‘Tis the season for complaining about the heat, and keeping our mouths shut about one of the least fun by-products of summer: Other People’s Odor. Sure, a little bit of someone’s musky personal scent is nice if you’re intimately involved, or would like to be.
Unfortunately, this time of year means that more often than not, you get exposed to an awful lot of the following:
- Bacteria Stink
- Cologne Stink
Or, at least, I seem to get exposed to an awful lot of the following, so please consider this a PSA from myself and most of the people who work with the general public during the summer. There’s something about my workplace’s “movies and air-conditioning available at no cost to you” policy which attracts a lot of Pungent-Americans.
Being introduced to you in an olfactory way, before I can see or hear you, is not fun. Sometimes it’s like having your open palm plastered up against my face without warning. Other times it’s more like your foot. In urban environments, with a lot of car exhaust, open trash containers, and so on, bacteria in the air will be more likely to stick to your skin and grow smelly, without your being aware of it.
I’ve known a lot of people who say that deodorant and anti-perspirant are toxic and harmful. Another thing that’s harmful is not being clean. I don’t care what kind of magic crystals or baking-soda pastes you want to rub all over your tender parts, if you don’t start the day with a clean slate, you’re going to smell disgusting. Even if you live on a diet of home-grown shredded carrots, alfalfa sprouts and springwater, and are directly descended from Saint Bjorn of Liliodeur, the bacteria on your skin will mingle with your nice healthy sweat and turn it into The Army Of Stink.
Which brings me to my next point.
It seems that the warmer and more humid the weather in this magic valley between two rivers becomes, the more people think artificial scent will cause a cloud of welcome to manifest itself around them.
Remember how I said that if I smell you before I can see you, it’s like introducing yourself to me by booting me in the face? Okay. If I can smell your cologne, perfume, rare Arabian body oils, or what have you, it’s like having a pot of warm mystery chemicals dumped on my face. Some of you are so generous with your application of mystery chemicals that it leaves a trail behind you.
If your smell precedes you and leaves a wake, that is not good. It’s gross. It’s as if you’re an animal marking its territory. It’s gross if you’re dirty and smell like it, it’s rude if you’re spreading a chemical hangover, and it’s double plus creepy and sickening if you’re mingling bacteria, body stink and chemicals.
When I was but a wee lass, I remember reading in Cosmopolitan magazine, “Use scent to invite, not repel.” This is an odd thing for a magazine to have printed in it when it was full of paper cards painted with enough perfume samples to choke the censer department of the Vatican during Easter Week, but I digress. Further, it said that if you could smell the perfume, you were wearing too much, because we can’t really smell ourselves generally. True, by that point, it’s too late. (Yes, I read Cosmo when I was a kid. I learned early about the war on women.)
All human beings have their own scent, caused by genetics, diet, exercise, and local temperature. Layering the trendiest liquid on your skin isn’t going to make people like you any more or less (provided you were awesome to begin with). But sometimes it is kind of fun. Drom Fragrances’ perfumer Kevin Verspoor offered these perfume-application tips to Allure Magazine.
- Applying scent to your pulse points intensifies the chemical reaction, because your veins provide heat. (Oh, wait, what was this whole thing about already? Not choking other people to death during the warm season?) Even if the label says “body spray,” that doesn’t necessarily mean you should spray it all over your whole body. He also suggest applying the scent to spots lower on the body, such as the back of one’s knees, further from the general population’s nostrils, to give it time and distance to dissipate. I apologize to the vertically challenged.
- Layer. Verspoor suggests layering a favorite cologne mist over a scented body wash or lotion. In my opinion, be aware of what you’re adding and how they mix. If you’ve added Marlboro smoke, Budweiser and garlicky pizza to your body on a hot day in the last hour, no quantity of Hugo Boss will make you smell good.
- A little dab’ll do ya, just like Brylcreem and Chinese Five Spice. Give the scent an opportunity to mix with your body’s chemicals and make a unique smell, don’t shove everyone’s nose into the bottle. You don’t need to re-spritz throughout the day.
Please, out of kindness to your fellow summer-sufferers, bathe. The Axe Effect is (mostly) a lie. Hosing yourself down with a variety of unguents won’t hide your stink, it only makes it worse. We know you know where the nearest public restroom is. Neither deodorant nor cologne should be a substitute for water.
Actually, nothing should be a substitute for water. Remember; hydrate, bathe, don’t overdo it.
For more information about How Deodorant Works, James May has a straightforward explanation for you.
Thank you. Have a wonderful day.