Deodorant for men and women - A beginner's guide from my personal experience

14 Dec 2014

Whether we like it or not, perspiration occurs under our armpits and the smell can sometimes make us really uncomfortable. 

The fact that sweat is a vital function for the organism changes nothing. No one can escape perspiration, especially not on summer’s sunny hot days. Although perspiring is a natural phenomenon and even necessary, it can cause relationship and social problems. That's why we fight against underarm sweating in order to feel better.

The first solution that comes to mind when speaking of sweating is to buy the best deodorant. There are of all kinds, but it is possible to control perspiration with natural deodorants. A few years ago, I’ve chosen to use a homemade deodorant and an alum stone.

I prepare my deodorant using six tablespoons of coconut oil, four tablespoons of baking soda, four tablespoons of cornstarch and a few drops of bergamot essential oil. I mix and place them in an old deodorant recipient, after that I store them in the fridge for a few hours, before being ready to be used.

Coconut oil has excellent antibacterial properties and it hardens at temperatures below 20° C. When held against the skin, the body temperature starts melting the oil, facilitating the application of the whole mixture. In addition, coconut oil repairs and soothes minor injuries after shaving or waxing. 

Baking soda has a lot of properties from which our bodies can benefit, among them being the anti-odor action.

I use cornstarch because it’s porous and it helps absorbing the moisture and it also smooths the skin.

I add bergamot essential oil to my deodorant because I just love the way it smells. However, other essential oils are not excluded; everyone can choose their favorite aroma.

As I’ve already stated, I also use an alum stone in addition to my self-made deodorant.

The scandals of aluminum salts and the possible correlation between this ingredient and breast cancer has led many of us to turn to the alum stone. Although it’s a natural product, it acts against sweating just like the products of the petrochemical industry. In addition, it is an effective antiseptic; it neutralizes bacteria responsible for bad odors. It is also a great astringent and tightens the pores, which limits sweating without blocking them. The skin continues to breathe. The best part is that the alum stone is cost-effective, since I use one for about two years. It has no expiration date, because it’s a mineral (potassium alum) and it is very long lasting.

Most industrial deodorants contain aluminum components that act against perspiration. The aluminum salts are widely used in the manufacture of sprays, sticks or deodorant beads because they are easy to integrate, effective against sweating and generally well tolerated at the skin.

In any case, I prefer using natural antiperspirants, because they remove odors without clogging the sweat glands. I consider that it is better to avoid using traditional industrial deodorants. As far as possible, I would advise anyone to better choose a non-alcoholic deodorant, without aluminum, organic, if possible, or at least paraben-free. Irritation, nerve and bones damage, anemia, breast cancer, are all potential risks associated with exposure to aluminum chlorohydrate. 

Truth being said, natural deodorants are not as powerful as most of the conventional deodorants. Yet, they act very well on limiting the perspiration odors and are effective for a few hours. According to the tests, a good natural deodorant lasts over 6 hours, during which time the smell emanated by the armpits is still perceived as pleasant.
Knowing that unpleasant odors appear when the sweat is altered by bacterial overgrowth, deodorants aim to hinder this process with ingredients that fight the bacteria responsible for their decomposition. Additionally, fragrant oils act by modifying the smells. 

Deodorants are produced under many forms: balls, sticks or sprays. Ball and stick deodorants usually have the same composition. Only the consistency changes: liquid for one, in solid state for the other. Sprays are much simpler in composition, but they're usually higher in alcohol. Also read Love the Fragrance to buy the best perfumes for women that have deodorant properties.

But enough explanation, if you want to know what deodorant to buy the next time you go shopping, you should simply avoid anything with the “aluminum” tag on it and look for more convenient ingredients. Or go try a natural deodorant, enriched with your favorite essential oil flavor. If, however, you continue to use conventional industrial products, make sure that you absorb the least possible risk components.

I love my boobs

22 Mar 2014

It’s a well known fact that bras enhance the appearance of us women, while keeping our breasts supported and in good shape. We all know that an ill-fitting bra can cause back problems, muscle tension, neck and shoulder pain and even headaches, while a well-fitting bra is crucial for our posture and health, particularly if you have large breasts.
Yet almost eighty percent of women wear bras that don't fit their breasts and bodies!

Finding the perfect bra size can sometimes feel like a real journey. The right one must combine the right cup size with the proper chest size. If the chest size is too small, the bra will feel too tight and it will produce discomfort around the ribcage. On the other hand, if the chest size is too large, the bra will be too loose and it won’t be offering the support it’s supposed to.

Finally, choosing a too small cup size will put unwanted tension on your breasts, causing them to migrate towards your armpits and that’s just an awful perspective.
I did a little research on the history of bras and I found out some really interesting facts.
Most fashion historians generally agree that the bra was created one century ago, being the successor of the corset, which was worn for about 400 years, from the 15th to the 20th century. 

The corset’s role was to compress the upper part of the body, in order to highlight the hips and the chest. So the corset would sculpt, mold and support the body. In the beginning, they were all made out of pieces of wood. After awhile, the wooden structure got replaced with metal pieces.
Even if the corset is regarded as a guarantee of femininity and sensuality, it is still the target of a lot of criticism, due to the various health problems and pain it can usually cause, such as atrophy of the abdominal and back muscles, or the shrinkage of the lower ribs. 

In 1889, at the World Exhibition in Paris, a woman named Herminie Cadolle presented a corset in two pieces. This is widely considered the ancestor of the bra as we know it today. However, the public has not been won outright and the corset kept its popularity.
In 1904, the words "maintaining bra” appeared in the Larousse dictionary. Three years later, the famous Vogue magazine started popularizing the word "bra". According to the official records, the first model of bra composed out of two connected triangular cups was created in 1914 by the American publisher and writer Mary Phelps Jacob. 

But in fact, the bra is way much older than we might think. It all began in ancient Greece, in the year -400 before Christ. It seems that the women of the time tried to cover up their breasts by using long pieces of fabric. They did not wear bras as we know them today, but brassieres made out of wide strips of tissue wrapped around the bust. At that time, women clearly had an androgynous look.
This piece of information states that the bra is not at all a modern invention.
As a confirmation, the archaeologists of the University of Innsbruck in Austria have found four bras dating from the Middle Ages in the castle of Lengberg.

The pieces of underwear discovered were made out of over 2,700 textile fragments. They were found in a vault under the floor of one of the castle’s rooms, a sufficiently dry place to prevent the linen’s degradation over time.
The pieces highly resemble modern bras, having separate cups and one of them in particular looks a lot like what you can find today in lingerie stores, with two wide straps for the shoulders and a narrow belt for the back side.
Returning to the timeline, the 50s were the age of pointed uplift bra, key element of the pin-up current and the latter 80’s fashion trends. 

As for the mid 60s, it was then when the Canadian company Canadelle started commercializing "push-up" bras. Ever since, the push-up models have improved in shape and performance, such as the models proposed by Wonderbra.
Stepping aside of the history, I think it is very important that all ladies figure out their right bra sizes. I also believe that having school classes teaching the girls how to choose a bra that fits would spare women of a lot of suffering. Because truth being said, from the moment you’re finally wearing the right bra size, everything is different.

Trying on my old clothes - from my teen years

7 Dec 2013

Seriously, what in the name of Lord was I expecting? To fit my giant bottom into those tiny trousers?
Being a girl with big thighs is not a nice picture to have of you, but being a grown woman and wanting to fit into some adolescent’s pants is the worst delusional scenery ever. Especially if that adolescent is you, ten years ago.

A lot of people try on their old clothes and wonder how they could ever fit in them. Well, it’s also my case. I was cleaning out my room today and I found some of my old clothes from my teen years, thinking that there might be a chance for some of them to actually fit me just fine. Wrong!
I’ve kept my weight in good balance when I was a teenager, being a Size 6; or sometimes 8 (Standard sizing has never been really standard and that’s a familiar issue many women confront. In one store, you’re a Size 6, in another, an 8 or a 10. It depends on the clothing brand). 

Anyway, during college I started to put on some weight, due to the fact that I wasn't eating properly and I had no time to engage in sports. But I actually somehow lost 80 pounds in less than one year. Last summer I put in a huge amount of effort and I lost all those pounds that I had gained the years before.
I still find excuses to eat crappy on occasions, but in general I manage to gather the strength and energy within me to maintain my weight as it is nowadays. 

I weigh now 185 pounds and I wear Size Medium t-shirts and Size 32 jeans. My old pants from a year ago, when I was 265 pounds, are size 44, so I lost 12 pants sizes. For that period of time when my shirts were double XL I was sad, tired and depressed all the time. I used to hide behind my baggy t-shirts and a corny sense of humor, but everyone could see right through me. My health began to diminish and I didn't want to get out of bed anymore or see any of my friends. Eating was my only comfort, until a point where I no longer had control over my life, food did.

Of course, you might be wondering how I’ve managed to lose all the fat in such a short time. Well, in order to figure out how not to gain weight, you have to figure out why you’re gaining weight in the first place. It can be anything from eating the cheapest food possible, which is consequently, higher in fat, it can also just be the fact that you no longer control your portions, or the fact that you’re generally eating buffet style. A lot of people use food as a way to cope with stress and that’s not a good thing.
Then, alcohol is tricky, because it’s a huge contributor to weight gain. It’s not just the fact that beer has carbohydrates, the metabolic aspect of all alcohol is the main issue. When you drink 8 ml of alcohol, you restrict by one third your body’s ability to burn fat.

You might know that your body can burn three full meals a day, but alcohol completely changes that. During the day, your body is constantly burning the things you ate that day and by the time you go to sleep, it burned up quite a lot of what you’ve eaten. But if you add that alcohol component, your body immediately starts to burn only the amount of alcohol that you've ingested. So the best thing to do is stay away from alcohol. And exercise, do lots of exercises and make sure you drink plenty of water.
That was my method and it worked. I started to eat right, mainly organic and did a lot of aerobics and fitness. This helped a lot boosting my self-confidence and gave me the feeling that I was on the right track.
So, after laughing out loud today while looking at the pile of clothes that used to fit the little person I used to be back in the days, I've decided to give them away for charity and embrace the actual me without even thinking again about the past.

I visited the place where I grew up

6 Feb 2013

Last weekend I took my two daughters and we went on a trip at the cottage where I grew up, in a beautiful place out in the country.
It was a three-hour drive and the girls were really excited to see the magnificent views passing us by. As usual, they played their favorite game, imagining the clouds were animals or all sort of characters and fantasy creatures. They even started naming them at some point. 

Lily is 5 and Angela is 6 years old. They both look a lot like me when I was their age.
As we arrived, it seemed to me that everything had shrunk somehow over time. The bench on the porch looked smaller, the doors and even the roof looked as if they belonged to an oversized doll’s house. But I knew in fact I got used to the big city lifestyle and not seeing these environments for a few years in a row created the illusion that everything was smaller than when I last saw the place.

Even if she visits us constantly, the girls were extremely happy to see Grandma and my father was also very pleased to greet us. After getting out of the car, Lily and Angela ran into their arms as fast as they could.
Max, the old family dog, started barking and bouncing around when he noticed us coming. As we approached, he became more and more filled with joy. The girls gave him gentle strokes on the back of his head while Max leaned towards them.
As far back as I can remember, growing up I’ve always wanted to escape my tiny home town. I did my studies in New York, and afterwards I started my job there. I'm a city girl; a girl who loves museums, exhibitions, cinemas, cute cafes, nice restaurants and chic neighborhoods. Since I left my hometown, I never got to come back for a weekend, a week or more. And that’s a shame, because it’s a pleasant town, quiet, with cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and a few mansions. This small town has the charm of old cities and the atmosphere of a college town. It’s the city that should appeal to anyone who would like a getaway, all the people who have been here have left with good memories. 

my daughters

Since this was the first time I visited my hometown together with my daughters, I took them to see the most important monuments of the city, such as the majestic St. Peter's Cathedral and the recently restored city hall.
That night we had the opportunity to visit my grandmother Jane and my aunt Emily, who are both in their nineties and have issues with energy and oil prices. I appreciate their concern with the problems facing our government and the country today. Anyway, they were both thrilled to meet the girls; it was the first time they ever had the chance to spend some time together.

As I watched them, I was struck with the awareness of my daughters’ good inheritance. Aunt Emily possesses an enduring wisdom much like my grandmother, whose strength and peacefulness were revealed by the tender way in which I saw her holding her great-grandchildren.
We sat there for a few hours and talked about love, family values and the beauty of being three generation women at the same time under the same roof.

Back at the cottage, as we finished eating mom’s famous turkey, I glanced over at dad. He was watching Lily and Angela play and he had tears in his eyes. He shook his head and, looking deeply at me and my mother, he said, “If children don’t have the same luck we had when we were young, they don’t really have the opportunity to realize their dreams.”
At night, we retired to the comfort of my old room, kept by my parents just as I left it years back. I spent most of the night looking at my daughters while analyzing my father’s words. I soon realized that my life is no longer fully connected to my parents’. They have a different manner of thinking and they live in a completely different world. 

But above all, that night I deeply understood the true meaning of spending quality time with the people who raised you. I got to reconnect with my roots and came to fully appreciate how far I’ve come. And this is one of the priceless things I ever got to experience, after enjoying a great day of celebration for children, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

Fit and Beautiful

6 Dec 2012

I start my day by getting up early in the morning, at about 7 a.m. I sleep at least 8 hours a night. If I don’t get the right amount of rest over night, I make sure I take a nap the next day.
I meditate 10 minutes after I wake up, which includes breathing techniques. After that, I drink a big glass of warm water and I begin my stretching exercises, which lasts for about 5 minutes. When I’m all warmed up, I go for a 15 minute morning run in the park next to my building. I run while listening to my favorite music and this routine gives me plenty of energy to start my day. I love having an exercise pattern; my body is used to it and expects it right on the schedule.

As we all know, being healthy is not just about avoiding diseases, but also about having vitality. It’s not just about the lack of pain or discomfort, but also about the joy of being alive and the awareness of your own body. With the right perspective, attitude and determination, being fit and beautiful is just a matter of time.
I have a balanced diet; I always mix protein, fiber, fruits and vegetables on my plate. I make sure I eat plenty of fresh greens everyday and I stay away from salt, sugar, chips, carbonated drinks and sodas. I only use natural sweeteners, like honey or stevia and I’ve added healthy fats to my food, such as extra virgin oils, avocado, walnuts and almonds.

fit and beautiful

I like to sprinkle fresh parsley on my meals. It’s a diuretic which helps my body excrete excess fluids to beat water retention. Cucumber and watermelon have similar effects, but I am used to wait for their season, in order to enjoy their benefits at their best.
What I really intend to do is try to squeeze in my diet at least one pineapple per week. This tropical fruit is rich in digestive enzymes that help break down food in my stomach, improving the digestion process.
I also like to make my own kefir, using fresh milk and kefir grains, which I got from a local market. The constant use of home-made kefir welcomes good bacteria, also known as Probiotics, important in maintaining the stomach health and proper balance.
Maybe the most important fact of my diet is that I drink around two liters of water per day. This stimulates my kidneys and helps keeping my body in shape. I add fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice to my drinking water as often as possible. We should all detox from time to time. 

Supplements and vitamins are also an essential part of being fit and they support our body’s immunity systems. I take everyday recommended amounts of calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and Omega 6 and I feel great.
After breakfast, I usually go to work riding my bike, the best part being that my job is only a few blocks away. At the office, instead of coffee, I drink 2 cups of green tea. Green tea is delicious and rich in antioxidants and since I drink it on daily bases, it’s a win-win situation.

Two or three times per week, I go for an evening swim at an indoor pool. It’s not part of my daily routine, but it’s the best activity for fusing me with the right amount of relaxation my body requires after a hard day of work. I also dance from time to time, mostly during weekends.

Because I don’t always get to enjoy my evening swims, I sometimes like to soak in long warm baths, with loads of foam and essential oils, which brings me to the next part of my staying fit and beautiful program: taking care of my skin and hair.
I totally adore getting my scalp massaged with warm coconut oil. I do this twice a week, by leaving it overnight and shampooing it the following morning. This nourishes the follicles and the hair looks just amazing after the treatment. My face benefits from clay masks once a week and I vary the ingredients every now and then. Apart from that, I never, under any circumstances, go to sleep without removing my makeup first.

After I bathe or shower, I usually apply a moisturizing lotion all over my body, but sometimes I use raw cocoa butter instead, especially when my skin feels a little dry. It smells divine and it leaves my skin velvety smooth.
It’s my body, my life and I do what’s best for me.