Look: an unavoidable part of being a human being is that sometimes you are going to smell bad. There’s no getting around it: sometimes you are going to smell bad. Maybe you’ve gone for a run, or you’ve forgotten to put deodorant on, or you were too hungover to have a shower and you came to work smelling like a bin. Either way: you stink, mate.
The problem with this, though, is that often you don’t actually realise how bad you smell. Sometimes it takes someone near you saying “what is that SMELL?” or your partner slowly but surely recoiling from your sweaty, pungent embrace for you to realise that it’s probably time to get in the shower.
The phenomenon is called ‘olfactory adaptation’ – it’s also why other people’s houses smell so distinct and yours seems like it doesn’t smell of anything, or why the smell of your cologne or perfume fades after a few minutes. According to New York Magazine:
“Our brains watch out for danger – any change in our surroundings could represent a threat, so the brain focuses on new sights, sounds, feelings—and smells.”
But never fear! There are actually a few ways you can work out whether you stink. Obviously there’s the tried-and-tested-and-not-very-sophisticated technique of just shoving your nose in your armpit, but if you’re in an office or on a train or like, on a date, you probably can’t do that.
There is an easier – and less unrefined – way of checking, though. All you have to do, Lifehacker suggest, is sniff a cup of coffee.
“Coffee is a strong, single-scent component that gives the receptors in your nose a quick break from what it’s been smelling all day (you),” they write. “That’s why department stores keep coffee beans handy in the perfume section. You can smell a perfume, reset with some coffee, then smell a different perfume. Coffee is also easy to access for most people. It’s in the break room of almost every type of workplace, and it’s easy to snag a little before stealing away to smell yourself.”
So there we go – if you think you smell, have a cup of coffee. You’ll obviously still smell, but at least you’ll have a cup of coffee, I guess?