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Ditching the chemicals hero
25 September 2014

Opinion: Ditching the chemicals

Aneleise Gawn gives homemade deodorant a go.

As a child, the only vegetables I ate were carrots and potatoes. I drank Coke or Raro every day, ate biscuits and chips by the bucketload, had McDonald's at every opportunity and, much to my parents' consternation, shunned most of the healthy food that came my way.

I drank and ate my way through university, relying on a combination of processed foods, alcohol, coffee and energy drinks to get me through. As an adult, my diet improved a little but I basically carried on doing what I had always done. Amazingly, I managed to function pretty well.

A few years ago, I had a bit of an epiphany. I realised that the way I was living my life was not conducive to a long, happy and healthy life so I gradually started making a few changes. I cleaned up my diet, started exercising more often and also began ditching the chemicals in my life.

Most of us understand the benefits of eating well and exercising. However, I had no idea that chemicals could affect my health. I found out that many chemicals commonly used in household cleaners and body products contain substances that are known allergens, skin-irritants, hormone and immune-system disruptors, and carcinogens. Even some of the so-called “natural” brands contain harmful chemicals.

Armed with this knowledge, I have now ditched almost all of my chemical-laden household cleaners, make-up and other face and body products in favour of safer, more natural, plant-based versions. I now use a combination of weird-and-wacky homemade concoctions and store-bought products.

One product that I was reluctant to change was my deodorant. Not surprisingly, I really didn’t want to smell! However, I took the plunge about 12 months ago and started trying out a few natural shop-bought deodorants. None of these were very effective, particularly with my new exercise regime. My solution was either to shower twice a day or to use the natural deodorants on quiet days and revert to my industrial-strength aluminium-based deodorant on busier days.

Not feeling particularly satisfied with this solution, I consulted Google to see what I could come up with. A number of websites suggested coconut-oil based deodorants were very effective so I tried making my own and have never looked back. This stuff is AMAZING and I now swear by it! It takes about 2 minutes to make and only requires a few ingredients (coconut oil, arrowroot or cornflour, baking soda and maybe a few drops of essential oil).

It's cheap, simple and effective. If you’re game, give it a try. All you need is a small bowl, a fork, a small container, 3 Tbsp of extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil (softened but not melted), 2 Tbsp of cornflour (or arrowroot) and 2 Tbsp of baking soda. I also usually add a few drops of tea tree or other essential oil, mix well and hey presto, a natural, safe and effective deodorant!

Please be aware that this is not an antiperspirant as such (I’ve come to the conclusion that our bodies sweat for a reason) but it keeps me odour-free. The only downside I’ve found is that coconut oil melts at around 24°c so it needs to be stored in a cool place during summer.

About the author:
Aneleise Gawn is the Consumer Advocate at Consumer NZ. In a previous life, she was a lawyer but is very pleased to now be working at Consumer NZ and helping consumers fight the good fight. She spends most of her time at Consumer working on new and exciting campaigns and preparing submissions on a wide range of consumer protection issues.

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