Ginger Panico is doing everything she can to protect women from getting breast cancer, which claimed the life of her mother at age 38.
Panico makes natural deodorant under the name Sencilla in her Litchfield Park home.
“The reason I started Sencilla is because my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 34 and I was 12,” Panico said of her mother, Marilyn Gordon. “She used to run a lot of marathons. She would run up and down Squaw Peak twice in a day. She was very athletic. She was always using a lot of deodorant.
“When she found the lump in her armpit, we thought it was from the toxic deodorant she was using all these years.”
Gordon died of bone cancer at age 38. Since then, Panico, now 48, has used natural deodorant. At first, she couldn’t find the right one.
“I found they either didn’t work, they didn’t smell good or the ingredients didn’t appear to be natural,” she said.
“I started making my own. After trial and error, I came up with the perfect blend. I started adding designer fragrances and fragrant oils and putting them in little sauce containers. That’s how it started. I also have unscented for those who prefer that.”
Her friends and her boyfriend, Edward Cota, were her “guinea pigs” and gave Panico their opinions. Everybody loved them, she said.
A longtime labor of love, Sencilla came to life in 2020, thanks to the pandemic. In 2020, she ordered the labels and packaging to sell on her website and Etsy for $10. She wanted them to be different.
“The ones in the store are all lavender or lemon,” she said with a laugh. “I wanted to be unique. Primarily, though, I want people with cancer to try to use this to be more natural. I’m also donating a portion of the proceeds to the American Cancer Society so they can try to do more research.”
Panico carries this message to her daughters, Gianna, 15, and Mia, 16. The single mom encourages her daughters to do self-checks and to use her deodorant. Sometimes, they ask for “regular” deodorant, but Panico tries to persuade them otherwise.
“They said they don’t want to sweat,” Panico said. “But sweating is a natural process of the body. With my deodorant, you’re not going to smell. You’ll smell like the perfume. But they like it, and their friends like it. The scents are good for everybody.”
Panico balances Sencilla with her full-time job as a dental hygienist at Smile Fitness Dental Center, which is owned by her father, Douglas Gordon, in West Phoenix. The Chaparral High School graduate formerly lived in Ahwatukee.
Panico admitted she was nervous when she turned 38, the age when her mother died. She chalked up her cancer-free status to using natural deodorant.
“I’m hoping that’s what saved me,” she said. “I stick with all-natural products. I think people need to take care of themselves, especially this year, during COVID. We need to put less chemicals in our bodies to have a healthier lifestyle.”