Whether you rely on a soapy shower and natural pheromones or a blend of citrus notes from your $80 cologne, you want to smell good—but do you really realize just how much your scent can make or break you?
In a study at Oxford University, women were asked to rate photographs of different men, and scientists sneakily showed each photo with either a pleasant scent or a foul odor. No surprise here, the sweet-smelling guys scored highest, meaning that—no matter how cute your face or big your biceps—it’s tough to bounce back from a blast of nasty air. Period.
Granted, there’s no shame in a little post-workout BO or morning breath (our pros say it happens to everyone), but if your under-arm sniff checks and into-the-hand breath whiffs are keeping you self-conscious in close quarters—from first dates to job interviews—read on. There’s a solution for you.
1. You’re plagued by underarm body odor…at all times
Solution: The fix here? It may be as simple as changing up your daily shower routine. First, use a deep-cleansing and exfoliating two-in-one body wash, like Kiehl’s Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap, then follow that up with an aluminum or zinc-based deodorant that will fend off odor-causing bacteria. Eric Schweiger, M.D., a dermatolgist at NYC-based Schweiger Dermatology suggests trying an over-the-counter, clinical strength product, like Degree Men Clinical+ Antiperspirant & Deodorant, first. If that doesn’t work, talk to your doc about switching to a prescription-strength option, like Drysol.
2. Your hair and scalp has a funky scent, even though you just washed it
Solution: The cause here is likely a harmless bacteria found in the scalp—and chances are your head’s not getting a stringent enough shampooing to wipe it out, says Marina Peredo, M.D., a dermatologist in Smithtown, New York. So make sure you’re lathering—not just rinsing—and if you’re using a rich shampoo with plant and vegetable oils for conditioning purposes, switch to a clarifying shampoo that contains sulfur, zinc or tar, like CLEAR Men Scalp Therapy 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Daily Shampoo & Conditioner. “These ingredients help to soak up the extra oil, eliminating odor and leaving a cleaner, fresher feel,” says Peredo. For a squeaky-clean, odor-free scalp, Peredo also suggests you skip conditioner or (for all the longer-locked dudes out there) use it only on the very ends of your hair.
3. Minty gum or a good brush isn’t cutting it anymore—your breath perma-reeks
Solution: Your first stop here should be the dentist chair: “Bad breath is primarily caused by the breakdown of food particles remaining in the mouth,” says Joseph Banker, DMD, a dentist with Creative Dental Care in Westfield, New Jersey. Aside from simply giving you a good cleaning, your dentist will check for cavities, gum disease, and something called “low salivary flow” —all of which can be causing that nasty odor escaping from your mouth. Your dentist can also advise you on some better at-home care. For his patients, Banker typically recommends a steady diet of brushing and flossing after meals, an antibacterial rinse like Listerine, and something called a “tongue scraper,” which will remove any bacteria and (gross) decomposing cells.
4. You’ve been skipping sex because of a (not-so-sexy) odor down there
Solution: Okay, so all men have their signature scent below the belt. But when you notice a new odor—or that smell gets fouler or stronger, even after washing—something’s up (no pun intended). Washing with a lathering antibacterial soap is obviously important (aim for morning, night, and post-workout), but completely drying off and avoiding dampness throughout the day is just as crucial when it comes to fighting bacteria and odor-causing fungal growth. So apply baby powder mixed with a jock itch powder like Tinactin Jock Itch Powder Spray to absorb moisture and freshen your scent, trim pubic hair to reduce sweating, and wear light cotton underwear, which allows your skin to breath. (Still no improvement? See your doctor, who can suggest a prescription-strength treatment.)