Body odor is a perceived unpleasant smell our bodies can give off when bacteria that live on the skin break down sweat into acids – some say it is the smell of bacteria growing on the body, but it really is the result of bacteria breaking down protein into certain acids.

Every day we produce on average one litre of sweat. Our skin contains millions of glands, and it is some of these that produce sweat. When we are hot, active, nervous or stressed, our sweat glands are stimulated to produce more sweat. As sweat evaporates from our skin, it absorbs heat energy from our body and so cools us down. Sweat itself is virtually odorless to humans; it is the rapid multiplication of bacteria in the presence of sweat and what they do (break sweat down into acids) that eventually causes the unpleasant smell. The smell is perceived as unpleasant, many believe, because most of us have been brought up to dislike it.

Body odor can have a nice and specific smell to the individual, and can be used – especially by dogs and other animals – to identify people. Each person’s unique body odor can be influenced by diet, gender, health, and medication.

Deodorant in general is a product designed only to control odor. Some types of deodorant are also antiperspirants, or will be labeled as both antiperspirant and deodorant. This is an important distinction because a deodorant alone will generally not stop someone from sweating. Antiperspirants, on the other hand, are designed to prevent sweating. These products almost always contain some type of aluminum that causes a slight swelling of the pores to prevent sweat from reaching the surface of the skin.

Deodorant comes in a variety of different formulas and methods of application. The most common types of deodorant come in solid stick, gel, roll-on, liquid, cream, powder and spray formulas. Natural deodorant is another option that may come in all those different styles or in a stone or mineral form that is rubbed on the underarms. Most deodorant is usually only designed to control odor, but some types of deodorant also include antiperspirant ingredients that help stop sweating and wetness.

Stick and powder deodorants are generally considered “dry” deodorants because they typically do not leave the skin wet after they are applied. Products in stick form are generally solid white or clear deodorants that are rubbed on the armpits. Powder deodorant is sprinkled or patted on, and is often made of the same types of ingredients as stick deodorant but without the silicone or fatty substances that bind them together. Gel deodorant is applied in a similar way as the stick varieties but comes in a thick gel that is pushed up through holes or slits in the cap.
Liquid, cream and roll-on deodorants are typically similar in formula and texture but are applied differently. Cream deodorant is usually applied with the fingertips, whereas liquid deodorant may be patted on with the fingers, splashed on or sprayed on with a pump sprayer. Roll-on deodorant has a ball in the top of the bottle that rolls and applies the product to the skin in a thin layer. Types of deodorant that are sprayed on generally come in aerosol cans. Pump sprayers are typically only used to apply homemade liquid deodorant, though there may be natural brands available in pump sprayers.

New products have also been specifically designed to reduce white marks. For example, the product is developed to affect the way that light is bounced off the skin so that there is less visible white powder.

Here’s some other ideas that can help keep you smelling fresh :
1. Watch what you eat. Certain foods have the potential to make our sweat more pungent. A diet high in the red meat increases body odor as does curry, garlic, and other spicy foods.
2. Shave your underarms. If you have a lot of hair under your arms, it slows the evaporation of sweat so that you have more bacteria.
3. Wear breathable clothing. Natural fibers (linen, silk, cotton, light wool like merino) can breathe and decrease sweating. Also some of the high-tech fibers wick away moisture. Many exercise clothing now offer high-tech fabric that wicks away moisture from the body, so bacteria doesn’t have a chance to get at the sweat.

Natural remedies to prevent body odor

• Wipe rubbing alcohol, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide onto your underarms during the day to cut down the numbers of odor-causing bacteria. Vinegar, whether it’s apple cider or white, can help lower the pH level of the skin for an anti-bacteria environment. It’s best to splash the vinegar under the arms when you get out of the shower, but not immediately after you have shaved your underarms. This is safe for the skin as long as it’s unbroken. It’s best to do a test on a small patch of skin to make sure you do not react badly.

• Dab on witch hazel and tea tree oil. You can splash it directly on your skin or apply it as often as necessary with a cotton pad. The clear, clean-smelling liquid has drying and deodorizing properties. Witch hazel and tea tree oil are natural sterilizers that can be applied on your armpits, since they are natural antiseptics. They lower the skin’s pH, which makes it impossible for bacteria to survive. Directly applying witch hazel on your skin can serve as a regular deodorant.

• Dust baking soda or cornstarch on any odour-troubled part of your body. Both of these powders absorb moisture, and baking soda also kills odor-causing bacteria.

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