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Japanese Cosmetics Company Discovers Stress Smells Like Onions

Oh so that's what that is.

By 2 min read

We all know that onions make you cry, but did you know that stress makes you smell like onions?

That’s what researchers at the global cosmetics company Shiseido have recently discovered.

In between producing rad health and beauty products, they conducted a sample study of 40 women to collect data about their reaction to a very stressful situation: meeting someone for the first time. After this harrowing 20-minute meeting, they collected gas samples from the women’s skin and discovered elevated levels of two chemical compounds — allyl mercaptan and dimethyl trisulfide.

They’ve called the odor produced by this unique combination “sutoresushu,” or “stress smell”. And guess what it smells like?

Researchers discover stress smells like onions

Onions! How lovely.

This isn’t Shiseido’s first breakthrough regarding smells. They’ve conducted another study that found the source of “old age smell”, which they named kareishu. Conveniently, they also have a deodorant marketed to counteract this smell.

Looking at the past, it’s pretty clear what they are planning to do with this data. The company is already getting ready to sell products that will help the stressed masses in Japan with their sutoresushu starting next year.

Such a product is likely to be a big hit between this study, Japan being one of the most stressful countries to work in, and increased attention on the problem of smell harassment.

If you’re not familiar with smell harassment, it’s the issue of unpleasant smells distracting and disgusting people in the workplace, and can be caused by tobacco, food, perfume, or body odor. This has apparently become an issue recently in Japan because of “a marked increase in the workforce of women, who are sensitive to the smells of men.” Wow, women really are the root of all evil.

But this all begs the question — is designing a fragrance to mask the smell of stress nothing more than a band-aid masking a bigger issue in Japan? Perhaps this data could be better used to address the issue of stress in the workplace and avoid its onion-like BO in the first place.

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