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Know Sweat


An old saying goes, "Horses sweat, men perspire, and women glow." Whatever we choose to call it–sweat, perspiration, or a healthy glow–the body’s cooling mechanism is truly ingenious.

An old saying goes, “Horses sweat, men perspire, and women glow.” Whatever we choose to call it–sweat, perspiration, or a healthy glow–the body’s cooling mechanism is truly ingenious.

When we become overheated, our bodies produce sweat to regulate our body temperature, which then evaporates from the surface of the skin and cools us down.

Sweat, essentially odourless, can become rather pungent once exposed to bacteria. A sizeable industry has grown to address people’s concerns over body odour, and a wide variety of products are available to help guard us against the perceived evils of perspiration. Consumers are beginning to ask questions about antiperspirants, deodorants, and their ingredients.

What Do These Products Do Exactly?

Antiperspirants work by blocking sweat ducts, thereby reducing sweat production. They may also contain ingredients to inhibit bacteria growth.

Deodorants help prevent or reduce body odour, without reducing sweating. Some combination of fragrances, antibacterial ingredients, and ingredients that change the pH of the underarm area (making it a less hospitable place for bacteria to live) is usually included.

Are There Risks?

There has been speculation about the dangers of ingredients used in personal care products. Concerns have arisen over aluminum salts–found in some antiperspirants–and their relation to Alzheimer’s disease, and whether underarm products containing parabens can increase breast cancer risk.

Research has yet to provide conclusive evidence to support these fears. Nonetheless, certain ingredients do have consumers concerned, not only for their own well-being but also for environment, into which tons of personal care products are washed every year.

If you are among these concerned consumers, you can choose from a variety of natural products that are paraben-, aluminum salt-, and/or scent-free–and enjoy your glow.

What’s Inside?

These ingredients may be included in deodorant or antiperspirant products:

Aluminum Salts (aluminum chlorohydrate)

  •  block sweat gland duct that, in some people, may contribute to the formation of painful cysts
  • may cause skin irritation


  • petroleum-based preservatives
  • may cause skin irritation
  • have shown estrogenic and hormone-disrupting properties in animals
  • have been found in tissue from human breast cancers

Fragrances (including natural scents)

  • may irritate sensitive skin and can trigger a variety of symptoms in those who are scent-sensitive

How We Sweat

We have two types of sweat glands:

Eccrine Glands

  • cover much of the body and release water onto the skin surface in response to rising body temperature

Apocrine Glands

  • found in places with high numbers of hair follicles (under the arms, around genitals)
  • apocrine gland secretions and bacteria combine to produce body odour
  • not functional until puberty
  • range in number among people
  • stimulated by stress, fear, or excitement


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Leah PayneLeah Payne