7.31.2013

Natural Health Hack #2: Simple, Safe Deodorant

One of the most important changes you can make to your personal care routine is replacing your underarm antiperspirant with an all-natural, fragrance-free deodorant.  

Why should we eliminate the use of antiperspirant?  Because the body needs to sweat.  Sweat carries toxins and waste products from the inside to the outside of the body.  Additionally, sweating is the body's way of regulating internal temperature.  If we prevent the body from sweating by plugging the pores with chemical crap, which is how most antiperspirants work, we are not only causing a build-up of waste at an area dense with lymph nodes that will absorb and redistribute these harmful wastes, but also forcing the body to operate at a higher-than-ideal temperature.

So, how do we quit the antiperspirant habit without smelling like a street corner bum?

  • Step 1: Toss your antiperspirant in the trash and get comfortable with your sweat.
  • Step 2: Buy a stick of Crystal.
natural health
Don't worry, boys.  They come in manly colors, too.
Sure, there are lots of natural deodorant products out there, but don't waste your time.  Crystal is the simplest, the cheapest, and the only one that works. 

How does it work?  This natural deodorant is made from mineral salts.  When applied to clean skin, these salts create an environment that is inhospitable to the bacteria that feed on our sweat and cause the distinctive aroma we call "B.O."  The salts are completely biodegradable.  (The roll-on version contains cellulose for consistency, but I don't recommend the roll-on.  I found it didn't work as well.  I've never tried the spray.  Just get the stick.)  

Widely available at drug and health food stores, one stick costs between 5 and 7 dollars.  It's odorless, it's invisible, and it lasts forever.  One application applied immediately after your shower will last for 24 hours.  I've had my current stick for more than two years, and there's still plenty left.

When you first switch to a mineral salt deodorant, you might find that you seem to sweat profusely.  This is just a phase.  After the body has adjusted to its new, more efficient regulatory function, you will sweat less and, provided you eat a simple, whole food diet and do some sort of exercise each day (Ashtanga yoga, for example), you will sweat clean.  You will also feel better, knowing that you've made a simple, lasting effort to improve your health, save money, and reduce your environmental impact.

Links to Purchase

HINT:  The formulas are the same, but the men's stick is usually cheaper.

Readers:  Have you tried the Crystal?  Is there a natural alternative you like better?  Let me know in the comments!

7.27.2013

Natural Health Hack #1: Earth-friendly, Skin-friendly Hair Removal

Here's a little something you may not know about me:  I come from a hairy family.  I grow hair everywhere and I grow it fast.  The amount of time I have had to spend shaving, waxing, tweezing, and otherwise taming the overgrowth since my early teens, only to break out with a rash of bumps and ingrown hairs, has been... considerable.

Hair removal may seem like an odd place to start with the natural health series, but in my search for natural health solutions, finding a chemical free alternative to shaving, waxing, or depilatories that wouldn't irritate my skin seemed an impossible task.  I scoured all my favorite natural health blogs, searched the google, consulted friends, and still came up with nothing that seemed workable for me.  That is, until I found this:

Behold!
This little beauty costs under $20 (just a few dollars more than a pack of disposables), is rechargeable, and comes with a 2-year warranty.  It shaves almost as closely as a razor and leaves no cuts or irritation in its wake.  Best of all, it requires no nasty lotion, cream, or gel application of any kind.  In fact, I find that the more dry my skin is when I use it, the better it works.  And since it does work so well dry, I can do a quick, effortless touch up whenever I need.  Wherever I need.

In addition to the ease and comfort of dry shaving, using an electric shaver saves time, reduces water use, and eliminates the waste and cost of disposable razors and aerosol gels and creams.  Yes, it is electric and does use a very small amount of energy to charge.  And yes, it is plastic, but so is the casing for all those disposable razors you're going through.  Finally, yes, you could just choose to let the hair grow.... To that, I have no answer.  More power to you and your body hair.  Respect.

This is not a product review or an advertisement of any kind, but for me, this cheap little shaver has been a godsend.

Link to Purchase


Readers:  What natural hair removal solutions do you use/have you tried? 

7.26.2013

The Perils and Pitfalls of Natural Living

Healthy living has been a personal interest since my early teens.  I have striven throughout my life to treat my body well, hence the yoga.  However, because my understanding of what "healthy living" means has varied wildly over the years, I have not always lived healthfully and, in fact, knowingly and unknowingly, have done my body harm.  I have abstained from this and partook of that, applied this and rinsed with that, but always felt a certain degree of self-defeat in my efforts to feed and care for myself with complicated diets and chemical-laden products.  But the alternatives were few, I thought, and sometimes frightening.

This year, despite the challenge, I decided to make a big push in the direction of natural health.  With the help of Kiki Flynn and her fabulous Youtube channel, plus a smattering of other blogs that you can find in the Damn Good blogroll, I have eliminated or replaced all of my personal health and hygiene products with totally natural alternatives.  I have also simplified my diet, improved my digestion, and begun to make my own cleaning products for the home.  This has been wonderful for my health and peace of mind, but it has also been -- and continues to be -- a lot of work.

Natural health takes time.  Fortunately, I seem to have a lot of it.  But what if I didn't?  If I worked a 9-5 plus my daily practice, not to mention dog walks and other domestic responsibilities, how could I possibly have time for neti every morning?  And tongue scraping?  And dry brushing, plus the oil massage before my shower?  And, afterwards, combing out my natural hair without the chemical lubricants of conditioners and shampoo?  And shaving, and tweezing, and powdering and blushing and all that other shit I have to do to look attractive and professional and show my self-respect?  There's no way.

Also, natural health is filthy.  My bathroom sink is constantly stained with neem dust, green clay, oils, and salts.  I can scrub my tub clean, and two days later, there's another ring of oily scum around the base.  Both drains in the bathroom clog with regularity, so I have to boil pots of water to free the pipes.  And, because I'm cleaning more and using cloths instead of cotton balls or tissue on my face, I do a bit more laundry.

Still, I think it's worth it.  My skin -- which has always been sensitive and problematic -- is smooth, clear, and healthy.  I feel wonderful.  I have less tension.  Less inflammation.  Less muscle soreness after practice and more energy than ever before.  There is a deep sense of satisfaction in the hands on, self-loving approach of natural health and beauty, and this daily work has attuned me more fully to the rhythms of both my physical and emotional lives.

I am considering composing a series of posts on the subject of natural health, sharing my experiences and insight on how to manage these tasks in the least messy and most efficient, economical, and ecologically conscious way.  

Readers:  Is this a topic that interests you?  What obstacles do you find in your natural health endeavors?  Are there solutions that you seek?  Let me know in the comments.