How to Know What You Smell

To get people to buy products like deodorant and mouthwash, advertisers first had to convince us that we all smell bad. It worked, and it’s a good thing: most people started using these toiletries and many others to get rid of these “bad” smells. But sometimes they don’t work, or maybe you think you don’t need them. In these cases, the chances are that you might smell bad without even knowing it, but it’s actually quite difficult to tell.

The human nose can pick up over one trillion different odors , but it’s not as good at picking up your own odors. There is always a chance that you will smell an unpleasant smell and simply will not notice it. If this is your fear, here’s how you can find out for sure.

If you just lower your nose and breathe in the air around your body, you probably won’t smell your body. You’ll think everything’s okay and spend your day smelling like something lives in your shirt, has a family, died, was eaten by your cubs, and then they all died. Why? It is almost impossible to smell yourself, even if you smell an unpleasant smell. The receptors in your nose, which usually respond to your own scent of odors, are practically turned off after being bombarded with the same scent for so long. Basically, your stench makes your nose go numb to keep you from going crazy.

Take off your clothes and smell them

So, to test yourself for BO, you need to smell the clothes away from your body and really stick your nose in there. Obviously, you can’t undress in the middle of a workspace, but you can easily jump into a toilet stall and check it out piece by piece. Sniff every part of your clothing and look for wet spots where you sweat. Sweat usually means you’ve become a favorite medium for bacteria to grow , and bacteria is what emits the stench.

Follow the golden rule of body odor: if you can smell yourself at all, others can smell it much stronger . Apply more deodorant, use wet wipes to quickly clean yourself, put on a change of clothing, or if all else fails, wipe the pits with hand sanitizer until the problem is resolved. The same rules apply to deodorants, perfumes, colognes, and body sprays : if you can still find your unusual perfume on your skin after a while, other people can definitely smell it when they’re around you. So don’t be afraid of it.

Run your fingers over your scalp

Sometimes, however, sweaty armpits are not the source of the foul odor. Your hair can get quite ripe if you don’t wash it often enough or if you forget to use dry shampoo after a sweaty workout . If you’re worried about your hair sticking to others when you walk by, there is an easy way to check.

Wash your hands with hot water, but do not use soap. (You don’t want the soapy smell to hide what you are about to test.) Run your clean fingers over your scalp several times, not your hair. Smell your fingertips and you will get a good idea of ​​how your hair smells.

A foul odor on the scalp is likely a mixture of yeast, dead skin cells, and bacteria. It can also be a sign of ringworm on the scalp .

Check your ears

You are probably thinking that earwax is a substance that needs to be removed from headphones, but it can also be a source of bad odor. When this happens, it is usually a symptom of something else , such as excessive earwax, ear infection, foreign object stuck there, swimmer’s ear, cyst, or ear cancer (this is very rare).

Do some breathing tests

When it comes to bad breath , there are a few quick ways to check for bad breath before you start interacting with people:

  • Hand Test : Classic Move. Bring your hand or hands to your face and exhale into them to inhale well. This works best if you wash your hands beforehand without scented soap; otherwise you will just sniff your hands.
  • Hand test : Lick your hand and wait about 10 seconds, then sniff the stain. If it smells bad, so does your breath. Again, this helps to clear the stain first.
  • Spoon test : Take a metal or plastic spoon and scrape the back of your tongue with it . Let it dry a little and smell it. It will probably smell a little unpleasant no matter what – unless you just used a tongue scraper and mouthwash – but you can tell how bad it really is with this method.
  • Taste test : If a strange aftertaste remains in the mouth, it probably stinks from the mouth. Anything that overloads your saliva and taste buds is also likely to give off an odor.

It is also safe to assume that you have a breath of garlic if you just ate garlic, a breath of coffee if you just drank coffee, and a breath of alcohol if you used your lunch break to “relax.”

Refresh your aromatic taste

So how do you change your aromatic palate? As Pamela Dalton, a psychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, explains to the Washington Post , our sense of smell does not recover or recover as quickly as our other senses. It can take several weeks to fully refresh your aromatic taste. This is why you can sometimes smell your home after your vacation. And since you really can’t get away from your own body, there is no way to fully restore the nose’s sensitivity to your own scents.

Ask someone you trust

Last but not least, you can ask someone you trust to smell you and tell you directly. This is without a doubt the most effective method. However, it is not advisable to ask your partner or someone you live with as they are also quite used to your scent. Ask a colleague or friend and tell them honestly. It’s a little awkward, but guaranteed to work.

This story was originally published in April 2017 and updated on October 26, 2020 to replace obsolete links and align content with the current Lifehacker style.


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