I'm California, celebrating! I'm drinking, eating delicious baked goods, probably not drinking enough water. My usual deodorant is a slice of lemon, which my sister turned me onto proabably 10 years ago. Lemon totally works, but I have to re-apply often & it’s not very practical to keep a bag of lemon slices in my pocket. The only place I've found that I can re-apply in a pinch is either at work (I’m a food stylist) or a bar (bartenders always have lemon & lime & it's easy enough to ask for a slice and slip away to the bathroom to rub under my arms).
I wondered do I need something deeper to help me be not so smelly right now?
I considered a detox. Detoxing is an important part of each body's self-care routine. We have a tendency in our culture to shut down pathways of elimination instead of supporting them, like using anti-perspirant for example. Our bodies need to sweat: it keeps us cool and it’s an important mechanism of eliminating toxins from the body. When our pathways of elimination are moving toxins through & out of our bodies we have a better chance of staying healthy & not getting sick. The pathway of elimination in our pits is part of our lymphatic system and we have the highest concentration of lymph nodes under our arms (also our groin, but that’s another article). Through the lymph nodes in our armpits our bodies filter the tissue in our chest, arms, & hands. When we fill our arm pits with anti-perspirant & deodorant, two times a day or more, we are making it harder for our bodies to eliminate toxins in and around some of our most vital organs. Like, why would I want to keep all the nasty stuff locked in my armpit? Gross. Get it out!
I approach my herbalism practice with one rule work with not against. A detox for me is not a period where I stop supporting myself & deny my body the tools it needs to do really strong work to keep me alive & able. What tools & support do my pits need to keep things moving through & out of my body? I use clays & apple cider vinegar as part of my haircare routine: they leave my hair smelling fresh & odor free, could they do the same for my pits?
I did a 3 day detox of equal parts apple cider vinegar & bentonite clay, which combined create a thick paste. In 3 days I cleared my arm pits of any odor: the paste acts like a magnet, pulling toxins out of our pits & eliminating the congestion that causes odor or something worse like illness. Bentonite clay is a generic term for the healing rock that comes from the beds of volcanic ash. It's is an inert substance meaning it can pass through our bodies without being absorbed. Healing clays like bentonite absorb wet substances like a sponge or paper towel but also, have adsorptive qualities, yes with a D, which basically means they carry a negative electrostatic charge. This negative charge binds to the positive charge of things like toxins that live inside & outside our bodies & carries them away. In order to activate the clay, we have to add liquid to it. Apple cider vinegar has naturally occurring anti-microbial & anti-fungal properties. Applied to our skin, it has a gentle odor neutralizing & cooling effect to the ideal breeding ground for funky smelling bacteria: our damp underarms. Apple cider vinegar & bentonite clay make the ideal detoxifying paste for our stinky pits. You can get bentonite clay from Mountain Rose Herbs or Redmond Clay. I recommend using unpasteurized vinegar like Eden Organic or Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar.
In the week following my detox I didn't use deodorant of any kind. Now, when I do use lemon or lime, I don’t need to reapply as the effects lasted 24 hours. Now I detox when things get especially stressful or I'm traveling & my routine is off or when I go out dancing & I have too many margaritas.
3 DAY ARM PIT DETOX
You will need about a 30 minute window before your shower where you can apply the paste & let it dry. Choose whether you will detox in the AM or the PM or maybe even in the middle of the day, if you have the kind of schedule that allows for a leisurely mid-day detox. I detox in the morning before my shower, because it’s easy enough to go about my routine making coffee or whatever shirtless. If you don’t want to or can’t be topless in your home not a problem! You can easily do it in your bra or a loose fitting robe or you can wear a towel.
Combine ½ teaspoon unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar & ½ teaspoon organic bentonite clay. Mix them together with your finger to form a paste. Apply a thin layer to the area under your arms. Go about doing whatever for the next 20-30 minutes while the paste dries. You can raise your arms up in the air every once in awhile or even blow onto your underarms, i know, it sounds kind of weird but it actually feels quite nice. After it sets, it’s ok if its mostly dry with a little bit of wetness, hop in the shower & rinse. That’s it.
Repeat for the next two mornings. While you’re detoxing also be sure to be drinking lots of water, because staying hydrated is a huge part of keeping your lymphatic system healthy. You will still sweat, which is a good sign that your body is doing it's best work. The cool thing is: you won't be able to smell it.