The Science of Sweat & Deodorant
Every day we produce on average one quart of sweat. Our skin contains millions of glands and some produce sweat. We have between 25,000 and 50,000 sweat glands in our armpits alone. Sweat itself does not have any odor.
Sweating and body odor
come from secretions
of two types of sweat glands,
eccrine glands and
Eccrine Glands Help Regulate Body Temperature
The majority of sweat glands, eccrine glands, are found over most of the body and open directly onto the surface of the skin.
The “sweat” from these glands is composed mainly of water, salt and trace amounts of other electrolytes that help regulate the balance of fluids in your body.
Sweat produced by these glands does not contribute to body odor.
The main role of eccrine glands is to assist in body temperature regulation. Sweating is controlled by the hypothalamus of the brain which receives messages from temperature receptors in the skin.
When your body temperature rises the eccrine glands are stimulated to secrete fluid onto the surface of your skin. As the sweat evaporates body temperature is cooled.
Apocrine Glands Are Responsible For Body Odor
The second type of sweat glands, apocrine glands, are found in areas with lots of hair follicles like the scalp, armpits, and groin.
Notice in the drawing on the left that these glands (in green) open into the hair follicle just before it opens onto the skin surface.
Apocrine glands secrete a thicker fatty sweat that also contains proteins. These secretions are quickly inhabited by normal bacteria that thrive in the warm humid environment under the arms. Underarm odor is the result of the bacterial breakdown of sweat.
Louis Leakey, an anthropologist, believed that the original function of body odor was to make humans unappetizing to animals who wanted to eat us for dinner.
Our Natural Deodorants Are Not Antiperspirants.
What's The Difference?
The basic difference is this...antiperspirants keep you from sweating
and deodorants help decrease odor when you do sweat.
There are one million bacteria per square inch on your armpits. As the apocrine glands release their sweet, protein, fatty secretions, the bacteria begin to feast and produce smelly chemicals.
Deodorants are used to mask odor or eliminate the bacteria that causes odor. Deodorants work by neutralizing the smell of perspiration or creating an environment unappealing to bacteria. Some commercial deodorants contain chemicals like triclosan, that actually kill bacteria that cause odor. Deodorants are classified as cosmetics by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Although there are some natural deodorants on the market, most standard brands contain harsh and potentially toxic ingredients such as parabens, triclosan, propylene glycol, alcohols, and a whole host of synthetic colors, scents, and other chemicals that can cause irritation.
- natural oils or other ingredients with antimicrobial properties
- soothing natural moisturizers
- botanical powders or clays to absorb moisture
- baking soda that increases the pH of sweat, making it less hospitable to odor-causing bacteria
- Essential Oils: that smell good and have antibacterial and antifungal properties
Antiperspirants actually keep you from sweating.
When an antiperspirant is applied to the underarm skin, strong astringents such as aluminum salts dissolve in the sweat on the skin surface of the armpit and enter your body through the sweat pores.
The dissolved substance forms a gel, which creates a small temporary ‘plug’ that prevents the release of sweat. Without any sweat, bacteria have nothing to breakdown...so there is no odor. (Picture from: antperspirantsinfo)
The commonly used active ingredients are aluminum-based compounds like aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, and aluminum zirconium
Antiperspirants are classified as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drugs by the FDA because they interfere with a bodily function, sweat formation.
Are Commercial Deodorants and Antiperspirants Safe?
The safety of antiperspirants and commercial deodorants has become quite a debate. Some people believe that antiperspirants that block sweat glands lead to a "build-up of toxins" in the body. Not only is underarm sweat a very small proportion of the total sweat we lose each day through the skin, but we also excrete very little "toxin" through our sweat. Toxins are released mainly through the liver and kidneys.
Some studies indicate potential health risks associated with aluminum compounds found in many antiperspirants. Is it possible that this aluminum accumulates in the brain and contributes to Alzheimer’s disease? But aluminum, the third most abundant element on the earth and is found naturally in our food, drinking water, and many products we use every day.
There is a whole lot of research that debunks the allegation that antiperspirants cause Breast Cancer. There is so much information that I devoted four blogs to the subject.
I hope that learning about the Science of Sweat--the how and why perspiration occurs, provides an understanding that a little sweat is normal and a good thing.
Understanding how our bodies work can guide us to make better choices in protecting against body odor without adding unnecessary and questionable ingredients.
What concerns me about commercial deodorants is the same thing that concerns me about most commercial products, the synthetic chemicals like preservatives, colors, scents, and other additives.
Deodorant is applied to the skin and remains all day. We just don't know what long-term effects may exist for these synthetics ingredients.
I do believe that natural is better! Read "Why Use A Natural Deodorant."
I like to feel good about what I put on my skin!
We want to change the way you think about underarm deodorant!
You can be all-natural and odor-free at the same time.!