Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sweat

Warning!  If you don't like hearing about normal bodily functions, you might not want to read this.  Nothing particularly gross, but I'm going to talk about smelly armpits!


Almost two years ago I got fed up with the amount of plastic used in commercial underarm deodorants.  At the time a friend of mine passed along a recipe for home-made deodorant.  Most of the time I go without, but when I'm going to be in close contact with people or in any kind of stressful situation, I wear the home-made stuff.  I do use commercial deodorants when I go on vacation to warmer climates - because the home-made stuff melts in warmer weather (so I keep it in the fridge) and when on vacation I don't always have access to a refrigerator.  And I find that I need it more when on vacation - especially in warmer climates.  But I don't like doing it.

Shortly after deciding to make my own deodorant, a friend's mother got breast cancer.  It was found at a very early stage and a lumpechtomy took care of it for her, but her daughter passed along the information that they were starting to see links between deodorant and breast cancer.  Scientific studies have not been conclusively tied the chemicals to cancer, and if they ever do it will take a while because when you're going up against major consmetic companies, even if you have good evidence, it will take decades to confirm anything.  But, since I was already making my own, it seemed like a good reason to keep doing it.

I do wash my pits more often now - usually in the morning (I have baths at night, not showers in the morning).  And I put the washcloth I use in a bucket of water after I'm done or it smells up the bathroom (an interesting study in smelly bacteria).  But most days I just don't wear any deodorant at all.  And no one has mentioned it (I hope it's not just people being polite!  Although I usually smell myself before anyone else does anyhow).  My husband is particularly grossed out by B.O. and only rarely mentions it when close to an exposed pit. 

But here's the thing I've noticed.  When I'm stressed or anxious, I definitely sweat more.  And it smells worse.  And my whole point in writing this blog post is this:  If we cover up this smell and sweat, we're losing a really good physical indicator of stress.  Because sometimes it happens even when you're not aware of it.  If you're interested in reducing your stress levels, it's important to know when your body is feeling stress.  Your mind isn't always in tune with that.

I suppose that the human body has evolved to sweat in a worrisome situation to repell other people.  "I'm stressed and anxious, so get away from me and remove that threat."  I don't know ... just thinking off the cuff ... but that seems to make sense.  So in our modern world, we lose that - the smell that warns us of our physical danger as well as being one of our defenses. 

I thought of all of this because yesterday I was in close proximity to a woman who said that when she was younger she was taught to "wear too much makeup and not enough deodorant".  She worked as a cosmetics consultant and was wearing far more makeup in her sweats than I do when I'm preforming (which is pretty much the only time I wear makeup), and I'll bet you she was wearing more deodorant than me, too!  :)

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