Walk into any pharmacy or grocery store, and you’re guaranteed to see an aisle full of products designed to keep you from sweating. The idea that sweating is bad is ubiquitous in the U.S., but it’s also a myth. In fact, things weren’t always like this — before the late 19th century, there was no equivalent to modern underarm deodorant (though people did use perfumes, lotions, and other substances to smell good). Antiperspirants didn’t even come along until the 1950s. Before that, people used dress shields, powder, or just kind of dealt with sweat.

Since your body perspires naturally, it stands to reason that you might not want to keep it from doing so. (Unless you have a medical condition called hyperhidrosis, which merits a doctor’s help.) With that in mind, are there any actual benefits to sweating? Yes! 

Benefit 1: It keeps you cooler.

Humans maintain their body temperature in a variety of ways. Blood vessels move closer to the surface of the skin, and our sweat glands release moisture. When this wetness evaporates, it cools us off. This is true of our underarms, too — while the average person doesn’t walk around with their arms up over their head all day, underarm sweat does play a role in helping our bodies stay at a happy temperature.

Benefit 2: It can make you more attractive. (Seriously.)

In 1995, a study called the “Sweaty T-shirt Study” asked a group of men to wear a plain t-shirt for two nights while sleeping. After collecting the shirts, the researchers numbered them and had a study group of women smell them. Women who were not taking oral contraceptives (which impact their hormones) consistently rated certain t-shirts as the sexiest smelling — the ones worn by men with MCH genes that differed from their own. MCH genes play a role in our immune systems. This suggests that the smell of your sweat plays a role in mate selection and may even help make it more likely that you’ll have healthy offspring with robust immune systems.

Benefit 3: It can make other men more cooperative.

Believe it or not, your sweat influences more than mate selection. A study found that the scent of a specific male pheromone found in sweat, androstadienone, could make other men respond more generously and cooperatively while playing a game. 

Benefit 4: It can help clear your skin.

When you get stuck with a pin, you start to bleed. This is partly to flush out debris and germs that might have entered your body through the wound. Sweat works similarly — as it leaves your pores, it pushes out grime and bacteria with it. Keep sweating regularly (and keep your skin clean), and you may see fewer blemishes. Sweat even contains its own antimicrobial compound called dermcidin. 

Benefit 5: It can help you get rid of heavy metals.

The idea of flushing out toxins through sweat is somewhat controversial. That aside, there are some specific compounds that sweat can help with. A 2016 study in China found that, in cases of heavy metals exposure, heavy metals were found in both sweat and urine. Interestingly, a higher concentration of metals was found in sweat than in urine, suggesting that sweating may be a helpful way to get rid of those specific toxins. The study also found that levels of heavy metals were lowest in people who exercised regularly. 

Benefit 6: It can help you eliminate endocrine disruptors.

In addition to heavy metals, there are two other types of toxins that sweat can help you get rid of: bisphenol A (BPA) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These compounds cause several health issues and may increase the risk of cancer, high blood pressure, and behavioral problems. Research shows that sweating can help you get rid of BPA, and one study found that sweat could play a role in eliminating certain PCBs from the body. Unfortunately, sweat is not effective at shedding perfluorinated compounds (PFCs, or “forever chemicals”), so there are some things a sweat detox can’t help with.

If you’re self-conscious about sweating, don’t be. Before 1952, people just kind of handled underarm wetness in their own ways. If you prefer to make sure you don’t smell bad, you can use a deodorant without antiperspirant. This will keep your natural skin bacteria from creating the smelly compounds we associate with body odor, while still letting you reap all the benefits of sweat.