Body odor. The very word makes you want to crinkle your nose or spray yourself wet with a deodorant. But it’s completely natural to have body odor, and like your fingerprint, it is unique. Not everyone has a pleasant odor. So what do you do for a pleasant odor that doesn’t come with harsh chemicals? Choose apple cider vinegar as deodorant. But before we answer why, let’s find out what causes body odor.
Bacteria Breaks Down Sweat To Cause Body Odor
Your body has sweat glands or eccrine glands all over that give out odorless sweat. But the hairy skin in your underarms, groin, and nipples have apocrine glands and sebaceous glands, which are the main culprit here.
When you experience anxiety, emotional stress, or hormonal changes, the apocrine glands in the armpit release a milky, sticky fluid containing proteins, fatty acids, and steroids. When this reaches the skin surface, it mixes with the odorless sweat from the eccrine glands and the sebum, which is continuously secreted.
Yeats and bacteria in the armpit (axillary microbiome), especially staphylococcus and corynebacterium,1 break down and transform this mixture into volatile bad-smelling acids like propionic acid.
Your feet also have similar bacteria. Diseases and certain medicines can also contribute to your body odor.2
How Do You Fight It?
There are two ways to fight body odor:
- Reduce sweating: Prevent the odor by reducing sweating, which is what antiperspirants do. They reduce sweating by 20 to 30 percent by temporarily plugging up the apocrine glands.
- Kill the odor-causing bacteria: Mask the odor either by killing the bacteria responsible or using a stronger fragrance. This is what strong-smelling alcohol-based deodorants do.
Both deodorants and antiperspirants contain parabens as a preservative, and antiperspirants contain aluminum compounds. A 2004 study held these compounds responsible for an increased risk of breast cancer,3 though later studies have not supported the theory.4
While the jury is out on this question, to stay on the safer side, use natural products. Certain chemicals in these commercial products may also irritate your skin or cause discoloration.
ACV Reduces Odor By Killing Bacteria
ACV has an acidic pH of 4.5. This suits our skin, which has a pH of 5.5. As an acidic skin inhibits bacterial growth, dabbing some ACV on your armpit will remove the odor-causing bacteria and yeast.5 Many studies have established that ACV, thanks to its strong vinegar content, is a good antibacterial and antifungal agent. Even 5 percent vinegar can kill many microbes by entering the bacterial cell wall.6
A Word Of Caution
Using ACV directly on your skin could have certain side effects like skin irritation and dryness, depending on the strength of the ACV and how you react to it. First try it on a small patch of the skin to test for allergy. Then use it in small doses. As a precaution, use ACV diluted with water, preferably in a ratio of 1:1.
Use ACV To Prevent Bad Body Odor
- Dab some ACV and water on a cotton ball and run it on your armpits. This can kill the bacteria and the yeast and neutralize odors, keeping you smelling fresh all day.
- Use a cotton ball soaked in a water and ACV mixture to swab your armpits. After the area is dry, powder it with a 1:1 mixture of corn starch and baking soda to absorb any remaining moisture.
- To get rid of foot odor, dilute 1 cup of ACV in 1 liter water. Soak your smelly feet 3 times a week to keep the odor away.
- Fill ACV into your old roll-on to make your own portable, healthy deodorant.
- Rather than using fragrant soaps, add 2 cups of ACV to your bath water and a few drops of essential oil. This will help maintain your body’s pH balance.7
Note: Most users suggest that the vinegary smell lasts for a very short time, that is until the vinegar evaporates. But if you can’t bear the smell, add in a few drops of your favorite fragrant essential oil.8
|↑1||Callewaert, Chris. 2015. The Science of Body Odor: Characterization and Management of the Axillary Microbiome. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Bioscience Engineering.|
|↑2||Apocrine gland. Encyclopedia Britannica.|
|↑3||Darbre, P. D. “Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer.” Journal of inorganic biochemistry 99, no. 9 (2005): 1912-1919.|
|↑4||Antiperspirants/Deodorants and Breast Cancer. National Cancer Institute.|
|↑5||de Castro, Ricardo Dias, Ana Carolina Loureiro Gama Mota, Edeltrudes de Oliveira Lima, André Ulisses Dantas Batista, Julyana de Araújo Oliveira, and Alessandro Leite Cavalcanti. “Use of alcohol vinegar in the inhibition of Candida spp. and its effect on the physical properties of acrylic resins.” BMC oral health 15, no. 1 (2015): 1.|
|↑6||Rose, Victoria. Apple Cider Vinegar: History and Folklore, Composition, Medical Research, Medicinal, Cosmetic, and Household Uses, Commercial and Home Production. IUniverse, 2006.|
|↑7||Simone McGrath, ACV for Health and Beauty (Minnesota: Skyshore Publishing, 2015)|
|↑8||Simone McGrath, ACV for Health and Beauty (Minnesota: Skyshore Publishing, 2015)|