A few days before I started student teaching, my radiant starflower of an editor asked me if I wanted to try a natural deodorant cleanse. Of course, I was about to spend my days wrangling second graders, working 12+ hour shifts, and continuing to exercise like I was literally outrunning my demons. So of course I said yes, absolutely. There is no conceivable way that this could end poorly for me. I'd been considering transitioning from antiperspirant to natural deodorant for a while, and at this point, had run out of excuses.
Also, it's hard to un-know things. Like, do you ever get those gross yellow sweat-stains under your tank tops? Because that's not sweat — it's aluminum, a popular ingredient in antiperspirant. I don't know about you beautiful birds of millennial paradise, but no thanks, I'd prefer not to stain every shirt I own with yellow aluminum. I decided to try the all-natural Takesumi Charcoal Underarm Detox Kit ($42; kaianaturals.com), which relies on a combination of charcoal deodorant, soap, and bath salts to rid the body of toxins and transition to a healthier and aluminum-free lifestyle.
The detox consists of three products: a Charcoal Deodorant, Deodorant Booster (a charcoal-based soap), and a Detox Hot Bath (a charcoal and apple cider vinegar soak). Based on the Japanese principle of takesumi, the idea is that the bamboo charcoal functions to draw out and expel toxins from your body. However, the company warns that you may sweat and stink excessively as the toxic guys hit the road (weird, that's just like dating?) Your body requires a bit of an adjustment period, and as with most cleanses, your stank will worsen before it improves. Oh. Joy.
Right off the bat, the Takesumi Charcoal Deodorant got points for smelling incredible. Personally, I find that most deodorants smell totally putrid. Like some sickening cross contamination between a middle-schoolers locker and a poorly concealed olfactory crime scene.
I tried Cold Pressed Rose, but if that isn't your jam, they also have Lime Mint and Juicy Bamboo. Anyways, I have no idea what a cold pressed rose actually smells like — but this deodorant just smells lovely and clean. Application was smooth AF, which was surprising, because most natural deodorants have a natural grit that can really hone in on the old adage 'Pain Is Beauty'.
The hardest part about getting started was definitely reading all the instructions before incorporating the detox into my daily life. Luckily, the kit comes with a handy guide. Do not throw it away. My mind is a sieve, and having the guide around was truly a lifesaver. It's not mentally taxing so much as having to remember all the baby steps.
I really focused on making a routine of using the deodorant booster bar, charcoal deodorant, and detox hot bath. And I'm so glad I did; the first week was a breeze. I kept the booster bar (charcoal soap, essentially) in a soap dish in my shower, and settled in for my first effervescent charcoal hot bath. The hot bath product is loaded up with activated charcoal and apple cider vinegar to kill smelly bacteria, and it does yield a slightly bubbly, effervescent effect.
I didn't personally notice any odor during the first week, even after student teaching and strength training workouts. The one thing I did clock is that because I'm using a deodorant (and not an antiperspirant that prevents wetness), my clothes don't stay fresh as long. I'm getting one wear out of t-shirts, sweaters, tank tops, etc., before they need to be washed.
Okay, guys, this one was on me. I had plans to go out one night, and I applied the deodorant immediately after shaving my armpits, which as stated in the guide, is a big no-no. A moisture rash ensued. Luckily, I applied Aquaphor ($5; target.com) right away, and the irritation and redness disappeared by the next morning. During the heat rash, I also found that I was more comfortable wearing natural fibers and breathable cotton.
Other than the beautiful-angry rash debacle, things continued to go smoothly. I even asked a close friend to smell-check me during our carpool, and she gave me the all-clear, and then admitted that I talk too much. Yay for honest friendship!
I was hoping to avoid this, but it happened. According to the guide, inordinate sweating can be expected during the cleanse. The additional sweat is the body going through the detox and getting rid of toxins and bacteria.
The good thing, however, was that there wasn't really an odor. (I think this was due to diet more than anything, and drinking a ton of water. Pro-tip: sweat shouldn't smell terrible. If it does, your diet is probably the culprit.) Anyways, sweating profusely for a week wasn't the most comfortable sensation, but I'm stoic and brave and beautiful so I made it through to the other side. Actually, real talk, I blotted my arms with toilet-lid covers and it seriously helped, but don't tell anyone else I did that.
OK, the sweating issue is definitely getting better, unless I'm warm. Still no odor, and clothes still are being washed more frequently (am I the only human who will wear a shirt twice before washing? Good thing I'm putting this on the internet where people can judge me forever!).
The best thing I've noticed is that my underarms are wayyyy less irritated. The appearance is smoother with less discoloration. This was an unforeseen bonus that I'm pretty pumped about.
You know what? Yeah, I fu**s with this, and would recommend this detox to anyone looking for a healthier alternative to antiperspirant. The only con I can think of is that if you sweat a lot, this might not always be the best choice in high-stress situations. You're going to be damp, my friend. Consider an emergency anti-perspirant to stick in your purse for situations where sweat might give you anxiety or stress you out.
Otherwise, charcoal armpit detox is lit 5ever hashtag healthyliving. Hahahah someone stop me.