Top Ten Products For Human Bloodhounds Who Need Everything To Smell Good

I can smell everything. Seriously, everything. If we’ve spent significant periods of time together, I probably could recognize you by scent. I drove my friends in New York crazy by refusing to enter delis with hot bars and by ordering delivery instead of takeout from the Chinese restaurant around the corner — the smell of hot oil that permeated these places lingered in my hair and clothes for what felt like forever, and therefore entering such establishments pretty much instantly ruined my life. I’m physically incapable of being in the same building as a litter box without wanting to gouge my eyes out with ice cream scoops. My aversion to the way many men smell in the morning probably contributed to me becoming a lesbian. Every minute that passes between the moment I wake up and the moment I shower is a moment of deep discomfort due to the fact that I don’t smell like soap. I knew there was a mouse in the couch before anybody else knew there was a mouse in the couch. I think that eating any kind of meat in an enclosed space (bus station, subway, airplane) is cruelty to animals AND humans (and I’m not even a vegetarian, so). I can’t eat leftovers because anything that smells slightly un-fresh to me makes me nauseous. When I get pregnant I will probably kill somebody for opening a can of tuna fish in a house five blocks down the street.

Being this obsessive requires constant vigilance and a lot of equipment. Here’s how I cope.

1. Febreze

Febreze To Go was actually invented for me by G-d. It’s true, it’s in the bible, look it up. You also will need a big one for home. Febreze never works as well as I want it to, but it’s what we’ve got so I’m working with it.

2. Perfume, Obvs


I was loyal to Tommy Girl until I became more of a woman than a girl and switched over to Burberry Brit. If you’re looking for a new signature scent, we have lots of cologne and perfume recommendations in How to Smell Good 101.

However, you can’t carry full perfume bottles on airplanes or around with you all day, which’s where the travel size perfumes come in. I used to use Juicy Couture Rollerball Eau de Perfum, but it leaked in my bag a lot, which made my bag smell nice but wasn’t great for longevity. However, the rollerball is really discreet, enabling you to dab it on without attracting too much attention. Lately I’ve been using the mini-perfume that came in this Gift Set I got at the American Eagle Outlet.

3. Hand Sanitizer

There are only a few things I can smell on my hands without wanting to chop them off: lotion, soap, grass/dirt, bleach, campfire, sex. I actually don’t give a shit about germs — I find germaphobes get sick way more often than those of us unafraid to get our hands dirty SO TO SPEAK — but I CANNOT ABIDE MY HANDS SMELLING LIKE KETCHUP. This means after eating a thing I’m really upset until I can wash my hands or get my hands on some hand sanitizer or hand sanitizer spray.

Unfortunately, it turns out that hand sanitizer is a top culprit in the game of What Ruins My Manicure, which means I have to apply it like I’m doing a paint-by-number on my palms. I always prefer hand soap, then, but hand soap is very drying, which brings me to…

4. Lightly or Barely Scented Hand Lotion

Heavily scented lotions also tend to be drying, if that’s a problem for you, which ruins the point of LOTIONS, except for Sally Hansen Nails & Cuticles Hand Cream, which has a nice subtle scent and actually moisturizes. If you’re trying to stay away from products that involve chemicals, then I’ve heard very good things about Vegan Skin Care Moisturizing Cream by SW Basics or Dolphin Organics Citrus Lotion.

5. Hair Mist

smell good post1

Hair is like a smell-sponge, so if you work in a restaurant or go out to smoky bars, you’re sort of doomed. The brand I used when I was working doubles back-to-back at the Macaroni Grill isn’t a thing anymore, but there are so many others on the market now!

TRESemme’s Refreshing Mist is simple and affordable.

If you like pink sugary things, you may like Pink Sugar Hair PerfumeNicki Minaj Pink Friday Hair Mist or Minajesty by Nicki Minaj Hair Mist.

If you’re a lesbian who looks like Justin Bieber — there’s a hair mist for that. Or maybe you have strong Taylor Swift feelings? ‘Cause she’s also got a hair mist.

Or you can try a few different hair fragrances from your pal Frederic Fekkai.

Infamous partier Cat Marnell, formerly of xojane, recommends Narciso Rodriguez For Her Hair Mist.

If you can afford to splurge, two of my favorite scents come in hair mists: Burberry Rhythm Hair Mist and Chanel Allure Tender Hair Mist.

Or if you wanna smell like you just washed your hair even though you definitely did not, CLEAN Original Hair Mist could be the way to go.

6. Candles


IKEA’s TINDRA candles come in like fifty thousand scents and are good quality for the price — usually cheap tea lights are, well… cheap. I also usually have good luck at Dollar Stores getting those candles-in-a-jar, especially seasonal scents. Sometimes people cook bacon in a house and then the house smells like bacon and that’s when you really need to do a full-scented assault on the entire place — candles, Febreezing all the surfaces, etc.

7. Wisps


Wisps are another item I suspect an Angel in Heaven designed for my personal enjoyment. Who doesn’t wish they could constantly brush their teeth on the go? Plus, people always ask about it when they witness me using it, which is a good opportunity to find out if the people you’re talking to are also obsessive tooth-brushers because obsessive tooth-brushers love bonding over their obsession. Also while you’re at it, I love these mini-flossers.

8. Travel Size Toothpaste

Everybody gives me strange looks when I do this but sometimes you don’t have a wisp or time to brush your teeth and rubbing a little bit of toothpaste around your mouth with your tongue and then maybe swallowing it feels okay. DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.

9. Fragrance Mist



Before discovering Febreze, I did Febreze-like things with fragrance mists, usually from Bath & Body Works or Victoria’s Secret. These sprays are more subtle and cheaper than perfume and therefore more versatile. Mostly my memories of these products are tightly related to incidents in which I was trying to avoid getting in trouble, like masking the smell of my friend’s cigarette smoke from my car or that time in boarding school that we doused ourselves in Pear Glace and Cucumber Melon on the off-chance that it would mask the scent of vodka on our breath.

10. Flavored Chapstick

Sometimes if I’m in a really unfortunate-smelling situation, I can just slather on some immaturely scented chapstick, cup my hands around my face, and try to completely engulf my senses in the sweet smell of Royal Red Velvet or Cotton Candy. It’s blissful. I mean, it’s no Vik’s Vapo-Rub, but it’s okay.

What do you like to smell with your nose?

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3179 articles for us.


  1. i was not emotionally prepared to see that bottle of sun-ripened raspberry body splash…i just wasnt ready

    also you know what else is amazing and refreshing for those times when you just cant with your sensory environment? facial sprays!

    • I love unscented Febreze as my wife love garlic. I also love Downy because it will take wrinkles out of your shirts.
      I love it when people smell good. Why did this go out with our mothers? Or maybe it’s just a Lesbionic thing.Thanks for the tips for scents because I’ve been looking for a new one and definitely will try some of your suggestions.

  2. This was such a helpful post! I’m one of those people who likes for everything to smell nice – which is why I bought the Autumn Bath and Body Works bucket! It includes Pumpkin Waffle hand soap, Pumpkin and Cinnamon shower gel, lotion, perfume, cupcake scented candles and more :)

  3. I like to pop in a mint if I’m sitting next to an unfortunate smelling person. I live in New York, so it’s not a rare occurrence.

  4. I might have been a little bit obsessed with a certain pomegranate-scented range of Dona by Jo products. They were end of line clearance five-bucks-an-item cheap so I kinda bought one of everything. Also, one of the two roll on perfumes has female pheromones (as opposed to All Of The Pheromones in the mangosteen version) and it seems to work on attracting the lesbians in my office.
    Also, hand-rolled jasmine incense. That stuff smells like sex.

    • I still have some of the old Dona stuff around because I couldn’t help myself when they all went on clearance. But they have since come out with a new line of scents, and they have this one thats a blend of what used to be two separate scents, pomegranate and goji berry, and it is incredible I spent an unreasonable amount on all the products. 10/10 would recommend.

  5. also linen spray! I make one with some essential oil (that I got for christmas, because I probably wouldn’t buy that shit for myself), it’s basically a little essential oil (I like lavender) + a tiny bit of vodka or rubbing alcohol + water in a cute little spray bottle (which you can find for like a dollar at CVS), and then if you washi tape that cute little spray bottle you totally also have a cute little nice-smelling gift! and then spray it on every fabric in your house.

  6. I love Burberry Brit! I think my mom would find this post interesting. She does that thing where she says what stinks? And 5 other people in the room will say i dont smell anything. Lol.

  7. Oils, bros. Oils. I’m not really into the whole essential oil fad thing, BUT I DO live by peppermint oil and I’m constantly using it, and constantly being told I smell like God.
    So find yourselves a great smelling oil, dab it on your pressure points, and that ish lasts and is more intense than most perfume.

    • I agree with you about the oils but they’re not a fad. Check out doTERRA Essential Oils. There is a lot of research to back essential oils up like the site We deal with a lot of synthetics in our World and it’s nice to have tested, natural alternatives :)

  8. Oh, how I envy people who can be around aerosolized or spray-based fragrances without immediately needing to lie on the ground with their inhaler. Asthma: it’s minor and unnoticeable until suddenly it’s really, really not.

    I definitely carry around toothpaste and a tiny folding toothbrush, though. A mouth can never really be too clean.

  9. I may be living under a rock…in England…but I have never seen or heard of a wisp, whatever that is, and am mildly thankful as I fear missus would add them to the bank of dental hygiene threatening to tear the cabinet off the bathroom wall.
    I am a Palmers cocoa butter fiend, I like to smell like milky bars. I also like Waitrose fig and ginger hand soap and coconut oil hair grease. So basically I smell like food… and CK one.
    Oh and 90% of the time I can smell nothing due to allegies/colds :(

  10. I got this lotion for my birthday when I was like 12, and it was probably from some store at the mall that doesn’t exist anymore, and I can’t even remember the name of it, but I still remember exactly what it smells like. To this day, it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever smelled.

    I definitely remember people by their scent, too. Whether it’s their perfume or the deodorant they wear or if their car always smells a certain way. I also remember places and events by how they smell.

  11. Now that I know hair mist is a thing I feel so empowered. I could cross the threshold of a Subway on a road trip. I could walk near a fried chicken vendor. My whole world just opened up.

  12. I need to have air freshener in the house or else I would hole myself in my room all the time… or rather, more of the time than I already do.

    I didn’t use to wear perfume much, but now it’s become a real nice way to up my mood before I go to work everyday.

  13. The only thing I don’t like about Wisps is that they do not contain fluoride. My dentist requires me to use prescription-strength toothpaste so full of fluoride that it’s definitely bioaccumulating in my fatty tissues. I just carry travel toothpaste and a little toothbrush in a case in my satchel.

  14. Is it wrong that I want someone to make “sex in a bottle” perfume?? Cause I feel like this is a market that needs to be tapped you guys! Or maybe I’m just a weirdo… Either way it needs to happen.

  15. Incense! I am currently living in a huge house with too many animals including my 3 cats who keep all four of their litter boxes in my one tiny room. No matter how often I empty their litter, it is a pervasive smell. Incense has saved my life…

  16. Okay we are of the same mind with the wisps and travel toothpaste. I don’t care if people look at me funny because I am keeping all my teeth. Go ahead stare. I’ll be old and my teeth will be mine, all mine.

    Oh has anyone else kept a travel pack of listerine in their book-bag ect?
    I do but someone though it was because I was maybe a mouthwash alcoholic. It seems weirder than the travel tooth paste to everyone I know >_>

    Also if you have no choice but to get some teeth extracted or some sort of oral surgery wisps are going to be your best toothbrush until you heal.

    My sense of smell is negatively sensitive to a majority of manufactured smells, perfume especially. Sometimes I’m coughing, choking, eyes watering to some of those scents. I’ve had to leave computer labs because the person next to me is wearing so many things or just one scent is just so strong. And the headaches.

    Debbie Downer in your thread, population me and probably some folks with asthma.

    • I am confident Febreeze is toxic. It is a chemical, it sticks to the inside of the nose, to the chemoreceptors and won’t let you smell anything else. The path to Cancer City is sprayed with that product.

  17. Wet dog is one of my favorite smells, I think it’s because of childhood rain dances with my dog but may actually just be repressed adoration for Mike Wazowski.

    ps sorry if this doesn’t make sense and/or is irrelevant, I got very drunk this evening because I’m visiting my grandfather and he told me that climate change doesn’t exist and obama is trying to give him ebola.there is not enough scotch in the world…

    • Gosh, I’m sorry! Sounds like an interesting family evening. :(

      I personally can’t stand the smell of wet dog… but I do like the sulfur smell that roughly resembles rotten eggs because it reminds me of trips to Mt. Hood and Yellowstone.

      • You do you! I can’t say that I’m all about that particular aroma, but I do have a bit of a thing for soy milk farts. it’s not so much that I enjoy the smell, more that I am extremely impressed by the body’s capacity to create such a deadly odor.

  18. I am not allowed to smell like anything at work because of GMPs. (But on the bright side for me, this means that makeup is neither allowed nor expected, and jeans and sweatpants are perfectly acceptable.)

    But candles! I love them! So cozy! Don’t mind me as I’m loitering in your yankee candle store… I just want to feast my nose on all of them! Because, you know, the “tropical beach” scented candle might smell slightly different from the “sandy shores” and “island paradise” candles and I have to find out which is best!

  19. I am a don’t sweat around me kind of gal. Sweat repulses me like nothing else. I am very much civilised urban woman regarding my own hygiene and others.

    jesus if it is something I cannot stand the smell of, it is sweat after a run, this trauma was enabled by my Father going for a run, and coming home and wrapping me up in his smelly strong arms and giving me a hug. Major repulsion with mixed feelings of disloyalty and resentment and being smelly like him. So I hate sweating, and smelling sweat. But I love using my body and being active, I just feel kind of subhuman if I have to tolerate my or others sweat (like smell their sweat) for longer than a minute.I like nothing more than a freshly showered person, and knowing that they are freshly showered. Two showers a day is my maximum, but I really detest body odour smells and get bent out of shape if someone I am around on a regular basis fails to meet basic showering hygiene.

    As for smells I adore, the smell of rain on the earth, plants and concrete, snow, rain, washing machine powder on freshly washed clothes, real lemon, orange and grapefruit everything, and deodorants such as Dove cucumber aloe and green tea. damp earth with things growing through it.

    Jo Malone Wild Fig and Cassis
    Jo Malone Ginger and Nutmeg
    Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir

    I am a nurse and have up close experience with people who are unwell. The smells that make me most uncomfortable are body odour, but faeces are kind of ok. It is the vomit that really makes me weak in the stomach and kind of want to gag. Random unexpected vomit is a toughy, because before you know it, its onto you, and you have to just deal and manage it, which is hard when it lingers. Also diathermy (smell of cauterized vessels) is ok.

  20. Other side note: I am jealous of your wonderful sense of smell. My nose is chronically stuffy, both as a result of allergies and bone structure. Today my allergist commented that I have a narrow nose. Unfortunately, antihistamines cannot cure a narrow nose.

  21. I have a lot of feelings about this post and the fact that I have every one of these products in my bag atm but I have some hella strong feelings about meats being eaten in enclosed public spaces, especially when said meats are paired with an additionally smelly thing (i.e. onions, peperoncinis, garlic, mustard, chipotle sauce, etc.) its a danger to all who may encounter it. This week alone I’ve had to walk out of a room on two occasions because someone was eating a smelly sandwich. Anyways, I like to keep my myriad of scented products in the same general family because I can smell myself and I don’t want to smell like 4 different things it could get confusing and ultimately make me even more paranoid about what I smell like. I am truly madly deeply in love with Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gioia perfume, and they have this neat gift set that includes perfume, hair mist, lotion, and a little roller ball of travel perfume that fits all my needs and just really gets me. Plus it doesn’t make my sensitive skin get all splotchy like some other products have done in the past. Also the cologne version smells equally incredible. Really glad I’ve found this scent-safe-space thanks Autostraddle.

    • Smelly meat sandwiches should be banned from being consumed in public spaces. And KFC. I was once on a hellish greyhound bus ride from San Francisco to Seattle and it was only hellish because the guy in front of me was eating KFC on and off for the whole trip.

      Aside note, I’m fussy enough that if I don’t like how a food smells, I will refuse to eat it. I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. As a result, I’ve been vegetarian for the last twenty years of my life because the smell of meat repulses me.

  22. I have partial anosmia. (Anosmia = inability to smell.) For the most part I can’t smell body odor, among other things, of any kind. There have been a couple random people in my life that I could smell, and they smelled wonderful. I will bury my face in their shoulder and deeply inhale whenever I get a chance to hug them.

    M’lady, on the other hand, would likely fit this classification of “human bloodhound”. She will not hesitate to comment on and destroy something’s smell. I’ve thought her use of incense to be excessive at times, but she assures me it prevents our tiny house from smelling like a litter box.

    We’ve definitely gotten into spats over smells, since my sniffer is below average and hers is above. Now I really want to make her a gift basket thing with all these goodies inside!

    • However, it just occurred to me that I would likely need help picking out scents of stuff since I probably wouldn’t be able to smell it…(otherwise I’ll just buy lavender everything)

      Smell is complicated, ugh. I’m still learning that certain things even have cereal, cats, stuff made from real wood, laundry that was left in the washer overnight, etc.

  23. I like the Rose et Reines hair mist, personally. I have a fairly poor sense of smell (*insert “She smells bad!” pun here*), but I do worry about what I smell like to other people.

    Unfortunately, I suspect there are times when I’ve gone overboard with the perfume or lotion or what have you, but in the upside, that’s probably better than the alternative! That’s what I tell myself at least.

  24. Good god, I am this person. I over-Febreze, leave lit scented candles in my wake, and just memo’d myself to buy hair mist. (Because it’s obviously necessary?) I’m also having a random obsession with lighting Nag Champa in the evenings, which my housemates have been side-eyeing the shit out of me for. For perfume, favorites are sandal- and cedarwoodsy, powdery and subtle vanilla notes. Getting more into unisex orientals too, as I’m currently liking Ambre & Santal by L’Occitane and Black Orchid by Tom Ford. In the past I have used Mademoiselle by Chanel, Tainted Love by TokyoMilk and Midnight Orchid by Susanne Lang. On a typical day I like to keep it simple with The Body Shop’s Shea Body Butter and a powder scented deodorant. As I type this I realize I have memories or at least some sentimental attachment to each of these scents – the sense of smell is an amazing thing.

  25. I love smelling good and being in places that smell good.

    That said, I loathe the smell of Febreeze. I mostly use essential oils or occasionally a citrusy cologne.

    I’m pretty much always the first person in a room to complain about a smell. Haha.

  26. This doesn’t really have to do with anything, but I used to sometimes put peppermint Burt’s Beeswax under my arms with my fingers when I ran out of deodorant. Also the tingly feeling made me feel cleaner haha.

  27. omg i relate so hard to this. i can smell EVERYTHING. the first time i went to a festival i couldn’t stop retching every time i walked past a bin or a portaloo. i even have a similar story to the dead mouse in the couch (which, btw, i <3'd! died when i got to the diagram). when i was younger i told my parents (and anyone else who would listen) that one of our kitchen cupboards stank of a hamster cage and there was defo something living in there. no one believed me and the smell got worse – before we knew it, like 7 generations of mice had moved in and had eaten EVERYTHING except the kitchen sink. they had gnawed on the wood so there was sawdust amongst mouse droppings and half eaten biscuits etc. everywhere. foul. i was so smug that i had been right, though.

  28. I’m the unfortunate soul who is blessed with being a little extra keen to how everything smells, yet also having some sort of chemical sensitivity. Or something I’m allergic to, IDK what it is really. Basically if a lotion or something comes in unscented, that’s what I’m buying. I have to test sniff before buying any products that I use on or around my person, because my reaction could range from anywhere between being really, really annoyed by the smell to getting a bad headache or my throat closing up. Perfume and cologne are the worse offenders, and it always seems to be that the ones who wear way too much are definitely wearing the kind that’ll send me running away choking.

    I just googled unscented Febreeze because I didn’t realize it existed. I need to get me some of that ASAP.

  29. Spring is the season that every body looks up to after a cold,
    chilly and frustrating winter. Also the aroma of
    the fresh sea air can bring memories back of running about at the beach as
    a child. * Only pack clothes that can be worn more than once in different

Comments are closed.