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Why You Have Disgusting B.O. And What Scientists Are Doing About It

The gym goes from sanctuary to sweatbox real quick. But there’s good news for you and the guy who smells like rotting beef beside you: scientists have identified the specific bacteria making your sweat so smelly, as well as a technique to make your body odor smell more fragrant the more you sweat, according to reports from Science Daily, which you can read here and here.  

Let’s start with the first discovery. Sweat on its own is odorless; it’s only when it encounters the bacteria in your armpit that things get a little swampy. Luckily, scientists from the Society for General Microbiology found the specific group of bacteria that renders sweat foul-smelling. The bacteria is called Staphylococcus hominis and the sugary protein in your sweat serves as its banquet. It feasts, then produces pungent, sulfurous-smelling thioalcohols. Delicious.

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The researchers hope antiperspirants and deodorants will be reformulated and reimagined to target thioalcohol production—so odors can be prevented at the source, rather than masked. Because, lets be honest, how long does your armpit really smell like Fiji anyway?

The second revelation comes from Queen’s University's Ionic Liquid Laboratories Research Center in Belfast. These scientists discovered the first-ever “delivery system” or “perfume” designed to make a person smell better the more they sweat. 

Researchers added chemicals to ionic liquids—which are odorless, yet responsive, meaning they take on the odor of chemicals. And when they introduced the solution to water, it released its aroma. Likewise, when this solution is sprayed onto skin, water or sweat activates the perfume’s scent. 

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What’s more, this perfume system can remove the foul-smelling odors from sweat. The thiolalcohol compounds mentioned in the first study, are attracted to this ionic liquid. Once they attach themselves, they lose their potency. 

These scientists may not be the most popular guys in the lab right now, but it’s safe to say their hard work (and sweat!) will pay off big time. These revelations are certainly game changers when it comes to grooming and the gym. 

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