Natural Living

Zero-waste Deodorant for Healthy Armpits & Cleaner Planet

Cosmetic products are often overlooked when it comes to waste. Many people make an effort to recycle paper & glass….. but packaging from products like toothpaste or deodorant are often not possible to recycle. The big leaders in this industry are doing little to help the problem, but luckily there are more and more green companies working to make sustainable options. We are so happy to be collaborating with the brand Coconut Matter for this article. They have an incredible range of natural deodorants which are zero-waste (from production to post-consumption) and completely biodegradable. Their passion for sustainable beauty is contagious and we’ve loved trialling their deodorants for the past few weeks!

The ugly truth is that the beauty industry creates a huge amount of waste. In 2018 it generated over 142 billion units of packaging. Yep, billion, and it’s predicted that only 50% of this is eventually recycled. That’s a lot of waste going to landfill and a lot toxic chemicals polluting the land and waters. We know the numbers are scary, but we hope this post empowers you to make a change & gets you thinking about your own use/disposal of bathroom products!

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Deodorant Waste

In the UK alone, we use approximately 600 million aerosol cans every year, which are mainly from deodorants, anti-perspirants and body sprays. Although it is possible to recycle aerosol cans, it’s more complicated than it seems as they need to be completely empty, dry and clean, which they’re often not. Also, the compressed gases in these types of deodorant are really harmful to the environment and contribute to cO2 emissions.

Since completely switching to natural products a few years ago, we’ve personally made a real effort to either make our own deodorant at home or purchase ones in reusable tins/jars. So for the purpose of this article we’ll time travel back to our days of aerosol deodorant cans and roll ons. We estimated that an average sized deodorant can would last us around 4 weeks. so between us that would have created 20-24 units of waste per year. Even if we decided to choose roll-on rather than a spray, the majority of these are still packaged in plastic and it uses a lot of energy to recycle them due to the mixture of plastics they contain.

Eco-anxiety is on the rise and it’s easy to get doomy and gloomy reading statistics like this. But we can see that even if we decide to switch just one of our bathroom products, that’s 10-12 less units of waste per year, per person. Multiply that by 1 million and that’s 12 million less every year. Our small choices can make a huge impact and your body will also thank you in the long run ….

Natural Deodorant for Healthy Armpits

We personally believe that if you’re going to switch any bathroom product to a natural alternative, deodorant is the best place to start. Unfortunately so many of the products available on the market are full of toxic ingredients such as aluminium, parabens & pesticides like triclosan. Not only can these ingredients irritate our skin externally, but they are also absorbed into our body and have been linked to serious health problems in multiple studies.
Sweating is a natural body function that we need in order to aid detoxification. When we use toxic anti-perspirants that stop this process, we disrupt our armpit’s microbiome and can actually end up smelling worse in the long run.

Review of Coconut Matter’s Mood Deodorants Range

We’ve been trying out a couple of the Coconut Matter deodorants for the past few weeks and we’re really impressed with both the deodorant and the packaging. We’re currently on a backpacking trip around Portugal and despite all the hiking and hot weather, we’re still smelling fresh thanks to this deodorant! Our favourite scent is definitely the ZEN, with woody tones of cedarwood and vetiver. The packaging is also really compact and feels very secure … which we weren't expecting when we read it was 100% biodegradable.
The deodorants come in a stick which you push up and then slide across the armpit. It feels really soft and we’re sure it would be ideal for sensitive skin (especially as it doesn’t contain baking soda like many natural deodorants). Overall, we would really recommend the range of deodorants and will continue to enjoy testing them for the next few months!

Let us know if you have any questions about the range and tell us your experience with natural deodorants below…


Understanding the Feminine Cycle (Nourishing Foods / Herbs for Each Phase)

Like so many women, I was never really encouraged to honour my feminine cycle growing up. During those tender years where our bodies change so rapidly, society feeds us the idea that our bleed is a time of the month to dread and hide from. We’re told that there are two stages to our cycle - bleeding or not bleeding - and that PMS symptoms like bloating and fatigue are something to be accepted and endured. With this lack of knowledge comes a disempowerment and a detachment from the beauty of our own bodies. Now, more than ever, I feel that we need to return to this natural wisdom in order to find balance again…

The negative seeds of thought were planted within me but I did not allow them to grow for too long. At the age of 21, after a year taking the contraceptive pill and feeling utterly depressed and detached from myself, I began to question everything related to my health, body & spirit. Once I began to dive into this world of holistic health & healing I couldn’t turn back. Taking responsibility for my own healing has been the ultimate expression of self love in my life.

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When I first began reading about women and cultures who honour their cycle and bleed, I felt resistance. ‘How can you honour something so inconvenient, painful and messy?’ was the question dancing around my head. But still, the more I read, the more something began to stir within me that shifted my whole perspective. When we discover the intricacy of our hormonal system, it’s difficult not to be in total awe of our bodies and what they’re capable of. After all, it’s this very cycle that leads to the creation of life. Without it, you wouldn't be here right now, reading this.

When we nourish ourselves in the right way and connect with each stage of our cycle, we begin to understand our bodies and can recognise our own intuitive needs in a clearer way. It’s been a fascinating, sacred & at times confusing path for me, and I hope through this article we can provide the foundational knowledge for anyone starting this journey or interested in deepening their understanding.


Aztec calendar. “Sun circle, with symbols of months.” Prehistoric America. v.5. 1905

Aztec calendar. “Sun circle, with symbols of months.” Prehistoric America. v.5. 1905

The Four Primary Reproductive Hormone

FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) - The production of this hormone occurs the same time of the cycle that 15-20 eggs start to mature in each ovary. Each egg is encased in its own follicle, and the follicles race to become the largest. Eventually ovulation will happen once one of the ovaries releases an egg from the most dominant follicle.
Estrogen -In order to ovulate the follicles need to produce enough of the hormone estrogen. After our bleed, our estrogen levels will gradually rise until they meet the necessary level for ovulation to occur. Excess estrogen in the body (also known as estrogen dominance) can cause really unpleasant side effects. This can be avoided in various ways…. some example are eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, keeping stress levels low and also avoiding xenoestrogens from plastics, cosmetics and pesticides.
LH (Luteinizing hormone) - Once we reach the estrogen threshold, it will trigger an abrupt surge of LH which leads to ovulation. This hormone causes the egg to burst through the ovarian wall. Once the egg is released from the ovary, the follicle that encased the egg collapses on itself and becomes a ‘corpus luteum’. This stays inside the ovarian wall and begins to release the hormone progesterone.
Progesterone- This is a really important hormone for women’s fertility. As the corpus luteum releases progesterone after ovulation, it prevents the release of any other eggs during that cycle and causes the uterine lining to thicken. It also causes our waking temperature, cervical fluid and position to change. The corpus luteum stays on the ovarian wall until it disintegrates after around 12-16 days. If the egg doesn’t get fertilised, then progesterone levels will drop and the uterine lining will then shed and cause your bleed to start.


The Four Stages of the Cycle and Nourishing Foods/Herbs for Each Phase

  1. MENSTRUAL PHASE (first day of bleed until the end of bleed)
    full moon

    Average duration: 3-7 days

    Day 1 of the cycle begins on the first day of your bleed. If you experience any light spotting on the days before your bleed starts, these would be counted in the previous month’s cycle. This is a time of inner-reflection and many women find that their intuition is strongest during this phase. As you bleed, it’s an invitation to really nourish your body and take things slower than normal. Prioritising time for self-care can be beautiful during these days - whether it’s a warm bath, time in nature, gentle stretching or journalling. In many ancient traditions the women would gather together during this phase and be exempt from their responsibilities..

    Foods/Herbs for the Menstrual Phase:
    Your body goes through an intense process as it sheds the lining of the uterus, so it’s important to eat nutrient-rich and grounding foods during this phase. As your body loses blood, focus on foods that are high in iron and zinc. Warming foods and teas are also really beneficial - I love eating soups and stews during this time.

    Foods: Root Vegetables, Beetroot, Dark Greens, Kale, Mushroom, Seaweeds, Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Blueberrys, Blackberries, Cacao, Miso, Tamari.

    Herbs: Nettles (really high in minerals), Red Raspberry Leaf, Chamomile, Turmeric (anti-inflammatory), ginger (can help with any cramping)

  2. FOLLICULAR PHASE
    Waning Moon
    average duration: 7-10 days

    As your bleed ends you enter into the follicular phase of the cycle, where the hormone estrogen gradually rises. Many women feel a rise in energy during these days and it’s known as a time of creativity and new beginnings. Instinctually, it’s the time of the cycle where we would normally attract a partner to mate with, which is why we might feel more confident and outgoing during this phase. It’s the time when you will most likely want to be more social, active and try new things.

    Foods/Herbs for the Follicular Phase:
    Fresh, lighter foods are ideal for this phase and will keep you energised. All your hormone levels are at their lowest, so your body can easily tolerate different types of food.

    Foods: lots of vegetables - broccoli, carrot, courgette, parsley, lettuce, avocado, citrus fruits, mungbeans, split peas, fermented foods, olives, brazil nuts, cashews.

    Herbs: schisandra (supports kidneys/liver), tulsi, licorice


  3. OVULATORY PHASE
    New Moon
    Average duration: 3-4 days

    This is the time when many hormones reach their peak level (FSH, LH, and estrogen). As an egg is released, we are at our most fertile time and often women find they are at their peak in terms of energy, confidence and libido. You may feel pelvic pain as the egg is released and on your most fertile days, you should have clear, wet vaginal discharge. This is called cervical fluid and is a really essential sign of healthy fertility. The Ovulatory phase is a good time for communication and expressing yourself clearly - so it’s a great time for meaningful conversations or interviews.

    Foods/Herbs for the Ovulatory Phase:
    As estrogen levels are high, most women have more energy during these days. Sticking to lighter foods will help support this. You want to help your body eliminate any excess estrogen (e.g. from toxins, plastics…) so eating a lot of fiber will help with this elimination process.

    Foods: quinoa, corn, flaxseeds, spinach, tomato, pepper, aubergine, fig, strawberry, raspberry, red lentils, almonds, pecan, pistachio

    Herbs: Red Clover (promotes lubrication), dandelion (supports detoxification), shatavari (supports healthy ovulation), maca (balances excess estrogens)

  4. LUTEAL PHASE
    waxing moon
    average duration: 10-14 days

    The luteal phase begins after ovulation has occurred and it’s when progesterone levels rise. Energy gradually declines during this phase and towards the end you may feel yourself begin to turn inwards and soften once again. Some women have unpleasant symptoms during this time due to the abrupt change in hormone levels, so it can be helpful to recognise the big shifts your hormones are going through and see these symptoms as ways your body is communicating with you. For many, this is a ‘nesting’ time where we feel more called to organise things at home, do some necessary life-admin or take more time for yourself to rest.

    Foods/Herbs for the Luteal Phase:

    Many women experience sugar cravings during this phase. You can navigate this is in a nourishing way by eating foods that are rich in B vitamins and also eating more complex carbohydrates. These natural sugars will help balance dopamine levels and prevent any mood swings. I love eating roasted sweet potato during this phase. Continue eating high-fiber foods to help eliminate any excess estrogens (which can cause PMS symptoms).

    Foods: Brown rice, millet, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, ginger, leek, onion, parsnip, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, apples, dates, peaches, pears, chickpeas, walnuts.

    Herbs: ashwaganda (helps balance hormones and stress), ginger (can help with bloating), tulsi (helps lift mood), Vitex (boosts progesterone levels - helpful if your luteal phase is too short, but do your research before taking!)

Tracking your cycle

Photo by Gustav Amestal

Photo by Gustav Amestal

If you don’t already, I really encourage you to track your period from day 1 of your bleed. There are tons of apps you can use or I personally prefer to chart it in my journal. It’s amazing when you begin to recognise the various ways you change during the month and how this correlates with what phase you’re in. It’s also a really interesting way of tracking any symptoms or patterns that occur in your cycle. For example, for a long time I would always have a small breakout on days 18-19 of my cycle, due to a hormone shift. Once I identified this I could work to support my body and balance excess estrogen during this stage.

Recommended Resources

  • Watching this video a few years ago really sparked my interest in this topic. Beautiful advice and approach to the cycle!

  • Woman Code by Alissa Vitti is an incredible book that dives into the feminine cycle in so much detail. Credit to Alissa for the food recommendations that I’ve mentioned in this article!

  • Also really recommend Love your Lady Landscape and Code Red by Lisa Lister.

  • Taking Charge of your Fertility is the fertility bible. Goes into a lot more detail about how to track your cycle and cervical fluid.

  • The Superfeast podcast have an excellent women’s series which covers so about women’s health and the feminine cycle.


We would love to hear about your relationship with your cycle…. let us know in the comments below or on Instagram @putumayo.kitchen
We hope you enjoyed this post and found some wisdom from it!

Natural Toothpaste with Activated Charcoal & Coconut Oil

We’re so excited to start a new section of our website that goes beyond food & herbal medicine and shares our journey towards natural and sustainable living. For so many of us, our inner and outer worlds are bombarded with hundreds of toxins & chemicals on a regular basis. From hormone-dirsupting plastic packaging , to the incomprehensible lists of ingredients in cosmetics, food and household products that can cause imbalances in the body. The damage these chemicals cause us, whether noticeable on the surface or not, is a direct reflection of the harm they are currently causing to the earth around us.

We are such believers that we can vote with our money. By choosing to support natural & organic, we send out an important message to the world, as well as to the industries creating these products. Since switching all of our products to natural alternatives a few years ago, we really believe that making this change is simpler than it might seem and feels so empowering too. Even if you start small, we all have to begin somewhere and it can be as basic as buying a natural shampoo when you next run out or buying some essential oils that you love to make some products at home. We wanted to begin this series with one of our favourite and most effective natural recipes for this natural toothpaste with activated charcoal. It’s easy to make, shockingly black and is an amazing teeth whitener too!

Natural Whitening Toothpaste Activated Charcoal Coconut

Why should we avoid toxic chemicals in toothpaste?

Some people might wonder why it really matters if your toothpaste contains chemicals if we only use it for a short time and don’t actually swallow it. But even for the 4-5 minutes that we brush our teeth every day, our mouths can absorb toxic ingredients into our bloodstream and the balance of oral bacteria can become disrupted. We spit the chemicals down the sink, which goes back into the water system, and when the toothpaste tube is finished we throw the plastic in the bin and it goes to landfill. Times this by billions of people and we suddenly have a lot of chemicals and packaging causing harm to the planet. It’s a good example that our choices, however small, are not as insignificant as they might seem.

Some common harsh chemicals used in commercial toothpastes are sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), triclosan, parabens, diethanolamine and titanium dioxide. All of them are pretty nasty ingredients for their own reasons, and if you’re interested in learning more we really encourage you to do some research as there is so much information out there. This is a quick and simple article that explains these chemicals in more detail. Palm oil is also a common ingredient used in toothpastes and we really recommend reading this article if you’re unaware of why we need to stop supporting the palm oil industry.

Non-toxic Toothpaste Ingredients

So now onto the recipe! This toothpaste only requires 4 ingredients:

Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) - Bicarbonate of soda helps effectively clean and polish the teeth in a non-abrasive way. It helps to neutralise food acids and bacterial acidity.

Coconut Oil -
Coconut oil not only helps form the great texture of the toothpaste, but it’s been shown to significantly improve oral and dental health. It’s anti-bacterial properties help reduce plaque buildup and it can help reduce inflammation. It’s also been known to naturally whiten teeth, which is an added bonus!

Activated Charcoal Powder (optional) - Activated charcoal is a popular ingredient right now for it’s claim to be a natural teeth whitener. Although there aren’t any studies to prove this, many people (including us!) notice a difference using this ingredient. We only use a very small amount of charcoal powder in our toothpaste so that we don’t damage the enamel of our teeth. If you don’t want the toothpaste to be black or you don’t have any of this, you can leave it out of the recipe.

Essential oils of:
Peppermint -
The cool flavour of peppermint helps to keep breath fresh for longer. This is a familiar and well loved flavour to include in toothpaste and also has antibacterial properties.
Clove-
Clove has been used as an ingredient in oral care for hundreds (maybe thousands) of years. It’s highly anti-inflammatory and helps freshen breath.

Natural Whitening Toothpaste Activated Charcoal Coconut
Natural Whitening Toothpaste Activated Charcoal Coconut

Natural Whitening Toothpaste with Activated Charcoal

Ingredients
1/2 cup of coconut oil (in non liquid form)
1/2 cup of bicarbonate of soda
1-2 teaspoons of activated charcoal (2-3 capsules)
2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil
2-3 drops of clove essential oil

Method
1. Add the coconut oil to a bowl and using a fork, whip the coconut oil until it becomes soft and smooth.
2. Add the bicarbonate of soda and activated charcoal powder and thoroughly mix. The charcoal can be a bit messy so use with care.
3. Finally, add the drops of essential oil to the toothpaste and stir through. Transfer the toothpaste to a jar.

** If you live in a hot climate and your coconut oil is already liquid, then thoroughly combine all ingredients and place the toothpaste in the fridge for a few hours until set**

Some Tips for Use
* To apply your toothpaste to the brush you can either use a small spoon or dip the toothbrush in the jar.
* When you spit out the toothpaste make sure to aim straight for the plug otherwise it can cause quite a mess if you’re not careful! Of course, you can rinse the sink with water straight after but we thought you may appreciate a warning.
* If for some reason your toothpaste separates or dries out a few weeks after you make it, you can simply use a fork to whip the ingredients together and add 1-2 more drops of essential oil.
* If you’ve been a life-long Colgate user, it may take a while to get used to a completely different toothpaste experience. It definitely took us a few days to adapt to this and we kept an open mind throughout. Good luck and happy brushing!

Natural Whitening Toothpaste Activated Charcoal Coconut

-We’d like to close this by stating that neither of us are dentists, so if you do have a history of dental/oral issues please consult a professional if you’re concerned about changing your toothpaste -


We hope you enjoy this new series on the blog. We’d love to hear if you’ve changed any of your products to natural alternatives?

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