SWEATING is absolutely a good thing; we need sweat despite its bad rap and being mistakenly blamed for bad odour.Sweat itself doesn’t have a smell. Body odour is called bromhidrosis and arises in the moist areas of our body where bacteria thrive; such as our armpits, groin and pubic area - areas with the most apocrine glands.
When we sweat, the bacteria breaks down certain proteins in the sweat into acids. It is the by-product of the bacteria breaking down in the sweat that smells unpleasant.
Clean, wet sweat is fine alone, so long as we don’t allow it to hang around too long, but if we use a well-constructed natural deodorant, we lengthen the period of ‘fresh’ time before we become stinky.Often a lack of personal hygiene or inadequate washing allows the bacteria to proliferate and decompose, increasing body odour to which most people object.
The smell of a human
Evolutionary biology reveals how the human animal is the most scented of all the great apes.
All human beings exude their own signature smell that uniquely expresses myriad personal information within their social milieu, much of which is beyond conscious awareness.
It is worth remembering that also found in human sweat and detectable on a subliminal level by others are pheromones; chemicals that animals produce to change the behaviour of another animal of the same species.
Human pheromones are also behaviour-altering agents that trigger different behaviours in other people (apart from sexual behaviour).
A good natural deodorant should be respectful of the human’s biological scent and its innate interactive role as a silent, invisible emissary.
Many chemical deodorants don’t blend with human sweat at all but rather stultify or mask it and accordingly distort the smell message that we emit in the imperceptible aura about our body. As yet, science has been unable to determine the real extent of how pheromones function on a subtle level to affect our emotions and mood and also how we communicate and relate to others.
This is because this kind of stuff is impossible to measure.
We can be sure that within the miraculous biological and psychological human design, no part or function exists by accident.
Science concedes to some evidence that androstadienone, a component of male sweat, increases attraction, affects mood and cortisol levels and activates brain areas linked to social cognition.
One study found that androstadienone increased cooperative behaviour in males.
Many will have winced at the disagreeable trail that some people leave in their wake; often teenagers who too liberally spray themselves with cheap, artificially scented deodorants.
Those with a refined sense of smell can only hope that this habit will abate upon maturity, because frankly BO is preferable to these chemical stink swamps moreover this toxic onslaught on top of BO is a recipe for aromatic offence!
The human experience of smell is so wide-ranging, from some people recoiling in revulsion at the faintest whiff of body odour to other individuals who enjoy the richer pungency emitted from a long unwashed armpit.
It is said that while on a campaign, Napoleon Bonaparte would send a messenger ahead of his homecoming to alert Josephine to stop bathing.
This is because the robust bouquet stewing in her pits aroused his sexual fervour upon his return.
Sweat has a job to do
Sweat’s main function is to control body temperature; our body would overheat if we did not sweat.
When our body temperature rises from exercise, heat, stress or hormone shifts, sweating helps keep our internal temperature at a comfortable body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius by releasing heat.
When the water in sweat evaporates, it cools the surface of the skin.
A lesser-known function of sweat is to help with gripping, by slightly moistening the palms.
We have different types of sweat glands in our skin, eccrine glands and apocrine glands.
Coiled eccrine glands are found over our entire skin in the lower layer of the skin called the dermis.
They squeeze sweat directly to the surface of the skin through a duct and as the sweat evaporates, it helps to cool your skin and regulate body temperature.
The sweat produced by eccrine glands is high in salt, so it’s harder for bacteria to break down and therefore is less likely to produce a smell.
Apocrine glands release sweat into a hair follicle instead of a duct when our body temperature rises, but also when we are under stress.
These glands remain inactive until puberty when they begin to produce sweat.
It’s really only after puberty begins that body odour suddenly becomes an issue.
The sensitive period of adolescence is a good time to start the healthier habit of using simple effective plant-based deodorants, which would certainly help out and avoid hormonal disruption.
It is worth noting too, that a woman’s body smell is subject to change at different times in her menstrual cycle due to fluctuating hormone levels, biologically to both attract and deter mating opportunities.
Excessive sweating is more common in people who are overweight and the good news is that most cases of excessive sweating are harmless.
We should however be aware that excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, can be a warning sign of more serious health conditions that include acromegaly, (pituitary gland disorder), diabetic hypoglycemia, fever of undetermined cause, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), infection, leukemia, lymphoma, malaria, thyroid problems, diabetes or infection.
The non-interfering deodorant
A study published in the Journal Environmental Public Health noted that initially when the switch from antiperspirant to deodorant is made, more sweating occurs that excretes built up toxins such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury.
Enough is shown about sweat by now to avoid antiperspirants altogether, knowing how blocking the sweat glands to reduce perspiration is a major interference.
A well-constructed natural deodorant that has potent antibacterial and antifungal ingredients helps prevent odour-causing bacteria from growing while not preventing the important sweating process.
Moreover, it is reassuring that daily use of a pure plant deodorant doesn’t interfere with our individual scent signature and that its intrinsic messenger role remains uncorrupted in its function and efficacy.
Of course this is all very subtle, but accumulated habits impact our physiology and subtle bodies substantially over time.
An interesting phenomenon has been observed, whereby the longer we use a natural deodorant the less we tend to sweat.
Standard antiperspirants and chemical deodorants may actually be making an odour problem worse in the longer term.
Pores end up clogged when using typical commercial products causing the sweat to build up under the skin, which increases the good bacteria that feeds on our sweat however serves as a breeding ground for bad bacteria as well, which can make underarm smell even worse.
A healthy sweat is helpful
The temperature regulating role of sweat that prevents overheating in extreme heat or during an intense workout is important because without this regulation, one can feel dizzy, faint or develop skin rashes.
Sweat causes the pores of our skin to open and release the build-up that can lead to breakouts such as acne.
So using a natural botanical deodorant goes a long way in maintaining the finely balanced skin mantle as well as our delicate endocrine and nervous systems.
Allowing sweat to flow unimpeded means we are less at risk of kidney stones.
Researchers from the University of Washington revealed that sweating with exercise releases excess salt and calcium from the body.
Without sweating, excess minerals travel to the kidneys and urine potentially forming kidney stones.
Again we turn to the plant world for help
The use of wonderfully scented plant essential oils means we can create a very natural perfumed product that does not overpower but enhances the body’s intrinsic smell.
Thanks to the terpenes and monoterpenes present in volatile oils, their discerning inclusion in natural deodorants imparts ample antibacterial, antiseptic action, contributing significantly to controlling underarm bacteria.
The essential oils eventually penetrate deeper into the body, safely reaching the bloodstream to exert their healing influence.
Moreover, selective essential oils are the benign donors of other anti-viral, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and tonic benefits for our general health while also imparting calming, relaxing or stimulating and uplifting psychotherapeutic support.
Other emollient plant oils and waxes soothe and protect, mitigating harsher effects of stronger active ingredients.
Some clever plant ingredients neutralise odour, alkalising an acidic environment before it can smell unpleasant.
Bicarbonate soda acts similarly and is becoming quite popular as a deodorant active because it doesn’t mask odours; it absorbs them and helps dry moisture.
Sodium Bicarbonate is a powerful antibacterial and eradicates underarm bacteria, thus preventing body odour from forming.
It is not for everyone however, as sensitive-skinned people find it can irritating and a cause of redness.
Avoid those chemical nasties
Human skin is not impermeable and common commercial deodorants contain a host of insidious petrochemicals and preservatives that creep deeper into the body to play havoc with human health.
Aluminium, the common sweat blocker, is a metal neurotoxin that is linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer.
Unfortunately, it’s not just aluminium that antiperspirant users need to be wary of.
Silica (not intrinsically bad when used differently) is often used to absorb sweat moisture, however it not only can irritate the skin but also could cause lung irritation and has been linked to cancer as well.
Parabens such as methyl, propyl and butyl are sometimes found in standard antiperspirants/deodorants and these synthetic preservatives have been linked to a number of health problems that cause hormonal imbalance.
Parabens are linked to birth defects, organ toxicity and an increase in hormonal-related cancers, including breast cancer.
Triclosan, classified as a pesticide and a probable carcinogen is an antibacterial linked to antibiotic resistance, skin irritation, allergies and thyroid issues.
Propylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze is also used to soften products.
Metabolised in the liver, studies have shown that it can cause damage to the central nervous system and heart.
Let us not ignore the plethora of synthetic fragrances used to make deodorants smell like an exotic garden. Such ingenuine aroma can mask multiple insalubrious chemical compounds, including phthalates.
Phthalates are linked to a higher risk of birth defects in women who show high levels of phthalates in their blood and urine.
Cleanliness is next to godliness
Regardless of the deodorant type we choose, if we neglect daily washing, showering or bathing we are fighting a losing battle against unpleasant body odour.
If we wish to smell better it is best practice to shower at least once daily using natural soap or shower gel and lather up thoroughly, especially in areas prone to BO.
It is also helpful to wear natural, breathable fabrics because natural fibers aerate our skin, allowing sweat to evaporate away.
Avoid too tight clothing that traps sweat against the skin, creating a breeding ground for body odour to develop.
Avoid synthetic polyesters and nylons that really accelerate the formation of BO. When working out, opt for moisture-wicking fabrics.
If we wish to avoid unpleasant odour it is also counter productive to wear unwashed clothes that are marinated in dried sweat and bacteria from previous days.
A healthy plant-based and alkalising diet of unprocessed food with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables goes a long way in improving our body smell.
Eliminate or reduce meat, dairy, alcohol and spicy or strong-smelling foods from the diet that can cause a more pungent sweat if you have a problem.
Interestingly, shaving or waxing decreases body odour.
We need not be an advocate of this practice, but it is well understood how hair holds sweat and traps bacteria.
It is worth remembering the original role of apocrine glands that are concentrated in the armpits and the pubic areas covered with hair.
The hair exists there to help hold and disperse our personal smell for mating and territorial purposes in the human animal.
IF WE LIVE a healthy life and keep the body and mind pure, deodorising becomes a less arduous task as the sweat we exude from our body contains less metabolised waste products.
The purification ritual of cleansing the body is at the heart of most religious or spiritual persuasions.
Before the call to prayer, or congregational holy rituals, the symbolic act of cleaning the body of impurities also represents a clearing of the psyche or mind of negative influences to make space for Divine spiritual energy.
This is certainly the case with Yoga, where Saucha is the first of the five niyamas (personal observances), which form the second limb of yoga as described in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
The Sanskrit term can be literally translated as ‘purity’, ‘cleanliness’ and ‘clearness’ and it refers to the cleanliness of body as well as the purity of mind.
Healthy diet, personal hygiene and self-care are also considered Saucha, that respects the sanctity of others’ personal space with whom we share.
In a yoga class, observing the cleanliness protocol is more than just good etiquette as one can appreciate how less obtrusive a clean body is to a malodorous one.
Even clean feet on the shared yoga floor and equipment is standard practice.
It is easier to focus on our own practice when we don’t have to deal with a neighbour’s invasive body odour, however it is not clean, fresh sweat that we mean here as sweating is understood to insulate and lubricate the yogi’s body to prevent Prana from escaping.
A fascinating aspect of yoga and sweat
To elaborate on this, Yoga is a process of cleansing and sweat is important product of asana, involving conscious breathing aligned with movement.
During practice the blood circulates freely throughout the entire body and helps wash away pain and disease. The resultant sweat from asana is a powerful detox process and traditionally yogis have rubbed the sweat back into the body after practice, which actually increases the amount of sweat, making the detoxification process more effective.
This is still practiced after a yoga vinyasa session to also cool the body and reduce stiffness in the muscles because after practice our blood is highly oxygenated and full of energy.
The heated blood moves through internal organs and around the joints and pushes out impurities with the sweat.
Showering immediately after yoga practice denies us the benefits that our efforts have gained, so if we rub the sweat back into the skin we keep the enriching, health-giving energy or Prana within the body.
It is also recommended not to take a shower for at least 1.5 hours after practice.
The real Prana-enriched sweat is the result of disciplined effort (tapas) and the internal heat that is cultivated.
It is commonly misunderstood that this inner ‘fire’ can be ignited externally from the heat of hot rooms, which indeed affects our physical body, inducing sweat; however it is our focussed inner work that reaches the subtle realms of existence.
'The perspiration exuding from exertion of practice should be rubbed into the body (and not wiped), as by so doing the body becomes strong.'
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Chapter 2 verse 13
WE ARE ALL different, so Tinderbox has deodorant options from which to choose.
Finding a deodorant that works for you is a very personal process that will likely involve a fair bit of trial and error.
One person’s favourite natural deodorant might not work for someone with more sensitive skin or who is a heavier sweater, so we encourage you to explore and give each product enough time to adapt to your body.
All four Tinderbox deodorants are gender neutral, suiting everyone’s innate feminine and masculine aspects because all humans, regardless of gender can potentially become malodorous.
Our Underarm Balm solid deodorant has staying power, offering long-lasting protection with a pleasing aroma that does not overpower or dominate the aromascape of your body.
Minimal bicarbonate soda is added to alkalise and still impart odour neutralising power, yet significantly reduce risk of irritation because of the product’s balm-like consistency.
The powerful plant actives are beautifully balanced with sound emollient, soothing effects so you can simply enjoy the fresh, natural no-nonsense pure plant scent.
Twilight packs a powerfully protective punch for those needing extra deodorising oomph, however is not for sensitive skinned people. It absorbs well into the skin, leaving you fresh, confident and smelling good. Potent plant oils and bicarb head this wholesome roll-on option.
Dawn and Dusk roll-ons both boast very appealing scent profiles that have kept their loyal followers happy for years and both are well suited to sensitive skins or those avoiding bicarb or intense formulas.
Plant extracts beautifully mix with clean sweat to help us confidently negotiate the busy day, remaining sweet-smelling and appealing to others.
Natural deodorant helps our skin ‘breathe’ and our pores open in addition to keeping the particularly delicate skin under our arms smooth and free of uncomfortable, unpleasant irritation.
ANOTHER effective way to deodorise the body and keep areas dry is to use herbal talc-free powders.
These are usually made with different plant flours from corn, tapioca, arrowroot, orrisroot; often fine clays are added and essential oils are infused throughout the product to impart scent and antibacterial action.
Such natural powders are used on the underarms, between toes or anywhere where the skin tends to fold, to ensure dryness and prevent fungal infections from arising.
Tinderbox has a choice of three subtly scented powders: One for the body to prevent odour and dampness. Another for the feet, to keep them fresh, dry and fungal-free especially between the toes. Also a safe powder blend for babies to ensure dryness and prevent chafing after nappy changes and washes.