happy woman in yellow hoodie, the science of sweat

Okay, here’s the thing. That smell you smell when you sweat, isn’t sweat. Sweat itself is basically a clear, odourless liquid mostly made up of water, salt, proteins and oils.

But, mix it with the millions of harmless bacteria that grow in moist, humid and nutrient-rich environments like our armpits and it can start to smell.

The good news is, there’s lots you can do to reduce body odour. So, don’t let it put you off getting your sweat on.

the science of sweat, girl

Getting under the skin of body odour

Body odour is the smell our bodies give off when they sweat. And it occurs for various reasons, although it’s essentially down to your sweat glands and the bacteria that live on your skin.

So, let’s talk sweat glands. There are two types…

Eccrine glands

They produce sweat that simply cools your skin when you get too hot.
Built-in air con for your body, if you like.

Apocrine glands

These kick in at puberty and produce sweat that creates body odour when it comes into contact with bacteria. Turning your armpits, groin and other areas into breeding grounds for B.O.

Changes in diet, hot or humid weather conditions, wearing synthetic clothing and even certain types of medication can all activate that distinctive smell.

SO, BODY ODOUR’S ALL DOWN TO OUR GLANDS?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Changes in diet, hot or humid weather conditions, wearing synthetic clothing and even certain types of medication can all activate that distinctive smell. Speaking of which, ever noticed how body odour smells a bit like vinegar?...

guy with cap, the science of sweat
sweat drops, the science of sweat

WHAT’S WITH THE VINEGARY SMELL?

Bacteria from the sebaceous glands of the body break down sweat into something called propionic acid, which comes from the same family as common vinegar. Hence that vinegary body odour when you’ve been sweating, whether from a gruelling HIIT class, nerves about a job interview or first date jitters.

Woman with slogan 'You can move', the science of sweat

SAY NO TO B.O.

Having smelly armpits may be natural – but that doesn’t mean you want them. So, here are some tips on beating B.O.

Hit the shower at least once a day

And use antibacterial soap to wash yourself thoroughly.

Keep it short and sweet (your body hair, that is)

Hair hangs on to sweat, so keeping hairy areas trimmed helps keep
B.O. at bay.

Wear clothes that breathe

And avoid synthetic fibres that trap sweat on your skin.

Use an effective anti-perspirant deodorant

Like Sure® Men Antibacterial Odour Protection or Sure® Women Maximum Protection Clean Scent.

Avoid odour-causing food

Taking garlic, onion, curry, cumin, fatty foods and red meat off the menu could make a difference.

Want to find out more about body odour? Click here >