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9 Reasons Your Sweat Smells

It’s true: Some people’s sweat doesn’t stink. Scientists have discovered that your ex-roommate miiight not have been lying when she swore she didn’t steal your Dove because she doesn’t need deodorant. According to a video on sweat put out by the American Chemical Society, about two percent of Europeans and a majority of Asians lack a transporter protein that makes sweat smelly. Unfortunately, the rest of us sweaty Betties aren’t so lucky. But the good news is that you may have more control over your personal perfume than you think. Sweat itself isn’t smelly at all; it’s the bacteria that feast on your workout juice that cause the offensive odors. Here are nine reasons your sweat stinks (and what you can do about it):

1. Stress Over Your Big Date

If just imagining a blind date makes you sweat, you’re not alone. A majority of people report breaking out into a nervous sweat when confronted with something stressful. Anxiety over meeting Mr. Right activates the hormone cortisol in your body, which in turn kicks your sweat glands into high gear. The sweat then gets trapped in your Spanx, combines with bacteria, and suddenly you have one more thing to worry about besides his last text. Just what you needed, right?

2. Your Cute New Blouse

There’s a reason no one works out in polyester tennis dresses anymore. Natural fibers like cotton, wool and linen soak up sweat from your skin and allow it to evaporate. But while synthetic fibers like Rayon, polyester, nylon and even some natural fibers like silk look pretty, their ability to repel water (and your sweat) will make you smell worse in the end. Instead of helping move the sweat away from your skin bacteria, these fabrics keep it trapped on the surface. FYI: scientists have found that bacteria love polyester in the best (read: stinkiest) way possible.

3. Your Deodorant

A catch-22 of modern hygiene is that the stuff you buy to help keep body odor away may actually be making the problem worse. Ingredients in some antiperspirants, deodorants, body washes, body sprays and lotions can encourage stinky bacterial growth by giving bacteria more food. Many doctors now advise patients with body odor problems to use plain water when washing and leave it at that, since sweat itself has no odor. If that isn’t enough for you, they suggest trying lemon juice diluted with water or apple cider vinegar-the acid will inhibit bacterial growth, the real source of the stench.

4. Popping the Pill

Time to read the fine print? Many medications have increased sweating or body odor as a known side effect. This includes over-the-counter pills like Tylenol, diet pills, and allergy medications, as well as prescription meds like some anti-depressants, ADHD meds, and even birth control pills.

5. Missing Nutrients

Obviously, eating tons of garlic can make you smell like an Italian restaurant at the gym the next day, but what you don’t eat can also affect your body odor. Scientists found that people who are deficient in magnesium, a vital nutrient found in leafy greens and nuts, had stronger body odor than people who got enough. “In a few days, if diets contain nothing particularly toxic, deodorizes them,” the researchers concluded. Who knew that eating a sweet treat (dark chocolate is a great source!) could also make you smell sweet?

6. Your Low-Carb Diet

Vegetarians and carnivores have long accused the other of smelling badly because of their diets-and, it turns out, they might be right. “Because of a person’s body chemistry, some individuals cannot metabolize foods containing large amounts of choline, such as eggs, fish, liver and legumes. The result is a “fishy” smell which can be quite offensive,” reports one expert. Plus, adds Dana Ullman, a holistic practitioner and naturopathic physician, “Foods high in protein require active metabolic breakdown by the body and may increase the likelihood of increased body odor.”

7. The Candy in Your Desk

Bacteria have excellent taste, and they love sugary treats as much as you do. Eat too many sweets and not only does your waistline suffer but, according to Edward Group, a certified clinical nutritionist, all those treats can cause an overgrowth of yeast, which in turn converts those sugars into alcohols that cause you to smell anything but sweet. Not to mention, the by-product of all that yeast in your bowels is gas-we don’t have to tell you how that smells!

8. Your Bathroom Habits

Well, this is awkward: Holding in your urine or feces will not only make you long for a bathroom, but can also make you smell like one. Scientists found that in cases of severe constipation, toxins released by the digestive system may seep through the pores, giving you what’s affectionately known as “fecal body odor.” In addition, the “ammonia” smell from a urinary tract infection can become so concentrated that the odor comes out through your pores as well. Talk about making a bad situation worse!

9. Last Night’s Takeout

Anyone who’s done a long treadmill run the day after hitting their fave Mexican restaurant knows that foods like onions, garlic, curry and other strong spices can make your sweat pretty fragrant-but your French fry cravings may be equally to blame. According to researchers, the oils in fried and baked goods can quickly become rancid causing poor digestion and, consequently, body odor.

  • By Charlotte Hilton Andersen @CharlotteGFE

Recently, I was asked by a concerned fitness enthusiast why their sweat had such a horrific stench post-workout, and what they could do about it.

But the fact is, sweat doesn’t stink.

When it comes to body odor, sweat certainly gets a bad rap, but what you smell post-workout is actually the odor of bacteria that is feeding on the components in your sweat. That’s right — in the same way that smelly gas coming out your backside is produced from bacteria fermenting food in your gut, odor is produced from bacteria feeding on sweat around your stinky areas, particularly the apocrine glands in places such as your underarms and crotch.

As you’ve probably experienced when you’re exercising hard, recovering from a workout, or perhaps “pitting out” from emotional stress, your body produces sweat to help you cool, as a “fight or flight” stress-response.

And this sweat is chock full of proteins, fatty acids, and a special kind of carbohydrate that bacteria absolutely love to eat. So to make energy and survive, the bacteria on your skin break down these components of sweat — and a byproduct of this bacterial metabolism is body odor.

Different bacteria produce different odors when they digest the components of your sweat, and because everybody has slightly different amounts of bacteria on their skin, some people smell better, worse, or simply different than others when they sweat.

In addition, your sweat tends churn out different kinds of proteins, fatty acids and carbohydrates based on the foods that you eat, so a particular diet may cause more or less body odor.

So how you can avoid stinking so much after your workout or when you’re stressed? Here are 4 tips:

  • Avoid sulfurous foods when you want to smell good. This includes foods such as meat, eggs, dairy, onions, garlic and even cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli. Coffee and alcohol can also tend to be stinky sweat culprits for many people.
  • Limit bacteria on the surface of your skin. I personally do this by showering with an anti-bacterial soap (Dr. Bronner’s) with oil of oregano added to the soap.
  • Use an underarm deodorant. Sadly, most deodorants create a chemical cocktail in your armpits, but here are a few good brands.
  • Season your food with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or cardamom. These spices tend to influence your sweat scent to a slightly more pleasant aroma.

Hopefully these tips help you, and the next time someone tells you “your sweat stinks,” just tell them it’s not your sweat, it’s those pesky bacteria.

There are some aspects of being human that just aren’t very glamorous. One of them, without question, is our body odor. Most people sweat when it gets hot outside or we exercise. But that reek emanating from our armpits and private parts? That’s not from a hearty workout. In fact, it’s not from us at all. Our distinct funk comes thanks to bacteria living on our skin.

Bacteria take innocent, non-smelly chemicals and turn them into our human stank, a recent study shows. The results suggest that while our body odor might be unappreciated now, in the past it may have been part of an individual’s allure.

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Our armpits sport glands — groups of cells that produce secretions — called apocrine (APP-oh-kreen) glands. These are found only in our armpits, between our legs and inside our ears. They secrete a substance that might be mistaken for sweat. But it’s not that salty water that seeps out, all over our bodies, from other eccrine glands. The thick secretion released by apocrine glands is instead full of fatty chemicals called lipids.

If you take a whiff of your underarm, you might think this secretion stinks. Scientists have been trying to figure out the source of our signature scent. They have put forward many different molecules as the source of body odor, notes Gavin Thomas. He’s a microbiologist — a biologist who specializes in one-celled life — at the University of York in England.

Scientists used to think that hormones might cause our sweaty smell. But “it doesn’t look as if we make those in the underarm,” Thomas says. Then scientists thought our sweaty smell might come from pheromones (FAIR-oh-moans), chemicals that affect the behavior of other animals. But those didn’t seem to matter much either.

In fact, the thick secretions from our apocrine glands don’t smell very much on their own. This is where the bacteria come in, says Thomas. “Body odor is the consequence of bacteria in our underarms.”

Bacteria are real stinkers

Bacteria coat our skin. Few have stinky side effects. Staphylocci (STAF-ee-loh-KOCK-ee), or staph for short, are a group of bacteria that live all over the body. “But we found particular species,” Thomas reports, “which only appears to grow in the underarm and other places where you have these apocrine glands.” It’s Staphylococcus hominis (STAF-ee-loh-KOK-us HOM-in-iss).

Thomas looked at the diet of S. hominis while he was working with other scientists at the University of York and at the company Unilever (which produces body products such as deodorant). This germ takes up residence in your pits because it loves to dine on a chemical from the apocrine glands. Its favorite dish is called S-Cys-Gly-3M3SH. S. hominis pulls it in through molecules — called transporters — in its outer membrane.

A good workout in the gym can leave you wet, but it’s not stinky. Body odor develops only when certain underarm secretions become altered by bacteria living on the skin.PeopleImages/E+/Getty Images

The molecule has no smell on its own. But by the time S. hominis is done with it, the chemical has been transformed into something called 3M3SH. This is a type of sulfurous molecule called a thioalcohol (Thy-oh-AL-koh-hol). The alcohol part ensures that the chemical escapes easily into the air. And if it’s got sulfur in its name, that hints it’s likely to stink.

What does 3M3SH smell like? Thomas gave a group of non-scientists in a local pub a whiff. Then he and asked them what they had smelled. “When people smell thioalcohol they said ‘sweat,’” he says. “Which is really good!” It means that the chemical is definitely a component of the body odor we know and loathe.

Thomas and his colleagues published their findings in 2018 in the journal eLife.

Other staph bacteria also have transporters that can suck up the odorless precursor from our skin. But only S. hominis can make the stink. That means that these microbes probably have an extra molecule — one other staph bacteria don’t make — to chop up the precursor inside S. hominis. Thomas and his group are now working to figure out exactly what that molecule is and how it works.

And there’s still more to the story

3M3SH is definitely a part of our distinctive sweaty scent. But it’s not working alone. “I’ve never smelled someone and thought ‘Oh, that’s the molecule,’” says Thomas. “It’s always going to be a complex of smells. If you smell somebody’s underarm it’s going to be a cocktail .” The other ingredients in that cocktail, though, vary from person to person. And some of them still await discovery.

B.O., it seems, is a partnership between our apocrine glands and our bacteria. We produce 3M3SH, which has no smell. It serves no purpose, except to act as a delicious snack for the bacteria that turn it into the stink in our sweat.

That means that our bodies may have evolved to produce chemical precursors, just so the bacteria could gobble them up and make us stink. If true, why would our bodies aid bacteria to make these smells. After all, we now spend so much time trying to make those smells disappear.

In fact, Thomas says, those odors may have mattered far more in the past. People are very sensitive to the stink of sweat. Our noses can sense 3M3SH at only two or three parts per billion. That’s two molecules of the chemical per billion of molecules of air, or the equivalent of two drops of ink in a 4.6-meter (15-foot) diameter backyard swimming pool.

What’s more, our apocrine glands don’t become active until we hit puberty. In other species, smells like these are involved in findings mates and communicating with other members of a group.

“So it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to think 10,000 years ago maybe smell had a much more important function,” Thomas says. Until a century ago, he says, “We all smelled. We had a distinct smell. Then we decided to shower all the time and use a lot of deodorant.”

His research has made Thomas a little more appreciative of our natural fragrance. “It makes you think it’s not such a bad thing. It’s probably quite an ancient process.”

How to Smell Good: 18 Ways to Smell Fresh All Day

The best way to smell good is to know your body. Understanding how you react to different scents and wash routines is a surefire way to ensure 24/7 crispness.

Perfume is another classic solution. For centuries, people rich and poor have used different kinds of fragrances and scented oils to freshen up. With so many options on the market today, it’s essential to know what will work and what won’t with your natural body oils.

However, there are other ways to ensure you smell great, whether you have perfume around or not. Here are our 18 tips for smelling good all day.

1. Drink Plenty of Water

If there’s one thing you can do to keep smelling good, it’s to drink water. Truly the elixir of life, H2O keeps your body running normally. As it relates to helping you smell good, water dilutes scents that may be a little unpleasant — like garlic, onions and coffee breath. We recommend drinking at least 96 fluid ounces per day -— three Nalgene bottles worth.

2. Spritz in the Closet

If you want to establish your scent and make it stick, hit your closet with a couple sprays of your go-to fragrance once a week. Depending on the desired strength of your scent, you’ll want to be cognizant of how close to a rack of clothes your spray stream is — the closer and more direct, the stronger the scent.

This method gives you a lasting signature scent that isn’t overpowering, making it possible to mix and match with other perfumes to give yourself irresistible allure.

3. Store a Scented Sachet in Your Underwear Drawer

To keep your whole body smelling great, keep a perfume sachet where you store your underwear. Similar to how spraying a closet gives you a subtle yet signature scent, a sachet in your undies drawer ensures a pleasant undertone of fragrance.

The method works especially well on athletic compression shorts and bras, which naturally take on a perpetual scent over time, during and after a workout.

4. Perfume Your Hairbrush

Spray your hairbrush with perfume, not your hair! Contrary to tradition, spraying hair directly with perfume can damage roots and wither fresh locks. Instead, apply your chosen scent onto a brush – this helps to dissipate the perfume, lower the concentration of the scent and soften the chemical impact while creating a subtle, pleasant trail of scent.

5. Spray Your Bare Torso with Fragrance

An unusual yet effective place to spray perfume is on the torso. This method works best if you desire a subtle scent throughout the day. Since this area also sits lower than nose height, it causes the given smell to have a pleasant all-around aura rather than an “in-your-face” effect. It’s ok to be a little more liberal with the amount here — your clothes will not only cover the scent up, but also help dissipate the fragrance through contact.

6. Blend with Other Favorite Scents

We live in an age of scents. Our laundry detergent, shampoo, body wash, deodorant and even toothpastes are often enhanced with a fragrant essence. Perfume is best used if it complements these. Take note of the fragrances you encounter throughout your day and find a perfume to match them.

While it’s impossible to predict every smell you’ll apply on any given day, your go-to lotions and hand soaps are good places to start when looking for an aromatic perfume combo.

7. Apply Lightly Scented Deodorant

Keeping the tip above in mind, a soft-smelling deodorant is a good choice to add a top layer of pleasant smell to your overall outfit. You don’t want your choice to be overpowering, however. An ideal deodorant will provide an extra spritz of freshness.

8. Use Shoe Spray

Yes, this is a thing. Originally used by athletes in cleats, anyone can purchase this life saver (it’s especially helpful in the summer months). Shoe spray acts like a perfume for your feet, making sure that they stay smelling good even when you’re sweating.

A time to heavily consider this option is if you’re planning on going sockless for the day. Even if you don’t have naturally pungent feet, the reaction between your shoe’s material and your bare, sweaty skin can create a gnarly scent.

9. Be Careful What You Eat

It almost goes without saying but bad breath can ruin any outfit. No matter how good you smell on the outside, if you’re breath isn’t on par, your look won’t be either. Luckily, there’s an easy way to avoid this. When possible, avoid foods that are naturally more pungent. Onions, garlic and chives can all lead to bad breath.

If you’re worried you might need to eat these foods, carry around a small toothbrush kit, gum or non-alcoholic mouthwash to freshen up your breath mid-day.

10. Create an Easy D.I.Y. Perfume Lotion

If you want a combo of moisture and custom fragrance all in one, creating your own lotion is a super-easy way to look and smell good. Simply buy a bottle of unscented lotion and add a small amount of your perfume — the more drops you add, the stronger the solution will be.

The method also negates the need to pair products with complimentary scents. Your lotion and perfume will smell one and the same, making getting ready a breeze.

11. Wash With Quality Soap

Not only does soap keep the germs away, but it can also truly boost your scent profile. Both hand and shower soaps can help add a fresh accent to your everyday ensemble. Be sure to use good quality soap, because some soaps can leave you smelling less than ideal. It’s also important to buy soap that contains natural oils/moisturizer and natural scents.

Soap also helps lock in any scents you applied previously and prevents your hands from drying out.

12. Understand Layering

Both layering scents and wearing clothing the right way are essential to smelling good. Make sure your first layer of scented substance (e.g. lotion) doesn’t mask your top layer (e.g. perfume). Applying moisture-heavy products after perfume can lock out the smell of the perfume or mix to create an oily mess.

Clothes play a factor, too. If it’s a cold day and you’re wearing a sweatshirt, consider spraying your fragrance on the mid-layer. This way, the scent won’t get rubbed off by a jacket or mashed by two layers on top. Also, and most importantly, this is where heat is concentrated. By spraying an inner t-shirt, you’re helping activate the perfume to its fullest.

13. Add a Body Oil

When you want to take things up a notch, add a drop or two of body oil to your prep routine. These scented oils can smell like anything from lilacs to cinnamon — so just pick your favorite and go with it. It will not only keep you smelling good after a shower, but also helps boost your overall glow, too.

14. Get Hair-Specific Perfume

A relatively new product with an age-old need, hair-specific perfumes are changing the game. These are erasing the need to dedicate a brush solely for perfume application. The chemical makeup of these fragrances are less harsh and smell just as pleasant.

15. Use a Makeup Wipe to Wipe Off Excess

If you accidentally go overboard with the perfume, you can use a makeup wipe to wipe off some of the scent. It’s important not to use too much fragrance for a couple of reasons. One reason is that this causes the scent to become saturated and concentrated in one area — which can be overpowering.

The other reason is that if too much scent is applied to clothes, it can leave a “smell stain” that can be hard to get out of fabrics without the right techniques.

16. Wait for Fragrance to Dry Before Leaving

Apply your fragrance early on in your routine. This ensures that it will lock in fully before you head out for the day. Similar to how friction can wipe off lotion, wind and air can rip off top scents of your perfume and render it ineffective after a very short amount of time.

17. Lightly Spray Bedsheets/Pillow

To smell good 24/7, feel free to spray your bedding essentials with a spritz or two of your favorite and relaxing perfumes. This not only gives your bedding an a scent but also can help with relaxation as well, depending on the type of perfume.

18. Utilize Cotton Balls

Taking full or travel-sized bottles with you when you go out can drastically decrease the life of your perfume. Instead, spray cotton balls with the fragrance and keep them in a plastic bag within your purse.

Before heading out, spray each ball with two spritzes of perfume and treat each one like a “shot”. If you’re feeling like you need to freshen up, simply blot a pulse-point with one of the balls and you’re good to go.

It’s inevitable, everyone has times when we’re just not smelling too peachy. Luckily, freshening up with a pleasant fragrance is as easy as can be. To start out, find your go-to fragrance and start building from there!

11 Secrets Of People Who ALWAYS Smell Good (It’s Not Showering Every Day)

Don’t you envy those people who always smell good regardless of where they go? They can come out of the gym or have just woken up, but they always have a pleasing smell.

It’s not a coincidence, there’s a formula to achieve it. Although taking a shower highly influence it, there are other factors that make our body’s aroma last all day.

Here are some tips you should follow and are easier than what you think:

#1 Diet is key

They say “you are what you eat” and this applies to how you smell. Perfumer Julia Zangrilli says that if you want to smell good it is important that you think about what you consume, according to Refinery29.

A diet with a lot of onion, spices, and garlic, can be good for your organism, but these type of foods can affect not only your breath but also your skin for up to 48 hours.

Food doesn’t only affect how you eat, but also how perfumes soaks into your skin. Eating fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetable, and proteins, are idea to have a nice smell. Sugared drinks can also affect how you smell, especially the processed that is the reaches the pores. A sour smell is not nice.

heckmannoleg/iStock/thinkstock

#2 Fragrances

The main component to smell good is the fragrance that you put on. Finding the one that best suits your skin is not so easy. Make sure you look for a fresh, natural one, with which you feel comfortable. It is something that will also make you feel more secure every day.

#3 Take care of your clothes

It seems like something obvious, but the way you wash your clothes makes a huge difference in how you smell. From the detergent you use, to how you dry it. Linda Song, a perfumer at Givaudan, says that many detergents and fabric softeners are trying to imitate the smell of a perfume. Look carefully for detergents with fragrances.

#4 Test fragrances

Do you buy the first piece of clothing you find when you go shopping? The same applies to perfumes and lotions, they smell and feel different on each person. People who know about fragrances test them out and see how they react on their skin during the day. The best way to identify a good fragrance is with patience. Sometimes you buy what you thought was the right one and in the end it was not. You have to try several samples until one convinces you. Find one that suits your skin and personality.

#5 Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated can help ward off bad odors. When the skin dries it tends to absorb and dissipate the perfumes much faster. A tip for this is to take a lot of water, moisturize your skin and apply products that hydrate your skin.

#6 Know what spot to wear perfume

Many of us do not realize exactly where we spray our fragrances, but it is essential to smell good all day. According to Aedes de Venustas owner Karl Bradl, the fragrances work from the bottom up, so the best places to spray are the knee area, the private parts, the chest, and behind your ears. This is how you will make the most of the fragrance, without exaggerating and spraying too much. You can also apply perfume in your stomach, the back of your neck, your armpits, and ankles, etc.

It sounds like too much, but Bradl suggests applying your perfume half an hour before leaving your house so that it soaks in. And don’t forget to spray it at a considerable distance from your body so that you do not smell too much of a perfume or lotion.

Brooke Cagle via Unsplash

#7 Don’t only use fragrances

This doesn’t mean to put on several perfumes at the same time. Instead, try out different oils or body lotions also. These layers will make the smell in your body last longer. Look for a body oil that it refreshing and suits you.

#8 Re-apply your perfume

If you want to smell good for much of the day, perfumes and lotions tend to not last long. The best thing is that you apply it twice a day. We all sweat throughout the day and the best way to freshen up is by applying more perfume in the middle of the day. Pocket perfumes are very useful.

#9 Good smells don’t only go on the skin

Experts recommend spraying perfume in your home, your bed, your clothes, and your hair to smell good all day. As a tip, change your sheets constantly, do not stop brushing your teeth in the morning, put candles in your house, aromatizers in the bathroom, etc. Believe it or not, all these scents influence how you smell during the day. There are several ways that your house smells amazing without you having to spray a lot of perfume on everything.

#10 Have powder handy for your feet

If your feet tend to smell bad during the day, like those of many, apply talcum powder several times a day. Remember that smelly feet can ruin any moment.

#11 Invest in a dry shampoo

If you prefer not to wash your hair every day, sometimes we can not stop it from looking greasy and starting to smell bad. Buy a dry shampoo with an aroma that convinces you, apply it in the mornings and in the evenings if you are going out somewhere.

*Translated from original article by Mariana Tinoco published on VIX Español

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Strong body odour can be an embarrassing problem. Commercial deodorants and sprays may improve the situation temporarily, but do not address the underlying problem. To manage the problem permanently we need to first understand the causes of body odour.

Maintain good hygiene

Our skin sweats to excrete waste, and when sweat dries on the skin it can smell. Therefore, depending on one’s lifestyle and level of activity, regular baths or showers are important to maintain good hygiene. When washing, focus on troublesome areas such as the armpits and feet. Dry your body well. If your skin is dry, it is harder for bacteria to breed on it.

Avoid anti-perspirant

Using antiperspirant deodorants blocks the pores thereby preventing toxins from coming out. In the long run, this can result in a build-up of toxins which can cause body odour. Armpits have an important function in getting rid of toxins, therefore it is important to keep them unclogged by using natural aluminum-free deodorants.

Use saunas and steam baths

An important function of the sweat glands is to excrete toxins from the body. The sauna aids in this as it allows your body to really sweat. It opens up your pores and allows toxins to come out through the skin. Having weekly steam baths or saunas detoxifies your body, thereby improving your natural scent.

Wear natural fibres

Natural fibre clothing like linen, cotton, and silk allow the skin to breath thereby minimising moisture in which bacteria thrive. Keep your clothes clean and change them daily. Allow your feet to breath by wearing sandals when possible, and going barefoot as soon as you get home.

Watch your diet

What you eat largely affects your body odour. Chlorophyll rich foods such as spinach, wheat grass, leafy greens and kale, are natural deodorisers which keep you smelling fresh. This is the reason many brides go on a detox before they get married. Pungent foods such as garlic, onions, spices, and caffeine, may cause bad odours to seep from your pores after you eat them. Limit your intake of these foods to not more than once a day, and remember to stay well hydrated.

Don’t smoke

If you smoke, the smell of tobacco can seep from your pores and cause your sweat to smell.

Shave your underarm hair

Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments and can cling to underarm hair. Being clean shaven can help reduce odour.

It is normal to sweat under your armpits, however, if your body is healthy and clean, you shouldn’t smell. If after trying all these you still experience extreme body odour, seek medical advice.

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Sweating and Body Odor

What is sweating and body odor?

Sweating is the secretion of fluids by sweat glands (made up of eccrine glands and apocrine glands) onto the surface of the skin, mainly for the purpose of maintaining body temperature within an ideal range. When body temperature rises due to physical exertion or being in hot surroundings, the evaporation of sweat from the skin produces a cooling effect.

Sweat itself does not smell but body odor may occur when bacteria on the skin break down acids contained in the sweat produced by apocrine glands, which are located in the armpits, breasts, and genital-anal area. The bacteria’s waste products are what produce the smell.

Who is more likely to experience sweating and body odor?

Body odor begins to occur once a person reaches puberty, as this is when the apocrine glands become developed. Men on the whole have more frequent problems with body odor because they sweat more than women.

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9 Reasons You Have Smelly Sweat and How to Fix It Today

Dealing with smelly sweat is never fun. But contrary to popular belief, sweat by itself is virtually odorless. That familiar smell of body odor comes from bacteria interacting with the sweat on your skin’s surface.

Chronic smelly sweat is known as bromhidrosis — and there are many possible causes behind the condition.

9 Causes of Smelly Sweat

The cause of body odor varies from person to person. But most body odor originates from your apocrine glands, a type of sweat gland concentrated in the armpits and groin.

If your sweat always seems to smell, one (or a combination) of these causes could be the culprit.

1. Personal Hygiene

Poor personal hygiene can cause an overgrowth bacteria and encourage smelly sweat. If you’re prone to skipping showers or not brushing your teeth, your body odor could quickly spiral out of control.

2. Stress Sweat

Do stressful situations like project deadlines and family gatherings make you smell? Stress sweat actually smells worse than other types of sweat. When you’re stressed, your apocrine glands produce a white, odorless fluid that lets off a strong odor when it mixes with bacteria on the skin.

3. Synthetic Clothing Materials

Synthetic fibers like rayon, polyester and nylon trap moisture on the surface of your skin, creating a breeding ground for sweat-loving bacteria. To keep smelly sweat at bay, buy clothing made of natural fibers like cotton, wool and linen — these materials soak up sweat and allow it to evaporate.

4. Underlying Medical Condition

Certain medical conditions can cause a sudden change in body odor. These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Kidney and liver dysfunction
  • Genetic disorders

If you think you might have a medical condition that is causing body odor, you should consult with your doctor to determine the best treatment option.

5. Choline-Rich Foods

Choline is a type of B vitamin found in fish, meat and eggs that has a naturally fishy smell.

Millions of people have a genetic defect that causes them to produce a fishy body odor after eating foods with choline — these people can secrete choline in their sweat for up to a day. If you’ve experienced these unpleasant effects, you may benefit from a low-choline diet.

6. Sugary Treats

It might be time to toss out that secret candy stash in your desk drawer. Eating too many sweet treats can cause an overgrowth of yeast, which converts sugars into alcohols, which contribute to body odor.

7. Medications

Increased sweating and body odor are potential side effects of Tylenol, allergy medications and some prescription medications like ADHD and birth control pills. Make sure you read the fine print to determine if sweat and odor are side effects of your medications.

8. Low-Carb Diet

High-fat, low-carb diets like the Atkins diet can actually cause smelly sweat and bad breath.

When the body enters a state of ketosis, it starts burning fat instead of carbs for energy and produces a high level of ketones in your blood. Ketones — a type of acetone — can give your breath and body odor a fruity smell.

9. Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium is a vital mineral for your heart, muscles, nerves and kidneys. But an estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium.

Research shows that people who are magnesium-deficient have stronger body odor than people who get enough in their diet. Eating magnesium-rich foods like dark chocolate, raw almonds, flax and sesame seeds can help you get your magnesium fix and eliminate excessive B.O.

How to Combat Smelly Sweat

Bromhidrosis is embarrassing, but the good news is that it’s usually treatable. Here are some easy ways to fight back against smelly sweat.

Change your diet. Stay away from foods packed with spices, onion or garlic and eat more foods high in magnesium. Reducing your alcohol intake can also reduce B.O.

Wear a sweat proof undershirt. The more sweat on your skin, the worse your body odor becomes. Wearing a sweat proof undershirt can help keep your pits dry and ward off smell-causing bacteria.

The Thompson Tee is the only sweat proof undershirt guaranteed to block sweat and odor from reaching your outer layer. Every Thompson Tee is armed with patented Hydro-Shield technology in the underarms, keeping you dry and odor-free in any situation.

Try a Thompson Tee risk free today!

Adjust your personal hygiene routine. Make sure you’re taking regular showers, applying deodorant and wearing clean clothes every day. Try an antibacterial soap and avoid scented products, which can worsen body odor.

Shave or trim your armpits. Hair traps moisture on your skin, giving bacteria more time to produce odor. Shave or trim your pits regularly to keep body odor to a minimum.

Want more tips for controlling smelly sweat? Read our complete list of bromhidrosis solutions.

Sweat Doesn’t Smell – Find Out What Does


Would you believe us if we told you that sweat doesn’t stink?
No, we’re not saying that your armpits and your sweaty gym socks don’t stink (trust us, they do). But it’s not actually the sweat that causes the odor.
The smell actually comes from bacteria and fungi that grows in a warm, moist environment—like your sweaty underarms or your favorite running shoes. Over time, as more bacteria and fungi grow, the smell gets worse, as anyone who has ever open a bag full of sweaty clothes that haven’t been washed in a couple of weeks can attest. But if there were no bacteria or fungi, there would be no smell. That may seem like a fine distinction, but it’s an important one.
A company called Polygiene® has created a technology that can prevent the smelly bacteria and fungi that cause body odor from growing on your clothes. They apply it to textiles during the final stage of the manufacturing process, and it prevents fabrics from smelling bad when they get sweaty. To do this Polygiene uses low concentrations of silver salt (silver chloride), which has antimicrobial properties and is naturally present in water and soil, to safely eliminate the ability for bacteria and fungi to grow.
Importantly, Polygiene doesn’t affect the natural bacteria that live on your skin and help keep you healthy—it just prevents your clothes from getting stinky when you sweat in them.
And Polygiene lasts longer than most clothes do. It’s integrated right into the fabric, and can’t be washed out. So the anti-odor properties are pretty much permanent.
Polygiene is also good for the environment. When your clothes don’t get smelly, it means you don’t have to wash them as often, which reduces your carbon footprint. It also means you don’t have to pack as much clothing in your luggage when you go on a trip, which can also help reduce carbon emissions. In addition, clothing treated with Polygiene can be recycled as usual.
Researchers say that 90 percent of people have reported that a sweat-related odor has led to reduced self-confidence. And 30 percent of people say that they’ve had clothes that smelled so bad they had to throw them away.
But people who wear clothing treated with Polygiene say that they are able to keep re-wearing their workout clothes for weeks without washing them and without a bad odor.
At BUFF®, we know you don’t want to stink, and hey, we don’t want to smell it. That’s why we treat many of our products with Polygiene®.
So whether you’re hiking in a UV BUFF®, doing yoga in a UV Headband, skiing in a Polar BUFF®, or motorcycling in a Microfiber Balaclava, you can be sure that your Buff® headgear will keep smelling as great as the day you bought it.

How Do I Fight Body Odor?

If you want to be “odor-free” consider the following tips:

  1. Apply an antiperspirant at bedtime. This gives the product a chance to work while you sleep and are not sweating. If you apply antiperspirants after showering in the morning, the sweat you accumulate will wash away the product and render you defenseless against daytime sweating. Remember, deodorants do not prevent sweating. They mainly mask the smell of the sweat on your skin. Antiperspirants are chemical agents that reduce sweating. Many antiperspirant preparations also contain a deodorant, which helps to mask the smell. Check the product you use to make sure it contains an antiperspirant.
  2. Keep your underarms dry. Bacteria have a hard time breeding in dry areas of the body.
  3. Try a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water to fight body odor. Use 1 teaspoon of peroxide (3%) to 1 cup (8 ounces) of water. Wipe this on affected areas (underarm, feet, groin) with a washcloth. This may help destroy some of the bacteria that creates odor.
  4. If sweat from working out is your No. 1 cause of body odor, wash your workout clothes often. Sweaty gym clothes are a bacteria-breeding ground.
  5. Change your diet. Sometimes, fatty foods, oils, or strong-smelling foods such as garlic, curry, and onions, can seep through your pores and cause body odor (always see a doctor or dietician before making drastic dietary changes).
  6. If you have excessive sweating (called hyperhidrosis), talk to your doctor. There are a few treatment options for those with more severe sweating who desire more aggressive treatments. Also, certain medical problems can lead to excessive sweating. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
  7. Shaving your underarm regularly will help prevent the accumulation of bacteria and can reduce sweat and odor.

Why does sweat smell?

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