Healthy Asian woman running outdoors

Did you know that sweat itself is odorless? Body odor occurs when excessive sweating interacts with bacteria on the skin. This can be a problem if you perspire a lot because then there’d be plenty of opportunities for sweat and bacteria to have a little meet-cute. In this article, Unilever’s Deo R&D Manager Herbert Hallig clears the air on what exactly causes body odor. Plus, he shares body odor remedies that work.

What Causes Excessive Sweating?

Hallig: Different factors, such as heat and emotions, can trigger sweating. Hot temperatures cause the body to perspire, eventually helping cool us down. 

Emotions such as anxiety and nervousness can also trigger sweating in specific parts of the body, such as the hands and underarms. Activities or conditions that can intensify these stimuli may also help increase the amount of sweat produced by the body.

On the other hand, there is also a condition called hyperhidrosis. Here, people suffer from excessive sweating, especially in the hands, face, feet, and most commonly in the underarms.

If Sweat Is Odorless, What Causes BO?

Hallig: In general, sweat alone does not smell. The fluid produced by our sweat glands, especially those in the underarms, is rich in protein and lipids. Bacteria can feed on these secretions, and the by-product of this bacterial metabolism is what smells. In short, sweat + bacteria = body odor. 

What Are the Different Body Odor Remedies?

Alum stone and alum powder, a.k.a. tawas, are some examples of traditional body odor remedies.

Hallig: While having good personal hygiene is a good starting point, complementing it with the use of the right product is a more effective way to combat body odor. For example, taking regular showers may only cleanse your body of dirt and temporarily reduce bacteria. Showering may not be enough to protect you from sweat and body odor as you go through all your activities for the day. 

Some consumers would go with traditional or heritage body odor remedies such as alum stone, tawas powder, or even calamansi or lime. However, many of these fight body odor only by eliminating odor-causing bacteria. 

If you prefer this route when it comes to preventing sweat and odor, try Rexona 3-in-1 Deo Powder Peppermint Cool. This unique powder formula, which contains potassium alum, can be applied to the underarms, back, and feet to protect from body odor and sweat. It’s also mild and gentle on the skin and is non-staining on clothes. Meanwhile, peppermint has a cooling effect and is also known to provide relief from inflammation.

This modern deo powder doesn’t just eliminate bacteria. Just like deodorant, it also has a fresh scent that masks any unpleasant body odor. 

Some antiperspirants also help address sweat, which can induce body odor. They usually come in various formats such as roll-ons, aerosols, sticks, and even creams. Consumers can choose based on price point and the desired sensorial they want from their antiperspirant product. 

How Does an Antiperspirant Work?

Hallig: Since it’s the interaction between sweat and bacteria that produces body odor, one way to prevent body odor is by stopping sweat. This is what an antiperspirant can do. It is a product that contains an antiperspirant active that helps significantly reduce the amount of fluid produced by our sweat glands. Upon contact with sweat, this active dissolves. It forms a temporary, superficial gel plug on top of the sweat gland.

This same active ingredient also has good antibacterial properties that help in eliminating odor-causing bacteria on the underarms. Antiperspirant products also contain fragrances that effectively mask any malodor. Finally, because antiperspirants help fight body odor in many ways (preventing sweat, reducing bacteria, and masking unwanted odors), they are also considered deodorants.

If you want a natural, skin-caring formula, try Dove 0% Aluminum Deodorant Aerosol. This product contains 0% aluminum salts and 0% alcohol and has ¼ Dove moisturizing cream. It’s gentle on the skin and provides 48-hour odor protection while still allowing the body to sweat naturally.

What About BO in Other Parts of the Body?

Are spa treatments and pedicures not enough to prevent odor? Try a deo powder that’s suitable for the feet.

There are also deodorant products for other parts of the body, apart from the underarms. For example, body sprays, colognes, and perfumes can be used all over the body, especially on the chest, torso, and neck. There are also deodorant products that help prevent both sweat and odor in the feet.

Despite being suitable for use in other areas, these body odor remedies fight sweat and odor in the same way that underarm deodorants do. They prevent BO by either masking it with fragrance, eliminating odor-causing bacteria, or in some cases, even reducing sweat.

Are you struggling with excessive sweating and BO? Try these body odor remedies to fight sweat and odor while keeping your underarms healthy.