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Can Genetics Be Responsible For Your Smelly Armpits?

May 2021 | 5 Minute Read 

Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly content series, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.

When people tell me that they don’t need deodorant because they don’t smell I can’t help but think that’s ridiculous. If I smell and I can smell other people’s armpit odor then how is it possible that some people don’t smell at all?  Those who claim they have odorless underarms inspired me to find out whether it’s possible for some people to not have smelly armpits.

Which Gene is Responsible for Armpit Odor?

In 2013, a study released by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that ABCC11 is the gene that determines whether or not you produce underarm odor. 

This gene is also linked to ear wax. The study found that if you have wet ear wax you also have the variant of the gene that causes armpit odor. 

sweating on the upper body

Does Everybody Have the Stink Gene?

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Yes, however there are some lucky people who don’t have the version of the gene that causes armpit odor. According to Smithsonian Magazine, “some people have a rare version of the gene ABCC11 which prevents their armpits from producing odor.” It was found that those who have the rare version of the gene also have dry ear wax. 

A study conducted by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, involving 6,495 British citizens found that 2% had the odorless version of the gene. Researchers believe those who have the rare version of the gene produce less amino acids. Since they are not producing amino acids there isn’t as much opportunity for bacteria growth. Your armpits produce odor because the bacteria feeds off the protein secretion.

Genetic epidemiologist Ian Day was one of the authors of the study. In an article by Live Science Day shares that, “almost all Koreans lack the gene and most East Asians do not have stinky gene. According to the study, “there is a higher frequency of the A allele in East Asians, and therefore higher prevalence of the dry ear wax type. In contrast, the wet ear wax type is more prevalent in European and African populations . 

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People Who Need Deodorant Are Making More Careful Choices

Based on my research those who know they have the stinky gene are searching for a natural deodorant that works for them. According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, “the Middle East, Africa and Europeans are looking for deodorants that are organic, sustainable and skin friendly. The market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.1%. Further market research conducted in 2020 reports that because there is more information on the effects of using deodorants with chemical ingredients, European consumers are looking for aluminum-free alternatives.

How to Reduce Odor Breakthrough If You Have The Stink Gene

I created a natural aluminum-free deodorant and developed a method called “the takesumi method” which helps reduce extra odor breakthrough. Before I apply my natural deodorant, I wash my underarms with an anti-bacterial soap I created called the underarm bar. This bar is made to eliminate the bacteria that is responsible for causing odor. I developed the underarm bar because I was experiencing odor breakthrough during the summer months while I was using natural deodorant. I made the underarm bar with activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, and salt which creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria. 

Then I follow up with an activated charcoal stick deodorant which I also developed called the takesumi detox charcoal deodorantThe previous deodorant I was using was giving me a rash because of the baking soda which is why the takesumi detox charcoal deodorant is baking soda free. Like most people who are not as lucky as Koreans and some East Asians….I have the stinky version of the ABCC11 gene. Not only do I need deodorant, but I need an anti-bacterial soap to help reduce the extra armpit odor I produce in the summer months.  

underarm bar and the takesumi detox charcoal deodorant

So, I guess it’s not B.S. when some people say they do not need deodorant. They are a lucky few who don’t have to worry about being smelly at all. However, for the majority of us who have the stink gene searching for natural deodorants can be a challenging especially in the summer.  To find out what the right deodorant is for you check out my blog on the best natural deodorants for your body chemistry. If you have the smelly armpit gene using the takesumi method will significantly help you reduce armpit odor.  

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