A few years back I stopped using deodorants and switched to a Thai crystal for health reasons. If you would like to find out how safe or dangerous your own beauty products are (it’s shocking!) you can research them on the non-profit EWG database here.  Anyway, my son was hugging me one day and he said “you smell interesting… and not in an objectionable way.” He’s got such a cute way with words. But this trend continued and I heard that more and more. I’m a big fan of hugging and have had an inordinate amount of people that I’ve hugged tell me that I smell amazing. Now I do also sometimes wear essential oils but for the most part whatever these folks are picking up on is something natural (I use very few products across the board- more on that in a later post). So I decided to do a little research and what I found was very illuminating.

Many fascinating research studies have explored our natural attraction through the sense of smell. Here are a few highlights to peak you interest:

  • Although it was long held that humans did not have the vomeronasal organ (for  pheromone reception) or the olfactory bulb in the brain (to process scents) scientific research from the last 25 years has now confirmed that we do in fact have both of these.
  • Research indicates that women seem to favor the smells of men who have immune genes that differ from their own which would lead to stronger, more diverse offspring.
  • Traits that can be communicated through smell include body and facial symmetry, testosterone levels, and behavioral dominance.
  • During the fertile part of their cycle, women prefer the scent of men with higher levels of testosterone.
  • One study found that when men smelled the odor of a woman who was in her fertile cycle, their testosterone and cortisol levels increased.
  • Studies indicate that using a hormonal contraceptive effects a woman’s ability to detect the chemical “social scents” that men put off.
  • Humans possess denser skin concentrations of scent glands than almost any other mammal.
  • We have three major types of skin glands, one of which is the apocrine gland which exudes odorous steroids known to illicit sexual behavior in other mammals.
  • Human sweat, urine, breath, saliva, breast milk, skin oils, and sexual secretions all contain scent-communicating chemical compounds.

what do we do with all of these smelly super powers?

So let’s recap. Mother Nature has supplied us with everything we need to literally sniff out a mate and what do we do with all of these smelly super powers? We cover them up with artificial scents and products! Think about how many products you use and the scents of each. Soaps, moisturizers, shampoo, toners, deodorants, perfumes and that is just what you are putting on your body. What about laundry products, detergents and fabric softeners, dryer sheets and all of the artificial scents that are now wafting off of you through these?

acceptance by the tribe

And why do we do all of this? To be perceived as being more desirable, in short  to, be accepted and  loved. Love is the most primal desire of a human being. We all want to engage in love and so we do what the marketing of products has conditioned us to do which is to purchase and slather upon ourselves things which we think will make us smell more desirable (or acceptable) to others. This is not just in searching for a mate but also in general “acceptance by the tribe”. We pick up pretty early in life that the “stinky kid” is not a part of the group and no one wants to be that guy so we go full tilt in the opposite direction with grooming, hygiene and product use that far exceeds the necessity of regular day to day human hygiene. Why do we all do this? We are literally saturated with marketing that plays on these fears and desires. If you really reflect on the marketing of your favorite products you begin to see how your perceived sense of need for this product has been formed. Then you can step away from that outside influence and start making your own choices. Personally, I really do sniff out my friends. If you carry a heavy smell of dryer sheets and perfume we probably won’t be spending a lot of time together. You see, once you clean up your own system you will quickly realize how unnatural and naturally off putting these smells are. And don’t even get me started on how much money you will save. Hmm. Seems like a win- are you ready?

A word of preparedness. If you are inspired to give up some products you should know what to expect. Our bodies adjust to whatever ridiculous environmental conditions we subject them to. If you’ve ever forgotten your deodorant on a weekend road trip, you’ve probably determined this is not a product you can live without for a few days. It takes time for your body to return to its ideal and natural state of functioning. The truth is that you will need to be more proactive for the first few weeks with a warm washcloth freshen up a few times a day. However, you will soon find that this dissipates and will become pleasantly surprised at how well your body regulates itself without the constant intrusion of harsh outside influences.


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