Friday, May 20, 2011

Guys: Smelling Like a Rose ( Or Not)

In theory I shouldn't have to write this article, but the reality is, "Pigs don't know pigs stink." The same concept is true for most of us guys.

You spend crazy amounts of time tuning your coolest moves, mastering the music and dressing sharp to impress the ladies; don't blow it because your deodorant/cologne isn't first class. You're going to be within sniffing range of someone for a few minutes, you don't want them remembering you for all the wrong reasons.

Verify with a few trusted individuals that your pre-dance scent enhancement system is still holding up now that you're gearing up for "So You Think You Can Dance."

A couple females in class recently told me one of the guys wasn't wearing deodorant. I doubt that's the case. I suspect what he used wasn't strong enough for him by that time in the evening, combined with dancing.

Of course, they didn't tell me that week, that would have been too easy. They told me a couple weeks later that they were uncomfortable every time he rotated to them.

Next time in class if it's still the same issue, I'll tell him. (I really don't look forward to that assignment, but if he's paying me to improve his dancing, I'll give him his money's worth.)

When I started dancing I was using a "natural" deodorant ("Tom's of Maine" if I remember...) It was fine for my regular, boring life before dancing. After I started taking regular dance classes it became obvious my existing deodorant just wasn't cutting it.

I'd get in my car after class and it would automatically roll down the windows without me touching anything. I can take a hint. If I stopped at Trader Joe's on my way home it was like the parting of the Red Sea, everybody would move out of my way as I checked out the yogurt and dark chocolate. (A guy's got to find perfect nourishment after working out.) Something wasn't right and it took me a while to figure it out.

My previous deodorant just couldn't handle my new found love. We had to part ways.

It took me trying two or three other brands before settling on Mitchum Power Gel. Everybody is different and what works for me may not work for someone else. While I rarely discuss this publicly, I still continue looking at all the newer "clinical strength" products that have hit the market over the last couple years.

I also tried a couple "invisible solids," and they worked fine in terms of odor protection, but they stained my workout/dance clothes after a month or two, with stains that simply would not wash out. (I'm too cheap to replace all my shirts that quickly.) I wasn't sure about the gel at first, but it works great and doesn't ruin my clothes.

I also carry a wash cloth and towel in my "dance bag" (future article), so I can freshen up before and/or after a class or dance night. Don't assume you can only clean up first thing in the morning or before you leave home/work.

I'm always looking for unscented products, because I've also spent considerable time finding a cologne that fits me. (I hate when my cologne fights with my deodorant.) I also use a lightly scented body wash (Arbonne Sky) which works perfectly with my cologne. It provides a subtle, masculine base scent that works really well for me.

While I prefer unscented deodorants, I'd use a lightly scented one over the way I smelled before my upgrades. You need to experiment and find something stronger than normal if you're a regular dancer. When you get it right, few notice; when you get it wrong, everybody around you knows.

Even if you're not in doubt, ask someone you trust with something like, "Look, I need a straight answer... Is my deodorant strong enough for me?" Even if you think you're fine, ask someone this question, during/after a class, at the club, or just toward the end of your normal work day.

Don't shoot the messenger no matter what they say!! You really need to know!!

If they say anything other than "Yes, it's perfect for you!!!!!!!" then you need to get a few other opinions. Look for them being uncomfortable with the answer or sugar coating the response in any way. Almost nobody wants to tell you directly, "You stink, and I've wanted to tell you for months..." Take anything other than "you're fine" as a sign you need an upgrade.

I'm also a big believer of cologne, but moderation is key. I know a few people are allergic to perfumes/colognes, but almost everybody is painfully repelled by my natural, post dance/workout scent without the right deodorants. Just don't overdue your scents.

Guys might be guys, but smelling like "dirty locker room" is a total loser when partner dancing.

In a follow-up article we'll discuss my "dance bag," which is always in my car. It has a set of grooming products and goes with me almost everywhere I go.

Let me know what you're doing to keep the air around you fresh and clean.


  1. There are couple ingredients that might smell. Old sweat, pheromones, food that you eat, health issues and probably more. It's individual and makes sense to figure out what it is for you, maybe one needs to brush teeth more or stop eating garlic before sweating. :)

    With regard to sweat it normally does not smell, bacteria that lives in it do. It takes some time (few hours), for them to grow after you wash with the soap. So washing is important. Other thing is changing shirts or draining, it takes sweat away and bacteria with them. Deodorant might aggravate smells as well, so be careful.
    Personally I'm avoiding antiperspirants. They prevent sweating, but that's an important cooling mechanism. I'd rather be humid than boiled. :)

  2. #sm: Good points!!!

    Yes, there are many factors, and it's good for dancers to think about the issues so we don't repel our partners.

    As for antiperspirants, I've read conflicting discussions on that. Some agree with you, many say keeping the underarms dryer still leaves plenty of cooling area on the rest of your body.

    All to say; one size never fits all, and as long as your system is working for you, that's a win.

  3. Don - good article - Mitchum produce a number of products, spray, roll on, solid and gel - all good. Should keep in the "dance bag" along with the face cloth/ small towel, mouth wash, tooth paste, mints and menthol chewing gum and 2 spare shirts (to change into a dry & clean shirt during the night) and a shoe brush.
    The above kit will keep you clean, fresh and a pleasure for the ladies to dance with throughout the night.
    The problem you mention is not confined to men, while regular dancers bring several fresh shirts, many ladies arrive in a single dress which leads to a dreaded, wet/ sweaty back when in closed hold. Think the rules apply to both sexes equally and that the ladies also should take a break to freshen up for the sake of the leaders.

  4. Good points Don - thank you for being brave enough to bring this up. As a follow I THANK YOU. There are some leads I will dance with only early in the the night because later on well, quite frankly they stink.

    And good point - us women need to be aware as well. But remember we do not sweat - we glow.....

    As for changing part way thru the night - for women, not going to happen, too much goes into the outfit - it is not as easy for us to just change a shirt! But you make a good point, we can freshen up.

    Now imagine this where I am - in August it will be 95 F at 11 pm and we are dancing away outside..... oh the joys of paradise!

  5. Like you say, everyone's different. My experience is the opposite of yours, in that I find that anti-perspirants neither keep me from sweating, nor stop the odor. The natural products like Tom's or Arm-and-Hammer work really well at stopping odor no matter how much I sweat (and I do so a LOT).

    What also matters a lot is the shirt material. Cotton and other natural materials are good, while polyester smells awful. But some of the 'high-tech' polyester shirts from REI stay odorless, and also have the advantage of being quick-drying.


I love feedback. Your thoughts, feelings and comments are appreciated. Civil disagreements and other points of view are always welcomed!

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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero