I stopped using shampoo and conditioners about three years ago, excepting a small period of time when I tried some fancy detergent-free hair "cleanser" salon product for a few months last year, but for at least six months I've been once again no-'poo, water only. Likewise, for almost a year I've been using minimal soap in the shower, only in the (ahem) areas and that's a goat milk soap which I've thought has always smelled extremely mild and neutral. And for almost five years I've used only the crystal stick type of deodorant. Obviously I'm going for the "neutral scent" effect, which seems to be a pretty common result among paleo-folk who've made similar lifestyle changes.
But today I was told that I stink. I feel really bad about it, because now I am starting to worry that I've never smelled "neutral" and have only thought I was getting away with paleo-bathing habits on the basis of other people's politeness. It's made me reconsider all the various ways I might be acquiring a stench.
Unfortunately I don't have a lot of specific data to work with, but my best guess at the moment is that this is a recent phenomenon, and there have been some recent (minor) changes I've noticed. For one, my digestion has not been so good for the past couple of months: I've been having more rumbling stomach noises and more gas throughout the day, as well as being less "regular". Also, my sinuses have been worse for the same time period, and I've been more "mucusy" in general. Neither of these changes are obviously related to any changes in diet or exercise or any other obvious state of health; whatever is causing these changes is mostly invisible to me (so far).
I'm starting to wonder if this all might be related to having a diet high in saturated fats. I know that there is the phenomenon of the "ethnic smell" that people don't talk about in polite company - whereby folks who eat a particular ethnic (in contrast to mainstream America) cuisine regularly are thought to smell different than others, and presumably this is due to large concentrations of certain foods "working their way out" of the person's system. It occurs to me that perhaps this is what is happening here; perhaps the daily bacon breakfasts have caught up with me and I've crossed some biochemical fat saturation threshold and now I'm paying the price. I have no idea if this makes any scientific sense, but it's all I can think of, and I wanted to know if anyone else here has had anything similar happen in terms of symptoms and smell.
Also, how the hell do you correct your body odor if you don't notice it? Is there someplace I can go where someone will smell me over a period of time so I can make adjustments and find out if they're working? Aaaargh!
I'm sorry that somebody insulted you. That must've been very painful, and it makes me sad that somebody was so tactless to say something like that to you.
What was the context of their remark? Did you ask if you smelled bad, and it was a friend phrasing it delicately? Or was it some boor who used it as an epithet against you? I wouldn't put too much stock in some angry passerby's remark, which is why I ask.
Another consideration is the possibility that if you don't smell like a magazine (full of inserts proffering various colognes) then you must smell offensive to some noses. Our society has a strange tendency to want to pretend that biology doesn't occur, and we're expected to smell like an explosion at a Chanel factory. I'd reckon that if you do a daily rinse to wash off fermenting sweat and oil build-up, you probably do smell fine, and somebody may well have been striking out at you based on some other irritation. (For instance, were you standing nearby on a bus, and they lashed out, feeling claustrophobic?)
Lastly, perhaps it's not YOU that smells, but whatever is going on in your tummy that stinks. You've reported an increase in rumblings and gas; are you flatulent? When was the last time you've been to the dentist? Dental caries may produce an unpleasant odor. Or, maybe, ketosis, which I hear is detectable upon one's breath?
Again, I'm sorry somebody said something hurtful to you, and I commend you for making a switch to a more natural lifestyle. I hope you're able to get things sorted out!
I knew two women - a couple - who went down the same hygiene route as you. One was of Chinese decent. The other was Palestinian.
The Chinese woman had no problem on this regime. Having fewer apocrine glands, she smelled fine. Her partner, on the other hand, ended up with a strong body odor (she didn't have one previously). Her friends begged her to go back to conventional soap.
I don't know what diet they followed other than that they were vegetarians. But the point is simply that different people can respond differently to the same protocols for reasons beyond their control.
For a while now I've been using a homemade deodorant that really does the trick: I can't recall the precise ratios but if you make a paste out of melted coconut oil and baking soda, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil if you like (I used lavender and lemon together), then spread a thin layer on your armpits in morning and maybe dust with baby powder/cornstarch to finish, you will be golden all day. Let me know if you're interested and I'll dig up the "recipe," which I wrote down and stuffed somewhere in my medicine cabinet. :)
Rook, this may be the first complaint but think back to your prepaleo days, was there every anyone that stunk...did you tell them? I think people smell all the time but I am around truck drivers and yard workers, they are bound to be sweaty. I dont think I have ever told anyone the have an offending odor but have gone to a Manager (i worked in a Pharmacy for years) before in two different scenerios to have it discussed with the employee because our customers were reporting their smell. Theirs was a lack of hygiene though, not brushing teeth, not cleaning roll under neck and being sweaty in Florida...whew, it was awful and we had to take it daily but I drew the line at the customer noticing.
I would take this as a opportunity to speak with your best friend and look them in the eye and say, BE BRUTAL, I have to know...Please tell me if you can smell my pits, general sweaty smell or what...If you have shared your paleo-ness with others do the same with 3-4...but to be fair to them you really have to stress that they need to be totally and brutally honest in order to help you.
OMG Rook, you rock for posting this! First of all, we are all human so on some basic level, no worries about any of this. I'll bet it was just a fluke thing. And, one person may think someone is a bit odiferous, while another person will take a deep sniff and say, "mmmmm, yes, please!"
What happened? Was it a co-worker who said this politely? Or a frenemy who said it meanly? We'll kick their As$.
But, just in case, I'll share some info that may be helpful. I know of a man who showers ever other day or so, and tends to sweat easily just in a normal day to day working environment. He also hates doing laundry, so will try to get at least two wears out his shirts and pants. Some days, this was okay. But other days, there was some body odor. He uses the crystal deodorant and armpits were not a problem. So, if he just launders everything he wears after one time, and showers daily, it is all good. And some days, even if he doesn't it is fine, too. Depending on how warm it is, what we have eaten and so on--every day can be a little different.
It will boost your confidence and assuage your worries if you use your goat milk soap every day, use deodorant every day, launder your clothes after one wear, and sprinkle lavender blossoms and buds in your bureau drawers. Chew on fennel and cloves. Beware of all the flirting that will come your way! Here's my recipe for deodorant: 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch, a few drops of aromatic oil, I used cardamom. Blend and apply like a creme.
Generally when someone says stink, they are referring to body odor rather than flatulance. If you are not using a washcloth to scrub your skin to get rid of old dead skin cells...that may be the problem.
I use only baking soda on a coarse washcloth to exfolliate my body while in the shower. When I first went no soap, no shampoo I was in a bathtub and I scrubbed with the washcloth and was absolutely amazed at how much dead skin cells were floating on the water. Baking soda for the hair also.
I use a little baking soda as a natural deodorant in my armpit...which does the trick. I have to use something because after a half day, I begin to reek in my pits, if I go sodaless.
Try the baking soda.
In lieu of deodorant, I apply 70% isopropyl alcohol to my armpits every day to kill the germs that cause B.O.
I've been doing this for years and have never received any complaints. Either it's an effective deodorant or everyone's been super polite to me.
I've been considering the no poo, no soap route but then, I practically do it anyways. I don't have answers to the causes but I do have some very natural suggestions for smelling better at any time. This works great for everyone, especially women at that time of the month and anyone at anytime who wants an extra something or needs help because they cannot use baking soda (like me). I've practiced aromatherapy for over 20 years so I'm not just blabbing out of school but a drop or two of lavender or peppermint or both rubbed in palms and briskly patted wherever needed can really tone down hormonal times or give you a fresh scent. If your skin is sensitive, add a couple drops of olive oil or jojoba if you have it. There are many other natural scents that can be composed from essential oils (not fragrance oils). I realize this isn't neutral but sometimes I might smell like a skunk. It just isn't my thing. Gorgeous is my thing:) Patch test anything first.
If your body is smelly -- then your lymph system is clogged, period. Cleanse your lymph and keep it clean. This has to do with how your body metabolizes and evacuates what your eat. If you smell at all -- then there is an imbalance in the body. You may not be absorbing or eliminating your foods correctly.