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Excessive Sweating Forced me to Make Deodorant

Brenda with her grandma Leona

I Suffer from Excessive Sweating

I don’t just get damp or gently perspire and I certainly don’t merely “glow.”  I suffer from excessive sweating in a most unfeminine and unbecoming manner.  Rivulets of acidic water pour out from under my arms, and, unfortunately, the bacteria that produces the distinctive smell of body odor loves acid. My Mom says I inherited my sweatiness from my grandmother, Leona.

My middle name is Leigh after my grandma and I was born on the same day she was too. Sharing the same birthday with my grandmother was a lot of fun, but sharing the sweaty gene with her, not so much. On the bright side,  my grandmother lived to be 102, she rarely felt pain and the only medication she took in her old age was Acetaminophen so maybe I inherited her healthiness too, fingers crossed. And look at that beautiful hair!

No antiperspirant seemed to work for me. My grandmother dealt with sweating by wearing these absorbent armpit pads pinned to her dresses and blouses’.  I tried this when I was the Maid of Honor for my sister’s wedding. We fell in love with a lovely (for the time) dusty rose silk bridesmaid’s dress but it showed wetness so it was out of the question.

Mom remembered Grandma’s trick so we hunted for and found armpit pads. On the wedding day, I managed to sweat around the pads leaving me with lovely sweat stains outlining the pads, ugh!  I kept slipping into the bathroom and drying off my underarms with a blow dryer! Over the years I’ve become an expert at what fabrics, colors and patterns show perspiration.

The Battle Against Body Odor

However, I am actually okay with my excessive sweating since I’ve learned to wear the right clothes but I am definitely not okay with any hint of body odor. My husband tells me I’m a bit obsessive about it and that my nose is just extra sensitive. Maybe and maybe not, the worrying about smelling badly was constantly on my mind. So I slathered on layers and layers of commercial deodorant (Ban Ultra Dry was my favorite) after my shower, and throughout the day (I wish I’d known these few tricks then).

Antiperspirants Sort of Worked But…

I was using antiperspirant as deodorant because that was what was mostly available and I didn’t understand the difference. Still, antiperspirant worked since I never smelled of my own body odor when wearing 2 or 3 layers of antiperspirant.  However, I did smell like old, stale deodorant after about 4 hours. I loath this smell almost as much as body odor… but not quite.

I always carried an antiperspirant in my purse and would reapply at least once during the day. Oh, and if I forgot to put a spare in my purse, I’d immediatly go on a mission to purchase some at the nearest store – which wasn’t always near or convenient. Sometimes I’d often have 2 or 3 bottles of antiperspirant banging around in my purse because I’d forgotten I already had one in there.

As many of you will know but I couldn’t figure out is that putting on yet more antiperspirant over old antiperspirant is not very effective. I wish I’d experimented a bit with powders and scents and real deodorants but I didin’t. (At the time wet naps were exclusively for baby bottoms and I hate the smell of baby powder. ) I just bought what I thought was supposed to work and kept repeating the same mistake over and over again.

At some point, I did start carrying pre-soaped wash cloths in zip locked baggies. I’d attempt a quick discreet cleaning in the bathroom but I found it difficult  to really wash my underarms without soaking my clothes, leaving a residue of hand soap under my arms or being caught washing my armpits in a public toilet.

I also often carried a change of tops with me. I would often purchase tops I did not want or like just so I could stay out a little longer and not need to go home and shower and change.

Emracing One’s Natural Smell

Some people suggest I embrace the natural functioning of my body without feeling embarrassed, self-conscious or allowing my worries about my smell to disrupt my ability to enjoy my day. I am still working on such a level of zen-like acceptance but I’ve come to suspect it’s a journey, not a destination. a destination not everyone can expect to reach in this life-time. And, honestly, I find the smell of other people’s body odor pretty repugnant so it would mean accepting my own smell and theirs. Not sure I can do it.

Medical and Alternative Options

In different circumstances, I may have considered medical options for my “Hyperhidrosis” (excessive sweating) condition.

A few years ago I’d heard about an operation that actually removes the sweat glands and, according the the Mayo Clinic there are also surgeries on the nerves that might reduce sweating (especially in hands).  There is also non-surgical medical treatments like: topical over-the-counter and prescription antiperspirants; iontopheresis treatments  that involve a low current of electricity applied to parts of the body that sweat too much; oral medications that interfere with the nerve impulses responsible for sweat output; and finally there’s there’s the miracle of Botulinum toxin which, when injected, can temporarily paralyze nerves that trigger sweat glands.

I’ve often heard that excessive sweating and body odor is caused my diet. It might be my imagination but people seem to say this with a sort of sneer and holier-that-thou attitude. I’ve not yet met a person say this who actually had an excessive sweating problem. Nevertheless, there is SOME truth to diet impacting body odor. For instance, our diet will impact our Ph level. Eating lots of green veggies will make our system a little bit more alkaline which will naturally lower the acidity of our sweat. In turn, lower acidic sweat will make odor-causing bacteria less happy and, hence, less body odor. Then again, many of us our naturally more acidic and a diet drastic enough to change our personal odor might be too drastic indeed.

My Eureka Moment – My First Batch of Deodorant

I don’t remember what first inspired me to try making my own deodorant to combat the odor of my excessive sweating. I imagine it was my love of beautiful scents and when I began exploring essential oils.

Smell has always been incredibly important to me, I can tell you where I was when I first smelled and fell in love with Lavender (my first love), Night Blooming Jasmine, Nag Champa, Real Eucalyptus Leaves and Patchouli…

I can also tell you when I realized that perfume can make me sick and give me headaches (White Shoulders at 8 years old)

I had purchased some good essential oils that I liked smelling and was researching them when I came across the notion of using them as a deodorant. I learned that Essential Oils by themselves aren’t safe to use at strong enough levels to effectively fight odor causing bacteria unfortunately.

I knew the odor came from bacteria so I figured combat the bacteria and I could combat the smell. I researched, I put together ingredients.  An early batch of baking soda deodorant went very wrong when I impulsively threw in some apple cider vinegar at the last moment.  I know, I know, dumb, I must have missed the volcano experiment as a kid. What a mess!

So the apple vinegar/ baking soda concoction was not a winner but I cleaned it up and tried again without the vinegar. Eventually I came up with a mixture that looked good, smelled good and I didn’t think would hurt me so I put it on and forgot about it.  

The next morning, only half awake, I found myself enjoying the smell of… . Wait! My underams? No way! Sure enough, for perhaps the first time in my life, I was really enjoying the way my underarms smelled.  I can’t say I sat bolt upright and yelled EUREKA! Honestly, I thought it was just a nice side effect of the essential oils I had added. After my morning shower, I tried it again. All day, I kept smelling under my arms (I happened to be staying at home that day) and kept finding, to my amazement, that I still didn’t smell. No body odor, no rancid old antiperspirant smell, no rash… I thought it was just a fluke, maybe my diet had improved or maybe I was getting old and had stopped smelling.

Okay, it was a Slow Moving Eureka Moment

I kept using it because, for the first time ever,  I liked the way I smelled. I really thought that it wasn’t actually fighting body odor but that, for some reason, my body was no longer producing the kind of sweat that smelled strong. I thought that until I forgot to put it on one day and found out I was still a smelly girl.

So, my home-made deodorant was working for me and had really changed some things for me. I could wear white clothes without immediately staining the armpits yellow. I could wear my favorite top all day long and into the night as well. Since I wasn’t wearing two tops a day and a fresh nightgown every single night, I didn’t have as much laundry to do. I was no longer obsessing about how my excessive sweating made me smell, even in airplanes or in the crowded subways when I visited Toronto.  Best of all I wasn’t spending a whole lot of worry and energy about my smell.  I felt more confident in stressful situations like job interviews and more sexy in romantic situations. Awesome!

Still, it took me a couple years to make a batch for someone else, my Mom. I kept talking about how happy I was about my home-made deodorant and my Mom kept asking me to make her some. I actually didn’t think it would work for her, I don’t know why… maybe I figured she didn’t need it like I did or it was a weird fluke that it worked for me. Anyway, I finally did make some for her and she liked it, actually, she loved it. Then I made it for another friend who hadn’t been able to wear any deodorant for years  because commercial brands make his underarm glands swell up.

It took me a long time to consider selling it though. It seemed to me there had to be a good reason that the big companies like Revlon,  Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson didn’t make a deodorant that worked as well as mine. Since then I have some pretty good theories of why this is so. You can read more about my theories here.

Selling Deodorant

Brenda’s First Day at Point Loma Farmers Market

I started looking into a food cart business and someone, probably my Mom, told me I should sell my deodorant.  Well, at first I rejected the idea but then I thought, hey, what they heck, I’ll give it a try.  I thought I could try just a little bit and if it failed, move on.

Of course, any small business owners reading this probably know there is no such thing for as a no-investment business trial or instant success. My business was NOT an instant success. But I found enough customers whose lives, like mine, were changed by my simple but effective deodorant product and Ifelt I no longer had a choice but continue (of course I did but…).

Too many people who suffer from excessive sweating love my product, I almost feel responsible.  I always wanted to change the world for the better, I just didn’t know it would be a silly thing like underarm deodorant.

But maybe not so silly, my quality of life is better since I started using my deodorant so why wouldn’t other people benefit too?  Also, While I’m not sure that putting the chemicals you almost always find in commercial brand products hurt you, it’s nice to not have to worry about the true healthiness of such ingredients as aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly, aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum sesquichlorohydrate, aluminum silicate, steareth-2, steareth-20, PPG-11 stearyl ether, glyceryl stearate, PEG 40 stearate, cetyl esters, dimethicone, or  disodium EDTA, hydroxypropyl methylcellulos.

However, anyone who buys my deodorant or other products needs to know that I am not a chemist, scientist, beautician or anything else that gives me special or extraordinary expertise at making personal products except my own research and experience. If you like my products and they work for you like they work for me, we’re both better for it. But everyone is unique and some people will react to different ingredients differently. What is nice about my products is that you are probably pretty familiar with the ingredients going into them so this should help you know whether the product is right for you. AND, if it is not right for you, or you do get a rash, it will help you narrow down what it is in the ingredients that make your rash.

If you do have a reaction, I’d like to hear from you so I can learn from you, maybe help you find a better product and refund you your money. Please email me here: Brenda@ziryabs . com

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