Gee, my hair does smell terrific!
March 20, 2012 1:07 PM   Subscribe

I smell fine, but I'd like to smell gooood. Can you help?

Every so often, I run across a person who doesn't seem to be wearing perfume but smells extra-fresh and clean, as though their shampoo had a self-renewing scent. It's subtle, but it's pleasantly there, less assertive than I expect perfume would be, so I assume it's not.

I guess I missed that day in school where they handed out the "smell better" worksheets. I wear lotion, but it quickly fades, and I am generally a Dr. Bronner's and Ivory kind of girl - is there a perfume or scented product you'd recommend that might make passersby say "Gee your hair smells terrific?"
posted by deliriouscool to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (27 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
You might like Thierry Mugler cologne.
posted by KateViolet at 1:09 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think it might be from someone that's wearing multiple products from the same line (shampoo, conditioner, treatments, styling products), and that layers the scent.
posted by HopperFan at 1:10 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't recommend a particular scent, as I'm more of a woodsy-oriental person myself (as opposed to clean-citrus), but I flip my head over in the morning and spritz one spray of perfume on the underside of my hair after I've dried/styled it. That way it releases slightly whenever you tuck your hair behind your hair, brush it over your shoulder, etc. I have to say, since I started doing this, I have gotten *a lot* of nice compliments on the way I smell now--more so than when I just did perfume on neck and wrists.
posted by stellaluna at 1:12 PM on March 20, 2012 [12 favorites]

Things that aren't perfume but contribute to how someone smells:
laundry detergent

Stop by a drug/grocery store after running into one of those good smelling people and see if you can ID the deodorant/detergent.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:15 PM on March 20, 2012

I figured out a secret a few years ago: different different people smell different even when wearing the same 'scents' because they have different chemistries.

Experiment with different scents. You'll know you found it not when you like the scent (you will eventually get used to it and stop noticing it), but when you hear more compliments from those around you about how you smell. Go to a nice department store in the morning and put on a new scent everytime. You'll hear about it when you've found it.
posted by karathrace at 1:16 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

People respond to how each other's bodies smell, not just to what products someone is using. That might not be what's going on here -- but it also might be.
posted by grobstein at 1:18 PM on March 20, 2012

I think the amount of meat in a person's diet can also be a factor in how he or she smells. Depending how sensitive one's nose is and the amount of meat the person in question eats, it can be kind of noticeable.
posted by devymetal at 1:26 PM on March 20, 2012

Also keep in mind that you very well might be one of those people who smells good in that way, but you're used to your own scent so you don't notice it.
posted by something something at 1:35 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ever since I began using Lush's shampoo (Daddy-O, which is violet-scented, in particular) I have gotten the most compliments on how I smell. And this is even for someone who wears perfume daily. On the days I wash my hair, or when I let it down in public, I always get at least one compliment on how good I smell, even from strangers. It's not overwhelming, but it stays well.

I used to spray perfume in my hair, but even that didn't work as well as the Lush shampoos.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:44 PM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

I use argan oil in my hair and have been told that I smell good, despite the fact that I'm a dirty smoker.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:47 PM on March 20, 2012

I find myself asking/wondering the same as you. My curiosity got me so far that I would ask people what products they used when I noticed they smelled good..

Scents that I was gravitating to were Tide products, Dove (pure white soap), and Pantene/Loreal. I discovered that most people were using bar soap, which after switching from body wash to bar soap I found that I do emanate a smell now. No idea why that made such a difference.

Try switching up your products a bit. Spend time sniffing stuff at the supermarket. Buy things that smell nice, but also strong. Seconding what a few people said already.. when I switched up my scents every now and then I noticed them more. You can alternate shampoos/soaps/laundry detergents every now and then.

It sounds totally bizarre and you might look a bit funny to other when your in the store shopping for these things, but this definitely worked for me and worth it!
posted by melizabeth at 1:52 PM on March 20, 2012

Hair seems to hold scent better than skin; find a shampoo and conditioner you love. You probably won't be able to smell your own hair, but others will smell it on you when they're in close range.

Clothing retains scent, too, and the fragrance won't be as affected by your body chemistry. This is probably part of why the "spray in air and walk through the mist" method of perfume application often works a lot better than spraying/dabbing the wrists or neck.

Perfume-wise? Samples are your new best friend. Go to Sephora or a department store and get samples of as many different scents as you can. Tell the salesperson you're looking for a good "daytime" or "everyday" or "office" scent - these are code for "subtle and clean." There are a lot of fragrances that have a light "you-only-better" scent. (I recommend avoiding anything in a bright or eye-catching bottle, or anything with a celebrity's name attached to it; these are more often than not syrupy and cloying.)

For specific fragrances, I love the Gendarme line, and quite a few of Philosophy's fragrances are good. I also like Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, TokyoMilk Waltz, Demeter Snow, and Lush Breath of God (which is stronger and smokier than anything else I've linked, but still wearable). But I have my own specific tastes, and what works for me may not work for you.

Another option is to run with the lotion: carry a small bottle of one you really like and reapply it a few times throughout the day. It'll fade, but most fragrances do anyway. I get more compliments on just-applied lotion than on perfume.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:55 PM on March 20, 2012

If you wear perfume or cologne of any kind, sprinkle or spritz a little onto your outwear and scarves as well (after making sure that it won't stain the material, of course.). It also doesn't hurt to wear the same fragrance over and over again until people associate the scent with you. My friend wears Hermes Kelly Caleche almost exclusively during the fall and winter. She gets stopped all the time by strangers complimenting her perfume, and her scarves and coats smell divine, even though Kelly Caleche is not a perfume that I would wear.
posted by peripathetic at 2:05 PM on March 20, 2012

Every so often, I run across a person who doesn't seem to be wearing perfume but smells extra-fresh and clean, as though their shampoo had a self-renewing scent.

Pretty much every time someone hugs me or gets in my personal space they say something like this to me; it is because my hair holds on to scent really strongly. (Double edged sword - it holds on scents like secondhand smoke really strongly too.). The scent itself is just regular shampoo so I don't think you need to find a special scent. For me I think it is because I have a LOT of hair and it is really thick. So my suggestion would be to grow your hair out! Or, wash your clothes with something that smells really fresh, clean and good. I second the idea above that clothes (like hair) hold onto scent way better than skin.
posted by cairdeas at 2:25 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

For some reason, I've recently been getting compliments on how I smell only when I'm using Studio Line pumping volume spritz. Yeah, I don't know, it just works with my hair or the rest of my scents or something? Maybe tasty hairspray is the answer.
posted by jabes at 2:31 PM on March 20, 2012

Is it the soapy, fresh-from-the-shower smell you are drawn to? I love that smell. I agree with those above who said laundry products... Bounce fabric softener in particular, and any fresh-scented laundry soap.

Also, Demeter makes a fragrance called Laundromat that smells exactly like that. And Philosophy's Pure Grace also smells soapy and clean (although it turned "funny" on me... not bad, but not the exact soapy-fresh scent I had been craving. YMMV.)
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:55 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try lavender sachets in your closet and drawers. Fresh and not too perfume-y or sweet.

I use Pacifica soaps, which leave a pleasant fragrance on the skin (and make your bathroom smell nice). And Speziali Fiorentini's Rosa e Mora lotion has a lovely lingering smell. A good rose or sandalwood or orange oil dabbed very lightly at your nape may give you that all-day waft that stellaluna mentions.

If you want to get into perfumes, try Jo Malone. They're all fruit/flower scents that are very nicely done. (I wear orange blossom on my body and fig/cassis in my hair, NOM.) They also love to give out samples.
posted by Specklet at 2:56 PM on March 20, 2012

Here's what I've found is most effective for me (I'm a guy, BTW, but the principles should be the same):

1. Shower with Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap. I find this is a really good "palate cleanser" and actually allows whatever scents I choose to really stand out with minimal application. The peppermint smell doesn't linger which is good.

2. Leave-in conditioner.

3. Face lotion with a light scent. Get your neck and ears too.

4. A light cologne/perfume. Two pumps at upper torso level, with some item of clothing on. This will keep you from leaving a scent trail but if someone gets close enough they will probably enjoy the experience.

As for scents to try, everyone is different. I can tell you that one of my favorite scents that my wife uses is "Japanese Cherry Blossom" from Bath & Body Works. It's cheap but very pleasant to smell. We also like Armani Sensi which is more of an evening scent and is sadly out of production.

Pro-tip: you can make your own leave-in conditioner by simply watering down regular condition and putting it in a spray bottle.
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:05 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

FYI - Not everyone likes this, even if the scent is mostly subtle. Especially if you're in a situation where people have to speak or sing regularly.
posted by amtho at 3:18 PM on March 20, 2012

I sometimes wear this perfume that is supposed to smell like fresh laundry. I like it but try to use it very sparingly so that it's not overwhelming to other people.
posted by k96sc01 at 3:23 PM on March 20, 2012

There is a BPAL oil that is based on an old voodoo formula, if that doesn't make you uncomfortable, called Has No Hanna (scroll down the page to find it).

It is very similar to Philosophy Amazing Grace, and also, to my nose, Ivory Soap.

It has the advantage of not having all that spray perfume propellant/alchohol/chemical stuff ... the reason I stopped wearing 'traditional' perfumes. The scent stays but doesn't broadcast or overwhelm; you could also use drops of it to beef up your lotion fragrance.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 3:28 PM on March 20, 2012

1) I always got "your hair smells so good!" comments when I used Garnier Fructise shampoo and conditioner.

2) My boyfriend has a deodorant that is gawdawfully strong when he puts it on in the morning, but smells fantastic (and nice and mild) at the end of the day. I personally use unscented deodorant, but I'm sure there's ladies brands that are pretty strong.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:13 PM on March 20, 2012

I am sorry to say this as I'm such a perfume person myself but I think my husband, the Bear, smells like this. I often walk up to him and just sniff him. His secret is that he is a really, really clean man. By that I mean that he washes often, showering once a day and a second time too if he gets sweaty. He also washes all his clothes, including jeans, after one wearing. And he doesn't just wear the same clothes all day: he usually starts in his bathrobe, then puts on jeans and a shirt, and usually changes again into a T shirt and another pair of jeans at the end of the day. I like his choice of soap (sandalwood) and the occasional aftershave he wears and all, but the real reason he smells so great is all that clean skin and clothing.

Now, if your interest is what perfumes/soaps/shampoos smell great, I'd give you a different answer, with more about what I like to use, but I get the feeling you're looking for what really makes a person smell clean. And all I can say is -- emulating my Bear.
posted by bearwife at 4:34 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I use L'Oreal Kids grape-scented conditioner (in the purple fish bottle; you'll find it at any supermarket). I comb it through my hair before I rinse, and I generally find that I still smell like grape soda at the end of the day. Might not be what you're looking for, but I love it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:53 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Smoke Gauloises and use Aveda shampoo
posted by jcrcarter at 5:51 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty picky about perfumes and I try to be sensitive to people who have scent allergies. I often wear Not a Perfume by Juliette Has a Gun. It's synthetic ambergris, which is the base note of many perfumes, with no additional scents. It smells different on everyone who wears it. Judging from the compliments, many people like it.
posted by workerant at 8:38 AM on March 21, 2012

No personal experience, but why not try the real thing?
posted by neurodoc at 11:55 PM on March 26, 2012

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