are trying to excrete natural toxins from my body.

An Easy Solution

Room for argument? Maybe. But lets not forget that cigarettes were once marketed as the ‘perfect cure for a sore throat’. So if I can eliminate any risk whatsoever I am going to; which is why I love making my own deodorant! It is so simple, so cheap and bloody effective!!! With 3 ingredients (that are probably already in your cupboard) you can make a deodorant that will last all day, comes free of wasteful packaging, is super cheap and has no harmful chemicals in it. Here’s how…

Ingredients

  • Cornflour
  • Bicarb Soda (aka Baking Soda)
  • Coconut Oil
  • OPTIONAL – Essential Oil. I use Lavender and Lemon before!

‘Cornflour’ is much easier to say than ‘phthalate’!

Method

Mix equal amounts of cornflour and bicarb soda. Maybe start with 1/4Cup each.

Add 2-3 Tablespoons coconut oil to start with and mix the ingredients until you get the right consistency. You want it to be a malleable paste . Get your Goldilocks on – it shouldn’t be too wet or dry! (if your coconut oil is too solid, warm it slightly until it is gooier).

It is kinda like make scones!

It is really hard to show consistency in a photo (especially when your camera is broken) but this is the level of ‘moosh’ you are after…

If you want, add some smelly essential oils to get a more fragrant deo. I added a few drops of Lavender Oil to mine because I love it but even by itself the deodorant smells like coconut which is pretty yummy anyway!

NOTE: If you are pregnant some essential oils should not be used. For a full list see here.

How To Store

I store our deodorant in an old beauty container but you can use a jar or any thing with a lid really. Alternately, you could save your own deodorant container if you’ve got a wind-on one and pack your deodorant into there! Reuse is better than recycle after all.

I keep mine in my bathroom and it stays at a good consistency. That being said, coconut oil melts really quickly in warmer temperatures so if your bathroom heats up you may want to keep it in the fridge. That could actually be really soothing to apply in a hot summer!

If your deodorant gets too solid, place some warm water in a bowl and then put your container into the water for a few minutes. As I’ve just mentioned the coconut oil will react quickly and become soft and malleable.

Expiry – this stuff doesn’t go off. Use it as long as you’d like.

How To Apply

Scrape off some of the mix (I use my fingers but you can use a spoon or knife or whatever) and apply to your underarms with your fingertips. It may look powdery or seem like it would be sticky but once you massage it into your pits it is surprisingly dry and fresh feeling.

My Review

My husband and I have been using this since the Less Is More Festival back in February – so it has been tried and tested on an Australian summer – and amazingly it works! Actually, more than just ‘working’ it is the most effective deo either of us have ever used. It is not a antiperspirant but it 100% stops any odour. Neither of us have even had to reapply throughout the day! Other than my Raw Chocolate (see that here) this is my absolute favourite DIY discovery – 10 out of 10 Olives!!!

Looks almost good enough to eat!

If you get a taste for DIY beauty products you may also like these recipes that I have blogged about before…

Enjoy – and let me know how you go in the Comments!

DIY Avocado Hair Mask

While it may seem (and feel) a little odd to be mushing avocado into your lovely locks, it is actually a tried and tested beauty trick! Avocado’s are a very oily fruit and this oil actually forms a protective barrier on your hair which promotes elasticity… basically it makes your hair soft, flexible and hydrated. This nourishment also means that your hair is less susceptible to breakages and becoming dry – great for the other blondies out there!

I think the best part about it though is that you avoid using nasty chemicals that are found in your standard products, it’s cruelty free and reduces wasteful packaging. Also, a very common ingredient in your average hair products is Palm Oil which is incredibly damaging environmentally (read about that here).  So get ready to have a laugh and give this super simple beauty DIY a go!

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 3 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 drops of lavender or rosemary essential oil
  • A good sense of humour

Method

1. Mash avocado. Then add lavender and olive oil and mash again.

2. Apply to hair, focusing on the ends. If hair is still a little dry then put a put of olive oil on hands and run through.

Ewww… there is salad in my hair!

3. Leave on for 10 minutes. (Good time to do a face mask as well. Go on, do the full pamper thing… you deserve it!)

4. Then I just washed and combed (while in the shower) and left it to dry. My hair really felt conditioned and healthy. I think you’ll agree that the results were amazing…

Of course I am only kidding about the last picture but I definitely did feel the benefits of the treatment. It was so nice applying a mask to my hair and knowing that it was made of organic, natural ingredients rather than synthetics, parabens and artificial fragrances.

Are there any natural beauty secrets that you use? Would love to hear in the comments. 

How I Beat Anxiety Naturally

When you are pregnant it is quite amazing to watch your body morph into this out-of-proportion vessel and feel all the changes that experienced mums warn you about: a sore back, a pain down your thigh or a craving for chalk. What can be even more bizarre though are experiencing changes that you didn’t expect. For me that was finding a ‘cure’ for my Anxiety Disorder – an issue that has governed my life for close to 4 years now. It struck me as odd though considering impending parenthood is a fairly terrifying concept in itself. Surely I can’t be less stressed? So I examined the changes in my lifestyle since learning I was pregnant and BOOM – the solution was under my nose the whole time. What an idiot I have been.

Stress and Health

Stress is incredibly bad for our health and that was what really scared me about my Anxiety Disorder (see below) – I was permanently in ‘the red zone’. A study by Dr Bruce McEwen from the Rockefeller University shows that ‘chronic stress’ lowers the immune system and damages bones, organs and brain cells. Stressed bodies release cortisol and adrenaline – that explains my high blood pressure and racing heart – and cause us to age quicker (hear him talking about his study here).

From Natalie Shell.com

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety is a normal feeling until it becomes a persistent state – when high anxiety, extreme discomfort and tension become the norm. Well-known disorders include Agoraphobia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) but there are loads of different types – you can click here to see a handy guide provided by the Australian Government.

My Experience

I had Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) which is defined as an excessive, uncontrollable, and unrealistic worry about everyday things, such as health, family, friends, money, or career. I would live in constant fear of panic attacks which would occur completely randomly – on public transport, before social occasions, in work meetings or while I was just sitting around minding my own business. Panic Attacks are debilitating and can lead to all sorts of symptoms such as racing heart, difficulty breathing, a feeling of choking (my least fave), dizziness, nausea and tingling extremities. All accompanied by an unwavering belief that you are dying. Needless to say it can make you a little reclusive.  And crazy lookin.

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Doctors suggested anti-depressants, Counsellors suggested some underlying ‘issues’, Naturopaths suggested left-of-field disorders like Pyrrole and friends suggested cuddles (Mark, Sal and Jenna – I love you). None of those shoes fit though (apart from the hugs) and I certainly didn’t want to try brain-altering medications. I would like to state that I whole-heartedly believe that for some people that is an option that should not be ignored – I am only saying that for me I felt that it wasn’t right. It was just so flippantly suggested to me without any investigation into my medical history or mental state. It was suggested to me as if it was nothing – going onto any medication is something. In the end it was a Doctor in the Emergency Department (I told you – it really feels as though you are dying!) cemented my resolve to avoid them by telling me just how dangerous and addictive these medications can be. It really should be a last option. Either way I started resigning myself to the fact that maybe I was insane.

Image from Food Based Nutrition.com

The Cure

With pregnancy came healthy lifestyle changes which let’s face it, I should have been doing from the start! But all of a sudden things started getting better. I have completely stopped having panic attacks, started sleeping better, feel happier, have lost weight (I am lighter at 4.5 months pregnant!) and I am just functioning better in general. I cannot tell you how freeing it is not creeping around my life waiting for the next panic attack to jump out from a corner and absolutely floor me.

So I thought I would share what has worked for me in case you are experiencing the same thing, know someone that is or have just been feeling a little ‘off’ lately. All these habits are good no matter who you are.

Cut Caffeine

From Coffee Scholar

This is the biggest factor in my new, calmer attitude. It is recommended that pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to fewer than 200mg a day – the equivalent to 2 cups of instant coffee, 4 cups of tea or 1 cup of café coffee (might even be over 200mg). This led to me living on DIY herbal teas (like this easy ginger tea), warm water with lemon in it and homemade fruit mixes. Immediately I felt a change. I had minor withdrawals and craved a ‘buzz’ still so after a while tried black tea. As soon as I had one I got the funny feeling again; my heart started to race, I felt nervous – the tell-tale signs. Now I just don’t miss it. I have one decaf coffee (only 3mg per cup) in the morning and it seems to act as a kind of ‘caffeine placebo’.  Give it a go.

Only Consume Natural Sugars

Processed, nasty sugars are another trigger. Lollies, pre-made sauces, sugary drinks, (basically anything processed) would send me into the crazy-haze again. But I consider it a good thing – it forces me to cut out an ingredient that is not only addictive but also utterly damaging to my health! I now avoid it as much as I can and try to sate my sweet tooth with fruit, raw honey and maple syrup. My favourite health blogger, the Wellness Warrior, has provided a whole list of alternatives here.

Scary! From Strong Lola Facebook Page.

If you want to completely boot sugar then check out former Cosmopolitan Editor (now healthy guru) Sarah Wilson’s awesome blog.  She quit sugar altogether due to an auto-immune disease and then wrote a great e-book guiding others through it, aptly named ‘I Quit Sugar’ (buy it here). She also recently appeared on a 60 Minutes segment about the dangers of sugar.

Eat Healthy

Lots of fruit. Even more veg. Colourful = antioxidants. Wholefoods. Choose organic wherever possible. Avoid packages.  Steer clear of gluten and lactose where possible. Simple enough.

Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

Not surprisingly, when you are actually drinking/are drunk anxiety levels are generally low. “Where the hell did my champagne go?” was the extent of my stress on a night out. However for anxiety sufferers (particularly anyone with an Anxiety Disorder) the next day can be torture. This is because alcohol affects the Serotonin levels in our brain (happy gas), dehydrates us, drops our blood sugar, makes us hyperactive and elevates our heart-rates.

I have cut alcohol from my diet completely while pregnant and have definitely felt the benefits but I am not unrealistic about our future relationship. Once I have the bub I imagine red wine will be back on the menu however I have definitely changed my attitude towards it. I don’t need it, I certainly don’t need to get drunk every time I have it and I will savour it glass-by-glass rather than crate-by-crate in future. I will also aim to regularly have a few weeks of being a teetotaler every month or two.

Meditate Daily

Why we constantly look for super pills and magic formulas is beyond me: Meditation is free and flexible – you can do it anywhere! It has recently been shown that meditation (or deep relaxation) changes our bodies on a genetic level – our genes actually become disease-fighting machines. Researchers have shown that this ‘relaxation effect’ as they’ve coined it can be as powerful as any medicinal drug and can fight off cancers and inflammatory effects within the body. People who meditate daily also have greater chances of remaining free of arthritis and joint pain, have stronger immunity, healthier hormone levels and lower blood pressure. I didn’t know all of this when I started (I just wanted to calm down) but now I am hooked!

Search for ‘Guided Meditation’ on Youtube, find one that you click with and see how you feel after a week. You can also buy CD’s, iPhone apps and plenty of books if you get really hooked. Here is a great one I found on YouTube;

Practice Yoga

Meditation is one of the 5 Key Principles of Yoga so everything you read in the above section applies here to. You also get a million other benefits (which you can read here) as well as toning your body up – which always makes me feel better about life.

(I always wear glamorous fuchsia frocks and practice the  yoga atop a mountain by the way. I take my wind machine too).

DEDICATED. RELAXATION.

For at least 30 minutes every day banish technology, throw away your to-do lists and pamper yourself with some devoted you time. I never realised how little I turned my mind off. I would be ‘relaxing’ by walking along the beach but constantly running through what I would have to do as soon as I was off the beach. Then when I was out and about doing those things I would think about how I need to relax more and do calming activities – like walk on the beach. Now I have adopted a different philosophy and I try to appreciate what is going on in the now for at least half an hour every day. Wherever you are, be truly present. Read a book, go for a walk, have a bath, sit in the garden. Feel comfortable within your own skin.

Take some time out to just have fun!

Well – that’s it. Those are the changes I made. I think they are a hell of a lot easier and more enjoyable than medication or the alternative. Do you have a natural solution to beating stress? Have you overcome an anxiety disorder naturally? I would love to hear in the comments.  

DIY Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner

I love citrus. At the moment every time I walk into the lunchroom I get these beautiful wafts of oranges and mandarins. Then comes afternoon tea and I get to devour a nice fresh lemon… don’t judge me… I am pregnant and I am allowed to eat weird stuff! But it did pain me to see all the peels getting chucked in the trash especially considering that so many cleaners boast about their citrusy scent or about how powerful they are due to the use of real lemons! As with most things I have decided that it would be much easier (and healthier) to go straight to the source, which is always nature.

Looks almost good enough to eat!

Unless you have your own citrus tree (lucky you) you might not get through enough peel to make a lot of this. Firstly, as long as you put it in the fridge your peel will last up to ten days. Secondly, a good trick is to put a container in the kitchen at your office and ask people to put their peel there instead of the bin. Anyone that follows my Facebook page may remember that at first I got called a ‘freak’ for this email request BUT by the end of the week I had had plenty of interest in the recipe and I had enough peels to make a good few batches of cleaner. Once it is ready I am going to take it into work (along with the recipe) to show people how well it works. Sharing the eco love people!

What You Need

  • Citrus peels – any kind! If you want an extra strong cleaner use only orange peels
  • Bicarb soda
  • White vinegar
  • Essential Oil (optional)
  • Something to scrub with – scourer, dish brush, nail brush
  • Old jars
  • Old spray bottle (use one of the containers that used to hold your nasty cleaner!)

Method

1.  Gather your peels and place in a bowl.

2. Cover with water and then sprinkle bicarb soda quite liberally over them.
3.  Dip the peel and give a quick scrub. Place the scrubbed peel into a colander. (This is to remove all the nasty chemicals from the peels and make it a truly natural cleaner).
4.  Once all the peels have had a quick scrub rinse them thoroughly.
5.  Place all the peels into a jar.
6.  Fill the jar up to the level of your peels with vinegar.
7.  Store in a dark, cool place for between 2 weeks and a month. Shake it once a week if you remember – make sure the lid is on tight!
8.  Shake the mixture vigorously then pour the mixture into a container, straining the old peels.
9.  Mix 1 part vinegar mix with 1 part water and pour into your spray bottle! If you would like add ten drops of an essential oil with antibacterial qualities (i.e. teatree, lavender or lemon).

It is a fantastic cleaner and will work on most surfaces (not glass) and strong stains. Be careful if you use only orange peels as the oil in orange peel is very strong and can be quite abrasive. It is always best to do a spot test.

At first I had hoped that this could be used as a detergent but I want to actually test that recipe before I just send it out there as I am not sure quite how well it will work. This one I have used before and it is tried and test! As soon as I try the detergent mix though I will make sure I report back to you all.

Happy Cleaning!

P.s. This is also a great plastic free cleaning recipe if you are partaking in Plastic Free July. See here to register

DIY Herbal Facial Toner

Hate to harp on about it… but I hate single-use items. Things like plastic containers and wet-wipes. Things often found in cosmetics. So as I suggested in my DIY Cucumber and Coconut Facial Cleanser, the best place to start if you want to avoid these things is by making your own cosmetics.

I decided to make a herbal toner because my herb pots are going crazy at the moment. My first thought was to head for the mint but after a little research I discovered I was over-looking a herbal superstar in my sage plants.

Health Benefits of Sage

  1. Sage is rich in calcium and vitamin A which are needed for daily cell regeneration. In short it stimulates cell renewal and increases blood circulation which minimise the onset of wrinkles.
  2. Sage is high in Ursolic acid which acts as a natural exfoliant and antiseptic and treats acne, eczema and skin fungus.
  3. Sage has astringent properties which will help clear your skin and make it soft and smooth.
  4. Sage oil also assists in improving skin conditions like athlete’s foot and chapped skin as well as relieving symptoms of eczema and psoriasis.
  5. Because it increases blood circulation it is the perfect weapon for cellulite. Weekly use of sage oil on cellulite affected areas has been shown to reduce it.
  6. The oil is great for brittle and dry hair.
  7. Tastes and feels nice and is a pretty colour.

Ingredients

  • 100 gms fresh sage leaves (or 40grams dried sage)
  • 400 mls boiling water
  • 400 mls Apple Cider Vinegar
Pug and Allen consider the health benefits of sage

Pug and Allen consider the health benefits of sage

Method

  • Place chopped fresh or dried sage leaves in a bowl.
  • Pour boiling water over the leaves.
  • Cover the infusion and allow to steep for 15 minutes.
  • Drain the liquid from the sage leaves and discard the leaves and pour the infusion into a measuring cup.
  • Pour an equal amount of cider vinegar into the measuring cup with the infusion and mix the liquids gently.
  • Pour it into a reused glass bottle and close tightly.

Storage

  • Store your sage facial toner in the refrigerator.
  • This toner will last a long time – a couple of months.

Application

  • Use your sage facial toner after cleansing.
  • Moisten a cloth with the toner and wipe gently over your face
  • Pat your skin with warm water.
If you have sensitive skin and it stings or shows irritation then stop using the toner. However, my husband has very sensitive skin and he was absolutely fine and actually loves the product.
Good luck and if you give it a go let me know! 

DIY Coconut and Cucumber Cleanser

My quest to eradicate plastic and other nonsense single-use items continues. Far and away the hardest area of my life to do this in would be my make-up bag. While I would love to throw it all to the wind and live a pure existence without mascara and face-paint, I cannot. Not only am I too vain but I fear that I would be fired for always looking tired and/or sick. Damn you blonde eyelashes! Anyway, I digress. My point is… that I have started to focus on anything that I can cut out rather than lamenting what I can’t. I have found that anything to do with the care of skin and hair is pretty easily replaceable. First stop… cleanser. (My second stop was a DIY herbal toner which you can find here!)

I get a weekly organic delivery box and because we went away over the weekend there were some Lebanese cucumbers left looking a little limp. A passionate hater of all things wasteful I decided to experiment. The cleanser I made was so easy to make and is absolutely beautiful to use. Put it in the fridge for a really refreshing cleanse.

It is so nice to know that you don’t need to use harsh chemical that you can’t pronounce to clean your face. They don’t do damage to the environment, they don’t have excessive and wasteful packaging and you get to essentially rub food on your face – which is always fun.

Ingredients

1 x Cup of Cucumber Juice (4 x lebanese or 2 x green)

1 x Cup of Coconut Milk (organic if you have it)

1 x tablespoon of Agave or honey (if you are vegan use Agave Nectar)

Why these ingredients?

Cucumber juice – is an astringent and helps purify your skin.

Coconut Milk – hydrates and moisturises – as well as feeling bloody nice!

Honey / Agave Nectar (vegan) – antibacterial which makes it great to prevent acne and other spots

Equipment

  • Bowl
  • Measuring cup
  • Food Processor / blender / or juicer
  • Muslin or cheesecloth to sieve the cucumber. If you don’t have them on hand then get creative… I keep old stockings around the place (for cleaning and use in the garden) so I just slipped that over the bowl and used it instead. Working perfectly fine..
Upcycled ingenuity

Method

Steps 1 through 5 are if you do not have a fancy fruit-juicer (mine died).

1. Peel the cucumbers

2. Process the cucumbers in a food processor until smoothish

3. Pour crushed cucumbers through a strainer into a mixing bowl or jug

4. Squeeze out as much juice as possible.

5. Bam. You have beautiful cucumber juice!

6. Add the honey or agave, coconut milk and cucumber juice together

7. Whisk to make a smooth liquid

8. Pour into a used jar and keep in the fridge.

Application

  1. Wash your face with warm water
  2. Apply cleanser to a cloth
  3. Wipe over face and neck
  4. Rinse with warm water / cloth

Top Tip

When rinsing your face make sure you do so in a bowl so that you save all the water from draining away. Because you are using completely natural ingredients it is grey water safe. You can use the excess for your garden, herbs or veggie patches!