Good news for sweaty Betty’s: Scientists in Ireland have designed a new perfume delivery system that ensures that the more you sweat, the nicer you smell. The neat system works by releasing more of an aroma upon contact with moisture, meaning that rather than sweating off your nice perfume, you would actually smell more pleasantly fragrant as you sweat. Perhaps this might make those commutes in which you inadvertently end up with your face crammed in someone’s armpit a little less dire.
To create this delivery system, chemists from Queen’s University Belfast tagged a fragrance onto an odorless ionic liquid, which is a salt that is in a liquid state. In doing so, study author Nimal Gunaratne explains to BBC News, the fragrance is weighed down so it can’t quickly disappear from your skin. But the connections between the salts and the fragrant molecules are broken by water, which behaves like scissors. This results in the so-called “perfumed ionic liquid” releasing the fragrance onto a person’s skin upon contact with moisture.
But it doesn’t end there: Alongside keeping your perfume levels topped up, this unique system could actually help eliminate some of the bad smell that comes from sweat. Sweat, especially women’s, contains an odorless sulfur-containing compound which gets converted into a chemical called a thiol in the presence of underarm bacteria. Unfortunately for women, this chemical is known for its distinct onion-like aroma. But our oniony days could be coming to an end since these thiols are actually attracted to the ionic liquid used in the delivery system, and upon binding they lose their potency.
“This is an exciting breakthrough that uses newly discovered ionic liquid systems to release material in a controlled manner,” Gunaratne said in a news release. “Not only does it have great commercial potential, and could be used in perfumes and cosmetic creams, but it could also be used in other areas of science, such as the slow release of certain substances of interest.”
While the researchers may have big ideas for this system, for the moment they are focusing their attention on the personal care market and are currently working with a perfume company to develop a range of products that will hopefully end up in shops.