Posts Categorized: beauty

This Week I Love …

500

crystal deodorant. YES IT’S TRUE I DO.

So the claims that aluminum content in antiperspirants causes cancer are somewhat overblown, but as this fabulous Hairpin post aptly points out, “rubbing a body-function-altering chemical into a crevice of my body every morning” might not be the best idea. And aside from aluminum,  you’ve got parabens. Studies are still in process and of course I expect you all to make your own decisions, but I’ve been experimenting with natural deodorant solutions for some time and since I know from Twitter and Facebook discussions that this topic is of interest, I thought I’d share my findings.

A bit about my skin and body chemistry

I have sensitive, fussy skin all over my everything, though my pits are relatively hardy. No breakouts or rashes from any deodorants I’ve tried, natural or unnatural. (Or supernatural.) I am naturally both sweaty and smelly, and even an hour without some sort of underarm product will lead to a locker-room-y odor. That said, I do not sweat through my clothes unless it is beastly hot and do not smell strongly unless I’ve worked out hardcore. Just sharing this to give you a baseline of comparison. If you don’t tend to sweat/smell, some of what failed for me may be perfect for you. If you sweat/smell more, my favorite find might not be strong enough for your needs/preferences.

What I tried

  • Trinknitty made me some of this stuff. It just plain didn’t help my stank that much, and definitely didn’t curb sweating.
  • Weleda Citrus Deodorant Spray: Man, I’m a sucker for citrus scents and this stuff smells amazing. It only does that, however, when I am sitting stock-still in a cool room. I still spray it in my pits sometimes just so I can walk around smelling orange-y. For five minutes.
  • Several Tom’s of Maine solid/sticks. My armpits LAUGHED SO HARD at these.
  • Same for two now-discontinued Body Shop options.

Why I love the crystal stuff

  • So we’re clear, I’m using the Crystal Essence roll-on pictured above. Can’t say it smells super lavender-y, but I’m OK with that. I remember trying the Crystal stick stuff ages ago, and it didn’t work AT ALL for me.
  • I hate to say this, but wiping a cream into my pits with my fingers? Not my favorite. The roll-on format is quick and easy to apply.
  • I can get it at the grocery store. Or the drug store.
  • It doesn’t cost a bundle. Around $5.
  • For me, it works. Unless it’s unbearably humid and I’m jogging,* I don’t sweat a ton and I don’t smell at all. And for the record, when it IS unbearably humid, when I’m about to hit the gym for a serious workout, or when I know I’ll be super nervous (TV and press appearances, etc.) I switch back to a traditional deo/antiperspirant. I love my crystal, but it doesn’t work 100% of the time.

Brands I’ve yet to try

  • Soapwalla gets RAVE reviews from everyone I’ve talked to.
  • Kiss My Face has gotten a few thumbs up from friends and colleagues, but I haven’t sampled it yet.

And there are many, many more options out there, including concoctions you can make at home so you can be absolutely certain they’re totally natural. I’m delighted to have found a formula that works with my unique body chemistry, but, of course, there’s no guarantee it’ll work with yours. I tried the other options because trusted sources stated that those formulas worked fabulously. And for some people, I’m sure they do! As with as any cleansing or cosmetics routine, I can only say this works for me, not that it will work for all.

Naturally (PUN!), I’d love to hear from all of you about your deodorant preferences. Anyone else seeking natural options that work well? Which brands and scents have you tried? Made any from scratch? Do you feel like the various studies about aluminum, parabens, and other potentially harmful ingredients are conclusive enough to make regular deo and antiperspirants feel perfectly safe? Or do you sweat/smell enough that nothing natural will ever work and you’d rather just stick to the products that do? Share your thoughts and resources in the comments!

* OK, OK, I don’t jog. Walking quickly? Walking quickly away from someone who makes me nervous?

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The Photographed Body

Hi all – comments shouldn’t have been closed on this post. Re-posting so they’re open. Apologies – still no idea why this randomly happens sometimes …

woman and camera

A few months back, reader K emailed me about posing for photos. She told me that overall, she really loved her body, loved how it looked, and felt confident that it was lovely and strong. But whenever she saw still photos of herself, everything shifted.

I would wager that within the past few years, I’ve been very displeased with about 75% of pictures taken of me. I’ll see the pictures and immediately think, ugh my shoulders look huge, my breasts are too big for my body, my stomach pooches out in an unsightly manner, my arms look doughy and huge, and my thighs look massive. Then, after I see said unflattering pictures, my body confidence takes a huge hit. I’ll wonder, what is the real me that people see? Is it the one who I love to see in the mirror every day?

I’ve written about what it means to be photogenic before, and I feel compelled to lift this marvelous lyric from that post.

“It took me too long to realize that I don’t take good pictures ’cause I have the kind of beauty that moves.”
~ Ani DiFranco, “Evolve”

The first time I heard this phrase, I nearly fell over. It had literally never occurred to me that someone who appeared beautiful in person could look odd in photos, all photos, and that this disconnect could come down to the difference between still beauty and beauty in motion. But it made so much sense. In some cases, what makes us unique and lovely is specific to the nuances of live action. When we’re frozen in time, we just don’t look the same.

But beyond that, I think there is an element of cultural expectation and manipulation at play here. We see photos of people every day. And the VAST majority of those photos have been digitally manipulated in some way. Ridiculously Photoshopped magazine and ad photos may come immediately to mind, but consider the number of “beautification” apps available that can change the shapes, tones, and colors in our simple phone selfies. Truly candid, unretouched, unfiltered photos are relatively rare. And though many of us post images to social media, the ones that include our own images are meticulously selected to show our bodies and faces at their best. At our best.

There are ways to position yourself so you look slimmer in photos – turning your face slightly instead of looking straight into the lens, shifting your body so you’re seen slightly from the side instead of dead-on, good posture, rolled-back shoulders, and more – but if you try these and still loathe the results? There may be something deeper going on. You may be expecting to see a still image that mirrors the photos of digitally perfected women you see all around you. You may have the kind of beauty that moves. Or you may have some buried body image concern or issue that only ever surfaces when you see yourself in photographs.

In the first case, spending some time with old photo albums might be helpful. Immerse yourself in images that are truly candid, truly unretouched, and remind yourself that people can look wacky and soft and ordinary and disproportionate in still photos, and that is completely fine. Photos that include makeup and styling staff, professional lighting and photography, and post-production manipulation look amazing. Photos that were taken at the beach or while sledding or during a birthday party look amazing, too, but in a wholly different way.

In the second case, consider taking some short videos of yourself or asking for help creating some. Seeing yourself photographed but in motion may help things click into place. Some beauty moves. It might not make you feel any better when you get tagged on Facebook, but when someone whips out a camera you can breathe, manage your expectations, and remind yourself that still photos will never accurately represent the real you.

In the third case? Oh, I wish I had some actionable advice that would work for everyone, but I just don’t. I’ve watched as Vivienne McMaster has created and expanded her Be Your Own Beloved offerings, which focus on cultivating self-love through self-portraiture, and cruising through her blog may help shake some things loose. She also has workshops and e-courses that focus on body image and photography. But in some cases, unearthing what’s buried may be deeply personal.

One thing that may be helpful to anyone who dislikes her image in still photos? Remember that photos are not you. Just as your body is not all there is to your self, your image is not all there is to your body, your beauty, your identity. I know this can be tough to swallow since photos are how other people see us, in many cases. But you can’t control what others think of you, be it in person or through the lens. You can only control how you react. And reacting by remembering that your still image captures only a fragment of your unique beauty may help.

Our culture is obsessed with capturing moments on camera, but our lives are lived in motion. Two-dimensional versions will never compare to the living, breathing, thinking, feeling being that is you. Still photos of you are not you. Because more often than not, beauty moves.

Image courtesy Lauren Powell-Smothers

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The Photographed Body

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