Why do I stink? 5 reasons why your BO is bad and how to fix it
Smells like teen spirit (read: Not in a good way)
Everyone smells sometimes, and that's a fact. Body odour is a cruel mistress and she will strike one way or another—that's a promise. The most valiant warriors may fend off her attacks by practising excellent personal hygiene and dousing themselves in ample fragrances, but some are at a disadvantage from the get-go.
It may be that your diet and genetics are your biggest obstacle, or it could also be something totally out of your control, like a malfunctioning washer-dryer unit. Either way, if you're struggling with the big stink (not to be confused with the Great Stink of 1858), we have you covered.
Ahead, we delve into all the factors that may be causing your body odour as well as all the ways you can address them head-on.
You're using the wrong deodorants
If you've tried bottle after bottle of deodorant and can't seem to find one that keeps your BO at bay, you may want to read on.
Some of us are just sweatier than others—you're definitely not alone in that, and there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. That said, it's no secret that more sweat production is usually followed by more body odour. So, if you're really struggling to find a deodorant that works for you, try looking at the antiperspirant section.
While deodorants protect against odour (with varying success), antiperspirants go the extra mile and tackle your stink at its source: Sweat production! If you take away the food source of all the BO-causing bacteria that resides on your skin, there is no way for them to produce the pesky odour compounds that plague your senses. They usually contain ingredients like aluminium which block the pores on the outer layer of your skin, which in turn blocks sweat from rising to the surface. Neat!
If you're looking for a good antiperspirant, here are some of our favourites:
If all fails, there is one more thing you can try. It sounds a little crazy, but this is one is an official BURO tried-and-tested life hack that actually works: If you have an AHA or BHA toner lying around, consider using it on your pits. No, seriously.
It may not work for everyone, but the idea behind it is pretty robust. Firstly, these acid toners tend to have a lower pH (they are acids, after all), which helps to kill off any pesky odour-causing bacteria. Secondly, the AHAs help to get rid of dead skin cells and lighten hyperpigmentation while the BHAs work as an anti-inflammatory. All in all, you could be the proud owner of clean, brightened armpits!
PSST: Shop our favourite AHA/BHA toners below:
You're not washing properly
We're not suggesting that you don't shower—we're only suggesting that you may not be as diligent as you should be in the shower. Depending on how grubby you are, your body's needs change with respect to cleansing. For instance, if you're fresh out of the gym and you're particularly sweaty, it's best to double cleanse your body once you hit the showers (yes, double cleansing applies to your body as well as your face).
Why? The first pass with soap gets the most obvious grub and grime off your skin, but the second ensures that you are, in fact, squeaky clean.
If you find that your armpits smell foul no matter how hard you scrub, it may be time to invest in a bar of antibacterial soap. Body odour itself is caused by the breakdown of sweat by bacteria on the skin, so if you nip these micro-buggers in the bud, you can assure all-day freshness with more confidence.
You're a little damp... along with everything else in your life
It should go without saying, but moist conditions on the body are a breeding ground for stink. So, once you leave the shower, make sure you're thorough with your wipe-down. Keeping your armpits dry makes it very difficult for the BO-causing bacteria on your skin to settle down and get working.
That said, there's no point in doing a thorough once over post-wash if the towel you're using is gross in itself. Step one here is obviously to make sure that you're washing your towel regularly. Now, this doesn't mean you're resigned to a life of never-ending laundry days—no, once a week will suffice.
Step two is to make sure that your towel is able to fully dry between uses. Whether this means cracking open a window to decrease the humidity in your bathroom or actually hanging it up on the rail in your bathroom for once, try a few things and see what works for you.
Your clothes are letting you down
Hey. Maybe it isn't you with the questionable scent—it's just your stinky laundry. It's probably not your fault, either: Sometimes, no matter how diligent you are with your wash-and-dry routine, there are still extenuating circumstances that may be letting you down.
For instance, you may not be using enough detergent. If you're rationing your laundry soap in the hopes of saving a little cash here and there or—more likely—you just haven't worked out the perfect soap-to-load ratio, you may be doing yourself a disservice. We're not saying you have to dump a whole bottle into the wash, though. Just try increasing the amount of detergent you use in each cycle and see if it makes a difference!
Parrying off the former point, you may also be overloading your machine. There is absolutely no way your clothes are going to be able to get a good wash if you're shoving them in your washer past capacity. Though it's tempting to just stuff your machine full to cut down on the number of loads, you should try putting less stuff in your machine and see if that makes a difference!
Alternatively, the problem may lie within your washing machine itself. Though anything beats having to hand wash clothes, washing machines do have an irritating knack for harbouring stagnant water, limescale, and all the bacteria and mould that comes with the territory. Ergo, the solution to your problems is to give your washer unit a deep clean.
You need to reassess your diet
Unfortunately, your favourite garlic-heavy pasta dish does more than just linger on your breath—it can also change the way you smell! It's true: You are what you eat... sort of.
When you eat large amounts of particular foods, the byproducts of their digestion (also known as "volatile organic compounds" or "VOCs") may be excreted via your sweat glands, giving off that unpleasant stench you've become acquainted with. If you suspect your diet might be behind your bad body odour, try avoiding the following foods:
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Meat and fish
Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do to help your food-related BO other than avoiding the key culprits altogether. If you can't curb your eating habits, it's time to bring in the big guns (lots of cologne and perfume).
Still stinky? You should probably see a doctor
Unfortunately, some stinks just cannot be resolved with a few life hacks—if your body odour persists, it might be high time to haul yourself over to the doctor's office. Body odour can be an indicator of health conditions like diabetes, liver disease, or kidney disease, all of which are best diagnosed sooner than later.
Fret not, though—while BO is a good indicator for the aforementioned health conditions, it's not a guarantee. For all you know, you may walk out of the doctor's office with a prescription for "industrial strength" antiperspirant and an otherwise clean bill of health.
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