How to smell good without cologne?
August 29, 2007 5:14 PM   Subscribe

As a guy, how do you smell really good without the use of cologne? Some people, I've noticed, have a great fresh smell to them, but I'm not sure how they get it. I try using scented soaps, but it doesn't give nearly as strong an effect. Is it lotion? Does skin type matter?
posted by Malad to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
It's quite possible that it's their shampoo more than anything else. Find a pleasing scented shampoo and let it actually stay on your hair for a long time in the shower, rather than just scrub-scrub-rinse like I always do lately because I'm in a hurry.

Whenever I've gotten comments about smelling nice, it has been my shampoo/hair typically... Oddly enough, I use Head & Shoulders.. which has always surprised those who commented on how nice my hair smells.
posted by twiggy at 5:17 PM on August 29, 2007

Clean clothes, good shampoo, avoid using handsoap in the shower (I can't explain why, but it works for me). Shampoo your pits and your pubes. Dress to avoid sweating. Use underarm stick.

I've never used cologne in my life, and I'm led to understand that I always smell good.
posted by solid-one-love at 5:27 PM on August 29, 2007

I'm not a guy, but I've dated them. Most of the time it's a nice-smelling deodorant.
posted by bluishorange at 5:34 PM on August 29, 2007

In the case of my best-smelling friend, it's fabric softener (on his clothes).
posted by xo at 5:35 PM on August 29, 2007

nice smelling deodorant seems to be what i get comments on. although when i tell them 'oh, it's just right guard' and they reply 'oh, my dad wears that too' it makes you wonder...
posted by noloveforned at 5:37 PM on August 29, 2007

handsoap in the shower (I can't explain why, but it works for me)

Probably because handsoap is quite harsh on your skin, which forces your skin to go into overdrive replenishing itself with natural oils that might have a bit of an odour to them.
posted by randomstriker at 5:38 PM on August 29, 2007

Agree with those who put shampoo high on the list. But I think a lot of body odor has to do with what you eat on a regular basis. When Mr. Smalltown Girl goes on a cheeseburger kick, I can practically smell grease oozing from his pores. When he's eating his regular cereal and milk (a favorite meal), he smells lots sweeter. Having said that, I also think pheromones can be the deal-maker. And I do love Mr. SG's pheromones, even after 30-something years with him.
posted by Smalltown Girl at 5:41 PM on August 29, 2007

Getting clothes and linens truly clean makes a huge difference to the general scent of one's person and one's home. Even freshly laundered clothes can give off a bit of an off-tone whiff when one's body heat warms them up. When you're folding your still-warm laundry, stick your face into it and take a big whiff. Does it make you say "aaaaah!"?

If the answers you get here incline you to various lotions, soaps, and unguents, you might try choosing different products with similar base notes (e.g., lotion, soap, and hair product all with herbal notes), which should result in a focused, um, personal fragrance, rather than a muddied tangle of scents.

That said, when I first met my fella, his scent made me weak in the knees, though he uses only grocery-store bar soap for washing (even his hair), no cologne, no shampoo, no scented deodorant. Some people just have a great smell. I knew one guy who smelled faintly of pears. Lovely.
posted by Elsa at 5:43 PM on August 29, 2007

Eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.

Wear predominantly natural fibers (cotton, linen, etc).

Bathe daily with products (shampoo, body wash, etc) including citrus and primarily natural ingredients.

Relax and smile more often (seriously!).
posted by myrrh at 5:52 PM on August 29, 2007

Between the detergent you use on your clothes, your shampoo and deodorant, you should definitely be able to achieve a delightful smell without cologne. Some people smell awesome just from their fabric softener or dryer sheets!
posted by sneakin at 5:52 PM on August 29, 2007

As a girl I much prefer the smell of beautiful clean freshly washed hair on a man (well my husband!) than any cologne :) Combine that with clean clothes and a low-scent deoderant and all you can smell is the fresh-shampoo-smell, yum!

Although I must admit Tommy is a very nice smelling cologne for special occasions, fresh and citrusy and quite subtle. There's nothing worse than a strong cologne (or perfume!) that you can smell half-way across the room, especially if you're allergic to the stuff which many people are.
posted by katala at 6:24 PM on August 29, 2007

there is a gillette gel aftershave, it fades later to just the right barely there smell.
posted by mattbucher at 6:33 PM on August 29, 2007

You're pretty used to how you smell, so you may think you don't smell as strong as others think you do. Mrs. Advicepig used to love how my clothes smell, but now that we do laundry together my clothes don't "smell like Advicepig anymore."
posted by advicepig at 7:21 PM on August 29, 2007

This is driving me nuts: the question reminded me that I'd read in numerous places of some famous writer (or poet or maybe just a famous wit) who was known to have a strangely sweet attractive odor. Later speculation was that he had diabetes or something along those lines. Does anyone else remember this? I was thinking Oscar Wilde, but I can't find any reference to what he smelled like, so maybe it wasn't him.
posted by hattifattener at 8:55 PM on August 29, 2007

get a wonderful french milled soap (they last the longest) with a masculine smell that you like (musk, almond, etc). It will probably be too subtle for you to smell on yourself, but the girls will notice.
posted by Lylo at 9:29 PM on August 29, 2007

The workout clothes thread reminded me of a tip for you: make sure that your bath towels are clean and dry before you use them. Musty towel smell permeates soap, cologne and clothes and it will undo any efforts you make to smell good. You can re-use your towels once or twice, but only if you hang them up to dry (in a room where they will dry) as soon as you're done with them and launder them frequently. No picking towels up off the floor and wiping them all over your (formerly) clean self!

Sorry if this seems specific to the point of being axe-grind-y, but I encounter enough guys who smell like musty towels to guess that this is maybe something that isn't intuitive to some.

So, that as well as wearing clean clothes and using a nice smelling soap and shampoo ought to make you smell right appetizing. Hope this helps!
posted by AV at 9:40 PM on August 29, 2007

Note about the sauna comment earlier:

UC Berkeley Wellness Letter (2004): "Despite claims you may hear, a sauna or steam room won’t cleanse your skin or remove “toxins” or “impurities” from the body. The heat does enhance blood flow near the skin’s surface and may thereby give you a “healthy glow,” but the sweating won’t cleanse the body of bacteria as effectively as a warm shower with soap."
posted by nervestaple at 9:54 PM on August 29, 2007

Most guys I know who smell really good claim it's just their deodorant. I vote for old spice.
posted by radioamy at 11:32 PM on August 29, 2007

I spent a few years a long time ago as a vegetarian. I smelt way better. I still find that my smell changes depending on how much meat and dairy I am eating (and not for the better).

Also, healthy people just smell better.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:52 PM on August 29, 2007

Do all the squeaky clean stuff suggested

Drink more water (8-12 glasses per day)

Reduce intake of spicy and intense foods (like cumin)

Get some excercise

You'll be amazed at how much your scent changes.
posted by ScarletPumpernickel at 1:42 AM on August 30, 2007

I use a glycerin-based, ginger-lime shave soap and brush for shaving. It's a nice, light, clean citriusy smell that is only strong enough to cover short distances. Quite nice, so i'm told.
posted by craven_morhead at 6:49 AM on August 30, 2007

Baby powder.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:06 AM on August 30, 2007

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