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The Science Of Sweat And How To Control It

It can be sneaky, smelly and embarrassing: sweat.

Those pesky sweat marks show up in the not-so-flattering regions—ladies, you know what I mean. And as disgusting and embarrassing as it can be, sweating is actually good!

“Perspiration is created by the sweat glands when we are overheated or stressed,” says the Ban Brand Experts.

Sweat allows the body to cool off during the most heated moments, no matter the temperature outside. The process of how sweat works is quite interesting.

Science of Sweat

On average, people have 2 to 4 million sweat glands. The amount of sweat released is determined by the activity, fitness level, gender, genetics and environment temperature.

The body has two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine.

Eccrine: The body has thousands of eccrine glands, which helps regulate the body’s temperature. When your body’s temperature rises, the nervous system actives the eccrine glands to release sweat. This sweat is made up of water, sodium and other substances that can help cool down the body. Usually this sweat is found under the arms, forehead, palms or feet and it doesn’t produce an odor.

Apocrine: These glands are responsible for the embarrassing body odor we all despise and we don’t get them until puberty—this is why deodorant is suggested once kids reach puberty. Found mainly groin, underarms and breasts, these glands release waste, proteins and fats (lipids). While stress, anxiety or hormones can trigger this gland, the body’s temperature is mainly responsible to regulate this type of sweat. It doesn’t smell until the sweat produced reaches the skin.

How Much Sweat Is Released?

Your fitness level and weight are two major factors to sweat rate release. If you weigh more, your sweat rate is more likely to increase because the body is working harder to exert energy. The body needs to sweat to cool off. A fit person can easily sweat too. This may sound weird, but the body is more efficient at regulating its temperature and will start sweating earlier to cool down faster. This allows you to work out longer without over heating.

How to Control Sweat?

You can control your sweat with the help of deodorants and gear that doesn’t add additional heat to your body when training.

Deodorant/Antiperspirant
“An antiperspirant is designed to stop perspiration by combining with the moisture to block the release of more sweat,” says the Ban Brand Experts.

Not all deodorants/antiperspirants are created equal. Deodorant reduces odor by eliminating the bacteria in sweat. Antiperspirants reduce sweat by stopping sweat glands and preventing it from reaching your skin. If you’re not a heavy sweater and you only want to control the odor, then deodorant if your best bet. If you sweat a lot and deodorant doesn’t help, then you may want to consider antiperspirant. However, research shows that the aluminum in antiperspirant can lead to yellow stains on your clothing.

Know it’s a trial and error. Once you find a kind that works for you, then stick with it.

Apply Deodorant at Night
Research suggest the best time to put on your deodorant is at night, before bed. Since you’re at rest, the body isn’t working too hard and allows the active ingredient to get into the sweat duct and clog it. If you apply in the morning, when your body is working and producing heat, then the chances of sweat washing off the deodorant is higher—leaving you a bit sweaty and smelly.

Hydration
It can’t be expressed enough: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drinking plenty of water and electrolytes can help regulate the body’s temperature and keep sweating down. If you notice you’re over heating faster than normal, it can be because you have not had enough water. Slow down and sip on a little H20.

Skip the Spice
Certain foods, like hot peppers, onion and garlic, can affect how much you sweat. Since hot, spicy foods turn up the heat in the body, it’s more likely you’ll sweat easily. And the odor released smells like them too.

Water-Based Foods
Veggies and fruits contain plenty of good-for-you nutrients and water. When debating what to eat, opt for some fruit and veggies which can help regulate your sweat.

Clothing
It’s important to dress in layers, this way once you start to get warm, you can take a layer off to help you cool down. Look for clothing that is moisture wicking. Garments made with bamboo also prevent odor, try Tasc Performance wear to prevent sweating or embarrassing odor.

When the sun is out, where light-colored attire. Darker colors attract the sun, which will make you warmer. So best to avoid this. And you may want to skip the hat and wear a visor. Your head helps release heat. Wearing a hat can trap the heat, making your body hotter than necessary—and then you’ll sweat.

Getting Rid of Odor

After much testing, the Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator and NikWax Cleaner have been proven to beat odors. NikWax is environmentally friendly and mainly used for outdoor gear. Don’t fret, which ever you choose, you’ll be able to rid bodily odor from your clothes.

Fara Rosenzweig

Fara Rosenzweig

Fara Rosenzweig is a writer, editor, and certified personal trainer. She got her first taste of the gym at age 14 and fell in love with the fitness crowd. After suffering a back injury her freshman year of college, she had to set her ballet slippers aside and rehab her back. That’s when she found her passion for teaching fitness and helping others challenge themselves. Her senior year of college she ran in her first 5K and traded her ballet slippers for the latest (and brightest) pair of running shoes. Fara loves talking health, sports and fitness with any one and everyone. Her love for storytelling earned her an Emmy Award and has been seen in many other publications, such as Refinery29, Active.com, MyFitnessPal and Health.