What Your Body Is Telling You When You Sweat

by Gina Tomaine

Whether you’re catching your breath after pumping your way through your morning run at 7 a.m. (go you!), you're about to give a presentation in front of your terrifying boss, or you just accidentally liked your crush’s sister’s Instagram post from 128 weeks ago, you know what it’s like to sweat.

Here's a detail you might not know: there are actually different kinds of sweat, and if you want to know what's coming your way, we're here with a handy science lesson.

It seems that there are two main types of sweat: activity sweat and stress sweat. Activity sweat is pretty much what it sounds like: it makes sense that, say, running or dancing yourself silly in an aerobics class will get sweaty really fast.

Stress sweat, on the other hand, is a bit more awkward and harder to predict, since it's caused by your emotional reactions to a situation. This type of sweat happens at the exact worst times: when you're feeling nervous, excited, embarrassed, frustrated, or even angry.

We've partnered with Secret Clinical Strength® to help you deal with these types of scenarios. Let's take a look at some typical sweat-inducing situations and break down exactly what’s going on. (Just consider this insurance for your body.)

Taking A Sweaty Exercise Class

Working out in a room heated up to the max? You’re probably experiencing activity sweat. This type of sweat has one purpose: to cool you off! In order for that to happen, this sweat is released from your eccrine sweat glands, which can be found all over your body (not just in hot spots like under your arms).

Having An Interview For A Job You Desperately Want

Yup, you guessed it: you’re just sweating because you’re nervous. Interviewing for any job can be a super stressful situation, and sweating is normal. Even more so when it’s a job you feel strongly about. Stress can be caused by this desire to gain approval, and nervousness, which then leads to stress sweat. Instead of being caused by your body temperature or physical exertion, stress sweat is a reaction to hormones rushing through your bloodstream.

Going On A First Date With Someone New

Some people don’t get nervous on first dates, but they're probably superhuman. Stress sweat is not surprising here, particularly if your date is 10 minutes late to the restaurant and you're staring down every person who walks in the door. (Not creepy at all!) Remember, stress sweat is caused by hormones. This means when you stress sweat, your body releases fluid in a completely different way—from both the eccrine glands all over your body, and apocrine glands in your underarms and pelvic area. Sexy, we know.

Giving A Big Presentation In Front Of Your Boss

Speaking in public, and particularly giving presentations, is a universally acknowledged stress sweat culprit. Heat sweat is 99 percent water, but stress sweat is only 80 percent water and is made up of 20 percent cholesterol, lipids, and proteins. That means that stress sweat is more likely to react with existing bacteria on your skin — and give off dreaded B.O. You have enough things to worry about (your terrifying boss, boring everyone to death, passing out), so a preventative swipe of an antiperspirant deodorant (like Secret Clinical Strength®) should give you peace of mind.

Going For A Long Run

Here, you are sweating based on physical exertion, so your sweat is going to be all activity sweat. Keep in mind that though you might not feel too glamorous after a morning run, this type of sweat is 99 percent water. That means it typically doesn’t as strong of a smell, so it's the perfect excuse to run yourself directly to a bottomless-mimosa brunch of your choosing. Just saying.

Riding On A Crowded Subway Car

Even if you do have some heat sweat like this on the way to work, a strong antiperspirant deodorant will take care of it easily (and not have you smelling on your way into the office).

Getting Pulled Over

Sure, you might not be guilty of any major crimes — but you might have been speeding, or gliding through that stop sign on the way to work. Even if you’re probably not in for any major repercussions, it’s hard to stop that guilty, panicky perspiration from happening. The other crazy thing about stress sweat is that it starts immediately when a stressful event happens — there’s no wait time. Unlike heat sweat, it starts suddenly and without warning, and you never know when that situation is going to occur.

One of the worst things about stress sweat is that it can be a total catch-22: you start sweating because you’re stressed, and then when you realize you’re stress sweating, you just get more stressed, and stress sweat even more. It's a fact of life, but as with everything, the more you know, the better you can prepare yourself.

This post is sponsored by Secret Clinical Strength ® .