Asian man in sleeveless gray hoodie

Sweat is not bad. And if you think about it, even body odor isn’t the villain it’s made out to be. As far back as ancient times, people have known that pheromones, or one’s distinct scent, influence their desirability. More recently, University of California Berkeley researchers learned that a chemical found in male sweat caused a reaction in women. However, armpit smell can only be attractive to a certain extent. When your BO is reaching a level of discomfort to yourself or others, it’s time to consider masking that musk. 

Why Does Your Armpit Smell?

Sweat is generally odorless. The stink happens when it comes in contact with a specific type of bacteria that thrives in your body’s moist environments. Your underarms, with their hair and active apocrine sweat glands, are a hotspot for . However, other factors can also affect armpit smell.

It’s all in your ears (and genes). 

ABCC11 is a gene that determines whether a person produces dry or wet earwax. Surprisingly, this is linked to your armpit smell. Based on research published in the Nature Genetics journal, those who were predisposed to the drier variety also lack a chemical in their underarms that cause smelly armpits. Around 80% to 95% of East Asians have dry earwax while the rest of the Asian population teeter between dry and wet. So, if you fall into the latter category, you can blame your genes for your persistent stench.

You sit in your sweaty clothes. 

Sweat is like a party for Staphylococcus hominis, the bacteria that break down sweat molecules into thioalcohol compounds that cause armpit smell. So, if you don’t change out of your sweaty clothes, it’s like you’re throwing them an all-you-can-eat buffet. Generous and considerate, sure, but it’s not exactly an example of good hygiene.

Put on a fresh shirt whenever you’re drenched in sweat. Or, opt for moisture-wicking fabric, like the kind they use in athletic apparel, which uses capillary technology that helps sweat evaporate faster. 

You love onions and garlic. 

Did you just eat bistek for lunch? According to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, food like garlic, onion, cabbage, and broccoli have high concentrations of volatile organic compounds, which are what make up bad underarm odor. Other foods that can affect your personal scent are red meat and cruciferous vegetables.

Now you know not to neglect during steak nights. Try Rexona Men Natural Fresh Lime Cool Antiperspirant Deodorant Roll-On. It keeps you fresh and fragrant for a long time thanks to charcoal and lime in its formula. Go ahead and get a side of onion rings.

You are under pressure.

Stress causes body temperature to rise, triggering your sweat glands to go on overdrive to cool you down. Yup, more sweat means party in your pits for odor-causing bacteria. Stress sweat is a term used to describe excessive sweating brought on by heightened emotions or an adrenaline rush. You wouldn’t want to be so excited over a that you stink up the room. 

Whether you’re likely to have an armpit smell or not, make wearing deodorant and showering a part of your daily hygiene. A 2013 study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology shows that over 75% of those who didn’t have the ABCC11 gene continue to use deodorant regularly. You never know when you’re going to order broccoli at a restaurant or receive exciting news. Be proud of your personal musk, but remember that musky doesn’t mean musty.