What the heck?
How could deodorant have anything to do with hot flashes—or any other symptoms of menopause?
It can, I assure you.
Or, wait, do you know of a magical deodorant which does away with them?
And, sadly, no, sorry.
More than three-quarters of those of us who identify biologically as women will have hot flashes as part of the transition out of our menstruating lives.
"More than 80% of women experience hot flashes (HFs) during menopause. Defined by transient sensations of heat, sweating, flushing, anxiety, and chills lasting for 1–5 min, HFs can cause considerable distress especially when severe and frequent.[1,2] However, these are often ignored due in part to their relatively benign nature."
So the next time you experience one of those “transient sensations” remember you’re not alone. We are in this together.
And together we can reduce or eliminate them. Yes, we can.
We don’t know exactly why hot flashes are a thing. It seems related to the rate at which we lose estrogen. It seems related to genetics. It stems from dysregulation of the temperature control center in the brain—the hypothalamus—when it perceives our core to be suddenly too hot and directs our bodies to cool that baby down by releasing heat everywhere else.
Ugh. They can be horrible, can’t they?
I want to offer a different perspective.
It occurs to me that we can see them as harbingers of freedom. Freedom from the ebb and flow of our menstrual years. Freedom to step into the power of crone-hood in the cycle of maiden-mother-crone. A time of wisdom, of reaping the harvest we have sown for the first halves of our lives.
A nice thought path, sure, but it doesn’t help you when you want to strip down in front of the fan display at Target.
What about that deodorant teaser, Helen?
Thank you for asking.
It has to do with the liver.
The liver is like a trainyard in the body. The main trainyard. Just about everything that happens in the body goes through the switching stations in the liver. The liver handles toxin management in our bodies. The liver handles hormone management in the body. If it’s happening in the body you can be pretty sure the liver knows about it.
Well, as fantastically powerful as the liver may be, it is not magical. It may be a superhero, but a wizard or witch it is not. It has its limits. It may be on the codependent side of things—it keeps giving and giving until it gets sick—but it does have limits.
From my reading of the literature and from my own personal experience, I am here to report that when we reduce the demands on the liver, the hot flashes die down.
The skin drinks in whatever toxins we expose it to. These go to the liver for processing.
If we are using a deodorant filled with unpronounceable chemicals derived from laboratory experimentation we are adding toxins to our bodies. To our livers.
Likewise, when we use only “clean” earth-derived ingredients we are not adding stress to our livers. In fact, we are supporting rather than harming.
My invitation to you is to examine your personal care products and make the switch away from lab-derived to body-centered.
I’m being careful not to say, “natural”, since that word is not regulated in the USA. It can be a helpful word. It can be a green flag inviting us to read the ingredients label, but it is not necessarily a Welcome mat.
Deodorants. A great way to start the transition from synthetic product to body-centered product. Or if it’s the last frontier for you—your shampoo and make-up are all “clean”—let’s dive in.
We smear deodorant on a tender spot of our bodies. Drinky-drinky says the skin right over sweat glands and lymph nodes. We don’t want to drench our clothes with sweat—I get it, I’m not going to say, Get over it and be “au naturelle”—but an antiperspirant is designed to literally block the sweat glands from pumping sweat. They literally clog the pores to keep the sweat at bay.
That does not sound like a good idea, does it? What happens when we put a dam on a river?
When people stop using one of these sweat-blockers, pore-cloggers, they notice extra stink. If they have made the switch to a “natural” deodorant they blame it on that. “It doesn’t work.”
It’s not that the healthy deodorant doesn’t work, it’s that it takes a couple days to weeks for the armpits to detox.
Seriously. You can speed it up with armpit masks of baking soda and clay mixed with apple cider vinegar. You can wash with charcoal soap. But give the new deo a fighting chance before ditching it. Give the “natural” the opportunity to shine.
Speaking of giving the deo a chance, there are a shee-ton of options to choose from. Which ones actually work? Which ones actually don’t?
I’m going out on a limb to say they all work. For someone. They wouldn’t make it to market otherwise, amIright? But that someone may not be you.
Allow your pits to detox if you’ve been using antiperspirant. Then give one of the “clean” brands a go.
I haven’t found any which don’t work. Seriously. From the crystals to magnesium oil spray. My go-to deo is a thin schmear of coconut oil. It is anti-bacterial so it takes care of neutralising the bacteria on the skin—which is where the stink comes from. It’s not the sweat itself.
Sweat doesn’t smell. It’s the bacteria which love on it when it emerges onto their skin playground. We calm down those bacteria and boom—no stink.
A note about using straight coconut oil: sometimes it needs to be reapplied during the day and it can stain tightly-fitting clothing that directly contacts the armpit.
Which is why I always keep a “store bought” product on hand.
I have tried so many different brands over the years that there’s no way I can review them all. And there are always new players appearing. This is a big market. We are rather obsessed with not being stinky, aren’t we?
I like to focus on woman-owned and minority-owned companies where possible. So here are some resources:
“Smarty-pits” is owned by women, is beautifully clean, gives back to the community AND has a product without baking soda. Some of us are irritated by baking soda—so good to have options, right?
Garner’s Garden. A black-owned company. Magnesium-based for their non-baking soda option. It sounds lovely!
Nandi’s Naturals is both Black-owned and woman-owned. With products Nandi designed to support her autoimmunity we know these won’t have any damaging ingredients.
I hope these ideas help get you started on the journey to ease in your body. Better living through “clean” deo for the win.
Other, more well-known, brands to consider are found in this article.
I have used many and found they all work. But. I’m not particularly hard on my deodorant. After years of supporting my liver and my skin with diet and lifestyle I don’t accumulate a lotta stink, a side benefit I don’t think much about, and a very nice one.
If you’re interested in moving your own needle in that direction, let me know. I’m here to support you in supporting your skin, your liver. Your stink. For life. For good.
Reach out for a chat.