Fragrance is an attraction-the sweet-smelling rose and jasmine attract the attention of people. But so does the odor of a person sitting next to us in a train, business meeting or trying to show their affection with a big hug! The intention is great but results don’t pay off indeed! We’ve seen some individuals being able to smell the presence of a person not by his/her choice of perfume but with the underlying fact that each of us have a unique smell that’s different from the rest. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because though perfumes were being used for 1000s of years deodorants did not come into existence until 1888 and the antiperspirant making an even later entry not until 1903. There was much struggle indeed to establish the need for external products and much of advertising done to convince individuals on using these fragrance products and this was done mostly by highlighting the embarrassments faced due to a smelly body! But now, the fragrance industry has captured the attention of people all over the world irrespective of the age and sex. Today, we have hundreds of commercials featuring different brands of perfumes, deodorants and antiperspirants that mainly focus on garnering the attention of the younger generation. Amongst all this stands the Old Spice’s ad ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ that created a popularity overnight. If you notice, though the target audience for the product are male the ad targets female viewers as they are the ones who make most of the purchasing decisions of the household. We also have other ads that frequently insist men to buy their brand of fragrance to succeed in romance, to woo the heart of the female population and to become a heartthrob among youngsters. Fragrance and perfumes have always been linked to romantic relationships and so, body odor surely comes as an obstacle to all these affecting relationships!
The Interior Effect of the Bacteria
But why do we emit smell in the first place? Its fundamental that all of us smell but why is that some of us pass by without having to take a shower after a workout while some need to run for a shower as soon as possible even after a short walk in a park? It all has to do with bacteria. When there is a bacterial reaction with sweat in areas that are not exposed to air (more commonly the armpits and inner thighs) it results in body odor. The smell emitted (sour, rotten egg-like or meaty) depends on the type of bacteria that sits on these regions of the body. To suppress this smell and to seem quite pleasant to others we all try our hands on the umpteen fragrance products available in the market. These deodorants only mask the odor by doing away with some of the bacteria and reducing the sweat emitted but closer contact with the person might make you realize that he/she is not as pleasant to smell as he/she seems to be from quite a distance.
Sweat has no smell and it’s the work of certain strains of bacteria such as the Staphylococcus that creates maximum smell in a person’s body. The major breakthrough in deodorants could possibly come if we learn to target the section of bacteria that emits maximum smell while ignoring others to maximize the effect of deodorants on the body. It is easier said than done as bacteria are not microorganisms that simply thrive on the visible layers of the skin but are also present inside the skin. Odor formation starts from within and it is quite a challenge to produce a deodorant that suppresses an odor from within.
Stop Blaming Yourself
The very first step towards minimizing the risk of body odor is to stay clean and neat. Having a bath regularly, wearing neat and comfortable clothes and changing clothes every time after bathing are essential. Eating healthy food, drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly help in discarding unwanted toxins out of the body. There are many individuals who realize that they smell bad and keep doing as much as possible to stay odorless and neat-they bathe multiple times in a day, change their clothes often and use deodorants frequently. It is natural to associate a sweaty and smelly body with improper body hygiene and lack of care but now maybe we realize that there are certain reactions happening from within our body too that trigger these smells. There isn’t much about body hygiene here but it has got to do with the microbiome. This is a new concept that most of us don’t realize!
There are always two sides of a story and with deodorants too it is no exception! While we encourage the use of deodorants we also have a study showing that deodorants could do more harm to the body than good! According to this research group deodorants prevent the growth of good bacteria while allowing harmful bacteria to grow. The bacteria grew back faster than normal when the study participants who regularly used deodorants stopped using them for some period and started the usage sometime later. There are arguments that the bacteria which these deodorants suppress are usually benign or even beneficial sometimes.
All said and done we need to make the right choices at the end of the day. Don’t overuse deodorants but also don’t try to ignore their use. We don’t want people to feel awkward in our presence! A moderate use of these products along with clean and hygienic body habits can surely stave away as much as odor as possible.
How to Get Rid of Body Odor: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/how-to-get-rid-of-body-odour/article29373741.ece
Deodorant Could be Allowing More Harmful Bacteria to Grow in Underarms: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/deodorant-could-be-allowing-more-harmful-bacteria-to-grow-in-underarms-research-suggests-a6850726.html
Will a New Discovery About Body Odor Lead to Better Deodorants: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/will-new-discovery-about-body-odor-lead-to-better-deodorants-180969695/
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