In our last blog we talked about the importance of Skin Barrier Function and how damaging or weakening it can result in skin problems and premature ageing.
One of the most common things we do to weaken our skin’s barrier is to over wash. We tend to cover our entire body with soap or body wash in an attempt to avoid body odor. But this practice also strips our skin of its protective oils and damages our skin’s important microbiome.
This is where the concept of targeted hygiene comes in. The secret is that our body odor glands are only found on specific areas of our body so we only need to wash certain areas. Let me tell you more about this.
Specific glands called apocrine glands are responsible for body odor. These apocrine glands secrete a sticky, milky substance onto our skin and this can only be removed by soap or body wash. If it is left on the skin and broken down by our natural bacteria, it results in body odor.
These body odor glands are found under your arms and in the pubic region. The rest of your body is clear of body odor glands. On your torso, your arms and your legs, you only have sweat glands. Sweat consists of salty water and this is both odorless and water-soluble. The moment you step in the shower or bath, sweat rinses cleanly away.
You only need to wash your important bits with soap or body wash. That is your underarms, pubic region and for some people, their feet. Not because feet have odorous glands but because they are often encased in shoes all day and this can result in foot odor. These days we are also very aware of washing our hands to keep us free of viruses.
Now it may be hard to imagine that sweat doesn’t smell. But children never smell of body odor even though they can get quite sweaty playing and running around outside. They don’t smell because their apocrine glands don’t start working until puberty and this is when you need to have the ‘deodorant talk’ with them. When they are young, they only have sweat glands functioning and sweat doesn’t smell.
In summary, only wash your important bits with soap or body wash. The rest of your skin will rinse clean with just a bit of water. If you have dirt on your skin, use a flannel and a bit of elbow grease to clean it off. Only if it is very persistent would you resort to soap.
The idea of only washing certain areas was something Janesce founder, Jan Smith talked to me about at least 20 years ago but since then it has become a ‘thing’. It is called Targeted Hygiene.
It is a much healthier option than the blanket cleaning approach we currently use and your skin will thank you for it!