OK, a slightly frivolous post to get back into the swing of posting after my trip. I’m not really a dirty hippy, or even just a tree-hugging hippy. Sometimes I want to be, but I’m not really that free, baby, and I do end up caring what people think of me. So I’m generally comfortable looking and smelling fairly normal. Now, I also am highly low maintenance (I think, there may be those who beg to differ), so I am not excessive about showering and cleaning and primping. My nose isn’t that good either, so I can totally miss a small amount of personal or other body odor. From my loved ones, at least, I am earthy enough to actually enjoy a bit of normal human scent.
But I live with two males with very good noses and somewhat refined tastes in smells, and so I have perfected, over the years, the lowest cost (financial, of my time, and environmental) methods to not smell too human. I think I succeed because I don’t usually get complaints from said males, who have no compunctions against complaining. The only complaint I do regularly get is a “MOM! your breath stinks!” when I’ve just eaten a can of mustard sardines and I lean in to zip my son’s jacket. So at least I know the social warning system is functional. All bodies are different, and I have found suggestions that work very well for others that don’t for me, so these may only be a jumping off point of experimentation, but what follows is a list of specific products and methods I use to approximate a visibly and olfactorally clean, normal, white collar american:
Body: well, for me this one is easy. Not everybody is lucky enough to have this chemistry, but I just need to shower or bathe in warm water to keep most of my body clean. No soap, nuthin.
Hair: We buy a 5-gallon pail of Bio-kleen hand dish wash liquid. It smells nicely of grapefruit and cleans our dishes, laundry, floors, etc, etc, and my hair. It also makes a good bubble bath. I have the kind of hair that looks greasy after one or two days of not washing, and any application of conditioner (even that for greasy hair) only makes it look instantly greasy. This dish washing liquid does a better job than any other shampoo I have ever tried at keeping my hair looking and smelling nice. I have to use it every other day to keep the greasy look away. I have found whole cadres of people online who swear if you stop washing your hair it will eventually balance itself and not need to be washed, or at the very most you scrub it with baking soda once a month or so. I really tried this out when I was a stay at home mom and could get away with it. It never worked for me. Maybe I didn’t give it long enough, but there is only so much grease and itch I can handle on my head.
Pits: I’ve tried every commercial ‘natural’ deoderant on the market, including the crystal thingy. None of them really worked for a full day. What does work for me is plain baking soda. After I bathe (or wet my pits slightly if I need to apply without bathing), i rub on a bit of the powder with my fingers. It stops pretty much all odor until I wash it off or sweat really heavily – at least for 2 days. It works with my normally hairy pits, and when I happen to shave them, but can irritate my skin if it is freshly shaven. The powder can also show or leave white pit stains on my shirt, but that can be controlled by not putting too much on. If I do start to smell, but don’t want to shower yet, an application will erase the smell, even without washing it away first. Just like with the dish soap for my hair, this is a case where I am actually happier with the results of my solution than I ever was with even the high-tech, bad for you and the environment, commercial options.
Teeth: OK, I often splurge and buy the Toms of Maine fennel toothpaste for a few reasons – I like the taste and the creaminess, and my mom used it when I was a kid so I would indulge myself and sometimes sneak a bit to use instead of my boring old crest. But I find that dipping my damp toothbrush into baking soda works just as well. The taste isn’t wonderful, and it doesn’t leave your mouth feeling fresh, so to convince myself not to buy another expensive tube of Toms, I just bought a small bottle of peppermint extract and generously mixed some in with the baking soda, and the resultant paste is pretty refreshing and satisfying. Still gritty, but that is fine. Also, I have a plastic flosser that was given to me (by my mom of course, who else would buy you a flosser?) and I keep that loaded up with the same piece of floss until it breaks, rinsing it off each time. The flossing industry would have you believe this is gross, but really it is no different than rinsing off your toothbrush and reusing. I was genetically gifted with perfect teeth (I don’t mean aesthetically, I mean no cavities or gum disease despite infrequent brushing as a child/young adult and dental visits every 5 years throughout my poor 20’s and early 30’s, and no flossing until the last couple of years), but these methods certainly haven’t disrupted my dental health.
So while I dream of stomping around a bonfire in the woods with a bunch of happy people that smell like patchouli and musky sweat and soil, I will sit in front of my computer, mostly blending in with the multitudes of good, fresh-smelling consumers!