18 February 2008, 18:26
[Guest post by Audrey]
I’ve had a few requests lately asking me to tackle the sensitive topic of body odour. Being a human being of the male-variety, I do know what it is like to sweat, stink and generally be a greasy slime-ball — particularly in the summer months. Thankfully though, I have enough common sense and knowledge to accurately battle the problem, and thus have become the clean, fresh, great-smelling boy you’ve all come to know and love!
So for all of you guys out there whose partners, friends and colleagues are suffering day in, day out from the unpleasant stench of your bodily odours, I offer my services to help sculpt and groom you from the foul-smelling beasties that you are into the crisp clean princes we all know you really are inside.
Let’s talk about sweats, baby!
Let’s talk about you and me! Sweat is, essentially, our body’s automatic air-conditioner. It will switch itself on when needed in an effort to cool our bodies down and keep us comfortable and functioning properly. However, while our body cools itself all over with the usual sweat that is slightly salty but generally inoffensive, our apocrine glands (commonly known as the ‘sweat glands’) get busy secreting a mixture of proteins, fats and amino acids, which combine to make a far more toxic substance. These apocrine glands are situated everywhere that body hair grows abundantly (i.e., armpits and certain other places I shan’t mention), which unfortunately results in the funk that is no doubt situated in all your hairiest bits.
You’ll notice that these bits are in the dark, clammy places of your body and have a low amount of air-flow due to the way our bodies are shaped and the clothes that we wear. These substances pair with these awful conditions to make the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which grow and multiply at alarming rates. And that, my friends, is what makes the horrible odours. And if that’s not bad enough, the bacteria that like to breed in our hairy-bits are actually scientifically proven to be more foul-smelling than the organisms that thrive in the same places on women, explaining why we are far more offensive to people’s noses than our female counterparts who always seem to smell of strawberries and cream even after three hours on the squash courts and an hour in the sauna.
A good offence is the best defence
Don’t be fooled though – it’s not just a case of the hot-n-bothereds that can trigger these apocrine glands into secretion overdrive. Studies have shown that these can be switched on by a number of different things. Emotions (nerves, fear, stress etc.), certain foods and spices (most lads call these the ‘curry sweats’) and an excess of drugs and alcohol can all increase the amount of toxins in your bloodstream. So while your sweat glands will be pumping out natural toxins throughout the day (one to two litres a day on average), exposure to stressful periods, hot foods or having a night out and pumping even more toxins into your body will only make the problem worse.
Just think – your body is designed to manage a certain amount of bad stuff: toxins, fats, germs and the like. It’s inevitable to encounter and ingest these on any given day. But if you up your intake of these, your body needs to switch to other ways to separate the good stuff from the bad stuff and then dispose of it. The rest of your body’s already at full capacity doing it’s regular job, and your body has to get this gunk out of your system somehow, right? Well, your skin is the biggest organ on your body, so it utilises this and disposes of these toxins by letting them leak out of the pores in your skin. Slowly, all over your body, you’re literally leaking all the rubbishy stuff you’ve ingested in your sweat. And that, of course, has odours. Disgusting, right?
The trick to combat this though is a good offence: keeping yourself clean, healthy and well-maintained is the only sure-fire way to
minimalise the risk of smelling like a sweaty taxi-driver in the middle of the season’s biggest heat wave on the way to the dump after eating curry for lunch. Good personal hygiene and a some semblance of moderation will always stand you in good stead to stay clean and pleasant.
Cleanliness is Godliness
Some people favour an evening shower before bed. And I do admit, freshening yourself up before you hop in your jammies is great, and you should ALWAYS have a pre-bedtime skin, eyes and teeth routine in place. Unfortunately though, sleep is our body’s time of healing and revitalising itself. A good night’s sleep can cure just about anything, so just imagine how much your different organs are working while you’re unconscious. Your body works, the world around us keeps going, we get hot and sweat or our partner snuggles up to us with their gross germs and sweat and sleep-breath and by morning we’re almost as dirty as when we were the night before, rendering our pre-bedtime shower useless in preparation for the upcoming day.
So set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier. Jump out of bed and get straight in that shower. It’ll help wake you up (Lord knows I myself need that help most mornings), and it’ll have you fresh and squeaky clean for the day ahead. Besides, every day you should have a nice crisp shirt and clean underpants and all of that – who’d want to muck all that niceness up with a slimy, dirty guy inside?
Now, showers aren’t just about doing blowfishes on the shower screens, or singing Elvis numbers into the end of the massage nozzle (both of which are still fun to do though). Shower time is clean-yourself time so make sure that’s what you’re doing in there. Get lathered up and rinsed off thoroughly. Soap is okay – but keep in mind that soaps are really generic and full of chemicals that can actually be bad for your skin type and dry you out. Do a little research, find your skin type and get yourself a good exfoliating scrub for the shower.
What? Oh yes, I’m sorry. For those boys who unfortunately haven’t encountered this word before:
Exfoliating will, among other things, remove dirt and dead skin cells that accumulate on the surface of the skin. We all have a layer of dead skin and general filth over us (some more so than others) and removing it by way of exfoliation will make your skin smooth and healthy as well as looking better. The even better news is that there are a range of amazing products available that will not only exfoliate your skin, but will also leaving you smelling rugged and manly and great. Personally, I favour The Body Shop Brazil Nut Body Scrub. Even when I sweat throughout the day, it just smells like brazil nut, which is awesome. But go searching, and find a scent that you like and that defines you.
Do keep in mind though that exfoliation shouldn’t be done every day – just like holding a drill, swinging an axe and using a hammer hardens up the skin on your hands and causes calluses, exfoliating too often is actually bad for your skin in the same way, and the abrasion will toughen your skin in a bad way. Aim to do it a few times a week, and use a body butter or shower scrub and loofah (I have a black loofah, so still keep my man-points up!) for the off-days.
Le routine d’post-shower (after shower routine)
“Now, in the cologne department, most men overdo it. Americans practically spray it on with a crop-duster. My rule: Nothing above the neck. Although, I do like a little splash on ‘Big Ben’... You never know where the day make take you”. – Jude Law, Alfie
I think ‘routine’ is the key word here. I’ve been lucky enough to recently move into a bedroom with a very functional wardrobe, so that all the products I use in my morning routine are on a shelf next to my ties, at my fingertips as I agonise about what to wear for the day. Moisturiser for my face, deodorant for my underarms, floss for my teeth and hair product are all neatly stacked beside my keys, sunglasses and wallet. Time management, people!
Deodorant is however the most essential. This is a non-negotiable, fellows. Not only do deodorants mask your musky odours, they also contain chemicals specifically designed and included to fight the bacteria we spoke of earlier. So don’t be lazy and disgusting and skip this all-important step. Come on, say it with me: “Out of the shower, under each arm, every single day. Out of the shower, under each arm, every single day.” That’s it! You’ve got it. Hell, while we’re at it, throw a spray deodorant into your man-bag for when you need that mid-afternoon spray to freshen yourself up.
“Time to musk up.”
Cologne is, on the other hand, a place where you have a little leeway and get to call some of your own shots. What appeals to some might not appeal to another, so I’m not going to lecture you on which aftershaves you should rush out and buy (though if anybody rushes out to buy me the newest Dior Homme, that’d be nice). I will give you a few things to think about, however.
Applying the cologne is easily overdone — so don’t fill your bath tub and splash around in it at all costs. Most guys think cologne is meant to be sprayed to mask a more offensive smell, like body odour or cigarettes. Newsflash, gentleman – this is not high school, you’re not a teenage girl, and you’re not carting a can of spray perfume around to try and hide the fact you’ve been having a ciggie behind the bike shed at lunch time. Cologne is meant to mix with your body heat and your body’s natural chemicals to create an enticing aroma. Nobody should be able to smell it at forty paces either – it should be a scent that gently tugs at a girl’s nostrils when she’s up close on a dance floor or in a loving embrace. That’s when she should be finding out what you smell like. It’ll eventually seal itself into your clothes and your possessions and before long, you have yourself a signature scent without having to be hosed down to stop offending everyone at the office.
Aftershave is expensive, don’t get me wrong. The designers make a mint, hire beautiful models to flog it out to us, and it seems every celebrity has their name attached to some spray these days. Unfortunately, I’m a firm believer that with cologne you really do get what you pay for. A nice name-brand scent can set you back a few hundred dollars but if bought from a reputable dealer will have the best ingredients and the right proportion of chemicals to keep you smelling good without the risk of fatally damaging your skin. Shop around, take advantage of sales, and make sure you buy proper merchandise. You’ll find the fakes hocked on street corners and in back alleys aren’t always what they’re supposed to be and can have alarming levels of dangerous chemicals. So be careful. If smelling good is too much of a strain on the ol’ hip-pocket, find a scent you really like at your local department store and then find one of those ‘inspired by _____’ perfume stores that offer similar smelling perfumes at a fraction of the price.
Extra For Experts:
Basenotes – In my opinion, basenotes is the website to learn more about fragrances, get reviews and suggestions on products. Always my first stop if a friend mentions a new aftershave I might like.
I Subscribe – Like their female counterparts, men’s fashion/style magazines commonly contain advertisements for different fragrances. Rip them out, pull the tab and see if you like something. If you do, go buy it, and stash this magazine strip in your underwear drawer to keep it smelling good.
Freebie List — A good source of free samples you can get your hands on, and a lot of cosmetics companies promote their new products this way. The best way to decide on something is to try before you buy!