Why Do I Stink and How do I Stop it?

Why Do I Stink and How do I Stop it


Real talk? Sometimes after a long day at work, an intense workout, or a nerve-wracking date, we smell. More specifically, we stink. And believe us when we say, if you don’t think you do, raise those arms up and let a friend sniff those pits…if we could smell through the screen we’d help, but technology hasn’t come that far yet. Anyway, ask whoever took a whiff what you smell like, and chances are, it’s not great.

Seriously, though, we all kinda smell…so we got to thinking, what’s it all about? Why does your date or coworker or mom make a weird face and take a few steps back when you walk in a room? Because let's be honest, it happened to you at least once, and it wasn’t a great feeling. Fear not, though! We’re here to help. We did the nerdy, feels-too-much-like-school research stuff so you don’t have to, and found all the answers to your questions right here.

What’s the stink?

Most people think that their body odor comes from their sweat, because typically, sweat = stink. This isn’t the whole story, though. Body odor is actually a two-step process.

  1. You sweat. Your body has a built-in A/C unit made up of a system of sweat glands. For my science-y guys out there, sweat glands are the spout your sweat comes out of, and there are two kinds. Eccrine glands are all over your body, and apocrine glands are in the hotter, hairy-er parts of your body (think pits and privates).

    Big words aside, when your body starts to heat up, the glands work to cool things down, releasing sweat onto your skin. Sweat is mostly water, but it has salts, sugars, and other chemicals. Once on your skin, that sweat evaporates and lowers your body temperature That leads us to the second part of the stink process.

  2. Bacteria on your skin interact with sweat. For bacteria, sweat glands are an all-you-can-eat buffet of their favorite food: your sweat. Kinda like us, when bacteria eat too much, they emit a not-so-pleasant smell…meet body odor.

Not all body odor from this process is bad, but we came to tell you why you stink (strictly in the olfactory way, of course. You’re probably a really cool person.) But now you know the why behind the stench. Every person smells a bit different, and things like the medications you take, the stress levels in your life, and the food you eat can all play a role in changing that unique smell.

Now that we know why we stink, let’s roll into the next question…

How do I stop the stink?

Stink is a process. To combat this, we rounded up some tips that will have everyone from grandma to your boss thanking you because the only thing worse than being the stinky guy is being with the stinky guy.

  • Avoid or reduce certain foods in your diet. Remember how we just said that food can change your smell? Yeah, well, some of them really change it for the worse. Sulfur-rich ingredients like garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, and onions can lead to sulfur in your sweat…and in case you’ve been lucky enough to always use every egg in the carton before they go bad, here’s a free tip: sulfur smells like rotten eggs. Yuck. Other things to watch out for are spicy foods, asparagus, spices like cumin and curry, alcohol, and caffeine. Don’t call your mom and tell her we said not to eat your broccoli, though.

  • Throwing it back to high school gym locker essentials, use an antiperspirant. Deodorants just throw a nice smell over stink and don't actually help the problem. Look for something with antiperspirant on the label. These products will actually reduce the amount of sweat released by your body. As a result, they will minimize the amount of food available to bacteria and cut down on the stink.

  • Be a grown up, do your laundry. The bacteria and sweat on your skin can transfer to your clothes throughout the day, and the same process that happens on your body then just happens on the fabric. By washing your clothes, you're removing the bacteria food and keeping you and your clothing from repulsing everyone in your path.

  • Lastly, for the love of all things good in this world, TAKE. A. SHOWER. Washing the stink-causing bacteria (and the sweat they eat) off your body with soap every day is definitely one of the best ways to stop your stink. Bonus points if you use a good smelling soap to not only kill the stink but make you smell ruggedly irresistible, too. (May we suggest the fresh, outdoorsy scent of pine tar soap or pine-scented body wash?)

There ya have it, folks. Stink is just bacteria eating at the sweat buffet, and practicing basic hygiene is the best way to stop it. Now go forth and conquer that stink.