We humans have been obsessed with keeping our body odor under control since long before Lynx or Rexona were on the scene.
The Egyptians lathered themselves with fragrant waxes and unguents after scented baths and the ancient Romans and Greeks doused themselves, their clothes, and even their pets in perfume.
Though those ancient societies wouldn’t have realised it, it’s not the sweat itself that gives off unpleasant bodily smells. Bacteria that feed on sweat secrete acids, which are the true culprits of body odor.
The first commercial deodorant surfaced in America back at the turn of the nineteenth century and rose in popularity during the twentieth. But in the last decade or so there has been rising concern about the content of commercial antiperspirant deodorants. The link between aluminium and Alzheimer’s disease has deterred many cautious consumers from products containing this element—including antiperspirants. Additionally, an increasing number of people suffer allergic reactions to some of the chemicals in deodorant and have embarked on the search for a less harmful alternative.
Some consumers switched to organic and natural products but were put off by the price tags for deoderants they ultimately found to be less effective.
So, what does the conscious consumer have to compromise if they wish to win the battle against BO? Their health? Budget? Hygiene? What’s the best solution? Never fear, you may not have to go caveman yet…
Introducing the humble, but brilliant, bi-carb!
A Google search will bring up a plethora of internet testimonials and recipes for bi-carb deodorant—not to mention home cleaning products, cleansers, toothpaste, and mouth rinses.
Bi-carb is an effective deodorant not only for underarms but for feet and shoes, clothes, pretty much anything—the uses for bi-carb just go on and on. It has amphoteric properties, meaning it neutralizes both acids and bases—which tend to give off unpleasant odors. The theory for underarms is the same.
Conventional antiperspirant deodorants work by clogging the sweat glands in your underarms with aluminium compounds, such as aluminium chlorohydrate (the same compounds that cause those delightful yellow sweat stains). Deodorants also contain alcohol to kill bacteria, thus, no smell. And then there are the chemical perfumes.
Bi-carb deodorant recipes vary with inclusions of natural ingredients such as coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and essential oil for a pleasant scent. The most basic recipe is to mix in your hand an eighth of a teaspoon of bi-carb with a quarter of a teaspoon of water, then pat the paste directly on to your underarms.
I have to admit, when I first heard about using bi-carb as a deodorant, I was skeptical about how effective it could be. But I tried the bi-carb-and-water paste for two days, and it was so effective that, since then, I’ve been brushing the bi-carb straight onto my underarms with a foundation brush. And that’s it; ready for a fresh and non-sweaty day.
It really, truly works and it’s easy to apply, has very little packaging, is available everywhere, and has no fake deodorant scent. Not to mention that it is ridiculously cheap and has no harmful chemicals.
Some natural beauty bloggers warn against making do-it-yourself bi-carb deodorants, referring to skin complaints experienced as a result. In general, negative reactions seem to stem from people mixing the bi-carb with other ingredients. I would still recommend trying bi-carb as a deodorant, and add that you should tread lightly while you’re new to it. Some recipes also warn against applying it to recently shaved skin, though I personally have not had issues with this. Monitor the way your body reacts to the plain water and powder paste, then you can experiment with making concoctions with pretty-smelling essential oils.
So don’t be shy; give bi-carb a try.
– Written by Bonnie Scott