As warm weather approaches, I thought I would address an important subject… Deodorant. We all like to smell nice and as the weather gets hotter this can become a challenge.
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So let’s take a look at body odor, what causes it and what you can do to keep smelling fresh day after day. I am also going to go over the difference between the different types of deodorants and why using a natural deodorant is best.
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What is Body Odor?
The individual scent of our bodies is created by approximately 1 million sweat glands that are contained in the hairy parts of the body such as – head, armpits, and genital area. The remaining parts of the body have almost no scent but will take on the odor of various foods or drinks soon after they have been consumed.
The hairy portions of the body also contain many different types of saturated fatty acids that are secreted by the sweat glands. The genital area and armpits also have naturally occurring bacteria. It’s these bacteria that determine the individual scent of those areas. So, basically, when our sweat mixes with the bacteria in those areas of the body you get body odor.
The intensity of scent ranges from mild (head area) to strong and pungent in the armpit area. Generally, our body scent is more intensive in the evening and at night as our body temperature naturally rises during these times which in turn increases perspiration.
Have you ever noticed that your perfume or cologne smells a little stronger at night? The fragrance or perfume aroma evaporates more quickly and mixes with the more intense body scent hence making the overall scent stronger and more noticeable.
What Causes Bad Body Odor?
Our natural body scent or odor is not a bad thing. It can become foul smelling through stress – when we experience strong emotions such as fear, for example, a large amount of the saturated fatty acids within the sweat glands are excreted and when they mix with the bacteria on the skin’s surface this creates a bad smell. Other contributing factors are poor diet or hygiene, and certain medical conditions. Certain foods are also known to increase body odor. The most common ones being:
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, etc) due to their high sulfur content
- Onions and garlic
- Spicy Foods
- Coffee ( the exception to this is that used topically it actually helps to deodorize)
- VERY high protein diets
Women have more apocrine glands (sweat glands located in the armpits and genitals) than men do and are therefore more attentive to body odor in general, especially if it is bad body odor or B.O.
How to Get Rid of Body Odor
Staving off b.o. is actually fairly easy in most cases. Eating a clean healthy diet and drinking plenty of water helps as does proper hygiene. Foods like –
- Mint (peppermint, spearmint)
- Milk (if you are not Vegan)
- Green Tea (regular or jasmine)
Actually, help to improve body odor. I personally love to drink spearmint tea and jasmine green tea.
Using a deodorizing soap when you bathe and bathing often will help decrease bad B.O. I like natural soaps that contain essential oils since they are less harsh and better for us and the environment than most regular soaps.
And then, of course, there are topical deodorants…
Deodorant vs Antiperspirant
A common misconception most people have is that antiperspirants and deodorants are the same things, but they really aren’t. Antiperspirants work by clogging, closing off, or blocking the pores with powerful astringent ingredients such as aluminum salts. This prevents sweating.
Deodorants on the other hand work by neutralizing the smell of the sweat by the use of antiseptic ingredients that eliminate and guard against bacteria. Deodorants are the preferred choice because they don’t interfere with sweating, which is part of the natural cooling and detoxifying process of the body.
Why Choose Natural Deodorants?
Most regular deodorants are made with artificial scents (that contain phthalates), artificial dyes, parabens, propylene glycol, and other chemicals that are known to cause skin irritation and are possibly even hormone disruptors. You can read more about these HERE. Antiperspirants are worse because they contain aluminum a known carcinogen and it also accumulates in the brain. So, yuck!
Natural deodorants, on the other hand, are made with antibacterial oils like coconut, moisture absorbing clays, skin soothing butters such as shea or cocoa, and are scented with essential oils and other natural fragrances. They are free of artificial colors, scents, and preservatives and they allow the skin to breathe.
Now I know that some of you reading this may have already tried switching to natural deodorants only to end up with stinky and/or itchy pits. If you are about to throw in the towel or have already done so and gone back to using your regular product please don’t give up on going natural! There is a reason the natural products may not have worked for you. One reason is that you could be sensitive to baking soda, which is a common ingredient in natural deodorants for its deodorizing and moisture absorbing properties. For some people, it can cause itching and in some cases a rash.
Another reason is that most companies fail to educate their customers on how to choose the right scent for their body type which I will discuss in detail here…
Choosing the Right Scents
The scent blend you should choose is actually determined by your hair color. And just to be clear I am talking about your natural hair color. In the Aromatherapy Handbook for Beauty Hair and Skin Care by Erich Keller, he goes over how different scents correspond with the perspiration and body odor of blondes, brunettes, and redheads. When I first read about this it blew my mind. It made me realize why I myself was failing at finding really good natural deodorants and other naturally scented personal care products that worked for me.
If you choose a scent that doesn’t mesh with your natural chemistry then no wonder you can end up smelling worse than before. This explains why perfumes and colognes smell much better on some people than others. So, getting the fragrance just right is pretty vital.
Scents for Blonds –
Blonds tend to have a naturally sour or cheesy scent so oils that have a slightly sour or sharp and green or woodsy note blend well with their natural body odor. The following fit into this category:
- Carrot Seed
- Tea Tree
Scents for Brunettes and Redheads –
Redheads tend to have a sharp or acrid scent while brunettes tend to be sweeter and more pungent smelling reminiscent of sweat. Therefore the best scents for these two types are as follows:
And then there are some fragrances that work for all types…
Universal Scents –
The fragrances are reminiscent of human secretions (think pheromones) and therefore will work for all body types:
Heavy and aphrodisiac florals:
- Ylang Ylang
Fresh clean scents:
- Citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit)
- Mint (peppermint, spearmint)
So give the above a try and if you are still having issues try an armpit detox mask. I found a really good recipe for one on Hello Glow which I will link to HERE so feel free to check that out. And last but not least, be patient. It can take time for your body to adjust to using more natural products so give it at least 2-4 weeks.
We love to hear from you all so please leave a comment below and let us know how this worked out for you and what your favorite scent or combination of scents is. 🙂
Lora is a native Californian currently living in the Southeast. She is an artist, designer, blogger and nature lover. Her hobbies include herbalism, cooking, baking, creating DIY aromatherapy recipes, sipping wine and listening to music. She also loves to go hiking and camping.