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We’re here to make a stink about how stinky deodorants and antiperspirants can be. Your body is your personal habitat, and what you put in (and on) it has a tremendous impact on your health. That’s why your armpit’s microbiome is a bigger deal than you think!
The science of underarm odor can seem all-too-personal—but it’s fascinating that each of us has a unique biome under our armpits. Although you can’t see it, you certainly can sometimes smell it! In fact, our armpits can contain as many bacteria as our guts or even our mouths!
There’s a whole ecosystem growing in your armpit: some types of bacteria are good, some bad, and some make you smell–– the key is to keep them all balanced. Let’s take a look at what makes up your underarm’s microbiome and how sweating and deodorant play a role.
Your Underarm Microbiome Is Unique
The underarm microbiome is a rich environment, housing diverse and abundant microbial communities. In fact, some organisms found there can’t be found anywhere else on the human body.
But if you’re like most people, you probably never give a second thought about your underarm microbiome. While you don’t usually think about it, scientists have long been interested in the skin microbiome in general, and this interest has led to interesting discoveries.
For example, it’s known that the underarm microbiome is unique to each person, which means that the microbial community in your armpits is different from the one in the armpits of people you know. A study in the journal Nature found that the bacterial composition of the underarm microbiome differs depending on the person’s gender and the amount of hair present in the armpit.
The study found that the microbial population in the underarm microbiome of women is more diverse than the population in men. It also found that the microbial population in the underarm microbiome of women with hairy armpits is more diverse than the population in women with hairless armpits.
It makes sense that your microbiome is unique to you, but let's talk about one of the main purposes of the armpit - sweating. Why do we sweat to begin with?
The Purpose of Sweat
It is important to understand that your body sweats for a reason. Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling itself when it becomes too hot. By sweating, your body prevents you from overheating and becoming ill.
This is the main reason that we sweat so much when we exercise. When we work out, our muscles are working harder to perform the tasks that they need to do. This causes our bodies to generate more heat, which is released through our sweat glands, and helps to maintain our body temperature.
Another benefit and purpose to sweating is to release toxins that are in your system. Sauna use is a great example of this and provides the body an opportunity to release any unwanted toxins, etc.
Probably the least known reason for sweating is that sweat glands located in your armpits are responsible for releasing perspiration that contains pheromones. These pheromones play an important part in attraction. What women and men find attractive in each other is often a result of human evolution. The sweat of men who are healthy and have a high testosterone level has a pheromone component that makes women more attracted to them.
Now that we know more about the reasons why we sweat, let's dive into the armpit microbiome and how deodorant plays a role.
Your Armpit Microbiome and Deodorant
As mentioned above, the goal is to have a well balanced armpit microbiome.
Your body has its own natural deodorant. Good bacteria in your armpits break down the sweat, which would otherwise be smelly. The bad news is that when the bacteria becomes unbalanced in the armpit, we often need to pull in some intervention in the form of deodorant.
Unfortunately, many conventional deodorants use chemicals like aluminum to kill the bad bacteria, but doing so also kills the good bacteria that we all need.
Conventional deodorants also use questionable ingredients with a promise of a 'sweat-free' lifestyle. What they don't share is that they are using toxic ingredients that block and clog your pores so you are unable to sweat. This is far from the natural design of the body as we need to be able to sweat to release heat, release toxins and release pheromones.
Commercial deodorants have many harmful, artificial ingredients in them including synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals, parabens, and other toxic chemicals that can cause harm to your body and your health. These chemicals are absorbed by your skin and can cause irritation, rashes, and other health problems.
A lot of deodorants on the market today use aluminum, which is linked to Alzheimer's, breast cancer, and other serious health problems. Some deodorants also contain artificial fragrances, which aren't great for your skin.
Switching to natural deodorant is a simple, effective way to add some health back into your life.
Natural Deodorant Is Best
The question on everyone's mind is, "Will natural deodorant work?" The answer is Yes! While many fear the idea of switching to a natural deodorant, it can be one of the best decisions for your health and the health of your armpit!
As you make the switch to natural deodorant, you may notice a few side effects. Aluminum minimizes sweat by blocking your pores, so when you stop using it, your body begins to expel the built-up bacteria and toxins. Detoxing can result in extra sweating and, occasionally, some minor skin irritation. Don’t worry! This process is normal, healthy, and temporary.
Wellnesse uses a powerhouse combination of ingredients that help the process of switching over to a natural deodorant. The Triethyl Citrate fights and destroys bacteria, Zinc Ricinoleate deodorizes and keeps sweat under control and Bisabolol calms and soothes irritated skin. There is minimal baking soda in our formula as many report a sensitivity.
Wellnesse Mineral Deodorant keeps your armpit microbiome balanced and happy!
How to Have a Healthy Armpit Microbiome
You should be motivated to keep your armpit's microbiome happy because a healthy microbiome means a healthy armpit!
Here are some ways to have a healthier armpit microbiome:
- Keep your armpit dry using only natural deodorants. We recommend using deodorant from Wellnesse!
- Don't wear tight clothes that block the air from reaching your armpit.
- If you do choose to shave, always use a sharp razor and change the blade regularly.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Consider probiotic supplements.
Putting It All Together
Your natural, healthy-looking scent is actually a symphony of scents produced by the microbes living in your armpits. These microbes serve important functions, like helping you cool off, and attracting a mate. To keep your armpits healthy, you want to use a natural, chemical-free deodorant.
A clean armpit is a happy armpit! When it comes to choosing a natural deodorant, there’s no need to sacrifice protection. Switching to aluminum and paraben-free deodorant is easy with a potent, effective, and gentle formula. The Wellnesse Mineral Deodorant checks all the boxes of a safe and effective natural deodorant. Your armpits will thank us!
Gildersleeve, Kelly & Haselton, Martie & Larson, Christina & Pillsworth, Elizabeth. (2011). Body odor attractiveness as a cue of impending ovulation in women: Evidence from a study using hormone-confirmed ovulation. Hormones and behavior. 61. 157-66. 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.11.005.
Preti, G. et al. Male axillary extracts contain pheromones that affect pulsatile secretion of luteinizing hormone and mood in women recipients. Biology of Reproduction, 68, 2107 - 2103, (2003).