We used to think that smelly armpits were caused by sweat. As a result, we also thought that those who sweated a lot, tended to stink. But, in fact, that’s not the case. Sweat by itself doesn’t smell, but when sweat mixes with certain bacteria in the armpits, and in other parts of the body, it creates an odoriferous compound. So in reality, it’s the bacteria that make you stink, not the sweat. Sweat alone is a good thing, made up mostly of salt and water; it’s the bacteria that we need to focus on if we don't want to smell foul.
The bacteria that break down sweat form thiaalcohols, which can create a pungent smell similar to sulfur or onions. "They're very very pungent," Dan Bawdon, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of York in England, who led a study on the subject said to NPR. "We work with them at relatively low concentrations so they don't escape into the whole of the lab but ... yes, they do smell. So we're not that popular."
Researchers contend that most deodorants on the market aren’t effective because they block sweat glands entirely or they mask the odor with strong fragrances. Not to mention that these deodorants can also be unhealthy for the body because if the body can’t sweat, it’s unable to expel toxins. In fact, a major exit route of the body is cut off. Additionally, strong fragrances are also made with phthalates, a potential human carcinogen. Phthalates may also cause reproductive issues. They’re have also been some links to birth defects as well as lower or damaged sperm counts.
According to the study findings, the most potently stinky compound is caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus hominis. Researchers contend that the most effective deodorants would stop odor by inhibiting thiaalchohols from forming in the first place. But in the mean time, the best option is the crystal deodorant stone, which works directly on the bacteria in the armpit.
Crystal deodorant stones, which work by wetting the stone and then applying it to the armpit, contain a natural anti-microbial agent called potassium alum. The agent inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. The crystal adjusts the pH on your skin so bacteria can’t form. What’s more, crystal deodorant stones have no added chemicals or fragrances, which is a good thing considering the underarm sweat glands are a direct entrance into the body. The stones also allow your body to sweat rather than just cutting off the sweat glands completely. And they don’t mask odor, they just work on the bacteria that causes it.
We often stick with unhealthy conventional deodorants because we fear being the smelly person in the room. But when you actually understand how the body works and how sweat glands produce odor, it’s a lot easier to treat the odor in a healthy, more natural way. Say goodbye to smelly armpits.
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Image of armpit from Shuttershock