The FT Guide: How to smell good at all times

To smell good at all times takes work and diligence, but it also takes a little understanding of how smell works and how it relates to attraction. So buckle up, here comes a bit of science:

When you pick up on a smell (either consciously or subconsciously) there are things in the top part of your nose (called olfactory neurones) that send an impulse along a nerve (the olfactory nerve) straight to the brain. These impulses arrive at the olfactory bulb where they are processed and then sent around the brain. This is called the limbic system, and it’s the part of the brain that notices when you (or anybody else) smells good (or bad).

The limbic system, scientists hypothesise, is an old and primitive part of brain that has been present since mammals began to exist. Because of this, the effects of it are often subconscious and pre-conscious. Without the science language, that means that smell – without us realising it – can play a huge part in creating moods, emotions, behaviours and memories.

Now, what does that all mean?

Well, first and foremost, it means that your smell and your natural scent can be deal breakers when it comes to – using scientific terms – finding a mate.

‘But what about pheromones?’, I hear you ask.

Well, that’s complicated. Scientists have noted that, in the animal kingdom, pheromones play a large part in finding a mate. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that humans use pheromones – it’s really just pseudoscience that’s been pushed by fragrance companies to sell more perfume.

But the basic idea is true – we do place a large subconscious importance on the smell of our partners – we want them to smell good. As we’ve already outlined, even as we’ve evolved as a species, we’ve kept hold of that primal, primitive connection to smells and scents. Scientists even think that we are attracted to the body odour of a partner whose immune system compliments ours, making sure that our children are as healthy and hardy as possible.

Now, this tells us two things:

Firstly, that our natural body odour is quite effective for finding a partner by itself. (In moderation, B.O doesn’t float anybody’s boat. At least, not initially…)

Secondly, that smelling good is a great way to make yourself more attractive.

That’s why it’s important to make sure that you always smell good – and here are our top tips for making sure that limbic systems everywhere respond to your scent.

How to smell good at all times: A step by step guide.

Step One: Shower and change your clothes regularly

Surprised? Probably not. But, before we get into the more detailed stuff, it’s important to start with the basics.

Shower every day. Properly. Not just a quick rinse, but make sure that you wash all the stale body odour from under your arms, your chest and your hair. Hair and skin collect sweat and – when that sweat goes stale – begin to smell. That’s not what you want – you want your natural scent to come through, not the stale version.

Your clothes gather up these smells too – if you’re going to wear a shirt two days on the trot, make sure you’ve got a t-shirt on underneath to absorb the sweat.

And, under no circumstances, wear that t-shirt again before it has been washed!

Step Two: Use an inoffensive-smelling antiperspirant

With Christmas just gone, there’s a good chance that you’ve got a few cans of Lynx lying around. Do yourself a favour and throw them in the bin – unless you want to smell like a desperate teenager at the school disco.

Antiperspirants are a much better choice - they temporary reduce the amount of sweat that secretes from your pores, meaning that you hold off the dreaded B.O for longer. As long as you’re not planning on hitting the gym (or a particularly heavy sweater), then an antiperspirant should sort you out for the day and leave you to flaunt your natural scent (or your signature scent…) and smell good.

Step Three: Find your signature scent

Finding your signature scent is not something we can give you advice on – it’s all about finding a fragrance that’s right for you. Go to a fragrance shop, ask to smell things you wouldn’t normally try, ask to smell similar scents to the one you already use. Keep looking until you find one that you really like and that goes well with your natural smell.

However, there are a few tips to help you find a scent that will make you stand out and smell good:

• If the weather is warmer, then go for a lighter fragrance. It doesn’t have to be feminine or flowery, but something with a hint of citrus goes well with the summer weather. When you’re in flip-flops and shorts, you don’t want to be smelling of musk and pine.

• If you’re confident and want to stand out from the crowd, go for something that gets away from all of the traditionally manly smells. We’re not saying to pinch your Mum’s perfume, but something that has a bit more sophistication or is a little softer than the traditional ‘wood, musk and dirt’ men’s fragrances can add a new layer or mystery and attraction. (Hugo Boss Bottled Intense is a good place to start if you’re looking to dip your toe – it has floral and citrus top notes, but has a base of traditionally masculine scents.)

Step Four: Not too much, just enough

Have you ever been sitting at your desk and then had your nostrils assaulted by the strong smell of musk? It’s usually somebody called Dave who likes to bath in Aramis before work every day because that’s how he used to smell when he went clubbing in the early 80s. Not good, right?

That’s what you want to avoid. You want the smell to delicately and subtly draw people’s attention, not cosh them over the head with it.

Apply a few sprays to your chest and lower neck – and perhaps a few to your wrists or back of the neck.

After that, stop. Less is more.

(Unless you're using eau de toilette, which is weaker. You might need to reapply during the day if you want to keep your scent topped up.)

Step Five: It’s not all about fragrance

Aside from picking a fragrance, you also need to make sure that you maintain your hygiene. Cleaning your teeth properly twice a day, flossing and using mouthwash prevent horrible breath. (It’s also a good idea to carry gum, especially if you drink a lot of coffee or smoke.)

Oh, and avoid smelly foods like garlic or onion before a big date too – they hang around for over 12 hours and escape through your pores. Eau de Bolognese isn’t what you’re going for.