The human body generates a wide variety of odors often considered as problematic or socially unacceptable in most situations. Underarm odor, bad breath, foot odor, scalp odor… are interpreted as lack of hygiene, meaning that the person is responsible for its own odor and should be in control. This can significantly affect the subjects’ quality of life.
The vast majority of these odor problems are related to sweat and bacterial growth. Sweat itself is odorless but it favors the proliferation of microorganisms and some of them do generate volatile molecules responsible for body odors. There are many different microorganisms growing in our skin but only some of them can cause malodors. They are able to transform sweat lipids and amino acids in volatile molecules, some of them exerting a powerful odor. Volatile acids, sulfur compounds, aldehydes and phenols are common responsible volatiles for body odors.
The microbiome can be very different depending on the person and on the body area considered. This is the main reason of the huge variability of body odors. Many factors have an influence in the composition of the microbiome. Factors intrinsic to each person like gender, race, lifestyle, food or stress; and external conditions like temperature and humidity determine the intensity and character of the odors released by our body.
The persistence of odor-generating microorganisms in body and cloths and the huge microbiome variability explain the extreme difficulty to solve body odor problems. Many anti-body odor products are offered in the market, but not many of them have a real effect and none of them gives a complete and universal solution. Although some differences can exist depending on the substrate to be treated, skin or cloths, current approaches can be divided in four different groups:
- Reduction of sweat generation (antiperspirants). Some substances like aluminium salts or some silicones can reduce sweat generation by plugging skin pores or drying the armpit. It is an important benefit since less sweat is translated in less body odor. However, some studies have related aluminium salts with some diseases like dermatitis or cancer and silicones like cyclomethicone, with some environmental problems.
- Biocides/enzyme inhibitors. There are active materials against bacteria which can be included in personal and fabric care products. Some of them kill bacteria (bactericides) and others avoid bacteria action (bacteriostatic). Due to their biological activity, biocides can affect to general microflora in the skin, which could have adverse effects. Aluminium salts has also bactericide ability.
- Odor absorbers. Some materials are able to eliminate or reduce the release of body odor volatiles. They can trap malodor molecules generated in our skin avoiding the release to the air. One example of these materials is zinc ricinoleate. This elimination approach is effective in some situations but it can have a weak effect in some cases in which the contact between malodor and active ingredients is very limited.
- Malodor perception counteraction. This approach entails the use of fragrant molecules. Malodor volatiles concentration is not reduced but their perception is decreased or eliminated. This is managed by two different mechanisms: nose receptors competition and brain signal modification. This way of malodor reduction has the risk of overdosing giving too high and bothering scent intensities.
Fragrances and essential oils are powerful elements to solve body odor problems. Perception counteraction is the obvious mechanism, but also some fragrant materials can reduce problematic bacteria activity and eliminate malodor molecules by reacting with them.
In order to develop a really effective solution it is crucial to understand how the fragrance works. It is applied on clean skin, when the malodor problem actually doesn’t exist. It then starts to lose its intensity over time, when the malodor follows an opposite evolution; it grows over time. Therefore, effective solutions require either to delay the appearance of the malodor, long enough that it would not be perceived as problematic until the next wash, or to maximize fragrance persistence or delivery when the malodor is building up.
Eurofragance has investigated the way to create effective body odor solutions based on fragrance technologies. Important goals have been achieved and essences with a real effectivity to eliminate body odors have been developed. They are based on the synergy of three different effects: firstly, the elimination of malodor molecules by means of some specific and unique active ingredients, including some proprietary material. The second effect is the reduction of malodor perception by optimized combinations of fragrance materials. Last, controlled delivery of the fragrance by means of high-performance microcapsules allows an intense and long-lasting reduction of body odors throughout the day.
A real effectivity of this fragrance technology has been demonstrated and significant benefit has been measured by means of volatiles monitoring techniques and sensory panel evaluations.