On the nose

I have a thing about smells.

I have a very sensitive sense of smell, and can pick up bad smells when no one else can. I can’t stand the way certain things smell — baby powder and mildew, for example, completely disgust me (and no, my hostility towards baby powder does not reflect a hostility towards babies — I like babies very much, thank you). I have a daily routine of body washes, lotions and perfumes to keep my body smelling the way I like it. I brush my teeth three times a day and Listerine regularly to avoid bad breath (made more difficult by the fact that I love extremely spicy food). I don’t smoke, I would be unlikely to date a smoker, I hate going into smoky bars, and I especially hate waking up the next morning with smoke-smelling hair (when that’s the case, I immediately shower and change my pillow cases). I have to shower in the morning before I go anywhere — even if I showered the night before — and I have to shower immediately after working out. I shave my underarms every other day because hair traps smell, and yes, I wear deodorant (doubly if I’m going to the gym).

Yet I have friends who don’t shave and they smell just fine. I one close friend who has never worn deodorant a day in her life — and she’s a super-high-maintenance chick who is the epitome of unnecessary beautification and body-upkeep (we’re talking hair extensions, nose jobs, the whole nine). I’ve forgotten to wear deodorant once or twice, and it wasn’t an issue. So I know it’s not a necessity, but I don’t think I could ever bring myself not to wear it regularly.

What about you all? Are you as smell-obsessive as I am, or do you skip the deodorant?

64 comments for “On the nose

  1. Brad Jackson
    November 10, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Its probably one of those individual body things. Some people can probably skip deodorant without stinking, others can’t. I’m one of the people who can’t, for me no deodorant equals BO that can stun a water buffalo.

  2. spastic_jedi
    November 10, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    I wear deodorant every day, but I don’t bathe but every other day. My scalp gets so dry and irritated when I bathe too frequently, the dandruff is terrible.

    Like you, I’m very particular about how I smell; I get paranoid that I’m smelly and everyone knows it but me, and no one will tell me. I’ve even specifically asked good friends who I knew would tell me the truth, on days I’m feeling extra stinky and gross, “Do I stink?” but they always say no.

  3. November 10, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    I sweat a lot. It’s really frustrating. Even in the winter, I can sweat through my deodorant, and in the summer, forget about it. I read that article in the Time yesterday and was really puzzled at the fact that some people might not need deodorant, and kind of frustrated by the repeated assertion that I’m wearing it needlessly. I wish. But since I don’t mind applying deodorant, I’m not hugely jealous of those who don’t have to use it — I just wish that I could get away with not having to choose between stinking and constantly reapplying on the hot days (and yes, before some well-intentioned person suggests it: I have tried many different types of antiperspirants).

  4. mk
    November 10, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Man, don’t you hate it when you can smell something Really gross and the people around you are totally oblivious? I feel you on being The Super Nose.

    I don’t shave my pits (and haven’t since high school) and it’s only recently that I’ve had any issues with smelling. But that’s because I switched from Manly Man Deodorant For Manly Men (never liked the scents of women’s deodorant, and couldn’t find a consistency that didn’t make me feel like I had pit dandruff besides) to a non-aluminum liquid crystal. But I’d rather be a little smelly by the end of the day than continue to (maybe) increasing my risk for Alzheimer’s.

  5. alsojill
    November 10, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    I am like you, though not just b/c of the smell thing. I have fine hair that gets greasy in about 14 hours, so skipping the daily shower = badbadbad. I shave under my arms *every* day, not b/c of the smell, but b/c I sweat a lot, and I always feel sweatier if I don’t. Going without deoderant is not an option–I can’t even imagine the stench. Ugh. I envy those who can. It never even occurred to me that people could do without it.

  6. EoL
    November 10, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    I can maybe skip the deodorant for one day, but not because I’ll start to stink … because I’ll sweat too much. This past summer was brutal, and the domestic products do NOTHING, so my right armpit turned into a leaky faucet. FUN! No stench, but really uncomfortable.

    Right, that was probably TMI there.

    As for smells, I’m pretty sensitive to bad smells. There are a lot of smells I just can’t stand, like … cheeses. I only like mild cheese, and even then I can’t stand to smell uncooked cheddar or processed cheese.

    And I can’t stand body odors. Smoke residue is the worst, but any unwashed kind of body odor or body spray/perfume/cologne drives me nuts. I’m not allergic to perfumes, but when I smell them, I feel like I can’t breathe, and then I start to taste the kind of chemical/soapy flavor in my mouth. Gross. (I do have one coworker who smells extra good. I’d love to know what he’s spraying himself with, because it’s the first cologne I’ve smelled that doesn’t make me want to gag.)

    The other thing that totally bugs me these days is alcohol-breath. When you’re packed on a crowded train with a bunch of drunk people who are on their way home after drinking with their coworkers, you can really really really smell the liquor odor. It becomes like a damp, sour cloud hanging in the air. Just disgusting. Not as bad as cheese, but pretty bad.

    And babies. I hate the smell of babies. (I hate babies anyway, but their smell reminds me of something that’s gone off in the fridge. Yuck.)

  7. November 10, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    I don’t shave and I don’t really need deoderant, but I do wear a brand that belonged to somebody I once loved. Wearing it makes me smell like him, and I like that.

  8. November 10, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    the worst smell, though, is when the garbage trucks go through the neighborhood in the heat of summer. And they drip smelly garbage juice all over the street–it’s enough to make you faint. My neighbor would regularly go out with buckets of soapy water just to wash the smell off, otherwise the whole neighborhood would smell like a slaughterhouse.

  9. SKM
    November 10, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Another Super Nose here. I am so sensitive to certain malodorous substances that I could rent myself out as a hazmat sensor. I can tell if you have a mouse anywhere in your kitchen, for example, or if your spouse has been sneaking cigarettes whilst you were out.

    I like to smell good, but commercial perfumes tend to give me headaches, so I stick with orange flower water and basil essential oil. Basil also kills bacteria, so as a deodorant it’s usually enough for me.

    I was raised to depilate, deodorize, powder and brassiere myself. Then I started living with a european whose enthusiasm for me made me realize I could relax the regimen a bit. I discovered that I have very little hair to shave and I only really smell for a small part of the month (midcycle–guess it’s to attract all those fertile alpha males…you know, the ones evpsych says will not notice me now that I’m over 30). So, during that week I use unscented Manly Man anti-perspirant (Mitchum–the best, and no sexist TV ads!)

    I would never use Dove deodorant–that ad where the women choose to wear tank tops because their “underarms are so soft and smooth” after using Dove deo. is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen lately, and there are plently of dumb things around right now.

    Conversely, Mitchum used to advertise on TV in the late 70’s/early 80’s. They had an ad featuring a female airline pilot (too busy flying planes to reapply her deodorant of course…Mitchum: So Effective You Can Skip A Day!). I was little and had never seen a female commercial pilot before. Now, apparently, I am supposed to be knotted up with worry that my underarms might not be silky smooth. So much for flying planes…

    …anyone else see those Mitchum ads?

  10. M.
    November 10, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    We all have different body types. If I don’t use deodorant right after a shower (even waiting just an hour or so), people will notice. It’s a shame because I’d really rather not wear it. I don’t wear antiperspirant for health reasons, so I end up having to wear deodorant for men to have any effect.

  11. willa
    November 10, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    I have a very unsubtle nose, not refined at all. In addition to missing all the yucky dirty bad smells that people with more refined senses of smell detect, I miss out on the yummier, more delicate and delightful scents that some people get to enjoy. I.e., a really subtle perfume that other people go nuts over, I don’t even notice. Or the smell of certain foods and baked goods (though I CAN smell things as they’re baking and when they’re fresh).

    I think maybe my sense of smell is bad because I myself can get pretty dang smelly. I sweat easily. I forget to use deodorant.

    Yes. I am one of those people.

  12. willa
    November 10, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    If I don’t use deodorant right after a shower (even waiting just an hour or so), people will notice. It’s a shame because I’d really rather not wear it.

    If I put on deodorant before dressing, I invariably get deodorant mess on my shirts. How do people manage to avoid this? It’s embarrassing to have white chalky smudges all over the front of your shirt. I’ve done the careful-rolled-hem-shirt-donning maneuver, I’ve contorted both the shirt and my torso to avoid smudges, and still. Dreaded chalk smears. And those clear deodorant versions suck, too. Bah.

  13. Olive
    November 10, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    I have found that my armpits smell worse when they are irritated, so sometimes deodorant helps and sometimes deodorant actually makes things worse. I can go a day without after a shower, regardless of shaving. Unless I wear a synthetic shirt or one with irritating short sleeves. I feel like a crazy person when I say synthetics and deodorant cause smelly armpits, but I think it might be true for me.

    I think the ability of underarm hair to trap odor is vastly overestimated.

  14. Em
    November 10, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    I’m very anti-artificial smells. Pretty much all my hygienic stuff is non-scented, and I never wear cologne. I also hate smelling other people’s artificial scents. I, too, have a sensitive nose, and the vast majority of smells I truly enjoy, but something about man-made scents makes my nose scream “NO!”

  15. Mael
    November 10, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    I have a neurotic sense of smell. If I cook with onions and have to chop them, I will still smell onions under my fingernails days – and multiple showers – later.

    On the other hand, I don’t mind most smells that people consider “bad”. My boyfriend is hypersensitive about his sweating, and I really don’t mind the man-who-just-exercised smell. In fact, I kinda like it. I kinda like it a lot.

    I can tell when my body’s chemistry is changing throughout my cycle, but I’ve definitely given up on the idea that other people can – or if they can, that they care. I’d obsess too much otherwise. And, again, I don’t mind the way I smell, but I can smell it.

    I only use deodorant in the summer, and that’s to stop sweat more than smell. I don’t generally use perfume, and that’s because I’m lazy and/or too picky. I’d love to be able to smell of Winter Sweet but have never found it in either perfume form, or even as an essential oil, which is a shame.

  16. Bether
    November 10, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    After years of diligently applying a very expensive deodorant and antiperspirant combo (because, man, do I really stink compared to women in the South where I grew up), last year I had about six months where I both tried to bathe less and didn’t wear much deodorant and also didn’t shave.
    My boyfriend reported that I smelled a little bit, more when I had been exercising heavily, and that he prefers it when I bathe more frequently (as do I!), but it didn’t seem to be a big deal otherwise.
    Now, I generally bathe daily, shave when I feel like it/when there’s an occasion (I was just in a friend’s wedding and removed all sorts of interesting hair for that), and wear plain ol’ unscented just-deodorant-no-antiperspirant deodorant. Except for that wedding, when I was nervous and freaking out, it’s been fine.

  17. November 10, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    I cannot STAND cigarette-smoke-in-hair smell. To the point that I will scrub my head with body soap before getting into bed, because I can’t fall asleep with cigarette smell around.

    SKM, I want so much to use Mitchum. But over the past year, they have been advertising all over San Francisco (buses, bus shelters, you name it) about the difference between “The mind of a man” and “The mind of a Mitchum man!” – because clearly the Mitchum man is the truly manly man … blech.

  18. JW
    November 10, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    I am a Nose. I like being a Nose. I am also a Smelly. I don’t like being a Smelly. Together=Do not want! People’s smells–and especially the way their homes smell–can make me like or dislike them intensely. I love my bf’s smell (he doesn’t use much in the way of product, just soap, shampoo, toothpaste unscented shaving lotion), and like many people’s real smell, but not BO, and not super-chemicalized. I hate fake fruit smells and coffee breath makes me gag. But, like Mael, I really like freshly-sweaty-from exertion smells (provided I like the way the person smells to begin with).

    I shave under my arms when I notice I need to, but I don’t think that it makes a big difference in my own funkitude. I use antiperspirant/deodorant, but I still sweat and smell by the end of the day. Boo.

  19. House of Mayhem
    November 10, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    **I will still smell onions under my fingernails days – and multiple showers – later.

    If you have stainless steel sinks or cookware, rub your hands on them after dealing w/ onions. Takes away the smell. Or wear disposable gloves.

  20. Caja
    November 10, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    I trim my armpit hair every couple weeks, because I discovered that short pit hair = less stink. And often no need to wear deodorant at all, which I find convenient (one less thing to do in the morning! Yay!). I also found that if I stop eating apples for several days (I usually eat an apple as part of my afternoon snack), I start to stink, and deodorant will not help with that at all.

    I detest scented products and strong perfume/cologn, especially scented cleansers (except hard soap, as long as the scent is mild). WHY do people DO THAT?? Your laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, and your Cloroxstuff doesn’t need to smell “pretty,” that perfume just makes it worse!! Also: air “fresheners” that people put in bathrooms :( I am also in the anti-scented candle camp.

    I otherwise do not have an especially keen sense of smell, and I think I am glad of that!

  21. Kristen
    November 10, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I’m the same way. I can smell all sorts of things that other people can’t.

    I one close friend who has never worn deodorant a day in her life

    Now this is somewhat interesting because the apocrine sweat glands (the ones in your armpits) are not universal across ethnicities. For example, my husband (Japanese/Okinawan American) does not have functioning glands under his arms. He has never worn deodorant and when he sweats really hard (like after playing basketball) he has the faint odor of ammonia. Weird huh?

  22. fishbane
    November 10, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Personally, I trend towards the inoffensive – I keep myself clean, smear goo on my arm pits, etc. I’m not an inherently smelly person, but play it safe. I’m also one of those boys that shaves my pits, and trims the naughty parts. I played with shaving legs for a while, but didn’t get a positive reaction from my then partner, so I stopped.

    As far as others, frankly, I like how women smell. That isn’t to say I get in to dirty stuff – I don’t. It isn’t a fetish. But one of my favorite moments in my life was when I was half-awake, rolled over, and could smell my partner’s scent on her pillow…

  23. November 10, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    My right armpit sweats more than my left armpit. What the hell?

  24. SKM
    November 10, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Rachel: Why, Mitchum, Why?! We don’t have the “mind of a mitchum man” campaign in my current city of residence, but I was born+raised in the SF Bay area, and I am deeply disappointed! Thanks for pointing it out.

    The only “Mitchum Man” I care about is Robert Mitchum, and then only when I want the crap scared out of me. By Night of the Hunter and Cape Fear. And then, I’m rooting for Lillian Gish in her rocking chair with her shotgun, singing Leaning on the Everlasting Arms…but I digress…

  25. DiscGrace
    November 10, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    I wear deodorant because otherwise I do not smell nice, and yes, I too have a pretty sensitive nose. This was especially bad for a while in my martial arts class because there was a dude who, for the first 6+ months I went to the class, did not wear any deodorant or antiperspirant of any kind and oh dear god did he need to. Also he would sometimes brag about how little he washed his uniform. =(

  26. November 10, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    I have a poor sense of smell. Even so, I hate any kind of artificial scent, like those stupid plug-in air fresheners. I don’t like perfume or scented candles, unless they smell like food.

    My husband has a much stronger sense of smell, and revels in it. He adores the way I smell and begs me not to shave my pits (which I’m fine with, being lazy and all). I only bathe every second day, because I have horribly dry skin. Unfortunately for my husband, and for my sex life, my vaginal smell has apparently changed due to pregnancy and my husband finds it less attractive than he used to.

  27. Bloix
    November 10, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Listerine can give your breath a metallic smell. Ask a friend to check you out.

  28. mustelid
    November 10, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    For a year or two during puberty, my sweat glands went berserk. As in, I was doing the whole daily shower/pit shave/deoderize thing, and I still got blasted for my “poor hygiene”. And don’t even ask about my sneakers back then!

    So, I’m somewhat neurotic about trying not to reek. It turns out that hand sanitizers will get rid of pit stench, so summers I have scented hand sanitizer and deoderant on hand. My work is physical, and we don’t have A/C. Pretty much no one smells decent at the end of the day.

    My sense of smell is pretty much average, and I love scented stuff…candles, lotions, perfumes, air fresheners…sorry to everyone who’s sensitive to those!

  29. Jess
    November 10, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    My sister supposedly has no sense of smell, but strong smells bother her a lot. I couldn’t wear Burt’s Bees chapstick around her when she was younger, because it would spark a tantrum similar to her texture insensitivities. (Yes, she displayed a lot of behaviors on the Asperger’s/Autism scale.) Now she has improved both in her sensitivity and tolerance. She even wears light perfumes.

    I wear deodorant and try to shower every day. When I don’t, I feel incredibly gross. Unlike my sister, I have what I think is a normal sense of smell and am not usually bothered by scents. I readily pick out certain smells from the environment, but usually the ones I consider pleasant (yeast, hogsfuel, boyfriend).

    Kelsey: My left pit smells more and my right pit sweats more. Go figure!

  30. Beth
    November 10, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    I find I can usually go one day without showering or wearing deodorant, smell-wise. Although I’m half Italian and my hair is so greasy that I HATE going without washing my hair and I’ll wash it in the sink at times if I can’t shower.

    As to perfume, sadly I love it, but I have a mild sensitivity to scent. I get a really bad headache if I go into a candle shop or a Bath & Body Works type store for too long. All the perfume burns my nose and I feel a tad queasy after about 7 minutes. So when I do buy perfume I’m really careful and tend toward citrus rather than flowery scents. I especially like Clinique Happy. It’s the one perfume I’ve never had trouble with :) When it comes to lotion I adore St Ives Cucumber Melon or a Coconut Shea Butter. They are really yummy and good, but they’re light and tend to fade once you’ve put them on.

  31. November 10, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    I’m a super smeller- it’s part of the reason why I smoke. When I’m not smoking the everyday smells of the world kill me. I can smell if someone needs to clean their ears (earwax is a particularly disgusting smell) I can smell bad breath from across a room.

    I also don’t like chemically smelling perfumes but I wear comptior sud pacific- vanille coco so I always smell like a french pastry.

  32. fishbane
    November 10, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    …Just to add… as far as second order human related scents go, I live in Brooklyn, and we get the most amazing combinations of (usually awful) smells regularly. I’m in Manhattan a few times a week, which just provides additional variety. Even putting aside the mysterious pancake smell that happened a while back, NYC is with out a doubt, the smelliest place I’ve ever lived.

    I never thought I’d treat rotting fish as background noise, before I moved here.

  33. metamanda
    November 10, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    I have pretty sensitive smell — I was the only person I knew who noticed the pervasive scent of blackberries around portland in august while zooming around in a car at 40 mph — but I’m bothered more by chemical scents or old food than most body odors. A clean sweat is fine by me, and on the right person, smells pretty hot. If I live in close quarters with someone, I can recognize their smell and tell it apart from other people’s smells. I smell more, and worse, when I’m stressed out, and I dislike that. I shave occasionally and wear deoderant most days.

    But i have to pick the deoderant scent carefully and go for the least smelly. I hate perfume, generally. Sometimes (and I know this seems weird but I swear it’s true) people can wear a scent that doesn’t really jive with their personal scent. I smell all soaps and lotions before I buy, and if they’re sweet-smelling I can’t deal with them. Sometimes, if I’m with a guy that I’m really hot for, I will stick my nose in his neck, or even near his armpit, and *sniff*. I sort of hope they find it endearing, even if it’s weird.

  34. metamanda
    November 10, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    fishbane — try bangkok.

    fish: fried, raw fresh, and rotting.
    dirty water

    it’s pretty intense.

  35. November 10, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    I wear deodorant if I’m wearing a sweater and there’s a possibility of going somewhere with a heater, and sometimes I’ll wear it if I’m biking somewhere to meet people. It’s an insurance thing. But it’s deodorant, not anti-perspirant, which freaks me out. Just the plain old liquid rock deodorant.

  36. hanna jörgel
    November 10, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I feel like a crazy person when I say synthetics and deodorant cause smelly armpits, but I think it might be true for me.

    Every Sunday morning I get paid to spend roughly 1 hour wearing a fugly red robe: 65% poly, 35% cotton.

    When I remove fugly red robe, whether I was freezing cold or so overheated I was afraid I may pass out, my pits are always drenched and sticky and smelly. I have usually applied deodorant before leaving home, but this still holds for when I have forgotten or not bothered because I showered before bed.

    I’ve ruined many a decent shirt. And I have to wear something decent because 2 out of 40 Sundays, music director says, “Oh, today we won’t wear robes.”

    I now wear a nice button-down/sweater over a tank and I strip off the outer layer in the changing room.

    P.S. Thank you to whomever had the robes cleaned over the summer. And person who insists on wearing perfume during choir, well, don’t.

  37. November 10, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    I have a fairly sensitive but idiosyncratic nose. I find the smell of horse manure to be fairly pleasant, for one thing.

    I envy everyone who can wear deodorant — I have super-super sensitive skin and scented antiperspirants make my pits itch like nobody’s business. And I can’t go without, because I’ve got those Italian sweat glands that kept my ancestors nice and cool in hot weather, but are a little overactive for modern life. If I forget, I feel like my inner arm is sticking to my side all day long, which bugs the crap out of me. Even with antiperspirant, I have to replace my t-shirts pretty often since the pit stains get prominent quickly.

    I use the Dove Ultimate Clear for sensitive skin (fragrance free). No white marks on my shirts anymore!

  38. evil fizz
    November 10, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    As an aside: my mother used to work for Estee Lauder and they hired people with noses like yours, Jill, to work in perfume production. Because the sensitivities are pretty much innate, it’s not something you can train people to do, you just have to find them.

    If I recall correctly, they started making around $75,000 per year. In 1978.

  39. November 10, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    FYI – women tend to have stronger sense of smell than men.

  40. fishbane
    November 10, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    metamanda – Nope, never lived there. I’ll take your word for it. I assume the urine, garbage and disturbingly unidentifiyable stuff gusting up from manhole covers are just a given.

    At least we have the Department of Street Juice, which comes out at night and sprays the drunk or unwary cab hopefuls with a nice slurry of congealed goo.

  41. willa
    November 10, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    If I recall correctly, they started making around $75,000 per year. In 1978.

    Holy crap that’s awesome. And reminds me somehow of that creepy cool movie/book, Perfume, with the main character who had such an extraordinary sense of smell.

    I especially like Clinique Happy.

    Oh, me too! It’s the only perfume I’ve ever really liked, and I’ve kept with it ever since. That scent really does make me happy.

  42. annejumps
    November 10, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    I was hyperaware as an adolescent of the possibility that I might smell gross despite showering and washing my hair every day (the latter is something that I’ve changed these days due both to stylist’s advice and to the drought), so I got into the habit of using the Secret with a really high amount of aluminum what’s-it-called. …See, it’s starting already. :-P

    What can I say? I’m sweaty.

  43. EG
    November 10, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    ly, Mitchum used to advertise on TV in the late 70’s/early 80’s. They had an ad featuring a female airline pilot (too busy flying planes to reapply her deodorant of course…Mitchum: So Effective You Can Skip A Day!).

    Oh my God, I loved that commercial when I was a kid! It was so great–it was about how she overslept and was rushing to the airport, and you thought she was just going to miss her plane, and it turned out she was the pilot! It was great! It was all about this terrific woman in a masculine job who works to hard to be bothered about cosmetic bullshit.

  44. Ailurophile
    November 10, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    I’m not an especially stanky person, thank doG, so I can get away with LUSH natural deodorants. I wear Powder Puff and Aromacreme and love them to pieces. I think I actually smell a lot less now that I’m not using aluminum-based antiperspirants.

    As for perfumes, I’m a Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab gal all the way. Their perfumes are essential-oil based, vegan and cruelty-free (except for the honey). I also like LUSH’s Flying Fox shower gel.

    And I must bathe or shower at least once a day. I don’t necessarily wash my hair, but I do bathe. Afterwards I apply lotion or body cream to keep my skin from drying out.

    Count me in as another sensitive nose person. A particular peeve of mine are people – especially men I’m sleeping with! – calling me prissy or overly hygienic because I bathe every day and insist on hygiene in my partners. No shower = no blowjob. It’s really that simple. :D

  45. RachaelAnne
    November 10, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    I got a taste of being a super smeller when I was pregnant. I had to pour bleach down the kitchen sink every day, wipe out the fridge every day, insist that my husband shower sometimes three times a day and brush his teeth constantly. I couldn’t stand being in public, especially to eat, because I could smell all the foods plus everyone’s body smells and it was awful. I felt like I’d been granted a superpower, and all I wanted was for it to go away. Thank God I’m back to normal now.

    I wear deodorant daily. If I skip it, I can tell in a couple of hours and by the end of the day I’m positive everyone else can too. I also notice odors of foods I’ve eaten coming out in my perspiration a day later. The worst is curry.

    When it comes to babies, I can’t stand the smell of babies who are formula-fed, but breastfed babies have a pleasant, sweet smell. Breastmilk spitup is even less vile than formula spitup (although it’s not exactly rosy).

  46. November 11, 2007 at 12:29 am

    I have a good nose, but only some smells upset me–really foul garbagey ones, cigarettes, and bad BO. The rest are noticeable, but not necessarily objectionable. I kind of enjoy exotic smells, or smells that remind me of something I can’t quite remember.

    I did once make my husband put a particularly bad Tshirt in a garbage bag…it was stinking up the whole apartment from the laundry hamper. And I once stopped crushing on a guy because he always smelled like musty clothes.

    I live in Texas, therefore sweat, therefore usually wear deodorant. Sometimes I forget, though, and it’s not particularly bad after one day. But I shower every day.

  47. Niki
    November 11, 2007 at 1:10 am

    I met a guy and thought he was charming and somewhat attractive…until I hung out with him long enough to note the distinctive smell of jeans long worn without a washing.

    I am somewhat of a crusty, but I’m also a clean freak and a scent maverick, so my dreads always smell like generic suntan lotion (I like this smell, it always reminds me of going to the beach) or the tanning lotion ‘maui babe’ which smells like coffee and gives them a nice sheen.

    I am not offended as much by crusty hippie types of smells as I am perfumes or colognes, blechhh blech blech. I can get rashes and headaches from most artificial scents. Burn some patchouli but please don’t spray the Lysol or Windex!

  48. exholt
    November 11, 2007 at 3:16 am

    My nose is about average to less sensitive than average which is a relief considering the New York and New England neighborhoods I’ve lived in with everpresent vomit from excessively inebriated college students and neighborhood alcoholics and rotting garbage rarely picked up in a regular or timely manner. After a period, they become “background noise” to my as another commenter has noted.

    However, I have a problem tolerating those who liberally applied strong perfumes, colognes, and other scents when I have to work with them in cramped cubicle settings with little ventilation. They often mix with other smells to create an strong unpleasant odor that makes working 10-14 hrs/day an ordeal. Fortunately, I got moved to another floor which didn’t have people who seemed to douse themselves in the stuff.

    Never worn deodorant or antiperspirant in my life as it was not necessary.

    Showering once a day or even every other day with the exception of excessively humid weather means that I am all set. Once in a blue moon, I may add a few drops of aftershave. For most people I’ve interacted closely with, my “smell” has never been an issue. The only negative reactions I’ve experienced is from some old hardcore techie friends who felt I’ve sold out to the “corporate dark side” by being too hygienic.

  49. Interrobang
    November 11, 2007 at 3:17 am

    I’m another person with a very sensitive sense of smell. Like the poster upthread, I can smell mice, and don’t get me started on cigarette smoke or some people’s BO. I think about the worst smell I’m likely to encounter without, say, going into a chicken barn, is the smell of someone frying things in butter, although that Calgon Body Mist stuff that smells like month-old cantaloupe is a close second.

    I say “some people’s BO” because not everyone stinks when they sweat, according to my nose. Some people smell kind of spicy and nice when they sweat. An ex-boyfriend of mine used to exude the smell of violets naturally. My current boyfriend smells a little bit like amber.

    My body chemistry changes so much with my cycle, it influences which perfumes I can wear (especially since I only wear plant- and animal-derived oil-based perfumes), what my soap and shampoo smell like on me, and what I smell like. I smell worst during menstruation, and best about mid-cycle. During menstruation, almost anything I can wear the other three weeks of the month smells rancid and foul on me.

    I can’t tolerate a lot of artificial scents, although I like lemon-scented laundry detergent (nothing washed in fragrance-free detergent ever smells clean to me, because the sweat/oil smell persists) and dish soap. I use Pears soap and Tom’s of Maine deodorant.

  50. Elisabeth
    November 11, 2007 at 7:20 am

    I hardly use deodorant. I prefer the very fragrant body butters from The Body Shop.
    One, because they smell delicious, and that smell usually lingers for a couple days afterwards. If I use deodorant, I can’t smell it anymore after the next morning.
    Two, because I have a skin that tends to go dry quickly, so I’ll kill 2 birds with one stone. (instead of buying a moisturizer/lotion and deodorant separately.)
    (I got a new one a couple weeks ago, and it smells so good! It’s called Spicy Vanilla, I think. It’s one of the newest fragrances.)

  51. November 11, 2007 at 7:23 am

    One of my jobs is in retail, & one of my biggest pet peeves is dealing with customers with poor oral hygene. It seems that Halitosis & Heavy Breathing always go hand in hand, & I’m always the sucker who gets stuck with them. It really pisses me of because I’m always brushing my teeth at the beginning of my shift & right after my lunch break out of a compulsion to avoid inflicting anything like that on others, & lo & behold, at least once a week it happens.

    I have to deal with some ding-dong whos got a millin questions about a product, has breath like they’ve just eaten the lower tract of a dead horse that’d been out in the sun for a few weeks & they insist on standing almost less than two feet away, matching me step for step as I try to get out of range while I’m shuddering & gagging & sometimes gasping for fresh air & I’m thinking “Jesus, can’t they smell it!?”

  52. evil fizz
    November 11, 2007 at 8:38 am

    & I’m thinking “Jesus, can’t they smell it!?”

    You get used to smells that are always present pretty quickly. I’d imagine that they genuinely don’t notice.

  53. mustelid
    November 11, 2007 at 10:08 am

    One thing I’ve learned: People will rarely confront someone about smelling bad (well, unless that someone’s an adolescent). A former coworker had the worst case of B.O. He smelled like he was half human, half garlic bulb, and had just finished running a marathon in 90 degree weather. I could track him by scent w/ my slightly less-than-average sniffer. It was about 8 years before someone told the guy about his problem.

    As for nonoffensive natural smells, my ex always smelled like cumin. He swore I smelled like some kinda flowers, but I think he was confusing my body wash for a natural scent.

  54. Kristen from MA
    November 11, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Well, I used to think hat I was a super smeller, but not anymore since I’ve read these comments (earwax has a smell?).

    I wear anti-persperant/deodorant, though I have to search high and low for the unscented kind. And I’d be more concerned about aspertame than aluminum in re: to Alzheimer’s.

    I do hate the smell of Murphy’s Oil Soap – it literally makes me wretch – and the slightest whiff of Raid or any other bug killer gives me a headache – the kind that knocks me off my feet. (There’s a perfume that smells just like Raid – I think Christian Dior makes it – I can’t believe it’s still on the market.)

  55. eco
    November 11, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    I have to put in my two cents- I have always wanted to use a non-aluminum deodorant, but all of the natural ones just couldn’t quite keep me fresh-smelling. I finally found a good one! Adidas 24 Hour with “Cotton Tech” is 0% aluminum, and I still smell good at the end of the day. Down side: it’s “for men” and smells manly, but it’s not too strong, so hopefully my girly perfume is what people pick up :)

  56. Lindsay
    November 11, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I’m a terrible smeller. Maybe even an anti-super smeller! I can’t smell skunk, or most flowers, and a lot of strong spicy smells or artificial perfume smells that people around me find overpowering are faint to me. My nose is blind.

    Because of that, I’m never sure what I smell like. I use unscented deodorant, shave my armpits and hope for the best, basically.

    I am also Asperger’s, and have found that each of my senses is either super-sensitive or practically nonexistent. Like, I have no sense of smell, am fairly oblivious to temperature and resistant to pain, but am hypersensitive to light and noise. If I get a migraine, I can’t always tell because my baseline photosensitivity is so high.

    (Also, I’m also intrigued to hear that earwax has a smell. Amazing.)

  57. November 11, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Everything has a smell. Fresh jasmine has to be my favorite, but I also love the smell of ballpoint pen ink. Weird, I know, but I swear it smells delicious.

  58. November 11, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Moi? Smell-obsessive. Def.

  59. exholt
    November 12, 2007 at 12:06 am

    but I also love the smell of ballpoint pen ink. Weird, I know, but I swear it smells delicious.

    Actually, considering you are a columnist and write a lot, that is not as weird as it sounds. Felt the same way before taking a high school chem course made me paranoid about the possible harmful chemicals contained within ballpoint pen ink.

  60. Natkat
    November 12, 2007 at 12:11 am

    I had a girlfriend who never wore deodorant and didn’t need to. She never smelled bad. I, on the other hand, need tons of deodorant if anyone wants to be in the same room with me. I also tend to become “immune” to a brand after I’ve worn it a while. Then I have to go through a process of trying different brands until I find one that works. In the meantime I ruin lots of clothes, and walk around with huge pit stains. It’s so embarrassing.

    I can’t use girlie deodorants. And forget about natural/herbal deodorants. Just the effort of applying it makes me sweat like I’d just run a marathon. I could never work out or even talk a brisk walk on lunch breaks. I would have to take a full shower before going back to work.

    I cannot wait for the stupid aromatherapy fad to go away. Scented candles, potpourri, incense – it all makes me want to retch. I don’t understand why some people need to have their every sense hyperstimulated at all times. I’m going to end this before I go off on a rant about loud car stereos, annoying ring tones, leaky headphones on MP3 players and coworkers who have to have a boombox or (for the love of God) a TV on while they work.

  61. Ruth
    November 12, 2007 at 1:16 am

    I’m always the sucker who gets stuck with them.

    Sorry. Really, I’m sorry. My hair is too dry to wash everyday. My skin is as well but I shower everyday anyway. I don’t shave my pits, I have no underarm hair. But OMG I sweat. My armpits, my sides, my back, my neck, my hands, I shit you not, my hair sweats. There is no product which makes me presentable in public.

    I ask people if I smell, friends and strangers, everyone denies it. I cover myself in massage oil [nag champa usually] so my skin doesn’t dry out. But I look wet and greasy and smelly. I hate to go out in public.

    Still I retain a sense of smell. I never use a timer when baking because my nose tells me when things are done.

  62. Tony
    November 12, 2007 at 4:18 am

    Thanks for the play by play.

  63. Marle
    November 12, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    I have chronic sinusitis, so I can hardly ever smell. But, I recently discovered a new treatment (saline spray, simple enough) and it’s been amazing what I can smell now. I went to the grocery store yesterday, and wow, there were so many smells! I probably sound like a dork, but I usually don’t smell anything, so it was amazing (seriously, you could have blindfolded me before and asked me if I was in the air freshener section or the deli section, and I’d have no idea). I couldn’t identify half the smells, and there were so many. And there was chocolate. I realized I hadn’t smelled chocolate since I went to the Hershey Chocolate Factory this summer. Oh, I missed it. On the down side, I’ve realized that my apartment stinks. Bah.

  64. Leeann
    November 19, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    I’m really late in replying to this, but I laughed reading about your smell-sensitivity because I’m completely the same way. That said, I stopped shaving my armpits a few years ago and I wouldn’t say they smell any worse at all. In fact, I think I often smell better now than I used to before I stopped shaving (but that could have to do with a number of things, like the dietary changes I’ve made since then as well). I do use deodorant, but it’s “natural” stuff (Tom’s of Maine – can’t recommend it highly enough, really), which I feel more comfortable about given my family history of Alzheimer’s.

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