Why Most Koreans Don’t Have to Wear Deodorant

While many people worry about emitting stinky body odor from sweaty armpits, a select few don’t have to.

As it turns out, a percentage of the population lack the gene that prevents stinky pits. According to researchers from the University of Bristol, that special gene is called ABCC11.

The study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, surveyed 6,495 British mothers and found that 2% lacked the gene. Genetic epidemiologist Ian Day said:

“This key gene is basically the single determinant of whether you do produce underarm odor or not.”

Individuals with the rare gene variant are also more likely to produce dry earwax rather than wet or sticky wax. Authors of the study reported that over 97% of people who are of European or African descent have the smelly underarm sweat gene.


On the flip side, most East Asians and 30% to 50% of those in Southern Asia, the Pacific Islands, Central Asia, Asia Minor and indigenous Americans do not have stinky armpits. Day told Live Science that almost all Koreans lack the gene that makes their pits smell awful.

Blood samples were taken from the women in the study and their responses to a questionnaire regarding hygienic rituals and use of products were recorded. Researchers discovered that the women who did not produce body odor were probably unaware to that fact and still used deodorant on a daily basis.

Day said:

“They’re spending their money, exposing their skin to what may in a few instances not be good for their skin. It sort of suggests to me that there are a lot of conformists around.”

For those who weren’t blessed to lack this gene, it’s probably time to know how to put on deodorant properly.

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