Brace yourself, we’re about to get really real about BO. It’s gross (we know), but hey, it can happen to anyone. And with the temperature heating up, you’re more likely to stink up your favorite sundress or workout gear. So take some time now to get to know your sweat—and find out how to ban BO for good.
1. You have two different sweat glands. They’re called the eccrine and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands are all over your body and produce watery sweat to keep your body cool. Apocrine glands are located where hair follicles are most concentrated (scalp, armpit, and groin), and the sweat is waxy and fatty from the lipids they secrete, says Dr. Whitney Bowe.
2. Your hair can enhance the odor. It’s actually not the actual sweat from apocrine glands that creates that smell. Stench-causing bacteria happens to be attracted to that particular sweat, says Bowe. And once they break down the fats in apocrine sweat, the stay-away-from-me aroma appears. The more hair you have, the more surface area bacteria has to cling to, which keeps the smell so pungent, says Bowe.
3. Swiping on a stick is actually pretty powerful. The best line of defense is actually that tiny little stick of antiperspirant deodorant. The antiperspirant part targets the glands to stop the sweat from even coming out, while the deodorant masks the natural smell even if you’ve already been sweating, says Bowe.
4. Medical treatments are another alternative. In extreme cases—when over-the-counter products don’t do the job—some people may ask their dermatologists for botox injections, says Bowe. This is an FDA-approved procedure and helps prevent sweating from occurring—but you’ll need injections every three to four months. There’s also a new device called miraDry that uses microwave technology to permanently eliminate underarm sweat glands—but it only works on that area, says Bowe.
5. Foods affect your scent. Garlic, onions, and curry are classic BO instigators that can make your smell even worse, says Bowe.
6. Overcleansing can make it worse. You can definitely use antibacterial soap and scrub away at your BO hot spots, but don’t go any farther. Some people try rubbing alcohol on those areas, which dries out the skin and causes the body to fight back by producing more sweat, says Bowe.
7. Stress produces more sweat. Yup. That’s why you might see someone with drenched armpits before they head into a big interview, says Bowe.