Let’s face it – no one likes B.O. Especially when it’s emanating from the stranger next to you on the taxi. Although you may not feel particularly positive about it, you would be wise to remind yourself how sophisticated the sweat-response is. It doesn’t just make you feel cool on a warm day, it actually protects your body from overheating – which could actually kill you!
In the bigger scheme of things, body-odour is a very small side-effect, and the good news is that you can combat the smell, naturally.
Antiperspirant or deodorant?
It’s important to know that not everything you swipe under your underarms is referred to as deodorant. Here’s why.
Antiperspirants typically use aluminium in some form and it’s meant to control sweat (or perspiration). Roll-ons commonly have active ingredients with scientific names.
- Aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex (roll-ons).
- Aluminium chlorohydrate (aerosol antiperspirants).
The aluminium in antiperspirants creates a temporary little plug in your armpit sweat glands, which prevents excessive sweating. Deodorants on the other hand, are made to mask body odour, they don’t contain aluminium, and don’t stop you from sweating. They only reduce body odour, by using fragrance or antibacterial compounds to make your armpits a little less bacteria-friendly.
What really causes that foul odour?
Body scents in general, are caused by 1) the substances secreted from skin glands and 2) skin bacteria. The smell is influenced by your diet, your hormonal cycles, your genetic typing and the type of bacteria living on your skin.
Go au naturel
Mild body odour is common, but when things turn sour, it can damage your self-esteem. Here are some recipes you can try to combat the smell, without exposing yourself to harsh chemicals:
- Baking soda or bicarbonate of soda is a white crystalline compound, loaded with health benefits. It absorbs moisture from the skin and keeps it dry, acts as a natural deodorant agent to prevent body odour, kills bacteria and neutralises the body to prevent excess sweating and odour.
- Known to serve its purpose in the kitchen, coconut oil can be useful as a deodorant because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties while also hydrating your skin. It can fight bacteria that causes odour in your underarms after you sweat. It’s perfect for those with sensitive armpits too. Before you use coconut oil as a deodorant, do a skin test to see if there’s a chance of an allergy reaction.
You can choose your oils based on how they smell. It’s also important to include essential oils that kill bacteria.
- Witch hazel reduces underarm odour by lowering the skin’s pH (a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of our body’s fluids and tissues) so the bacteria that causes odour can’t survive.
- Lavender and tea tree oil are commonly used in natural deodorants. They have antibacterial properties.
- Rosemary contains antibacterial properties that fight build-up of bacteria, which causes body odour.
- Sage will help reduce activity in your sweat glands, which is one of the main causes of body odour.
Prevent the dreaded whiff
- Hair absorbs odours easily, so shave your armpits regularly to reduce bacterial growth, sweat and odour.
- Keep your underarms dry. Bacteria thrive in moisture and will struggle to breed in dry areas of the body.
- Wear breathable fabrics. Many synthetic fabrics trap sweat and moisture.
- Change your diet. Fatty foods and strong-smelling foods like garlic, onions and spicy foods can leak through your skin and cause body odour.