What should a man really smell like? There is a very clean and simple answer to this question, and it is hidden somewhere in this sentence. Find it yet? The answer is clean and simple. To accomplish this, you need to put down the Axe body spray and step away from the exotic cologne. Smelling like a man does not mean you should smell like a dirty gym sock, nor does it mean you should smell like a dirty gym sock that has been drowned in potpourri. When I think of what guys should smell like, I think of a classic scent — one that perhaps reminds you of your father or grandfather. Some great smell that elicits an emotional response of respect, warmth, and protection.
A classic man’s scent isn’t over-complicated with layers of flowers and aerosol. It is clean and simple. Follow these steps to ensure that you won’t be turning heads in the wrong direction when passing through a crowd.
1. You stink! Figure out why
Whether you like it or not, if you exert yourself and start to sweat, you will end up smelly. Different people end up smelling differently. The severity of that stink can be caused by numerous factors, including genetics, garments, detergents, diet, smoking habits, and environment, to name a few. Get an honest assessment from a friend or partner to determine if you have an odor issue. If you are emitting an extremely foul body odor, try to find the culprit.
Throw away older workout clothes that may have gotten the permanent funk embedded in them (it rubs off on you). Change up your laundry detergent. Maybe lay off the late night garlic chips. If you smoke, quit. Diet will impact your body odor, but occasionally being a little stinky is worth it. (If you are ever in Pensacola, Florida, get a gyro from Hip Pocket Deli. Just don’t plan on speaking or being near people for 36 hours. You will permeate onion and garlic — but you won’t regret it.) Finding the culprit of the stink is easier than attempting to mask it.
2. A clean base
Guys often think smelling good has to do with the scents we put on our bodies. But if your body isn’t clean, you’re just planting flowers on a garbage heap. Showering with a good soap that cleans without being overly fragrant is essential. I prefer a good old-fashion basic bar of Zest. You may like some of the newer body washes, but stay away from anything with too much scent. That scent will start to release as your body heats up throughout the day. Another note on showering: It is not OK to go to the gym and then head back to work without showering. Layering deodorant on top of gym stink is gross. Buy a pair of flip flops and use the gym shower. If you can’t do that, then exercise after work or at a different time.
3. Deodorant (the pits of despair)
Everyone knows that your armpits are big stink culprits. Deodorant is a must. Again, simple is better. I use Old Spice Classic, which is what my dad used to use. When I opened a container of it in the store about eight years ago and took a whiff, childhood memories of my dad rushed through my nose. I thought, “What a classic scent.” I didn’t want my kids’ memories triggered by some flowery, overbearing deodorant, so I wear the same light, classic scent that my dad did. I stay away from antiperspirants, but go for it if that’s what works best for you.
4. After the shave
Here again, classic is king. Find an aftershave that reminds you of a classic man. Maybe Old Spice, maybe Afta, or even Aqua Velva. Aftershaves are all different and are made for different skin types, so you may have to experiment to find one that works best for you. Whether it’s an old-school, alcohol-based product, a balm, or a gel, find one that is not too overpowering.
Here is where many people go wrong. Finding the right cologne is very difficult. Cologne smells slightly different on everyone, and it will blend with the scents of your body. Heavy, flowery, oily colognes will last all day (and that’s not necessarily a good thing). When you go to the gym in the afternoon that oily cologne will heat up and release the scent mixed with your body sweat and odor. It can be unpleasant. So having a lighter scent that fades though the day will be beneficial in that case. Try small samples for a week at a time until you find the one you like (or more importantly that both you and your significant other like).
6. Keep your distance
The biggest problem with any applied scent is quantity. If I can smell you from over five feet away, you have too much on. Please, pretty please, don’t marinate in your cologne. Less is more.
7. How much is too much?
With all these different ways to stink up the place, how do you know if you’ve gone too far? Well it’s easy. Don’t do it all. A good soap and deodorant may be enough for you. If it is, then pick a scentless aftershave and skip the cologne. Maybe you like your cologne, so get a scentless antiperspirant and a perfume-free soap. In any case, you should not have four distinct smells going on at the same time. It’s too much. Following these steps will surely help you beat back that stink.
One more thing — don’t forget about your breath.