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I was wondering my girlfriend and I used the same perfume for a while and we sprayed the same place. And after a day her skin still smells nice while mine smells normal.
Will different types of perfume hold longer on different skin types?
The skin is a very important (and our largest) organ: what does it do?
Cara McDonald does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations
This article is part of our series about skin: why we have it, what it does, and what can go wrong. Read other articles in the series here.
Our skin is a big deal – literally. It’s the largest organ in the body and one of the most complicated. It has many roles in the maintenance of life and health, but also has many potential problems, with more than 3,000 possible skin disorders.
Not only does the skin hold everything in, it also plays a crucial role in providing an airtight, watertight and flexible barrier between the outside world and the highly regulated systems within the body. It also helps with temperature regulation, immune defence, vitamin production, and sensation.
The skin is unique in many ways, but no other organ demands so much attention and concern in both states of disease and health. There is a huge focus on skin health, with fierce competition to have glowing, clearer, healthier, younger and fresher skin. And this focus can cause secondary problems with self-esteem and mental health.
So, what exactly is our skin meant to do and how does it impact our life?
Mosquitoes need water to reproduce, and they are naturally attracted to areas with higher humidity levels. This is why sweat is one of the top mosquito attractors.
- Dark Clothing
Research shows that mosquitoes are most attracted to dark colors. They can see and use their vision to locate targets from a distance, and people wearing dark clothing are at higher risk.
- People who eat a lot of potassium and salt
Mosquitoes are attracted to potassium, salt, and lactic acid released by your body, so it helps to avoid salty and potassium rich foods like bananas, avocados, and dried fruit.
- Perfume and Scented Lotions
Fragrances are known to attract mosquitoes. Floral scents are especially attractive.
- Drinking Alcohol
Some experts believe drinking alcohol makes your skin give off a chemical that attracts mosquitoes. Alcohol also increases body temperature which is another huge mosquito attractor.
- Blood type
According to a 2004 study, people with type O blood were a whole 83 percent more likely to attract mosquitoes than any other blood type.
- Pregnant Woman
A 2000 study found that pregnant women attracted twice as many mosquitoes as non-pregnant woman. This is because pregnant woman exhale more carbon dioxide than other people, in addition to running higher body temperatures and having more blood circulating through her body than the average person.
- Body temperature: The higher your body temperature is, the faster mosquitoes will find you. Once they get within a few yards, they can sense the heat and love to nest in the warm conditions.
- Different mosquitoes have different feeding habits. There are over 3,000 different species of mosquitoes throughout the world, about 200 of which occur in the US. Insect reproductive biology specialist Laura Sirot, PhD states that “Some mosquitoes don’t eat blood at all and of the ones that do eat blood, some don’t eat human blood.” She also states that some species feed in the evening, while others feed during the day.
- Only female mosquitoes that are looking to lay eggs bite. This is because need the nutrients in blood to lay their eggs. Male mosquitoes and female mosquitoes that are not laying eggs only feed on plant nectar.
- Mosquitoes can consume twice their body weight in blood.
- A full moon makes mosquitoes more active: According to the AMCA, one study showed that a full moon increased mosquito activity 500%.
- Mosquitoes are the most deadly animal on earth! More deaths are associated with mosquitoes than any other animal on the planet because of the diseases they carry.
- Mosquitoes can detect carbon dioxide from 75 feet away. Both humans and animals produce carbon dioxide which signals female mosquitoes that a potential blood is near.
- Why do mosquito bites itch? When a mosquito bites, it injects chemicals to prevent the blood from clotting and reduce pain. These chemicals cause irritation.
- Planting Marigolds around your yard works great as a bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance bugs do not like. This is a great way to ward off mosquitoes without using chemical insecticides.
- Learn how long mosquitos live and the life cycle of these fascinating and deadly creatures.
Always keep in mind using some kind of natural mosquito protection or making homemade mosquito traps can dramatically reduce your chances of getting bit.
You know how some people spray a bunch of perfume into the air and then walk through it? Yeah, don&rsquot do that&mdashyou&rsquore just wasting product and the scent will evaporate after a short amount of time. A direct spritz on to bare skin is all you need to keep the perfume scent on you for longer.
It sounds weird, but trust, it works. The oilier your skin is, the better it holds scent, and the top of your ears is a little bit oilier than say, behind your earlobes.
9 Places You Never Thought to Apply Perfume
Wrists, ears, neck—that's the usual to-do list when your spritz on your favorite fragrance. However, there are some key places you're missing. Steven Claisse, senior perfumer at Takasago and creator of various Clean fragrances, tells SELF nine other hot spots to spray perfume to get a scent that lasts all day.
You hair is actually one of the best places to spritz perfume because the strands hold fragrance well and leave a trail of scent as you move from place to place. "Fragrances latch onto hair fibers, therefore hair will carry the scent of the fragrance for a long period of time," says Claisse. But will the alcohol in perfume dry out your hair? "The alcohol in fragrance is similar to that in certain hair sprays which do tend to dry out the hair," explains Claisse. "To avoid any drying of the hair, the best way to apply fragrance to hair is to mist on a brush." There are also scents made specifically for hair like Sachajuan Protective Hair Perfume ($69) or Clean Hair Shine Mist With UV Protection ($24).
"Behind the earlobes is typical, but another less common spot is the tops of the ears as skin is not as dry," says Claisse. Oily skin actually holds scent better than dry skin. So make sure to moisturize before applying your scent.
Fragrance is a big no-no for those with sensitive skin. But you can wear fragrance without applying it directly to your body. Try wearing a necklace or bracelet infused with scent like Lisa Hoffman Tuscan Fig Necklace ($45) or By Kilian Lights & Reflections Ring ($250).
The pulse points are areas on the body where the veins flow close to the skin. These spots emit heat, which helps fragrance develop faster. The typical places to spritz scent all fall under this category: the neck, wrists, cleavage. However, the inside of the elbows is also a hot spot to roll on perfume.
Your navel is useful for more than just belly piercings. Dab a few drops of perfume on the spot if you're wearing a midriff-baring crop top or bikini. "Any area on your body that radiates heat will enhance a scent, and your belly button does just that," says Claisse.
The soft area behind your knees is another one of those pulse points perfect for perfume. Throughout the day the scent will kick up as you cross your legs and move around, especially if you're wearing a dress. "Knees are great for summer since they're exposed," says Claisse. "The back of knees are warmer and softer and therefore capture a strong scent."
If you’re wearing shorts or a leg-revealing dress, spritz fragrance along the inside of your thighs and calves. The friction between your legs as you walk will create warmth and reinvigorate the scent throughout the day.
Before you slip on your favorite pair of stiletto heels, give your feet a blast of perfume. "Your ankles are always in motion, so it helps project the fragrance wherever you go," says Claisse. "It continues the scent from head to toe."
Claisse recommends applying your scent on your body before putting on your clothes, so that the fragrance can absorb into your skin. However, spritzing your wool and cashmere clothes with fragrance can help achieve a longer lasting scent, too.
ELI5: Why do people put cologne/perfume on the insides of their wrists?
I've heard 2 explanations - can't vouch for either.
Wrist have a lot of blood flow near the skin and hence produce a lot of heat. Heat helps release the scent.
Wrists are an area that are likely to get closer to other people. Guess they also always exposed where much of the body isnt.
My grandma used to tell me that it she did it back in the day because women would extend their hand to men when meeting them, sometimes kissing the hand (old days). This gave them a waft of whatever scent they were wearing.
Neck became popular because they would kiss on the cheek or hug or something.
I'm not sure if any of that is true, but going along with number 1, it makes sense.
Number 1 is the correct answer
I've heard that the pulse is strong there (along with the neck where people also put cologne or perfume) and the vibration causes it to get into the air more and smell more strongly
I think I heard Halle Berry explain on Conan that if you spray perfume in between your thighs, supposedly the large amount of blood flow and therefore heat carries the scent up all through your body. How true that is, I have no clue.
It's a kind of hold over from 17th and 18th century French society/aristocracy. At the time it was considered fashionable to smell good but not fashionable to bathe(probably because it was also fashionable to dispose of your sewage into any nearby source of fresh water). The French actually invented perfume/cologne to try and solve this dilemma. But instead of putting it on their bodies they would put it on some kind of cloth. Usually a handkerchief or a cravat. When ever you went to a high society French party around this time you would want your perfume soaked hanky easy to get to ,so men would stuff theirs into the cuff of their coats so they could easily pull them out and wave them in the air in front of the next person they met or hold it to their nose when they were alone. Women often wore sleeveless gowns around this time so they just simply tied theirs to their wrist. Pay close attention to the next period French film you see, you will see a bunch of handkerchief waving in the party scenes. Clothing trends moved on so that hardly anyone uses a handkerchief as fashion accessory anymore,but people still put perfume/cologne on their wrists as a tradition.
Kidney stone mystery solved: Why some people are more prone to develop kidney stones
Kidney stones strike an estimated 1 million Americans each year, and those who have experienced the excruciating pain say it is among the worst known to man (or woman).
Now, new research by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis provides evidence to explain why some people are more prone to develop the condition than others. Their discovery opens the door to finding effective drug treatments and a test that could assess a person's risk of kidney stones.
"Now, we finally have a more complete picture detailing why some people develop kidney stones and others do not," says senior author Jianghui Hou, PhD, assistant professor of medicine. "With this information, we can begin to think about better treatments and ways to determine a person's risk of the condition, which typically increases with age."
The research, in mice, is now available online in the EMBO Journal, published by the European Molecular Biology Organization.
Because kidneys function the same way in mice as in humans, the new findings can help scientists understand the root causes of kidney stones in patients. The mouse model used in the study can also serve as a platform for the preclinical testing of novel treatments for the condition, the researchers say.
Most kidney stones form when the urine becomes too concentrated, allowing minerals like calcium to crystallize and stick together. Diet plays a role in the condition -- not drinking enough water or eating too much salt (which binds to calcium) also increases the risk of stones.
But genes are partly to blame. A common genetic variation in a gene called claudin-14 recently has been linked to a substantial increase in risk -- roughly 65 percent -- of getting kidney stones. In the new study, the researchers have shown how alterations in the gene's activity influence the development of stones.
Typically, the claudin-14 gene is not active in the kidney. The new research shows that its expression is dampened by two snippets of RNA, a sister molecule of DNA, that essentially silence the gene.
When claudin-14 is idled, the kidney's filtering system works like it's supposed to. Essential minerals in the blood like calcium and magnesium pass through the kidneys and are reabsorbed back into the blood, where they are transported to cells to carry out basic functions of life.
But when people eat a diet high in calcium or salt and don't drink enough water, the small RNA molecules release their hold on claudin-14. An increase in the gene's activity prevents calcium from re-entering the blood, the study shows.
Hou and his team have found that claudin-14 blocks calcium from entering passageways called tight junctions in cells that line the kidney and separate blood from urine.
Without a way back to the bloodstream, excess calcium goes into the urine. Too much calcium in the urine can lead to stones in the kidneys or bladder. Intense pain develops when a large stone gets stuck in the bladder, ureter or urethra and blocks the flow of urine.
Hou's research supports the theory that people with a common variation in claudin-14 lose the ability to regulate the gene's activity, increasing the risk of kidney stones.
He is optimistic, however, that drugs could be developed to target the short stretches of RNA that are intimately linked to claudin-14. Drugs that mimic these so-called microRNAs could keep the activity of claudin-14 in check and reduce the likelihood that stones would form.
Also, it may one day be possible to develop a diagnostic test to measure levels of the claudin-14 protein excreted in urine. Elevated levels would indicate an increased risk of stones, and people could take steps to prevent stones by modifying their diet.
"Many genes likely play a role in the formation of kidney stones," Hou says. "But this study gives us a better idea of the way one of the major players work. Now that we understand the physiology of the condition, we can start to think about better treatments or even ways to prevent stones from developing in the first place."
The research was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Heart Association.
Hou is working with Washington University's Office of Technology Management on an invention related to work described in the paper.
5 Things Wrong With Your Deodorant
Y ou wouldn&rsquot swallow a spoonful of toxic cosmetic ingredients. But in some ways, smearing them under your arms in the form of deodorant or antiperspirant may be worse.
&ldquoWhen you eat something, it&rsquos broken down by your liver and digestive system,&rdquo says Heather Patisaul, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at North Carolina State University. &ldquoBut when you put something on your skin, there are times when it can enter your bloodstream without being metabolized.&rdquo
Patisaul spends most of her time studying known and potential endocrine disruptors&mdashchemicals that may mess with the function of your body&rsquos reproductive and developmental hormones. She says rubbing something on your skin doesn&rsquot mean all&mdashor even any&mdashof it will make its way into your bloodstream it depends on the chemical. But blood tests show that many of the substances commonly included in deodorant products can, in fact, worm their way past the epidermis and into the body.
Research also shows that some compounds used in deodorant are absorbed and stored in fat cells, which are prevalent in the underarm area, says Philip Harvey, Ph.D., editor in chief of the Journal of Applied Toxicology. Your underarm tissue also contains hormone receptors, which could react to some of those same deodorant ingredients, Harvey says.
For all these reasons, experts like Harvey and Patisaul are worried certain compounds in antiperspirant and deodorant could cause or contribute to developmental or reproductive issues, as well as cancer. (Other research shows some of these substances can mess with the microorganisms&mdashmany of them beneficial&mdashthat live on and in your body.)
Here are 5 deodorant ingredients of concern.
There are many different parabens, which are used as preservatives in deodorant and other personal care products. Research suggests some parabens may interfere with the way your body produces and regulates estrogen and other hormones, Patisaul says. &ldquoThere&rsquos estrogen-sensitive tissue in the breast, so the worry is that if you put parabens close to this tissue every day, they may promote the growth of cancer cells,&rdquo she explains. That goes for men as well as women.
That said, both the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute say there&rsquos not &ldquoconclusive evidence&rdquo linking deodorant chemicals to cancer. But there&rsquos lab evidence to back up Patisaul&rsquos concerns. Research from Philippa Darbre, an oncologist at the University of Reading in the U.K., has shown that mixing different parabens can strengthen their &ldquoestrogenic&rdquo effects. But proving that this mixture could cause or contribute to cancer is nearly impossible. &ldquoCancer is a complex multistage process, and its development can take many years,&rdquo Darbre says.
Much more research is needed, she adds. But in her view, the existing evidence suggests that long-term, low-dose mixtures of environmental chemicals&mdashincluding parabens&mdash&ldquocould cause cancer.&rdquo (See another piece, “Can Deodorant Give You Cancer?” here.)
Typically found only in antiperspirants, this metal can cause &ldquogene instability&rdquo in breast tissue, Darbre&rsquos research shows. This instability can cause changes than may promote the growth of tumors or cancer cells, she explains. &ldquoOver 50% of breast cancers start in the upper outer quadrant of the breast local to the underarm region,&rdquo Darbre says. While that&rsquos not proof aluminum is to blame, breast cancer incidence tends to align with use of products that contain the metal. Especially if you shave under your arms, applying a product containing aluminum to that broken skin could be bad news, Darbre says.
Still, as TIME has reported: According to the American Cancer Society&rsquos website, there is no &ldquoclear&rdquo or &ldquodirect&rdquo link between aluminum and cancer. The National Cancer Institute site says &ldquomore research is needed.&rdquo
Cosmetic manufacturers add this chemical to many products in order to prevent bacterial contamination, and to kill bacteria on the surface of the skin, as in anti-acne products, some deodorants and antiperspirants, and in sanitizing hand soaps. Triclosan is so common that 75% of Americans have detectable levels of the stuff in their urine. The FDA says there are no known hazards associated with triclosan. But the agency also acknowledges that the research has evolved since it ussued that designation, and the agency could soon change its stance.
Some animal studies have linked triclosan to unusual hormone activity. More research suggests triclosan could mess with your microbiome or the day-to-day operations of your genes.
&ldquoThere&rsquos evidence from amphibians and fish is that triclosan impairs thyroid function, which is crucial for brain development,&rdquo Patisaul adds. She says blood tests show triclosan is &ldquoat the high end&rdquo when it comes to chemicals that swish around in our bodies. &ldquoTo my knowledge, there aren&rsquot any clear benefits associated with it when used in underarm products.&rdquo
These compounds help deodorant and other cosmetics&mdashsuch as fragrance&mdashstick to your skin. They also appear to disrupt &ldquoandrogen function,&rdquo or the way your body produces and uses the hormone testosterone, Patisaul says.
While you may think of testosterone as a strictly male hormone, women also produce the stuff, and it plays a role in energy and muscle maintenance. &ldquoThe greatest concern when it comes to phthalates is that they could impair reproductive ability in men, or that they could impact fetal development in pregnant women,&rdquo Patisaul says. Research has also linked phthalates to lower IQs and higher rates of asthma.
Phthalates are typically present in any product with a fragrance that lingers after it’s been used or applied phthalates are partly what makes smells stick. That means that everything from body wash to shampoo to lotion to hairspray to soap.
Almost every scented product has &ldquofragrance&rdquo or &ldquoperfume&rdquo listed among its ingredients. And it&rsquos impossible to know just what chemicals are concealed by those seemingly benign terms because scents are protected under trade law. &ldquoIt could be phthalates, or it could be substances that cause allergies or skin irritation,&rdquo Patisaul says. Even smelling scented products on other people can cause an allergic reaction.
How to protect yourself:
If these compounds are of concern to you, Darbre says ditching all underarm deodorant products is the only way to ensure you&rsquore not exposing yourself to potentially toxic chemicals. Short of that, Patisaul recommends shopping for fragrance-free natural deodorant. Finally, shop for products labeled paraben-, fragrance-free, and check the ingredients list to make sure triclosan isn&rsquot included.
&ldquoThe more people spend their money on products that don&rsquot contain these chemicals, the more manufacturers will move away from using them,&rdquo she adds.
If you're ever in an emergency, you'd be fortunate to have a redhead on your squad to help you get through it. That's because redheads are super efficient with regard to adrenaline — yet another superpower our ginger brethren possess. We're beginning to suspect they might be superhuman with all of these genetic advantages!
The superior adrenal function that gingers possess is twofold: not only do they produce more of the hormone compared to regular folks, but they also can access it more speedily than the rest of us, according to Red: A History of the Redhead. That means that redheads can operate better in fight-or-flight situations, which would definitely give them a better chance of survival.
Could this be an explanation as to why redheads are known for having a fast and fiery temper? It's doubtful, but it does make you wonder what other impacts all that extra adrenaline might have on gingers.
13 Things You Probably Don't Know About Tears
Crying. Sobbing. Blubbering. Whatever you call it, from the time we're babies, we all do it.
And, while many animals shed tears, emotional tears seem to be a uniquely human experience. "Tears are necessary to keep the eyeball moist, and contain proteins and other substances which maintain the eye healthy and to combat infection," Michael Trimble, author of Why Humans Like To Cry, told Scientific American. "Humans cry for many reasons, but crying for emotional reasons and crying in response to aesthetic experiences are unique to us."
And whether it's tears of joy or sorrow, the moments that cause us to choke up can tell us a lot about ourselves.
"Crying, as well as other sorts of intense emotional experience, can help highlight for us what's important and what we need to focus on," Lauren Bylsma, Ph.D., a post doctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh, who has conducted multiple studies and written several papers on tears and crying, tells HuffPost.
But for such a universal experience, many of us know surprisingly little about the tears we cry. So we collected 13 lesser-known facts about tears -- read 'em and weep.
There's more than one type of tear.
Not all tears are created equal. Basal tears are the ones in our eyes all the time, and serve the purpose of lubricating, nourishing and protecting the eyes, Bylsma and her co-author Ad J.J.M. Vingerhoets, of Tilburg University in The Netherlands, wrote in their paper, "The Riddle Of Emotional Tears: Why Do We Cry?" The second type of tears, called reflex tears, form to protect the eyes from irritants, such as wind, smoke or onions. And there's some evidence to suggest that these two kinds of tears are chemically different from each other.
The third type of tears are the ones we're probably most familiar with, those spilled after a fight with a partner or a powerful movie: emotional tears. One 1980s study found that emotional tears may contain more protein than other types of tears, but the science is far from conclusive at this point.
Researchers don't know exactly why we cry.
But theories abound. Evolutionarily speaking, some scientists suggest that humans cried to signal distress, but without making noise, such as a yelp. "You can imagine there'd be a selection pressure to develop a signaling system that wouldn't let predators in on the fact that you're vulnerable," Vassar College psychologist Randy Cornelius told NPR.
As human behaviors develop over time, Bylsma explains, they often begin to take on more than one purpose. Another reason humans might cry, she says, is to signal there's a problem or garner comfort from those around us. "Crying is a way to elicit support from others during times of distress," she says. Infants cry to get the attention of their parents, while an adult might cry to get the sympathy of a friend or loved one. It can also lead to quicker conflict resolution in the heat of an argument. "Crying seems to elicit compassion and guilt, and that itself may be an evolved mechanism to save relationships in distress," Jesse Bering, of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Belfast University, told NPR, "It's hard to punish somebody or argue with someone who's crying . It's like a trigger that tells us to back off."
Biochemically, the composition of tears is similar to saliva.
And, among other things, they're made up of proteins, salt and hormones.
Women really do cry more often than men.
One estimate puts it at 5.3 times per month for a woman and 1.4 for men. Another suggests that women cry two to five times per month, compared to men's .5 to one. And, according to German research reported on by The Telegraph, the average crying session lasts six minutes for a woman, versus two to four minutes for a man. (That same research found that crying turns into sobbing in 65 percent of cases for women, and just 6 percent for men.)
But how big that gender difference is could be cultural.
Bylsma wrote in one of her papers: "The amount of gender difference in crying also seems to vary with specific country characteristics. Surprisingly, in Western cultures with greater freedom and equal treatment for women, women cry more often than in more traditional cultures, whereas [the] differences between men in different cultures are less substantial. This insight strongly challenges the notion that crying is just an involuntary, reflex-like symptom, resulting from specific feelings."
Women are biologically wired to shed tears more than men. Under a microscope, cells of female tear glands look different than men's. Also, the male tear duct is larger than the female's, so if a man and a woman both tear up, the woman's tears will spill onto her cheeks quicker. "For men and their ducts, it'd be like having a big fat pipe to drain in a rainstorm," says Louann Brizendine, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco.
Tears come from the lacrimal gland.
And it's found in the outer part of the upper eye. When excess tears are produced, they drain into small ducts to the nasal cavity. And if you have too many tears to drain, they'll spill out of your eyes.
There's an anatomical reason why crying makes your nose run.
"The nose is running because the tears actually go into the nasal passages," Bylsma says. "Some of them end up in your nose, so your nose runs."
Those headaches that can creep in after a sob session aren't quite as easy to explain. Bylsma speculates that it might have something to do with dehydration from the water lost in tears. Or it could be because muscles tend to tighten up when we're upset.
Syn-propanethial-S-oxide is the reason onions make you cry.
It's a chemical irritant that stimulates the lacrimal gland, which makes you tear up.
Our tears might be sending signals to others.
At least according to one 2011 study, which showed that testosterone and sexual arousal take a dip in men after they smell a woman's tears. "We conclude that there is a chemosignal in human tears, and at least one of the things the chemosignal does is reduce sexual arousal," study author Noam Sobel, a neuroscientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, told LiveScience after the research was published in the journal Science.
Crocodile tears are real.
Well, according to one University of Florida researcher, anyhow. Kent Vliet wrote in a 2007 paper that crocodiles really do cry -- but not because they're sad. He recorded seven animals, all of whom were closely related to crocodiles, and noted that five of them teared up while eating. While the exact cause of the tears was unclear, Vliet said in a statement that it definitely wasn't grief: "In my experience, when crocodiles take something into their mouth, they mean it."
"Crocodiles appear to produce tears all the time," Adam Britton, founder of the website Crocodilian.com, told National Geographic. "Their function is -- like our own tears -- to lubricate the eye. This may be even more relevant for crocodiles because they have a third eyelid."
There may indeed be such a thing as a "good cry."
Much of Bylsma's research has focused around the cathartic quality of crying. And how good you feel after a cry might come down to the social situation, she says. If you tear up around supportive people in a comfortable environment, you're more likely to report feeling better afterward than if you were trying (unsuccessfully) to hold back tears in a place where you feel vulnerable, unsafe or embarrassed. In one study she co-authored in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, Bylsma and her collaborators concluded, after analyzing more than 3,000 reports of crying episodes:
Consistent with pervious field studies, the majority of participants reported mood benefits after crying. However, respondents showed significant variation in their reporting of mood benefits, with a third reporting no mood improvement and a tenth even reporting feeling worse after the crying. Importantly, variation in social-environmental factors tracked the mood benefits of crying: Criers who received social support during their crying episode were more likely to report mood benefits than were criers who did not report receiving social support. Likewise, mood benefits were more likely when the precipitating events of a crying episode had been resolved than they were when the events were unresolved.
Some researchers have also suggested that emotional tears, unlike basal or reflex tears, contain stress hormones, which the body is able to physically push out through the process of crying. Another theory is that crying triggers the body to release feel-good endorphins (the same ones you get from exercise or laughing), writes HuffPost blogger Judith Orloff, M.D., author of Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions And Transform Your Life. That might just be why a late-night Titanic viewing feels so good.
Happy tears aren't all that different from the sad ones.
"One possibility is that happy crying really isn't that different from sad crying. What both have in common is a period of intense emotional arousal," Mark Fenske, Ph.D., associate professor in neuroscience at the University of Guelph, wrote for The Globe and Mail. "Indeed, brain regions associated with emotional arousal, including areas of the hypothalamus and basal ganglia, are connected to a section of the brainstem called the lacrimal nucleus that stimulates tear production."
Bylsma explains that one theory of crying is that it helps the body to return to a state of homeostasis after being overly aroused -- whether positively or negatively. Right after that peak in arousal, whether it's immediately after winning an Olympic gold medal or walking down the aisle at a wedding, tears might help bring a person back to a baseline level of functioning.
Some people are more likely to cry than others -- but why is less clear.
We know that women are more likely to cry than men, as are people who have experienced a trauma, anxious people, and people who are extroverted and empathetic, WebMD reports. And some of it might simply come down to individual personality differences. "Some people are just more prone to crying," Stephen Sideroff, Ph.D., a staff psychologist at Santa Monica--University of California Los Angeles & Orthopaedic Hospital and clinical director of the Moonview Treatment Center in Santa Monica, Calif., told the publication. "Others ignore or are not as fazed by certain things [that provoke tears in criers]."
Other factors that can lower the threshold for crying, according to Bylsma, include mood or stress level, hormone fluctuations, mental health and fatigue.