Do You Smell Good? [NOT 5/8/21]

Axe Body Spay does not count.

Do you like to wear fragrance? Or are you an au natural kind of human?

Do you go for perfume, parfum, eau de cologne, cologne, eau de toilette, eau fraiche, after shave, essential oils? Soap and water? Deodorant and go? Do you prefer fragrance notes that are fresh, or floral, or Oriental, or woody?

I (pauses to roll eyes) prefer a complex fragrance with distinctive top, heart, and base notes. My current favorite has notes of Japanese cedar, asahi zuru maple, hinoki, incense, patchouli, leather, sawara cypress, iris, and treemoss (or at least that is what it said on the website). Alternatively, I like simple vanilla scents.

When my son was in middle school, he and three of his buddies were upstairs getting ready for a dance. When they opened the door, my eyes burned and my throat closed from the all-encompassing scent of four boys engulfed in Axe Body Spray, sure to hide teenage boy funk and to entice 13-year-old girls (if they could breathe near the boys).

Scent can trigger memories. “The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. Those with full olfactory function may be able to think of smells that evoke particular memories; the scent of an orchard in blossom conjuring up recollections of a childhood picnic, for example.

And according to actual scientific research the top three scents preferred by men are, in order, vanilla, doughnut, and black licorice. For women, the top three are vanilla, peppermint, and sandalwood.

How about you? Do wear scent? Do you eschew fragrance? Do you have allergies that make you scent avoidant? Do you have scent triggers? Share your thoughts, if you please!

About Elliecoo 524 Articles
Four dogs, one partner. The dogs win.


  1. I normally go scent free. However, a couple of days ago friends gave us striped bass filets they had caught that afternoon and that evening I had the smell of wood smoke and grilled fish. Pretty awesome.

  2. No offense, but your favorite scent is my nightmare 🙉🙉🙉🙉
    I can’t tolerate very complicated scents, and I do not prefer incense or florals. Basically, the Victoria’s Secret or perfume department stuff. Which is not to say I’m a scent snob or have good taste. I probably smell like a toddler to some people. Most of my scents are food smells. Vanilla based, bake goods, holiday stuff (cinnamon, peppermint, etc). I like Demeter Fragrance Laboratory. If it says “Angel Food Cake” or “Tootsie Roll” on the bottle, that’s what it smells like. Not 12 flowers I’ve never heard of. 

  3. I wear a simple vanilla oil that I get at Renaissance Faire every couple of years. Apparently, I smell very slightly like vanilla even when I’m not wearing it! It’s funny watching people suddenly sniff the air and ask, “do you smell cupcakes?” “No, it’s snickerdoodles, it’s cinnamon-y.”, and  I’ve been sniffed by random strangers more often than I would have thought possible. 

  4. I don’t wear any but I love scented candles – specifically anything pine or foresty scented. And, I love the smell of campfires or real wood burning.
    Weirdly, I also find the smell of a boat engine starting very comforting. I’ve always referred to it as “that diesel” smell – but it’s just regular gasoline. I guess it takes me back to boating at the lake when I was a kid. 

  5. Oh, and I actually had to ban Axe and similar sprays from the house when the boys were younger because I get an insta-migraine from most of them. Those who do wear cologne or body spray are now only allowed to use it in the bathroom, with the door closed, standing under the fan. Once it’s on and it fades a bit, it doesn’t bother me much, which leads me to think it could be the propellant or some additive that evaporates quickly that bothers me. Posh/e-cigs/vapes frequently give me a terrible headache, as well.

  6. Your experience with the Axe body spray is why I hated cologne and perfume until recently. Most people wear far too much of it. And the underlying chemical smell gives me migraines. But I few years ago a sales associate in Sephora gave me a sample of Not A Perfume by Juliette Has A Gun and it converted me to a fragrance wearer. It’s an inexpensive, one note scent, very clean and fresh smelling. My friend Willie always smell fantastic, he wears exactly the right amount of cologne, you almost don’t even notice it. I think it’s called Blue, or something like that. 

  7. When done right, it’s nice. Unfortunately, my experience in the world is that few people do it right. Too much, even of what I suspect is the good stuff, is like mace to me, especially floral scents. 

    That said, I’ve never said no to scented body washes, and I do love vanilla.

    • @Clevernameheredbablackrod right you are. Scent is best when only you can smell it, or the person who is next to you can do so, if they sniff your pulse points, or if just a breeze of it lingers, much like HoneySmacks mentioned. At no time should anyone wear fragrance in the style of a middle school would-be lothario!

      • Back when I worked in an office, there were a few frequent offenders who could stink up a conference room for hours with their overdone perfume/cologne. Gave me such a headache. 

      • Yeah, teenagers think “two drops” means “two bottles worth” but in the world I find the biggest offenders are older Boomer-age women, who I will smell coming from about 20 feet away and it takes a solid 5 minutes before I can smell anything else.

        I’m lucky in the sense that I don’t get headaches from it, but I just find it revolting.

  8. I don’t wear perfume on a daily basis, but I do have scented soaps (lavender, or grapefruit at the moment). I am very sensitive to most perfumes. Strong artificial scents make me headachey almost instantly.  I didn’t wear any perfume even on special occasions up until maybe 10 years ago, when I finally found a few that didn’t set off my headache. My favorite is Tocca Stella- “fresh floral with Italian blood orange, sweet freesia, and spicy lily.”

  9. I used to love scented products, but I started dating my husband when we were teens and he has asthma that’s set off by strong scents. And eczema that’s set off by fragranced soaps and the like (which is also now true for myself since developing hand eczema). So no more scented products for me unfortunately. The only scent I really do anymore is my deodorant, which is lime and bergamot, and is really lovely and doesn’t trigger my husband. Everything else in our house is the “free and clear” unscented variety.
    Sandalwood is still a favorite for me though. Such a nice scent. 

    • @BigDamnHeroes, lime and bergamot would also make a delicious tea! Some in our household have contact allergies, so free and clear for all laundry products here as well. I loath dryer sheets, I think that they cause clothing to feel like it has a film. Apparently I am last to the laundry party, because I just discovered dryer balls made with the wool of New Zealand sheep. (Cue jokes.) They have no scent, leave no film, and decrease drying time. You can get them for cheap on Amazon. Everyone already knows this trick, I  bet…but it was news to me!

        • If it’s what I’m thinking of…
          I think they are just a knitted/crocheted ball of dense wool that is then felted, so it’s basically a heavy, tough, lump of wool. 
          I’m not sure how it speeds drying time, maybe by just fluffing things and keeping them from wadding up?
          I got the impression it’s along the lines of that old bit of advice of throwing some new/clean tennis balls in with down items to keep them fluffy

      • I tried the woolly ones and honestly they smelled like sheep when they got hot in the dryer 🐑
        I got some plastic dryer balls that are not as healthy but do the same thing

  10. I will wear cologne, even during the lockdowns when I almost never leave the house, because I smell bad all the fucking time, no matter how many showers I take.  I don’t bathe in it though because that’s even worse.  Just one spritz is plenty.  When I used to take the commuter rail, there was this one asshole who used so much cologne I could smell him anywhere in the car–even if he was on the top level and I was on the bottom–so I would have to move to an entirely separate car.

    Mrs. Butcher has a bionic nose, so she determines what cologne I use.  Every few years she suddenly decides she doesn’t like whatever I’m using and picks a new one.  Currently it is something called eau de Cartier.  I don’t know shit about notes or scents or whatever so I can’t tell you what’s in it.

  11. freshly soaped up and a little deoderant when i get to work in the morning
    eau de wd40 by the time i get back home…with a dash of electrolyte and various solvents
    i think its quite a nice smell
    ive definitely had worse smelling jobs

  12. Hopefully not much?
    I have a really dull sense of smell, and combined with that claim that people have a difficult time determining if/how much they smell, I hope I’m more overcompensating than unaware?
    typical weekday, I get out of bed, poke around a bit on the internet as I wake up, do a pitiful amount of pushups/pullups, and then I shower, and then take it easy cycling in to work (primarily so I don’t get too sweaty), and at work I’m often alone and outside, and I’m dealing with a lot of dirty stuff, and moving heavy stuff around and just getting all kinds of dirty, messy, and sweaty.  So, while I don’t want to reek, I’m not overly concerned if I’m not pristine after my commute.   There is a shower stall in the (only) bathroom, so once covid ends (if it ever does…), and I  can get the logistics of dirty clothes and drying towells and such figured out, I’ll probably switch to exerting myself a bit more in the morning for a slightly quicker ride, and showering at work, but that still needs a lot of logistical issues for someone who doesn’t even have an office…
    And then I ride home about as fast as I can manage (which, due to the permanent afternoon headwinds, isn’t much faster than the ride in to work, but it does leave me much more winded and sweaty…), and then try another set of pushups/pullups, and I will try not to publicly embarrass myself by mentioning any numbers, and then another shower once I’ve calmed down and stopped dripping sweat.
    I opt for scent/fragrance free products when it’s easy and convenient to do so.  I don’t think I’m bothered by the scents/fragrances, but with my really dull sense of smell, they may cover up (to me, at least…) an unpleasant odor/scent, and then I worry I may not realize there is something not-quite-right about laundry, bedding, showering routine, etc.  I do use a typical deodorant/antiperspirant, but no cologne/aftershave/whatever.
    If someone I enjoyed spending a lot of time around wanted me to use some scented product, I could probably be persuaded.
    As to other people, I don’t really care.  One of the benefits of having a really dull sense of smell, is that it also dulls the unpleasant smells.  I generally appreciate people around me bathing regularly, but if they happen to smell like a human, that’s not really an issue.

  13. Personally, I love fragrances and consider them part of grooming and getting dressed in the mornings (it’s one of the few bits of my regimen I tried to keep during quarantine). I have a steady rotation of different scents I like to alternate based on season, occasion, and the day in general (plus a metric tonne of samples I’ve yet to fully work through). They range from high to low and I’m generally quite stingy with the pricey stuff. But even the pricey stuff with lingering power cannot be stark or overpowering. I sneeze and have allergies if I’m wearing something too strong and artificial. Lavender also sets me off, unfortunately. 
    For day-to-day, I’ve long relied on Tocca Florence, a reliable gardenia-based scent (in the past, I used Marc Jacobs, which is also gardenia-based and Hanae Mori–which I ultimately outgrew). And I occasionally alternate it with a roller ball sample of NEST Sunkissed Hibiscus I received from Sephora. I used to include Replica by Maison Margiela in Tea Escape, a roasted green tea scent, but they discontinued it. Same with Commodity Gold
    If we go into pricier fare, I currently have or have loved and counted these amongst my favourites in the library: 
    * Nasomatto, Narcotic Venus
    * Several fragrances from HEELEY, but they discontinued my go-to Figue scent (I love figue everything!!!)
    * Unknown Pleasures (yes, I’m possibly swayed by my love of Joy Division) and Fields of Rubus from small-batch perfumer Kerosene
    * I’m also fond of Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique and Bibliothèque, Le Labo Santal 33, DS & Durga Rose Atlantic and Debaser, and CB I Hate Perfume’s In the Library.
    As a young ‘un, I tended to like men’s fragrances more and would wear them upon my person. (Davidoff Cool Water, Acqua Di Gio, and the like.) I also used to like Issey Miyake’s L’eau D’Issey, which was meant to be minimalist and clean, and resemble the essence of water (I swear it had an actual scent, though). I also thought it was the most special thing ever at the time to walk into Bond No. 9 and have them custom blend a fragrance for me using an assortment of scents from my top downtown NYC neighbourhoods. And preteen Meh loved a cheap drugstore fragrance called Sand & Sable
    And candles–I love a good, natural scented candle in rosewater, figue, vanilla, citrus, or tobacco. Same with woodsy reed diffusers. But things like Glade plug-ins give me migraines. 

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