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 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!

AA for Plastic Abusers

I think plastic is a lot like alcohol. The addictive side is clear – look around you right now and do a quick mental audit on how much plastic is near you. We are – as a society – addicted to plastic. Another similarity is that it is largely accepted. Sure, there are people yelling from the sidelines about how bad it is, but if you walk down the street holding a plastic bag a lot of people wouldn’t look twice. While plastic and alcohol are both damaging to our health though, the toll plastic is taking is on a much bigger scale.

With so many negatives associated with its use we should all try cut down on our plastic bag dependence. Here are some ideas on how to start…

Reusable Bags

This is a non-negotiable. There is no reason to still be using plastic bags when there are so many reusable alternatives around. A good friend of mine (Hi Dino!) said he always had the bags in his car but then got to the end of the checkout and realised he had left them there. He made a rule that whenever he forgot them he would force himself to refuse the cashier just packing them into plastic bags and would return to the car to get his bags. He kept his self-promise and after the embarrassment and fuss it caused never forgot his bags again. Force yourself into changing your habits.

Found at National Wildlife Federation

Other ways that can help;

  • Use roll-up bags that can fit into bags or jean pockets virtually unnoticed, like the above picture!
  • Carry things with your hands! It is so easy to switch into robot mode and just accept your bagged goods without thinking. Be adamant, say no.
  • Invest in a bigger handbag or backpack and use it for your lunch runs.
  • Make a fashionable statement with your bag and you may be more inclined to use it. There are plenty of these bags around (try Etsy). I love this one in particular…

http://www.zazzle.com.au – Click the image to got through to store

Give up chewing gum…

This discovery made me regret every time I ever swallowed a chewing gum. Yep! Chewing gum is literally plastic, rubber, the occasional bit of latex and flavoring… to keep you coming back for more! Avoid it. A nice natural solution is to chew on Cardamom Pods. If you are near a kitchen (or garden) you can also chew on Parsley – not as easy as Cardamom to keep in your pocket.

Plastic Free your cleaning

There is really no need to spend hundreds of dollars a year on ‘wonder’ products that are pre-packaged to hell and are polluting our waterways, bodies and landfill at the same time. Here are some simple substitutes that you can buy in bulk and often come in recyclable packaging (cardboard or refillable containers)

  • Reuse old cleaning spray bottles by filling with vinegar and water. 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water is a fantastic recipe for an all-purpose cleaner.
  • Baking soda is the champion of plastic free cleaning. It works for everything (including shampoo, toothpaste, nappy cleaner). For a sink of dishes try just adding 4tbs of baking soda to the hot water. Works a treat!
  • Wash your clothes with soap nuts! This was one of my favourite finds of 2011 and I put it on my Eco Christmas Wishlist. You just place these dried shells (from small fruit) into an organic cotton washbag (provided) and use it as regular soap! Suitable for hair, carpets, clothes and anything else you can think of.
  • If you are in a hurry and really need to buy ready-made cleaning products aim for those that provide the ‘Refill and Reuse’ service. There are many places around that do this including Manna Wholefoods  in Fremantle.

Plastic Not-so-Fantastic Clothing

Synthetic clothing is basically just plastic fabric. Nylon, polyester, acrylic, lycra, spandex… all cheap material that is often used in throwaway fashion. There are quite a few green ways around this;

  • Only buy old plastic – only buy your plastic second-hand! Op-shops, thrift stores and vintage markets are a treasure trove for clothing that is preloved and therefore has not used new resources to create them.
  • Choose natural fibres – and, where possible, organic! This is especially important for cotton as genetically modified crops are very common. Materials like hemp and bamboo look and feel gorgeous. My fave store for gorgeous organic clothing is definitely Australian owned Bird Textiles. You can also buy fabrics to make your own cushions, clothes or whatever else your imagination dreams up.

A quick lunchtime illustration on some old office paper

Become a Smart Shopper 

This technique is the very core of living sustainably. It is also hugely important in terms of reducing waste, including – of course – plastic bags!

  • NO BOTTLED WATER.
  • Choose products that have a limited amount of packaging. Seeing that this cancels out two thirds of your supermarket, you may as well shop at a farmers market or get an organic box delivery.
  • If you get your produce delivered as part of a box scheme, specify that you don’t want anything in plastic including cherry tomatoes and berries. We use the Organic Collective and they are very helpful with this request which is apparently a reasonably common one nowadays.
  • If you can’t get to a farmers market – buy in bulk. 1 massive bottle is better than 20 smaller ones.
  • Eat wholefoods. Make meals from scratch.  The great thing about this resolution is that not only do you get creative and expand your cooking skills, you generally end up cooking healthier and tastier food. Who needs preservative E211 or food colouring 2 when you can just have a passionfruit instead?

Single Use Items can last an eternity

Save on plastic. Save your Health. 

  • Avoid rubbing plastic all over your body! Check out how many products in your bathroom or make-up bag have ‘polyethylene’ in them. You could be rubbing tiny plastic beads all over yourself and them washing them into our drains. Choose organic and cruelty free products to avoid unnecessary  use of plastic and palm oil too.
  • Baking soda is an amazing deodorant. Who woulda thunk it? Apply it onto your dry armpit with a powder puff and watch in wonderment.
  • Make your own shampoo. Mix together 2 tablespoons baking soda with 2 cups water into a recycled bottle that you have. In a separate container mix 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar with 2 cups of water again. The baking soda is your wash, the vinegar mix is your rinse. Thanks for the inspiration My Plastic Free Life (a fantastic blog / experiment). I am converting to this as of next week… will keep you posted on how I go.
  • Or… buy a shampoo bar. I have seen these at Manna in South Fremantle or you can order them online. For Perth peeps I have heard great things about this Margaret River Savi Shampoo Bar.
  • Use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap. An easy option is Country Life; a cheap, cruelty free and certified palm oil free!
  • Buy a bamboo toothbrush.
  • Don’t use toilet paper that is wrapped in plastic.

Make your own…

  • Lunch – save using cheap plastic takeaway containers, wrappings, bags, little plastic windows or that nasty polystyrene
  • Bread. Not only can you control the amount of preservatives that go into it you save those plastic bags and toggles every time. You get the added bonus of smelling fresh bread through your house in the morning – is there anything better?
  • Soy or Nut Milk – All long-life milk containers (unless specifically stated) contain plastic in them. Why not make your own? If you don’t have a fandangle soy milk maker  you can also make it on your stove top!
  • EGAD!… You can even make your own Tofu!!!
  • Snacks – don’t go for individually wrapped muesli bars over-processed and full of sugar. Try making your own healthier versions like these yummy gluten-free and vegan Granola bars from The Sensitive Pantry

Those were just a few of the many, many creative ways you can cut (most) plastic from your life.

As always, if you have any ideas on how to cut plastic from your life please feel free to comment or email me on oliveonblonde@gmail.com 

Green Up Your Diet

Given that food is one of the four basic human needs it is safe to say that what we all eat has a huge impact on the planet. Take a good look at what you eat. Not just what you eat – how it is produced, where it is produced, is it heavily packaged, were any humans or creatures harmed or wronged to produce it. Our food choices are not flippant decisions that should be governed by our taste buds. There are not only ethical implications here but also a hell of a lot of potential emmissions. So as your New Years resolution why not try green up your diet. Here are some ways to go about it.

Go Vego

His name is Winston

Switching to a vegan diet saves 6.5 tonnes of CO2 per person every year. As renowned journalist and food writer Michael Pollan famously said;

“A vegan in a Hummer has a lighter carbon footprint than a beef eater in a Prius”

If veganism sounds a bit too scary at first, try vegetarianism or Freeganism (conciously making predominantly vegan choices as much as possible). Not only will you feel better for it and dramatically reduce your carbon footprint in the process but you will also save the lives of hundreds of animals every year. That’s reason enough for me.

Stop shopping at the supermarket

Ditch your supermarket for small local businesses or farmers markets. These large corporations are creating a scary monopoly in Australia and forcing prices down which is driving small businesses completely out of the market and backing producers into a corner. Farmers are forced to lower their costs (to ensure they get a slice of the Woolworths pie) but these rates are barely enough to cover the cost of production anyway. It leads to unsustainable practices (growing chemically is cheaper) and cruelty to the animals (quick processing or lack of basic care). And after all that what are we left with? Farmers, small businesses, consumers and our communities are unhappy or out of business and the end result is of poor nutritional quality anyway. Support local businesses and your own community.Here are some places you can start!

Buy Local

Now that you are avoiding supermarkets you will get to explore all the amazing local producers! There is nothing that I like more than going down to a farmers market and chatting with the producers or comparing notes with your fellow browsers. Some have live music, you can taste to fruit and it some places even let you take your dog. Not only is the experience nicer but buying local produce cuts down any emissions related to long travel times or produce that is grown out of season. Get to know your community while you shop – it is a really rewarding experience. I have listed a few of my favourite farmers markets here.

Speak with the growers!

Eat Seasonally

A big part of buying local is eating seasonal produce. I used to have a standard menu that I would eat rain, hail or shine and it never crossed my mind that it was being shipped from interstate or even internationally! Not only will you reduce energy usage (travel, refridgeration, petrol) but you will also save money as seasonal produce is cheaper due to availability. If you need to know what is in season in your area see this handy guide.

Go organic

Eating organically is better for you and the planet. It just makes sense. Eating up to 40 pesticides, fungicides and herbicides every apple just doens’t make sense. Spraying our land with chemicals that kills whatever unfortunate being it lands on is not good. Organic farmers work with the land to get the best from it and while it is a little more expensive you do get what you pay for in nutritional value and taste. I wrote an article about how you can make the transition to organic eating a bit easier, even on a budget. Healthy you, healthy planet.

Avoid Palm Oil

Palm Oil is in a lot of pre-packed foods and products and when it is not sustainably produced it is bad news.

I wrote this article explaining the ins and outs of palm oil (what it is, why it’s bad) and wrote a follow up guide to avoiding unsustainable palm in your products.

Make sure your not killing orangutans with your biscuits!

Buy Fair Trade

World Fair Trade Day

Make sure you look for the Fair Trade logo when buying food – especially when buying chocolate, coffee and tea. This excerpt from the FTA organisation website explains exactly why you should buy fair trade –

“Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices, Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives”.

Look for this logo!

Cook wholefoods, avoid packaging

These days we have tablets for everything, artificial flavours, frozen meals and the other day I even saw ‘Chicken In A Can’ – please hold my hair back for a moment while I barf. The bizarre thing is that all these magic pills we are ramming down our throats are derived from plants – why not just eat the plant? If you have a diet full of organic fruit and vegetables you will get all the vitamins you need all the while avoiding wasteful packaging. Frozen meals are labelled as ‘convenient’ but what on earth is convenient about paying ten bucks for a small tasteless meal in a non-recyclable container? Even for a week try and make all your food from scratch. You will end up feeling better and you will reduce your household waste.

Avoid GM Foods

Image courtesy of Tribal Energies

Genetically modified foods come from crops or food sources that have had their DNA modified by gene technology. In simple terms, scientists are trying to produce ‘Super Crops’ that have new characteristics making them cheaper, quicker and/or easier to grow. An example – scientists can take a gene from a deep water fish that lives in very cold ocean and fuse it into a strawberry DNA so it can survive in frosts. It is a contentious subject with some hailing it the solution to global hunger but others (including me) fearful of potential impact. No one knows what effects GM technology will have on our health and the environments. I will leave you with a principle that was first introduced at the Earth Summit of 1992 –

The Precautionary Principle

“Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation”

Principle #15 of the Rio Declaration, Rio Conference (or Earth Summit), 1992


Going green with your skin care routine

I was thrilled to be contacted recently by the gorgeous Sam Crosby, founder of Western Australian skin care company Ayana Organics. With a passion for amazing organic products and a healthy vegan lifestyle, Sam is a guru on all things green – and a perfect new contributor for www.oliveonblonde.com – Welcome! In her inaugural post, Sam shares her Top 5 tips on greening up your skincare. 
 

Have you made the decision to “green up” your life, including your skin care products? You may be finding the Continue reading

Tips and Tricks to Avoid Palm Oil

Palm Oil is a topic that is becoming more and more common. People want to know what it is, why they are hearing about it and why it’s such an urgent and important issue. How can oil that comes from a fruit be wiping out Sumatran Tigers and Orangutans?I’ve discussed, in detail, the effects of palm oil production and consumption in a previous article, but in summary: the production of Palm oil is leading to mass clearing of important South-East Asian rainforests (homes and habitats) and astronomical carbon emissions, all for a product that is unhealthy for humans anyway (it’s extremely high in saturated fat). I think it is safe to say that those are three damn ugly side-effects for a product that is a) easily produced sustainably and b) easily replaced if not.
Baby Orang

Image by Emily Ehlers