August 24, 2012

Not Buying Body Odour Products

We each have our own unique, natural scents, and someone will sell you
 a product for masking or eliminating every one of them.
Our fingerprints are not the only things that are different for each and every one of us. We also each have our own unique scent.

Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, while testing whether he could detect smells as effectively as his dog, found that, "A book that's been standing a while has a dry, uninteresting kind of smell. But when a hand has touched it, there's a dampness and a smell that's very distinct."

Although Feynman found that he couldn't track footprints on his floor as effectively as a dog, he eventually trained his nose well enough that he could entertain guests at parties by telling which person in the room touched which book on a shelf. He recognized the importance of the human scent.

The human body emits a wide variety of chemical messengers to communicate all kinds of vital information. Normal body odour is not offensive, and can even be perceived as pleasant.

However, an odour phobia has been nurtured in the general population by businesses that make money selling a wide variety of 'odour control' products. Most people, in order to calm their fears, douse themselves in enough deodorants, antiperspirants, body sprays and other scents to staunch even the most feisty of pheromones.

Human body odour, is 100% natural. Among other things, it signals sexiness and allows measures of compatibility with potential mates. Our noses can also help us distinguish family from those to whom we are unrelated, and we can tell a person's age from how they smell. Babies and the elderly have been found to have the lightest scents.

Olfactory researchers have also found that exercise sweat and anxiety sweat trigger different parts of the brain in the person smelling them. Anxiety sweat, unlike exercise sweat, triggered areas of the brain in test subjects that were associated with empathy.

Why would we want to cover up all that odouriferous information? In most cases odour control products are in no way medically necessary. Dermatologists actually advise against using such products since they have a tendency to dry the skin.

So what can we do about our natural body odours?

First of all, we can replace our negative automatic thoughts associated with BO with more rational ones. Marketers have long nurtured an unnatural fear of body odours, then exploited those fears to sell their versions of what we should smell like.

Second, we can make sure we have:

  • a semi-regular routine of basic hygiene
  • a low stress lifestyle, and
  • a healthy whole food diet

The funky fact is that as long as a person does not have an extenuating medical condition, there is no need for expensive and potentially cancer-causing odour control products. For the past ten years we have not been buying any of them, and it smells like freedom to us.


  1. Anonymous8/24/2012

    We were just having a discussion about advertising making women (in particular) to feel as though their bodily functions are somehow "dirty" and we must buy several products to make us acceptable.

    I try to use as little products as possible and unscented anytime I can. Not sure I can give up deoderant. I have tried the natural kind and it didn't work for me. Maybe with some investigation I could find a better option.

    1. Advertising is definitely aimed at making us paranoid about our natural bodily functions, and perceptions of 'cleanliness'. It is worse for women, even though researches found that generally men have a stronger overall aroma.

      Unscented products are definitely the way to go. Many places like hospitals, clinics, and some businesses now prohibit the wearing of strongly scented products.

      We have used the natural crystal deodorant. The good thing is they last for many months. A drawback is that they aren't as effective as more standard methods. We have also tried vinegar, alcohol, talcum powder, and baking soda, each with some success. Mostly, though, we just do a quick wash at the sink when needed.

      Some people only use standard deodorant for special occasions, and nothing or alternatives the rest of the time. Deodorant is usually better than antiperspirant (which usually contains aluminum and blocks the functioning of sweat glands).

      Some other home remedies I have read about include:

      - lemon juice
      - milk of magnesia
      - coconut oil (anti-fungal/anti-bacterial)
      - witch hazel (containing 14% alcohol)

      Hope you are having a great weekend!

  2. e.a.f.8/26/2012

    some of the ads are specifically aimed at women. "to feel really confidnet..." what a waste of money. If people take regular showers/baths they smell just fine. Deodarants are good for some people, some people don't use them. Very few people actually have feet which smell so bad they need to use a commerical product. These products are just to make corporations money.

    I personally don't like scented products of any kind. If I want a scent I simply purchase a high quality perfume but all the scented things they put in laundry soaps, etc. is ridiculous. all those products need to be producted & are a waste of resources as are the containers they come in. The worst are those room deoderizers. Baking soda just about keeps everything ordour free when you have a dog.

    1. Don't get me started on room deodorizers...


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