Little girls may be made of sugar and spice and all things nice, but their armpits smell of onions. And while free of slug or snail odours, men’s armpits pack a powerful cheesy whiff.
That’s the conclusion of research in Switzerland that involved taking armpit sweat samples from 24 men and 25 women after they had spent time in a sauna or ridden an exercise bike for 15 minutes.
The researchers found marked differences in the sweat from men and women. “Men smell of cheese, and women of grapefruit or onion,” says Christian Starkenmann of Firmenich, a company in Geneva that researches flavours and perfumes for food and cosmetics companies.
The men, meanwhile, had relatively high levels of an odourless fatty acid which turned into a cheesy odour when exposed to the same types of bacteria.
The balance of oniony to cheesy precursors in women’s sweat made it smell worse than men’s as rated by independent smell assessors.