From the Roman baths to the Finnish tradition of sauna, people have used heat and steam for centuries to incite the body to sweat. Today, sweating for health and wellness is also promoted through hot yoga classes, infrared saunas, spas, hot springs, and even at-home herbal facial steams. By allowing—even encouraging—the body to sweat, we are activating one of the body's systems of detox.
Perspiration varies from body to body. Every person has between 2 to 4 million sweat glands in the body, but how much each gland excretes depends on the person. Our gender, age, environment, physique, and fitness level all contribute to how much we sweat.
The body has two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands are found all over your body, but the apocrine glands are found only in the groin and the underarms. While most sweat is an effort of the body to regulate its temperature, the apocrine glands are also triggered by hormones, stress, and anxiety.
Sweat produced from either gland is made up of water, sodium, lactic acid, minerals, and urea. In the underarms, however, the apocrine glands also produces bacteria to break down sweat, creating the odor we associate negatively with sweat. Odor and moisture are two of the uncomfortable components of sweat that deodorants and antiperspirants strive to address.
Sweating has many health benefits including clearing the skin’s pores of dirt and build-up and relieving the body of excess salt, cholesterol, and alcohol. Research has demonstrated that sweat also rids the body of harmful toxins such as BPA and phthalates.
Along with the detoxifying benefits, sweating also has many health benefits. Our body produces an antimicrobial peptide called dermcidin when we sweat which has been proven to prevent bacteria E. coli, staphylococcus aureus, tuberculosis germs, and other pathogens. As well, people who are more prone to sweat tend to drink more water, reducing the formation of kidney stones.
When we use mass-produced deodorants and antiperspirants, the toxic ingredients effectively block the skin’s pores to stop sweat from rising, which interferes with the natural skin environment. Many of these products’ ingredients (aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex, petro-chems, parabens, synthetic fragrance) have harmful effects that range from slight skin irritations to more serious conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
In contrast to these chemically produced products, natural deodorants work to eliminate odor and ensure dryness in the underarms through botanical and food-grade ingredients, allowing the body its natural propensity to sweat. Sola Natural Deodorant, for instance, absorbs moisture from the underarms for the day, while also eliminating any smells caused by bacteria, without blocking the pores.