The deodorant dilemma

When it comes to armpits there can be no room for mistakes….one wrong product would result in an inexcusably stinky armpit situation that would leave me both miserable and embarrassed all day long. So when it came time to buy a new “organic” deodorant, all I could picture in my mind were long-haired hippies with long armpit hair applying some “natural” plant extract and claiming it reduced sweat and stink and yet if you got close enough to them you’d know it was a bald-faced lie.

I don’t play around with my deodorant. If my armpits are stinky I become absolutely miserable. I use Clinical Strength Secret and that stuff is magical. I still sweat a little but the smell is usually under control. I was having a little panic attack about the possibility of not finding a suitable natural subsitute…I mean come on, this stuff is Clinical!  I was seriously sceptical that anything made from nature (and won’t slowly kill me) would control both sweat and stink. I ventured into the forgotten aisle at Whole Foods that I usually never venture down….the personal products aisle.  I was really worried about the “natural” options out there but I took the plunge and trusted that there must be some decent, safe-for-you deodorant out there.

Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting deodorant: This was the first brand I tried out and it was a bad choice….very very bad choice. It confirmed all my fears. No wonder the hippie in my nightmares was smelly, she used Tom’s of Maine! That stuff was not good. Just not good at all. It was gelatinous, and the very instant the stick touched my armpit I felt the gelatin start to melt onto my armpit and started dripping. You’ve got to be kidding me! It was just nasty. The heat from my body made the gelatin melt. Gross. Then I was stuck with an armpit full of wet gelatin. I started to flap my arms around in hopes that it would dry, I fanned the wet armpit, I tried blowing on it, and yes, I probably looked as silly and ridiculous as you’re imagining me to be……it was just everything you would not want in a deodorant. Eventually I pat it with some tissue and hoped for the best. Approximately an hour later I noticed this deodorant was not doing its job in the least. I had sweat marks and could start to smell my armpits, and mind you I’m not an overly sweaty person to begin with. Gross. I went and showered and then promptly threw the stupid Tom’s of Maine deodorant in the trash, I was so mad with it that I just could not have it in my house anymore. Maybe I was being a touch melodramatic, but I hated it. It was a huge waste of money. I have never disliked a product so much as I disliked that deodorant. It was terrible. Just terrible. I’d give it a big fat Zero. I had such high hopes for it since Tom’s of Maine is a pretty well-known natural brand, but it was just all kinds of wrong.  So disappointed.

After the whole Tom’s of Maine fiasco, I was pretty skeptical that I would find a suitable alternative. I wanted to just run back to my Clinical Strength Secret, but I decided to suck it up and keep trying new brands in hopes that I would find The One. So I bought a new brand called Kiss My Face. The name alone made me laugh out loud when I saw it. Why would a deodorant be called Kiss my Face? But I digress. It’s the Brand name and they happen to make a deodorant, which I guess makes sense but it’s not smart marketing.

Kiss My Face Natural Active Life: The name alone made me think this wasn’t going to be any good ( it reminded me of Zoolanders Kiss-Face every time I read it), but I was wrong. This stuff works. I got a fragrance free version which is perfect and it made me feel clean and totally odorless all day long. I was impressed. Plus it’s free of aluminum and paraben. I looked into why aluminum and paraben would be bad as ingredients in a deodorant, seems like there is a link between those two products and breast cancer. Awesome. Apparently, parabens act as estrogen when applied to the skin near the breast frequently, and  a lot of estrogen is known to cause breast cancer growth thus the link, but nothing is conclusive so far. Which means it’s likely true, but since they haven’t been able to definitively prove it yet the companies can still use it as an ingredient since the FDA can’t ban it. Awesome. Aluminum coats the skin and blocks sweat glands from releasing harmful toxins, which then leads to those toxins to be distributed by the lymphatic system and to circulate the body causing various ailments. Double awesome. I’m not taking chances with my armpits and boobs, so I’m going aluminum free and paraben free from now on. Bye bye awesome Clinical Strength Secret. It was so fun while it lasted but you’re potentially bad for me so I’m going to have to dump you. I’d give Kiss My Face (gosh it’s such a terrible name) a 8ish, closer to  a 9. This stuff worked, it kept me dry, and odor-free. Plus I was wearing a black shirt all day and it didn’t leave any marks on my shirt, and it’s made in Canada! Yay!

I like the Kiss my Face brand, but I think I’ll keep trying other brands to compare and see if there’s anything I like better. Thankfully I will be safely un-smelly (and yes I just made up that word).

I’m running out of things to drink. Gasp! I might have to drink water…. (Unsatisfyingly Successful)

If you were to look at a pie chart of things I drink on a daily basis, diet coke, coffee with creamer and water would all be divided up quite unevenly. I’m embarrassed to say that I really am  addicted to Caffeine-free diet coke. Yes, I buy the caffeine-free kind to delude myself into thinking it’s “healthier”, plus I’m breastfeeding my 8-month old so I can’t be drinking much caffeine. I also drink caffeine-free coffee (I know….what’s the point right?) but I love the taste and crave it everyday. It’s also the only sane way I can have coffee creamer without looking like a completely insane person.

During each of my pregnancies I went cold turkey and never drank diet coke or coffee. Somehow it was easier to do with each of the little guys in my womb. I even held strong for a couple of months after each of them were born, but eventually I always started up again and then lost all the will power to stop. With my new resolve to be as chemical-free and organic as I can tolerate, I started researching into my beloved diet coke. Yeah…..part of me already knew this stuff was bad for me, but I drank it anyway and ignored it. The kicker is that not only is the diet coke itself pretty bad for me, the aluminum cans it’s packaged in are lined with BPA. Awesome.

Apparently I’m late to the game and totally lame, but I didn’t know that almost all cans are lined with BPA. If you buy diced tomatoes (which I do ALL THE TIME) then sure enough you’re eating BPA laced tomatoes. How about tomato paste? or canned vegetables? tuna? beans? Yep, lined with BPA (with an exception of a few brands, see link above. I’ll go into detail in a later post). I still have a couple of cans of diced tomatoes and beans in my pantry but I am dreading having to find an alternative to them when the time comes to buy some more. I’m starting my research and slowly realizing that it’s going to take quite some effort to make sure what I am buying doesn’t have BPA. I already buy organic canned black beans, but the cans have BPA in them! How in the world does that make sense? Why would you go through the trouble of making sure you didn’t put chemicals on the beans while growing them and then turn around and put them in packaging that has chemicals to begin with? Sigh. It’s really just amazingly backwards and outright stupid.

I am going to post about canned beans and tomatoes later when I actually run out of those items, but for this specific post I’m going to focus my efforts on finding alternatives to my beloved coffee creamer. I’m a snob when it comes to my coffee creamer and I love love love the Trader Joes Hazelnut flavored one. It tastes so yummy and actually comes close to literally brightening  up my day when I drink it. I have about two days worth of creamer left, so I went to take a look at the label to see where it was made….and nothing. Nowhere on the label was there a place of origin. Why would there not be a clearly marked place of origin? Does this happen often? I guess I’ll find out soon enough. There wasn’t even a number for me to call to inquire about the product. They’re really trying to make this hard for me. Don’t they know I have two young children that never nap at the same time and keep me busy all day long?

I’m going to have to find another alternative anyway because the creamer is not organic. I can almost start crying about it right now. I love this stuff but I know that I should probably find a healthier alternative….gasp, even maybe just drink water instead of all this coffee and creamer.

I resort to google. I google “Organic Flavored Coffee Creamer” and this website pops up with recipes and instructions on how to make your own coffee creamer. So apparently I’m not the only one struggling with this and most definitely not a pioneer in the “organic coffee creamer” department. Make my own coffee creamer? Sounds interesting and scary. I bet it would taste great and be a lot cheaper than buying creamer every week. It’s going to take some planning on my part to make in bulk and store in the refrigerator, but maybe once I start getting used to it I’ll find that it’s not as complicated and disastrous as I’m imagining it to be (I barely have time to properly dress myself in the morning let alone make fresh coffee creamer daily).

Oh and Whole Foods sells organic coffee creamers too. Well that’s just fabulous! Now I have more than one option and alternative so I can quit my whining. I google “Whole Foods Coffee Creamer” and up pops an instructional video on how to use the creamer. Really? I need a video to tell me how to use creamer? I click and watch it in anticipation of having a little giggle, but it’s not really a clip about how to use the Whole Foods brand organic coffee creamer, it’s actually a lady talking about how to choose a “whole” food creamer and reading labels. She makes a couple of valid points and that’s the end of the clip. Thanks lady!

I decide to go to Whole Foods and buy a couple of organic creamers and test them out. Mr.Research works from home, which is both a blessing and a curse for this stay at home mom. Today it’s a blessing because I can quickly go to the store during SillyMonky’s afternoon nap instead of dragging both kids along with me like I normally do.  I put SillyMonkey down for his nap and grab DramaLlama to quickly change his clothes and get him ready to go. I throw on some jeans and a sweater and try to be out of the door quickly so I can be back before SillyMonkey woke from his  usual two-hour nap.

Of course DramaLlama had other plans. Before I could make it out of the door I smelled the unmistakable and incriminating smell of a dirty diaper. When I dressed DramaLlama I had checked his diaper and it was bone dry and clean, but of course in the 5 minutes it took for me to get dressed, DramaLlama relaxed enough to let it all out. Back up the stairs I went to change the little guys diaper. One realizes that there can never be a “quick” anything when dealing with kids.

Finally we make it to Whole Foods. I grab a cart, put the cart cover on and situate the baby comfortably in. I have a few things on my list but I’m trying to focus on the coffee creamer section. I see a few options and start to pick some up and read the labels. DramaLlama starts to get a little fussy and is once again refusing to stay seated for my convenience. Lucky for me I brought the Ergo (baby carrier) with me. I take my time strapping it on and putting him in. He’s not too happy to be in the Ergo but it’s better than the shopping cart. My time is limited since I know the baby is going to lose it very soon (poor baby is having a terribly fussy teething day) and I have to get back before SillyMonkey wakes up. I quickly grab two organic creamers that are made in the USA. One is the 365 organic hazelnut creamer (the Whole Foods brand) and the other is the Organic Valley Soy French Vanilla creamer. I grab a few other quick items, bananas, onions and chicken, then quickly pay for them and make my way back home. I arrive before SillyMonkey wakes up.

The 365 Organic Hazelnut Creamer: One word to describe it…..Meh. I mean, it’s not bad. It was creamy, it was sweet and tasted like hazelnut, but it had a sort of oddly displaced caramel taste that just didn’t really agree with me. Would I buy it again? Maybe. I’m still going to keep looking for other tastier options if they’re actually out there. If I had to keep drinking it that wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it was not as tasty as the Trader Joes Hazelnut creamer, at least not to me. Now I’m not going to go into the minute detail and specifics of every ingredient in each of these two products I’m comparing. I’m just your average consumer going from non-organic to organic. When I become a fancier organic consumer who starts to compare organic brands and their ingredients to one another I will be sure to revisit this review, but for now I’m just going by taste. The overall rating for this product would be a 6 or maybe 7.

***Disclaimer: My ratings are really based on nothing but my taste buds and the fact that the product is organic. Take all my “ratings” with a grain of salt. Enjoy!

***Double Disclaimer: Apparently I can not spell the word hazelnut and the red squiggly lines kept popping up every time I would write it. Awesome.

The Organic Valley Soy French Vanilla Creamer: One word to describe it….yuck! Ok, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into with this creamer. When one sees the word vanilla one usually thinks of some kind of whitish product. When I poured this creamer out it looked exactly like chocolate milk. The color difference was a little off-putting. The product is not very sweet (which most would consider a good thing) and the taste was just not that great. I was disappointed, I really wanted to like this product. It seemed so great on paper. It’s organic, non GMO, without carrageenan, no HFCS  and has no BPA in the  lining of the carton. Sounds absolutely perfect but didn’t taste as perfect. I think I might try to give some other flavors a try before completely dismissing this brand. I’m sure plenty of people love this creamer and think it tastes great, but not this soccer mom. The overall rating for this product would be a 3ish, maybe 4. Are you in total aw of how precise and scientific my ratings are? You should be.

So of the two organic products I bought, I sort of liked one. There were definitely a lot of options out there for coffee creamers, and I’m going to continue with my search for the perfect creamer. Plus I’m still going to try and make my own creamer per the website I linked to earlier. I’ll let you all know how that goes.

In conclusion, when it came to coffee creamers, it didn’t seem to be that difficult to find an organic alternative, but the taste so far was just not as good. It’s always hard to give up a product you love, so I think I might be having some Trader Joes withdrawal here, but I’m confidant I can find a suitable replacement without too much effort.

This is going to be one tall order!

A few days ago, after putting my two kids to sleep and putting the house back in order, I collapsed on the bed and snuggled under the covers with my husband to watch some TV before we fell asleep. We were watching the Daily Show per usual and on this particular episode they had a segment that really struck a chord with me. It was about a Chinese factory having to install nets to prevent Chinese workers from jumping to their death as a means of escaping factory life. Not exactly a comforting image to have before falling asleep.

I looked around my bedroom and wondered how many things in that room were made in China, if I was honest with myself, probably most of it. I mean what’s NOT made in China these days? It’d be easier to list the stuff Not made in China than it would be to list the things that were. My sight then uneasily settled on my iPhone4 that was laying on the nightstand right next to me.

Yep, that was definitely made in China, and probably came from the very factory they were talking about on TV. I felt ashamed and outraged….deeply deeply ashamed. I realize this is some very heavy stuff I’m talking about now, and I’m usually very light hearted, but this was seriously upsetting and really solidified my reasons for not buying anything made in China from that point on.

Part of me always knew that the conditions of workers in China had to be difficult, and that’s putting it lightly. I knew they would not be able to mass produce things on such a cheap and large scale without making some serious sacrifices, but I guess I just chose to not think about it.

I’ve been wary of Chinese products for a while now. Since the birth of my first son in 2008, I’ve been reading labels a lot more closely and paying attention to where things are made and what materials are used to make it. I insist on buying BPA free. I thought that was enough, until I discovered one afternoon while reading a magazine in a doctor’s waiting room that I also had to pay attention to Phalates and PVC.

To put it bluntly, I was not very enlightened on the subject before having children. I was your typical middle class working American young professional, I worked hard for my money and wanted it to stretch. I had student loans and car payments to make. When it came to my food and home products I never paid much attention to labels and just assumed if it was on the shelves then it must have passed some rigorous government testing and rules to make it safe for me to purchase and/or consume.

Something about having to start feeding my son solids got me thinking about what I was putting in his mouth. I looked around at the food we bought and ate, none of it was organic. I started reading about why one would want to buy organic in the first place. It always just seemed like over-priced pretentious food for pretentious people. I was floored by my ignorance. I immediately started buying organic food, or at least what I thought was organic (more on that later). I had a hunger to educate myself on the safety of the products I used on my son, what I bathed him in, the lotion I slathered on him, the diaper creams, the shampoos, the toothpastes….the list goes on and on…

Did you know there’s a whole website dedicated to giving a safety score to everyday products we use on our skin and bodies? I had no idea. I found this site and started searching for the products I had in my bathroom. I panicked and threw out all the skin products I had for him and ran to the nearest Whole Foods and bought him organic and chemical free products. I keep trying to educate myself, and every day I learn how much I actually still don’t know. It’s exhausting. I try my best and I’ll keep trying. I feel much more enlightened than I did 3 years ago for sure, but I know there’s still so much for me to learn and so much for me to find out. I find myself becoming more and more “crunchy” (I hate that word) with every passing day. I now cloth diaper my youngest son whereas I used Huggies on my oldest. I’m slowly replacing all the plastic in my house with glass or stainless steel or ceramic. I’m really trying but I know there’s still so much for me to do and this blog is dedicated to my journey of “doing”.

Which brings me back to the whole China thing. I used to shy away from products if I knew they were made in China. I’ve read too many recalls for things laced with lead and/or cadmium to know that many cheap products from China come with a steep price health-wise. But to be honest, I was only half-heartedly doing it. I think I was most surprised when I was browsing through the aisles of Buy Buy Baby and came across a box of Baby MumMums. Displayed across the front of the box was the word “Organic”. Yes, this seemed like a great product to buy for my 8 month old. I take a peek at the label…..yep, Made in China.

Many products that claim they are organic are still made in China, and maybe I’m a serious skeptic here, but really, how organic can they be? I have a hard time believing that China would have the same organic standards we have here in the US, and don’t get me started on the mislabeling and intentionally misleading advertizing on so called organic and natural products here in the US.  Also, on that same note, I read an article a while back about organic farms in China, it’s not good news for the Chinese people. To sum the article up, organic farms are very limited and the organic produce it produces is strictly available to the elite and/or rich and none are available for the general public. So basically I am now on a mission. I am on a mission to take responsibility for the products I buy.

  • know how mistreated Chinese workers are. You’d have to be living in a cave not to be aware of that.
  • know that the safety regulations on Chinese products are just not good enough.
  • know that I want to buy organic products that do not contain harmful chemicals for me and my family.
  • know I want to also be as environmentally friendly as I can be during this process.

So my personal challenge is to buy only organic, earth-friendly products that do not contain harmful chemicals, and are Not Made in China. I know this is going to be one heck of a tall order. It’s going to take some serious research on my part, and a lot of effort (and money…), but I’m willing to do it and blog about it in hopes of maybe helping others find alternative products to the everyday chemical-laden, China-made products we use. I will try my best. I’ll be posting about my successes and failures and I’m anticipating quite a bit of failures. I’ll be researching and shopping for NMIC products as they run out in my household and as needed for the family. Guess I can kiss Thomas the Tank Engine toys goodbye! I’m going to try and compile a list of all the products I used to buy and the new chemical-free, not made in China products I use to replace them. I’ll be learning as I go but hopefully you’ll be learning right along with me. Or if you already know maybe you can just tell me and save me the hassle! The one thing I am sure of is that every time I look at a label and see Made in China, those suicide-prevention nets will be the first thing that pop in my head and that image alone will make me drop that product, turn around and keep looking for a better and more humane alternative. It’s a matter of principle.