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Some Women Who Don't Need Deodorant Use It Anyway

FRIDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Some consumers could be saving money spent on deodorants, a new study suggests.

Most women with a rare version of a certain gene who do not produce underarm body odor use these products anyway because it's the "normal" thing to do, researchers say.

A simple gene test could help these people realize they don't actually need deodorant, study authors report. This realization could prevent them from wasting their money and help them avoid unnecessary exposure to chemicals, say researchers at the University of Bristol, in England.

The study involved nearly 6,500 women who participated in a larger study that tracks children born in the 1990s and their parents. The researchers found 2 percent of mothers carry a rare version of the ABCC11 gene and do not produce the underarm odor associated with sweat and bacteria. They also found, however, that 78 percent of them use deodorant regularly anyway.

Meanwhile, more than 20 percent of those who didn't have body odor do not use deodorant. This contrasts with the 5 percent of people without the gene variant -- who therefore do have body odor -- who also choose not to use deodorant.

"An important finding of this study relates to those individuals who, according to their genotype, do not produce underarm odor," study author Ian Day said in a university news release. "One-quarter of these individuals must consciously or subconsciously recognize that they do not produce odor and do not use deodorant, whereas most odor producers do use deodorant. However, three-quarters of those who do not produce an odor regularly use deodorants; we believe that these people simply follow socio-cultural norms."

Day added, "This contrasts with the situation in Northeast Asia, where most people [who have the gene variant] do not need to use deodorant and they don't."

People who carry this rare genetic variant are more likely than others to have dry earwax, researchers said, and in some people, the ABCC11 gene may be inactive.

The study was published Jan. 17 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about personal hygiene.

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