Gender and Life

Do men smell worse than women and need stronger deodorants?
Answered by Curiosity
  • Curiosity


  1. A quick response to the question of whether men smell inherently worse than women would likely range from, "Eh, probably" to "Of course they do!" After all, that's the stereotype: Men, being the coarser species culture often portrays, are certainly more malodorous. But the real answer might be surprising to some.

    It turns out that men don't produce any stronger body odors than women do. The reason it might seem so is that it's more difficult for a man to successfully cover his body's less pleasant odors than it is for a woman [source: Wilbert]. Men aren't necessarily smellier; it's just that women have better sniffers. Researchers think that the reason that women are more sensitive to smell is that evolution has led them to use information about a man's scent to decide whether he would make a suitable mate. A woman can sniff out whether a man has a different genetic makeup than she does. After all, studies have found that differences in certain genes between partners can accurately indicate reproductive success and marital happiness [source: Kaplan].

    So if men don't really produce stronger body odors, why are there so many odor-killing products "just for men"? The answer is that it's purely a marketing distinction. Even with all of the name and price difference between deodorants used by men and women, the active ingredients -- the stuff that does the odor killing -- are identical [source: CBC]. Gender-specific marketing and fragrance types push up the prices of deodorant products, not special formulas to kill manly odors. Certain cultural norms also mean that some fragrances are considered more feminine than others -- another way to set the products apart. Yet some men have dared to use deodorant that's marketed toward women. One study found that up to five percent of men who used either a deodorant or antiperspirant wore a product that was intended for women.

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