In this guide on how to smell good naturally, we reveal 13 tips to help keep you smelling fresh all day long–even in the scorching summer heat!–and reduce (or even eliminate!) body odors, all while steering clear of toxins, synthetic fragrance and other harmful ingredients. These tips go beyond essential oils!
This post is sponsored by Mother Dirt. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
There's so much to love about this season: the abundance of fresh fruit and veggies, beach vacations, reading and relaxing poolside, warm summer nights out on the patio and people generally seeming happier with more pep in their step.
What's not to love?
I mean, besides the extreme heat and humidity (especially here in Atlanta!), which comes with a greater risk for getting sunburned, dehydrated, being extra sweaty and–embarrassingly–secreting more body odor. #debbiedowner #realtalk
You know what I'm talking about…
…you meet someone for the first time and afterwards give your armpits a quick sniff to see if you can detect any off-putting smells (and cross your fingers, hoping the stranger didn't notice!)…
…or you're in a crowd at the 4th of July festivities, sweating your buns off and seriously feel suffocated as you can't get over the nasty smell of the guy with BO that's standing right next to you…
…or you're in a hot yoga class (any time of year) and feel like YOU just might be the cause of that slightly funky stench lingering in the air. (Cue frantic thoughts and panicked wiping of the sweat off your brow.)
Nobody wants to be that person, amiright?!
Well worry no more, my friends, because in this guide to smelling good naturally, we've got our top 13 tips for how you can beat the heat and embrace your body's natural gifts–all while being confident that you're rocking some seriously scentsational smells (see what I did there?) all year long.
Follow these smell-good hacks and we won't be surprised if everyone around you is going to start asking what scent you're wearing, complimenting your enticing aroma, or begging you for tips on how they, too, can get rid of that embarrassing body odor.
P.S. If you think you're already covered since you use mainstream deodorant, perfumes, bath and beauty products and the like, I beg you: don't be fooled. Maybe they smell good, but these conventional products are almost always full of carcinogens, hormone disruptors and environmental toxins. See some of our past posts on natural deodorant, natural perfume and toxic beauty products to read more on those facts.
13 Tips for How to Smell Good, Naturally
1) How to Smell Good Naturally: Mother Dirt AO+ Mist
Did you know that–just like we have a gut microbiome that relies on good bacteria and probiotics to have healthy digestion, neurotransmitter balance and more–our skin also has a biome and relies on good bacteria to be healthy?
The thing is, we've created a difficult environment for most of these beneficial organisms to survive. Why? A slew of reasons, including the prevalence of conventional and harmful skincare products on the market, our obsession with cleanliness and sterility (reducing the diversity of good bacteria) and our overall toxic modern lifestyles.
Where does that leave us? Being more susceptible than ever to many skin challenges including sensitivity, acne, irritation, hyperpigmentation and body odor.
That's where Mother Dirt comes in. Mother Dirt's preservative-free, hypoallergenic products are built to enhance and protect the skin biome by restoring, nurturing and maintaining beneficial bacteria. I've been using Mother's Dirt AO+ Mist for a few years and just love this stuff!
Within two weeks of use, the AO+ Mist has been proven in clinical studies to improve your skin's appearance, blotchiness, sensitivity and even body odor! People commonly use it on sweat prone areas like their face, underarms, hands, feet, scalp and even–yes–their crotch to support proper balance of the right kinds of bacteria. (Read all about the science here.)
Believe it or not, 60% of users are actually able to cut out deodorant when they use Mother Dirt on their underarms! Hello, magic.
That not only means one less toiletry product you'd have to buy, but creates such relief to not even have to worry about the dreaded BO.
If you're not one of those lucky peeps who can use the Mist instead of deodorant, then many people apply the Mist over their chosen natural deodorant as it can still improve your skin's balance and give your deodorant's odor-reducing properties that extra oomph.
2) How to Smell Good Naturally: Essential Oils + Natural Perfume
In this guide, we talked all about the dangers of fragrance, the number one ingredient you should avoid in cosmetics and body care (also known as perfume, parfum, cologne or eau de toilette). It's a major hormone disruptor, allergen, skin irritant and asthmagen–among other ills.
That's why these days I opt for wearing natural perfume or essential oils, which derive from whole sources in the natural world such as roots, flowers, moss, seashells, and tree resins. This means that if a natural fragrance is geranium, for example, it was made from an actual geranium flower.
Not only do they smell amazing, but natural perfumes made with pure essential oils have the added amazing benefit of stimulating neurochemicals and hormones that balance and regulate the endocrine, immune and nervous system. That’s why sometimes, just the simple act of inhaling an essential oil with sedating or stimulating properties (I'm looking at you, lavender!) can immediately calm you down, or make you relax, or give you a burst of energy.
Wherever you buy your natural perfume, just make sure to read the label fully and if you have questions about it, don’t hesitate to reach out to the perfumier directly and ask. A trustworthy brand will have no problem sharing the specifics of what goes into their natural perfume with you. If they won’t tell you, run far away!
I recommend shopping on Amazon (try Goddess Garden's Rainforest Roll On Perfume) or over at The Detox Market (one of my favorite natural beauty stores), or going to the natural perfumier’s website directly.
3) How to Smell Good Naturally: Baking Soda
Baking soda is one of my not-so-secret ingredients in many of our DIY cleaning and beauty recipes, like this 4-Ingredient DIY Grill Cleaner, DIY Toilet Bombs, DIY Mold Remover or this Homemade Face Scrub for Acne, Oily-Prone Skin.
Why? Because baking soda is a super-effective, gentle abrasive that’s a great natural deodorizer (and super affordable too!).
Tip: sprinkle baking soda in your shoes to prevent them from getting stinky–you'll be amazed how well this works.
For skincare, not only is baking soda a natural exfoliant, it also cleanses the skin, softening it all the while. It also brightens dull and darkened skin giving you a great glow! Make a DIY body scrub with baking soda and you'll love how your skin looks, feels and smells after (just don't rely on it TOO often as overuse can affect your skin's pH). (source)
4) How to Smell Good Naturally: Natural Deodorant
For the full scoop on natural deodorant and why it's so important to avoid mainstream deodorant brands, check out this post.
You may think that natural deodorants don’t work, and I used to think the same as I’ve required clinical strength deodorant for most of my life.
But it turns out, there actually are some natural deodorants out there that work great (trust me, I tried A TON to find them!). And what’s more? After just a few months without conventional deodorant, I found that I sweat wayyyyy less.
It was like that clinical strength deodorant was forcing my sweat glands to produce more sweat and once I stopped using it, they naturally (and miraculously!) started producing less. You may even be brave enough to go without deodorant at all, allowing your body to reset and see what naturally happens.
If you opt to keep using deodorants, my current favorite is the Native brand (get a FREE travel size with your next purchase when you use my link).
5) How to Smell Good Naturally: Stay Moisturized
When your skin is moisturized, it produces natural body oils that keep your skin from drying out, which is not only healthy for skin but also makes your natural fragrance last longer.
Mother Dirt has a plant-based, preservative-free Biome-Friendly Moisturizer that mimics the natural skin barrier. That means it replenishes the essential components typically removed with modern cleansing products–regardless of if you currently have dry, oily or sensitive skin.
If you're using the AO+ Mist mentioned in #1 above, your results will be enhanced when you combine these two products together. These products are unscented, so either go au naturel or top with your fave natural perfume or essential oils.
One of my favorite body moisturizers is Acure Organics Body Spray, which has the most delicious natural rose scent.
Are you a DIY kinda gal? If you prefer to make your own moisturizer, try this 3-Ingredient DIY Homemade Moisturizer with Essential Oils.
For some of my other favorite Green Beauty Routine products, check out this post.
6) How to Smell Good Naturally: Daily Mineral Sunscreen
We all know the importance of wearing sunscreen by now, right?
A lot of sunscreens have a super strong scent, that comes from–you guessed it!–synthetic fragrance (which we learned is a no-no in #2) as well as many other toxic chemicals that have been linked to reproductive problems, tissue damage, asthma, allergies and even skin cancer (yes, really! the very thing they're supposed to protect against!) (source)
You want to look for a natural mineral sunscreen that's made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as their active ingredients. This will typically have a more natural scent, and some may even be good enough to double as your signature summer scent!
I like Beautycounter’s Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30 and also love their new Countersun Spray. It's the only natural sunscreen I've found that actually rubs in and the light citrus scent is perfect for summer. Bonus: it's also moisturizing thanks to aloe, castor oil and beeswax, which as we just learned, helps reduce body odor.
Don't forget your face! Not only should you wear sunscreen when out in the sun (obviously), it's really important to also wear a daily natural sunscreen to protect your delicate face. A good quality one will feel light on your skin and hopefully smell clean and fresh, too.
I like Beautycounter's Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage, a tinted moisturizer with SPF20. Another winner, though it's a bit more matte, is True Botanicals' Everyday Sheer Coverage Tinted Sunscreen with SPF20.
One of the other major perks about Beautycounter that many people don’t know about is their loyalty program, Band of Beauty. It includes some awesome benefits like:
- Every time you shop, you get a 15% off product credit that you can use on your next order, essentially saving you 15% on all future orders.
- Get a FREE full-sized product as a complimentary gift for signing up when you spend $50.
- Free shipping, always, when you spend over $100.
- Special offers, discounts and exclusive access to new products before they’re available to the general public.
It’s only $29 to join, which you’ll make back with the free gift and future savings. If you’re going to spend more than $100 with Beautycounter each year, this is seriously a no-brainer!
7) How to Smell Good Naturally: Drink More Water
We all know that drinking water helps us stay healthy, hydrated and moisturized–especially when sweating is more common, like in the summer months or if working out is part of your regular routine.
Water also flushes out bodily toxins. When toxins go, so too does body odor.
So drink up, buttercup!
Tip: Be sure to drink filtered water. Read all about why in our Water Filtration Guide: The Dangers of Tap and Bottled Water.
8) How to Smell Good Naturally: Eat Anti-Inflammatory, Detoxing Foods
Keeping your body in a healthy, anti-inflammatory state and flooding it with nutrients will not only keep you hydrated, but will support your hormones and gut balance–both of which can lead to improved body odor.
For example, there are specific enzymes in the body that break down intestinal residue to an odorless state, but if enzyme levels are low, missing, or bowel flora is disturbed, then a “fishy” body odor can result. (source)
So, load up on lots of fresh, detoxifying foods including fruits, vegetables and clean protein (though be wary of overdoing things like turmeric, garlic and onions–see tip #9 below).
Also drink green smoothies and be sure to get in your healthy fats (like avocados, nuts, coconut oil and ghee) to help moisturize your skin and organs from within.
9) How to Smell Good Naturally: Fresh, Natural Breath
Easily one of the most offensive smells we can give off is bad breath.
Keep your breath fresh with natural toothpaste (Dr. Bronner'sand Earthpaste are my favorites!), mouthwash and floss. Tea tree oil is often used in these products which is a powerful disinfectant with a pleasant, eucalyptus-like smell.
Don't forget to brush your tongue! Your tongue can trap tiny scraps of food, whereby even if you brush and floss regularly, those small remains can collect bacteria and emit hydrogen sulfide vapors–a.k.a. bad breath.
You may also want to consider a tongue scraper, which removes bacteria, dead cells, and food debris from the crevices of your tongue.
Tip: in addition to toothpaste and mouthwash, you can also temporarily mask bad breath by chewing on fresh parsley, mint, or fennel seeds.
Plus, lookout for foods with pungent ingredients like garlic, onions, curry and other spices, and coffee and alcohol, which can not only cause bad breath, but also a bit of a body odor. When digesting, these foods release sulfuric gases through your pores–so you probably want to avoid them before date night, a business meeting or spin class.
10) How to Smell Good Naturally: Natural Shower Products
Obviously we know products like shampoo, conditioner, gel, hair cream, body wash and lotion smell great. But most contain toxic fragrance and other harmful ingredients.
Make the switch to non-toxic and natural personal care, which still smell amazing but their ingredients don't strip your hair or skin from their natural oils or contain synthetic fragrance–so you're much better off in the long run.
When I'm not wearing any perfumes or oils, I often have people tell me how good I smell, and I give credit to my natural hair products. For some of my favorite hair and body products, check out my current green beauty routine and my shopping list from Thrive Market.
Tip: spraying natural perfume in your hair also helps give your locks an invigorating scent that lasts all day!
11) How to Smell Good Naturally: Lifestyle Tweaks
This one may be obvious, but don't smoke. Not only is it bad for your health, it's a smell that's really hard to get out of your hair and clothes.
You may also want to cut back on coffee and alcohol, as they're both dehydrating and contribute to bad breath (haven't you ever smelled old coffee breath on someone, or with one sniff could detect alcohol on someone's breath? Not appealing!).
Other lifestyle tweaks that can help: meditation and yoga are great stress reducers, and as it turns out, stress can actually increase smelly body odor. (source)
12) How to Smell Good Naturally: Natural Laundry Detergent
I love the smell of fresh, clean clothes right out of the dryer!
For tough odors like your gym clothes, tossing some distilled white vinegar in the washer helps too as it's a natural disinfectant, and doubles as fabric softener.
13) How to Smell Good Naturally: Wear Natural Fabrics + Cotton Underwear
Synthetic fabrics are not only bad for your skin, they're often clingy, not breathable and make you extra sweaty, especially in the heat.
Ideally, get organic cotton (cotton is the #1 sprayed crop in the USA so any conventional cotton clothing you have has been sprayed with pesticides, chemicals and toxins). (source) Linen shirts and pants are also great options in the summer, as they're designed to be super light and breathable.
This is especially important for underwear, as you want these sensitive parts of your body to be protected from unnatural ingredients and be able to breathe.
Synthetic materials like lycra or nylon can sometimes lead to an uncomfortable buildup of moisture that can cause itching and bacteria growth (moisture + heat can create yeast–and we all know we want to avoid that ‘down there'!), whereas cotton's absorbency wicks away perspiration.
Over to you! What are your favorite ways to smell good naturally? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust.