The salty, tangy bouquet of fluorescent orange, liquid processed cheese product oozing on triangles of warm, toasted corn chips decorated with pickled jalapenos wafts relentlessly into my olfactory system.
My stepdaughter and her gaggle of gorgeous teenage girlfriends sit eating stadium concessions in the row of plastic folding chairs ahead of me in the cavernous convention center while "Pomp and Circumstance" fills the air. We are there to watch the class of 2012 as they are bestowed with their high school diplomas.
The girls are more emotional than on a typical day, as several of them are watching their older by one year, senior class boyfriends take one step closer towards college.
A particularly beautiful, charismatic and clever companion of my stepdaughter is directly in front of me – she is one of my favorites for her wildly funny sense of humor. This young lady is the lucky recipient of amazing genetics: 5 feet 10 inches tall, blonde, brains and beauty. The combination belies the teenage insecurity that is flooding out of her at the moment.
The corners of her mouth stained with nacho cheese, she suddenly turns around to whisper sharply to me, her breath filled with the mock-cheesy Mexican treat and tinged with anxiety, "Linds, tell me you have some deodorant with you."
Her nerves had overcome her and she had begun to excrete the damp product of emotion under her arms that terrifies teenagers across the universe because of course, sweat turns into stink. Or so they tell themselves.
I take the moment as a hippie-stepmom-on-a-soapbox moment and tell her that not only do I not carry deodorant with me, but I don't even use it all.
Her eyes go wide with horror. "WHAT, Linds? How is that possible? How do you NOT smell ... bad?"
I explain that the odor associated with sweating is actually caused by breakdown of bacteria from a type of sweat from our fatty sweat glands – the apocrine glands. That particular substance, mixed with hairs and hair follicles in the underarm area, can be perceived as malodorous. (Thank you to The Institute of Beauty and Wellness for my all-too-extensive knowledge of sweat glands and hair follicles.)
I go on that keeping your underarm hair-free helps, and that if I use anything at all it is an essential oil or an all-natural deodorant product like Tom's of Maine.
I explain that antiperspirants (which is what she was really asking me for, as they contain chemicals that STOP sweat, while deodorants just mask the anticipated stench) not only inhibit our body's natural detoxifying process of sweating, but also contain aluminum, which may or may not be connected with breast cancer.
And then, to her relief, another teenager plagued by fear of B.O. pulls a stick of Degree out of her purse. She greedily grabs the heavily scented roll-on and proceeds to generously apply the stuff to her underarms right there in front of everyone. Thank goodness she was wearing a sleeveless dress for easy access. The national anthem begins and I step off my ANTI-antiperspirant podium.
Now, before you pinch your noses and shout "PU," let me further illustrate where I'm coming from.
I personally believe body odor is greatly affected by what you eat and your personal grooming habits. So, if you eat a healthy, balanced diet full of unprocessed foods, limit animal and dairy products, consume lots of fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains and shower regularly ... you should smell as sweet as what you eat.
Trim, shave or wax any body hair in areas that have major sweat glands like the underarms and groin, and – guess what – you should smell naturally wonderful.
I don't advocate antiperspirants containing aluminum because they arrest the sweating process, which means your body can't cool or detoxify itself properly. I firmly believe sweating is a good thing, even at inopportune moments or in inconvenient garments. Stopping a natural body process like perspiring signals danger for me. In fact, I try to deliberately sweat at least once per day. The more the better!
Now hold your noses, it's been over 15 years since I've consistently used a commercial antiperspirant.
But, for those of you who must put something under your arms to be "Sure," try using a few drops of tea tree oil mixed with a few drops of a pleasantly scented essential oil like lavender.
Drop both oils into the palms of your hands, rub together and apply under your arms.
The tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic, while the lavender is soothing to the skin (Bye bye, razor bumps!). The combo of oils creates a pleasing, comforting, clean scent that lasts all day. Try making up your own combination of scents and benefits that suits your needs.
Try it! "Get closer, don't be shy." Now, you've got the natural "Secret."
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