Author Topic: I know you're clean... but you still smell  (Read 7652 times)

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Isilleke

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I know you're clean... but you still smell
« on: June 05, 2013, 06:10:50 AM »
Hi everyone

Basically, it comes down to this: how do you tell someone that even though they are clearly washing themselves, the product they use causes people to say they smell?

BG./ I'm in a class of about 17 people give or take. There have been people commenting about this one girl that she smells. No one has told her (yet). This class is fairly tightknit and it's going to be noticeable. If it was just a case of her not washing regularly enough, I would tell her. I did it once before and it was unpleasant, but I believe that the recipient appreciated it that I told her instead of everyone else.
In this case however, it's more complicated than that. She does wash herself, it's just that whatever she uses, makes her smell like..., well like old people. (She is 25.) I don't like the smell either, but since it's not because of bad hygiene I was planning on ignoring it. However, people are starting to comment about it and I'd hate for her to find out people were talking behind her back. END BG./

So I guess that what I'm trying to figure out is:
1. Should I say something to her? Seeing as how I don't like the smell either, but since I'm assuming it's because of some product I was planning on ignoring it.
2. If I should say something, how should I do it?

Thank you all!


Venus193

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2013, 06:44:24 AM »
There is no polite way to address this that doesn't sound passive/aggressive or childish.  Did you ever ask what kind of soap she uses?

Redsoil

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2013, 07:09:58 AM »
In general conversation, one-on-one, gently mention:  " *Name*, I wonder if there's a particular perfume or soap you use, because it has a very distinct odour that doesn't seem to work well with your body chemistry.  I hope you don't mind me mentioning it, but I had that happen to me once and a friend was kind enough to tell me, so I thought I'd just give you a heads-up."
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Perfect Circle

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2013, 07:13:16 AM »
I don't understand what you mean by smelling like old people? I don't see anything wrong with that.

I don't think there is any way of saying something politely when it isn't a BO issue.
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Dawse

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2013, 07:39:29 AM »
I think Redsoil has a good turn of phrase you could use.

Maybe, if you do decide to bring it up, try to put the emphasis on the product she's using doesn't seem to suit her or is overpowering rather than just 'you smell weird'. I think that distinction would make a difference to me, anyway.
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cicero

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2013, 10:27:52 AM »
maybe it's not her body but her clothing? maybe she isn't washing /storing /drying her clothing properly? that can also make a person smell.

maybe she doesn't use deoderant?

I think Redsoil's phrase is good.

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NyaChan

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2013, 10:32:45 AM »
Could you clarify - is this a body odor that is bugging you or is it the artificial scent she is using either from perfume, detergent, soap, etc.?  If it is the latter, I don't think I would say anything unless you think the scent may have gone bad and is not smelling as it is meant to smell.  What smells good to her may smell old to you if you are used to smelling it on older people.  For example, I smell Poison or White Diamonds on a young girl and I would think it was the smell of an old person.  Not because the scent is actually bad for that girl to use, but because that's what my grandma wore and I associate the smell with her at an older age.

If others bring it up, I would stick up for her to help curb the behind-the-back talking.

staceym

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2013, 10:33:23 AM »
I don't understand what you mean by smelling like old people? I don't see anything wrong with that.

I'm going to guess smelling like some old fashioned talc powder?


I agree this is hard to say to someone - there is someone in my office who smells like the scent of Lysol spray that my mother has in her bathroom.  I actually mentioned it to someone in passing  :-[

then one day I used a new brand of deodorant that I bought and yikes, I decided that it smelled the same (and immediately threw it out) - so I now I know that it's probably her deodrant.

texgalatheart

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2013, 10:35:21 AM »
I have that problem with scented anti-perspirant/deodorant.  It just doesn't agree with my body chemistry - so unscented only for me.  ;)

NyaChan

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2013, 10:38:12 AM »
lol for the longest time I was getting really frustrated because I kept smelling sweatiness when I had just gotten out of the shower, just gotten dressed and couldn't figure out what was wrong with me since my clothes were clean!  Really stressful to walk around thinking you might be smelling bad and have no way to fix it.  Then I figured out that I wasn't smelling sweat, I was smelling deodorant - somehow my mind just associated and mixed the scent up with sweat. 

camlan

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2013, 10:38:30 AM »
I'll admit I'm confused about the smell, as it seems odd that a product would smell like "old people." I take it that it's not a perfumy or powdery smell? It could be her clothes--I use unscented detergent, and when I pulled my summer clothes from storage last week, they smelled a little bit, even though I had washed them before putting them away for the winter.

I'd tread carefully here. There are some medical conditions that cause various body odors. So if you approach her at all, approach with care.
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Luci

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2013, 10:42:37 AM »
I don't understand what you mean by smelling like old people? I don't see anything wrong with that.

I don't think there is any way of saying something politely when it isn't a BO issue.

I also don't know about the old people smell. I've only smelled it on elders who are only bathed once a week, so it is a combination of old skin cells and sweat, but different from that of younger people. But OP says she doesn't think it is a matter of cleanliness. Now I wonder what I smell like.

Axe makes me gag, but I think an aversion to any certain fragrance is not universal, so 17 people wouldn't comment on it. I don't see how a commercial product for personal hygiene could be hated by everyone.

I once was prescribed a skin treatment which smelled putrid to me. I wonder if it is something like that. We found an alternative, but one can't always do that. Also, some medications cause an unpleasant odor, as do some foods eaten regularly.

Mothballs in closets and slight mildew odors are common on clothing, but everyone knows those odors, I think. If it is storage, it must be something unusual, but generally disliked.

I don't think you can say anything.

Roe

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2013, 11:27:10 AM »
Yeah, I don't get the "old people smell" comment either.  What exactly do old people smell like?  My grandmother is in her 80's and smells fabulous and do did my great-grandmother so I've no idea what you mean by that phrase.

Redsoil

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2013, 11:39:13 AM »
Some old people have a very distinct smell.  It's almost a musty smell, crossed with slightly rancid undertones, if that helps describe it.  Sometimes baby powder is layered over the top for an interesting mix.  I've smelled it with several older people over the years, and it's been similar each time.
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Isisnin

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2013, 11:43:58 AM »
Another vote for Redsoil's approach - friendly and compassionate.

Time had an interesting article on "old people smell":

http://healthland.time.com/2012/05/31/old-person-smell-really-exists-scientists-say/