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View Full Version : Why dont Koreans need to use deodorant?


lukaspriest
08-16-2002, 10:10 PM
I lived in Korea for a number of years teaching english and whatnot and had to have deodorant sent to me from the states...you simply cant obtain it over there - no one uses it, and for the most part, it seems like they dont really need to. I mean, I'd ride a bus packed full of peole, and no one would reek of body odor. I dont understand - if I go a day without deodorant (and keep in mind I shower at least once a day) I soon regret it. It can't be the diet, because I ate authentic korean food everyday. What gives?

Cartooniverse
08-16-2002, 10:39 PM
My son is full-blood Korean. He's 12. He's just getting to "that" age.

Trust me. He needs, and uses on a daily basis, underarm deodorant.

Cartooniverse

Tars Tarkas
08-16-2002, 10:50 PM
Maybe you just got used to it.

lukaspriest
08-16-2002, 11:43 PM
then why dont they use/need it in korea?

Gary T
08-16-2002, 11:47 PM
I've heard before that Koreans don't have BO. Also that the offspring of U.S. GIs and Korean women do have it, and are easily identified, and looked down upon, because of it. Cartooniverse's post indicates that this may not be universal, but it seems there must be something to it.

Gozu Tashoya
08-16-2002, 11:53 PM
WAG: Maybe having grown up in Korea their bodies have gotten used to the temperature and humidity and therefore don't generate a whole lot of perspiration?

Personally, I was born and raised in Hawaii and if the humidity was relatively low, I didn't sweat very much. While I was in Cali - both for school and a year of work - I barely broke a sweat even when the temperature hit 90.

Of course, I may just be a genetic freak. :D

Squish
08-17-2002, 01:45 AM
KK may be on to something... when I lived in Phoenix, about the only time I had noticeable BO was during periods of high humidity. I'd be interested to know if there's any scientific explanation.

ianzin
08-17-2002, 04:54 AM
I've heard it said that the Asian diet involves much fewer dairy products than the Western diet (America, W. Europe) and that this gives rise to some interesting differences. I'm a Brit so I'm viewing this from a Westerner's perspective.

Differences I've heard mentioned:

(1) To most Asians who visit the West, our (Western) breath doesn't smell good, like we all have halitosis. We're used to the trace of milk and other dairy products on our breath, so to us it's not offensive or noticeable, but to them it is.

(2) We produce a lot more mucus, phlegm and snot.

(3) Our natural perspiration/body odour is more likely to need some deodourising 'help'.

I don't claim to know anything about (1), except that I heard it from someone I regard as a reliable and well-informed source. I think (2) is an estabished fact which seems to check out based on my own dietary experiments (I sometimes cut out milk and dairy produce). Although I've no speciial expertise regarding (3), it doesn't seem impossible that it could be a genuine difference, similar to the other two I've mentioned. If so, then 'because they ingest fewer dairy products' is part of the answer.

Astroboy14
08-17-2002, 05:51 AM
Well, first... you can buy deodorant here... and could when I first got here in 1995. It's just a bit difficult to find, as most Koreans don't use it.

So, why don't Koreans use it much? My WAG: two reasons... #1) Koreans tend to be less hairy, #2) Koreans seem to sweat less than us hairy foreigners.

In regards to #1, I recall reading somewhere that the foul odor we associate with the armpit is caused primarily by bacterial decay around the hair follicles (no cite, as I don't remember where I read that). The bacteria thrive there as a result of the moisture and the happy living ground provided by abundant hair... if Koreans are actually less hairy on the whole, this might help to explain it.

Having said that, let me point out that I have met my share of Koreans who most assuredly could have used a good dose of underarm deodorant!;)

effac3d
08-17-2002, 06:08 AM
Well i have AFAIK no Korean heritage,and i have never needed to use deoderant.

And yes it has been confirmed by independant sources that i don't stink ;)

A daily shower seems to be enough for me.

Jervoise
08-17-2002, 08:21 AM
I don't think it's the dairy products. I drink a LOT of milk, eat cheese and yoghurt and butter and all that good cow-ey stuff.

I'd put it down to less sweat. I'm half-Chinese, half-Caucasian. Even in the Australian summer, only if I'm exercising do I sweat enough to feel "damp". Even then, I remain noticeable drier than other folk. (I play a lot of squash and unlike most of my mates I've never had a white shirt turn see-through due to perspiration.)

FWIW, I still wear deodorant, mainly out of paranoia and as a habit.

Qadgop the Mercotan
08-17-2002, 11:30 AM
Apocrine glands produce sebum in addition to sweat. Sebum is a fatty substance which bacteria love, so they inhabite areas rich in apocrine glands, and break the fats into highly aromatic substances.

Apocrine glands are associated with axillary (armpity) and pubic hair. If one naturally has less hair in those regions, they have fewer apocrine glands.

Some ethnic subgroupings (including portions of the larger population often called "oriental") tend to have on average less axillary hairk, thus fewer apocrine glands.

Qadgop the Mercotan
08-17-2002, 11:33 AM
Also:
"However, there is a high population-specificity with respect to these glands: about half of Koreans and Japanese lack any apocrine glands at all in their armpits (Morris, 1985, p. 141). (Miller, Geoffrey F. (1994)

http://www.humanevolution.net/a/asianoriental.html

aldiboronti
08-17-2002, 11:36 AM
I`d guess it was for the same reason Westerners didn`t use deodorant back whenever; we didn`t know we needed it until advertisers convinced us otherwise.

The Griffin
08-17-2002, 12:04 PM
Maybe they use vinegar.

Enola Straight
08-17-2002, 12:36 PM
Perhaps the bacteria which plagues us westerners simply isn't present in that part of the globe.

Has anyone taken swab cultures of the armpits of the Japanese, Chinese, etc. as well as the Koreans?

I'd hate to think our tourists are introducing a previously absent microorganism to an unsuspecting populace, like how we introduced diseases to the Natives in North-, Central-, and South-America.

Bryan Ekers
08-17-2002, 01:11 PM
Originally posted by ianzin
(2) We produce a lot more mucus, phlegm and snot.


Well, I'm glad at least one industry won't be shifted to Asia for cheaper labour and increased profit.

Qadgop the Mercotan
08-17-2002, 01:22 PM
Originally posted by Enola Straight
Perhaps the bacteria which plagues us westerners simply isn't present in that part of the globe.
Not true

Has anyone taken swab cultures of the armpits of the Japanese, Chinese, etc. as well as the Koreans?
Yep

I'd hate to think our tourists are introducing a previously absent microorganism to an unsuspecting populace, like how we introduced diseases to the Natives in North-, Central-, and South-America.
We're not

Shodan
08-17-2002, 02:33 PM
Maybe the kimchee fumes drown it all out.

My children are also genetically Korean, and I know several others personally, both those who live in the West and those who live in Korea.

The fact that they may not use deodorant is not necessarily proof that they don't need it. At least according to the standards in my part of the world. I doubt that Koreans or Asians smell any more or less than anyone else.

Regards,
Shodan

puubs
08-17-2002, 02:49 PM
If any of you have gone from the US to any asian country, you'd probably find that most people would recommend that you bring lots of deoderant, feminine hygience stuff stuff (if you're a girl) and other toiletries. If you wish, you could probably bring sunblock too. The reason has nothing to do with the cultural differences in sweating, it's just that that stuff is hard to find or in some form that you're not used to. Deoderant and feminine hygience stuff seem to be the big things, tho. Toilet paper is usually also wise. It doesn't even have to be an asian country. Could be russia as well (where I've been to as well).

Space Vampire
08-17-2002, 03:30 PM
Couldn't find deoderant in China either. People didn't even know what I was talking about when I used the word I found in the dictionary. "Perfume?" "No, so I DON'T smell." Nothing.

aldiboronti
08-17-2002, 05:17 PM
My earlier point exactly. There`s no earthly reason why the natural bodily odours of a person who bathes or showers regularly should be considered offensive. Commercial interests have managed to persuade us otherwise. I trust the Chinese public will be a little more perceptive.

phartizan
08-17-2002, 05:30 PM
I suspect it's partly diet. I've been going regularly to Taiwan for decades, and at first they neither stank nor had deodorant available. But this summer, Whew! Plenty more stinkers than I ever noticed before. My wife argues it's because their diets are becoming increasingly westernized.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
08-17-2002, 07:52 PM
Definitely it seems that different races have different stink levels, but as has been suggested that could just as well be due to dietary habits. Arthur (or is it Alex) Haley, in Roots said his ancestor Kunte Kinte could smell the white men on the dock as the boat pulled in.

Space Vampire
08-17-2002, 08:08 PM
Originally posted by aldiboronti
My earlier point exactly. There`s no earthly reason why the natural bodily odours of a person who bathes or showers regularly should be considered offensive. Commercial interests have managed to persuade us otherwise. I trust the Chinese public will be a little more perceptive.

Whatever, hippie. People is stanky.

bbeaty
08-18-2002, 12:06 AM
Try this one:

http://www.killbo.com

The stuff mentioned on this website does work. Strong body-odor is a bacterial infection, and if you kill off that particular bactrial strain, you won't stink no mo'.

If an entire foreign culture lacked the "American Stank Microbe", then they'd have a strange lack of deodorant products in that country.

The most useful item in the above KILLBO.COM site is the fact that the stinky bacteria inhabit the underarms of shirts, and are NOT killed by washing or by dryer heat. Bathing doesn't stop them because your underarm's petri dish is immediatly recontaminated when you wear clothes.

Fortunately the bacteria are very sensitive to chlorine bleach. If you take a shower and then apply deodorant once and wear Chlorox-sterilized shirts, it takes many days for your normal stench to return, even if you sweat like a pig. ("Mitchum" deodorant seems to work best as a bacteria killer.) The author of the KILLBO site claims to have gone months without getting re-contaminated with the smelly bugs.

PS, if you wash your laundry with chlorine bleach, and if you leave the wet cloths in the machine for many days, they have no stench! No "wet dishrag odor." It's really amazing. Usually I have to re-do the laundry if I leave it in the machine more than 24 hrs.

ruadh
08-18-2002, 03:12 AM
I think Qadgop answered the OP perfectly well, but since some people continue to suggest dietary reasons, I'll just add some anecdotal evidence: my best friend, born in Korea but raised in America since the age of two, with very typically American dietary (and other) habits, has never had any need to use deodorant.

Babar714
08-18-2002, 03:20 AM
Yeah, and we'll be getting rid of the bacteria in our intestines soon, too.

Qadgop got it right. I'm not a physician, but we did go over this in an anatomy class I had. He said it exactly as I remember.

Cartooniverse
08-18-2002, 06:44 AM
Originally posted by Babar714
Qadgop got it right.

Let's just see now. 25,000 Dopers at $ 65.00 per Doper for an office consult.......geeez, no wonder he drive a Lexus.


:D :D :D :D

Thanks, Qadgop, you are as usual the veritable font of all things medicinal and healthy. So, how's the Leech Farming coming along, anyway? ;)

Qadgop the Mercotan
08-18-2002, 09:34 AM
Font? Or Fount? It's important. :D

Raising a nice crop of mosquitos, now that the rains have come.

The Lexus now has 185,000 miles on it.

Thank the gods for weekends. No prisoners!

Enola Straight
08-18-2002, 12:09 PM
American Stank Microbe.

What a cool band name!

Sofa King
08-18-2002, 12:16 PM
My Korean pals are just as stinky as I am, and believe me, I don't smell like rose-petals, ever.

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