The antiperspirant industry is worried that people may boycott their products because of the toxic metals they contain, and they should be worried. But how can we continue to smell sweet and fresh unless we use them? Must we cover up our natural odor with highly scented oils or perfumes? Is bad body odor a sign of bad health?
To answer these questions, it’s important to realize that body odor is caused almost entirely by the presence of bacteria on the skin and in the body hair. Areas that are moist and kept inside clothing are, therefore, going to be the worst offenders: the armpits, groin area, and feet.
What Causes Body Odor?
Unless a person js very toxic from alcohol, drugs, heavy metals, or other substances, body odor is not caused by sweat, as it generally does not have much odor by itself. However, sweat and other moisture on the body does increase bacteria growth on the skin and, especially, in the hair. The bacteria actually cause the odor. The sweat located in the underarms, groin, breasts, and anal area is different than the sweat on the rest of your body, such as your forehead or palms. The underarm sweat contains more fats and is, therefore, thicker and more “sticky.” It also tends to be a yellowish color. This sweat, when left in the hair follicles under the arm, can quickly produce body odor, though the particulars of that odor are influenced by weather, personal biology, and diet. Some people’s body odor is not offensive, while others’ can be.
What causes a particular body odor to smell bad? Generally diet, use of medications, smoking, and alcohol consumption cause the bad smells. It is said that animals can smell “meateating” on other animals and humans. No doubt the consumption of meat and animal fat influences your body odor. Likewise, the excessive consumption of fish, garlic, or other spices can show up in a person’s body odor.
If you don’t drink enough water, it’s possible that your internal organs and skin are not properly “rinsed,” and may produce more toxicsmelling odors when you sweat.
Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant
Pretty much all antiperspirants contain deodorizing agents, but deodorants are not the same as antiperspirants. Deodorants simply mask or cover up the odors associated with underarm sweat. Antiperspirants, on the other hand, contain coating agents that reduce the amount of sweat released by the skin in the area where it is applied. The most common coating agent is ACH (aluminum chlorohydrate). Some sticks and gels may use AZAG (aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY).
Sweating is a natural function of the body; it is the body’s way of cooling itself off. So even if antiperspirant products weren’t loaded with toxic heavy metals, the idea of stopping your body from performing a natural and necessary function is rather misguided. Use natural deodorants and oils to keep yourself smelling fresh, but let your sweat glands do their job by avoiding antiperspirants.