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Natural deodorant

There are many over-the-counter deodorants, but if you want to be completely natural, make your own.

Remembering that your skin is a giant lung, it's now many a long year since I wore anti-perspirant.

While sitting around the table one craft night, the discussion that evening turned to anti-perspirants and I was surprised to find I was the only woman there who still used one. Too risky, was the general opinion. Cancer-causing, unnatural, blocks up your pores and leads to tumours.

For me, the jury remains out on this one, but since I did in fact have breat tumours - albeit benign - I decided to give up anti-perspirants and try natural deodorants instead. In the years since, I've tried most of the commercial ones on the market, but many still contain chemicals I don't much care for even if you avoid the aluminiums. Weleda's offerings are very good, but a tad out of my price range at 12.50 a bottle, and sadly, my Deo-Rock alum rock no longer seems to be effective - approaching menopause has an uncomfortable side effect of changing the way you smell.

However, recently I discovered a new way of keeping your armpits fresh, which is more of a system than a product. To follow it, you need to understand why you get whiffy in the first place. 

As we all know, there are eccrine sweat glands all over your body, and the sweat from these doesn't smell. It's the apocrine glands in your armpits and crotch that cause the trouble: bacteria goes to work on the sweat from these glands, and very quickly you can kick up a stink. 

This is why the key to ridding yourself of it is to get rid of the bacteria, and to do that, you need to wash properly. Most of us have a quick go with a bit of soap, rinse, step out of the shower and that's that, but to really kill off that bacteria you have to use a detergent to break down the oils that are exuded with the sweat. Soap just isn't enough. The detergent should also be anti-bacterial and you need to scrub hard. About 20 seconds with a good old-fashioned flannel per armpit should be enough, or you can mix your anti-bacterial liquid soap with a bit of sugar to make a scrub. 

Once thoroughly rinsed and out of the shower, pat your armpits dry and then apply neat vinegar, which kills bacteria. You can use alcohol if you prefer - say, eau de cologne - but I prefer vinegar as a more organic product. The smell dissipates within a few seconds - you don't end up smelling like a chip shop.

Now, you need to thoroughly dry - as in, with a hairdryer - before applying cornstarch or whatever you use instead of talc and going on your merry way. In between vinegar and cornstarch, you can rub in a little coconut oil if you like - it's also anti bacterial and has a great smell. 

Obviously, you also need to shave your armpits weekly as armpit hairs give the bacteria something to cling to. 

Using this method, you should remain whiff-free for at least 12 hours but up to 24, and nothing I've tried since anti-perspirants has ever been so effective. It's natural, has no side effects, and is effectively free, too, as you're only using ingredients that are in the house anyway. Lidl makes a perfectly decent anti-bacterial liquid soap that does the trick nicely.  

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