Fact: We don’t always smell great. Historically, we were one with our body odor. From making babies to sniffing out the enemy, our natural scent served a purpose. Today, we work desperately to cover it all up with body washes, deodorant and $80 perfume. Why? To make people like us.

The Allure

Advertising has gone a long way to make us think we have to smell a certain way to fall in love, land a job or have the life of our dreams. Want that white picket fence and 2.5 kids? Go pick up a bottle of Chanel No. 5.

Toxic Truth

In today’s eco-obsessed world, fragrances, while still a billion dollar industry, are getting a bad rap (and rightly so). Cologne and perfumes are often full of secret, toxic ingredients, which can lead to a host of illnesses. Because the term “fragrance” can contain virtually anything, you don’t know what you’re spritzing on your neck. Some links to fragrance and you? Cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and more!

Smell of Commerce

There’s one top tip to remember before spraying and laboring (i.e. working): Take it easy. You don’t want to be that person who causes people to choke when you walk by. Despite this hard and fast rule, many businesses are taking cues from our brain’s fragrance and emotional connection to capitalize on your pocketbook. The scent of chocolate, coffee and baked bread are often artificially pumped into grocery stores, making people want to buy more. Nike proved that adding scents to their stores increased intent to purchase by 80%. Because we’re so connected to what we smell, landing on the right fragrance can make or break you (not literally, but just go with the cliché, please).

Tread Lightly

Because more and more people are fragrance sensitive, it’s best to use fragrance sparingly when presenting. Less is definitely more, especially when it comes to smelling like a flower. Sticking to fruity, floral notes, sandalwood, or vanilla are usually safe bets. Want to feel like a boss? A combo of amber, tonka bean, cashmere wood, cinnamon and bark – think Amber Splash Perfume by Marc Jacobs – can give you superpowers. (You’ll smell good too.)

Choose Wisely, Apply Sparingly

Know which scent to choose and when and where to wear it. For men, dab cologne behind ears and on the chest. Spice, wood, musk and citrus are safe bets. Go light during the day, and at night, choose something a tad stronger. But the consensus is this: you want your audience to focus on what you’re presenting, not what they’re smelling. If you want to bake cookies and make coffee while you present, that’s one thing. But making someone’s eyes burn from your happy trigger finger is quite another.

So, put the bottle down. Step away. And present just as nature intended: sans fragrance. Unless you have body odor, which is another discussion entirely…

Question: Do you have a signature scent?

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