My friends don’t know I use a $6 fragrance

(AXE’s YOU is all about, well, you! Here’s mine with my own personalized name. Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

When I was in the sixth grade, before acne set in and I grew any pubic hair, I used to douse myself everywhere with cheap colognes.

You’d have thought the spray was a mosquito repellent and I was out to slay the biggest mosquito of all, truly suicidal, I know. I’d spritz the air twice, walk into the musky mist, bask in my hormonal glory, then spray my arm pits once, proceeded by opening my shorts and fumigating wildly down there for good measure. In retrospect, I smelled like walking HPV, a reason why I probably had all of two friends, one including a dog my family owned for all of two days. 🙁

Years later, I dabbled lightly in fragrances. When I mean lightly, I mean nothing at all. Just my deodorant and the smell of my freshly laundered clothing. But when a friend told me that I was reaching the age where I needed to be more sophisticated, I decided that maybe, just maybe, I’d try.

That’s when this story takes an interesting turn and comes full circle, my friends. Lately, I’ve been using a spray that I once used in my youth, the same that used to coat my young testicles and make them sting. ‘Oh, is that Le Labo, a savvy editor friend of mine recently asked.’ ‘That smells familiar, could it be Diptyque? I had another one try guessing.’ Of course, I never really revealed my answer. I wanted my own eau de toilette to be clouded and shrouded in complete mystery.

That is, until now. Friends, family, my old dog if you’re still alive, I am confessing that I have been using AXE spray for the past few months. And OMG no, this is not a sponsored post, lol. (FYI, we at Very Good Light will never ever be paid t0 review products. Trust us, we’ve been approached.) Yes, you can raise your brows and wag your tongues or clap in unison. It’s truly impressive, I know. AXE. The same hormonal brand that used to show commercials instructing guys to clean their balls.

But the brand has completely transformed from crass to class in the past year. While the brand was all about tapping into that hormonal teenager, it’s now about redefining masculinity. I was actually impressed by their Find Your Magic campaign, in which they show a diverse array of men ranging from swaggy straight guys, paraplegic dudes, to gay teens finding love. Was it time to start rethinking AXE completely? I think so.

So I started using the $6 new YOU spray because their PR sent it over. I was hesitant at first. I mean, this was still AXE, after all. But a light douse of it made me open my senses. It was a hell of a lot more sophisticated that I remembered. The fragrance has notes of amber and cinnamon for a sweet smell, then peppers in coriander leaves and black basil for something fresh.

The overall feeling is that this fragrance is well-rounded and warm, like the first actual warm day of spring when all the basics trade in their Uggs for boat shoes. Researching more, I see that the fragrance was created by Ann Gottlieb, aka the woman behind scents like Calvin Klein, Dior, to Marc Jacobs, to name a few. Okay, makes sense now. It’s a fragrance that’s been well thought out. Makes me feel a lot more sophisticated knowing it’s from someone who has an expert nose.

All in all, my friends, I will still continue spray myself in an X formation like a teen for the next unforeseen months. Like, honestly, one spritz altogether. For $6 it’s definitely a steal and something you have permission to check out as well. The next time I go in for a hug and I get a whiff of your glory, I won’t say out loud what you’re sprayed with. I’ll give you a wink and nod and then Instagram Story what you’re using behind your back. JK. The world should know what you’re using.

I think it’s cooler to know that you didn’t spend hundreds on a fragrance to smell of confidence. Rather, a couple dollars to find your, well, YOU. That, my friends, is being a savvy shopper. That, my friends, is being a swaggy AF man. Just don’t use on your precious crown jewels down there. It will still burn. It will still sting. Yes, I have tried.

You can buy AXE’s YOU spray, $6 here

Dove Men+Care’s new body wash made me feel like a DILF

Hate anything smooth, supple, or soft? Would you rather have itchy, blotchy, dry, ashy skin? Do you truly hate being comfortable?

If you answered yes, yes and YASSS to any and all of these questions, you truly must be a porcupine. And if you really are and reading this, please, I beg you, write for us.  For all of you other human beings who overwhelmingly said HELL NAH, we have some good news for you. We tried a new product line all about fighting dryness and were pleased to say that it really does work.

It’s from Dove Men+Care Elements, a brand new product line that launched Monday. The brand is all about that Micromoisture technology that it patented years ago, which is clinically proven to leave your skin hydrated. What we’ve always loved about Dove’s men’s line is that it was great for sensitive skin. I mean, it’s not the coolest of brands on the market. There are definitely many, multiple brands that have that cool cachet. Dove isn’t one of them. It’s like, Dad Cool. But we digress! Their new line is all about utilizing premium ingredients at an approachable price point and is inspired by the Earth’s elements. The new products include: Minerals+Sage, Charcoal+Clay and Mineral Powder+Sandalwood. We tested the Charcoal+Clay body wash.

There are tiny exfoliation agents. Aren’t they sexy? (Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

I’ve always felt like the fragrance of Dove Men+Care line made me feel like a true DILF. Almost as if I was married, had 14 children (and counting), a scruffy, soft beard, wore ill-fitting cargo shorts with Crocs but still made it look hot. That is, the brand’s fragrance always felt super masculine, what I’d imagine Jon Hamm would smell like every morning.

I’ve always felt like the fragrance of Dove Men+Care line made me feel like a true DILF.

Super normcore sexy, sure, but not very me. As anyone reading this site would know, I’m more of a lavender, manuka honey, rose petal, type of dude who likes to smell clean, fresh and zestfully unisex.

Which is why among all of the products I chose the Charcoal & Clay, meant to purify dirty skin while drawing out dirt, oil and toxins, made me totally change my feeling towards the brand. For one, I’m definitely a sucker for charcoal and anything clay, two words that conjure bath time, me time, selfish time where I can pamper myself without remorse. And it seemed a lot more elevated than other formulations.

It’s me in the bathtub living my best life. (Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

After testing the new product line for a week, I was super confused. The packaging wasn’t so new and the formula was almost the same. But the fragrance was a little bit more unisex. It didn’t have the musky, oud-y smell, rather, was lighter and felt less obvious in its masculinity. Was Dove Men+Care listening to my inner thoughts?

Bathing in this body wash was like soaking myself in lotion. It lathered into my skin perfectly, gliding along every which curve of my body (there are many these days, thanks, winter pudge!). But instead of over drying like other brands, it did exactly the opposite: it moisturized like no other. It also came in a cool light grey color with awesome microbeads that gave me some exfoliation. I was really into how it seemed to lightly slough away my dead skin cells in the process of cleansing.

Was Dove Men+Care listening to my inner thoughts?

At the end of the week, I felt renewed, as if I found my newfound self. No longer did I feel like a DILF. I was more like a late 20’s self-absorbed millennial who was so obsessed with his own life he couldn’t bear thinking of settling down and sharing himself with a spouse let along babies. Basically, I felt totally like myself. Which is the best review of all. If a product makes you feel like yourself, that’s all you could really ask for.

Here’s how pizza can actually be good for you

(Photo and art by RJ Regidor/Very Good Light)

Pizza face!

It’s literally all people said growing up to those who dealt with acne. Which I still don’t get why is an insult because as w know, pizza is sexy AF. Other sexy AF foods: French fries dipped in mayo; potato chips coated with dark chocolate; Ranch dressing on breadsticks. The list goes on.

SEE ALSO: You’ll never guess Colton Haynes’ genius beauty hack 

Throughout the years, we’ve heard the adage that whatever you eat sticks to your body. And that includes, unfortunately, your face. The thinking is that eating pizza can in turn make you oily and sprout zits the size of pepperoni slices. But can pizza be that bad? According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists found that eating pizza can reduce your risk of a heart attack.

“In a 4-year study of nearly 1,000 Italians, those who ate pizza at least once a week were 30 percent less likely to experience a heart attack than the folks who didn’t partake of the pie. This is contributed to pizza’s cardio protective ingredients, including olive oil and tomato sauce.”

That’s great news, if there ever was one. The reasoning? Tomatoes, it says, help your body absorb lycopene, an antioxidant that prevents heart disease and illnesses. And with the cheese’s fat, it absorbs even better. Cheese, the study said, is all about protein and 15 grams can give you enough energy to repair cells and burn muscle, which is why the scientists actually said eating a few slices for a cheat meal isn’t such a bad idea. THIS IS RANCH DRESSING TO OUR EARS. 

Finally, EVOO. That’s extra virgin olive oil in Rachel Ray speak. It’s supposed to mimic the effects of ibuprofen, reducing inflammation, which can decrease disease and cancers.

So, uh, it’s safe to say that pizza is practically a vegetable, right? Congress did once vote that it was?

Okay, not so fast. We spoke to Brooke Alpert, registered dietician to see if she would break our hearts by debunking this seemingly too good to be true European study.

“It’s important to make a few things clear first,” she tells Very Good Light. “The study was in regards to true Italian pizza, not the massive greasy slices that we serve here in the States. In no way can I say that I recommend Pizza is a healthy option when eaten the way we do here in the US.”

The main reason, Brooke says, is because the pizza in Italy is “very different” from the kind we eat here. “Ingredients are fresher, portions are smaller, even the wheat is different.”

She did agree with how tomatoes can be good for you: “Tomatoes contain lycopene which is an amazing antioxidant that helps protect the body, especially the heart from inflammation and oxidation,” she says. “There have even been connections to lycopene helping to protect the skin from sun damage.” That being said, more tomato sauces here, she says, are added with lots of sugar, which is not good for your body or your skin.

When it comes to cheese, Brooke agrees that it can be good for you. But it has to be low in sugar and high in protein.

Finally, olive oil can be “an amazing source of healthy fats.” Brooke says that it’s been linked to lowering abdominal fat, which lowers the risk of heart disease.

“Regardless of where in the world you’re eating your pizza, always remember to watch your portions and have some greens with it,” she recommends.

So that’s that. Pizza can be good for you. Hell, the good European scientists even recommended eating it in between work out sessions (hallelu!). But only – and this is a big ONLY – if you’re eating the right kind of ingredients and in small portions. Healthy ingredients? Smaller portion pizza? Greens? Okay, it’s taco time.

Why flying on airplanes is even more disgusting than you thought

It’s the holidays and flying on airplanes is inevitable. And that means that extra care for your well-being and skin, is more important than ever.

This reminds me of a bad break out I had earlier this year when I was flying nonstop from New York City to Los Angeles for a shoot with beauty guru Michelle Phan. It was an unremarkable flight, one that included a generic inflight meal, three forgettable movies and brief naps on the plane’s scratchy pillows. But after five and a half hours on the plane, I realized I walked out of the airport a prepubescent teen, one with many new zits and pus-filled pimples that formed all over my face. Disgust-filled, I realized it had to do with the flight I just experienced.

I knew that flights dried out your skin and the air quality was probably not so great for your system. But after doing some research online, I found that airplanes were more disgusting than I previously conjectured. Did you know, for instance, that you’re pretty much guaranteed to get in contact with bacteria wherever you sit on an airplane? It’s even worse, apparently, if you’re sitting in the aisle seat (this due to more people passing by). Worse, you could get E.coli, a bacteria found in fecal matter, from drinking water given to you by flight attendants or from simply washing your hands from the bacteria-infested sink.

“In general, the most common bacterial skin infection involve an overgrowth of staph bacteria, which is a normal component of the skin, but in times of upheaval, such as an airplane flight, may become overgrown,” explains Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, CEO and Founder of Miami Skin Institute, to Very Good Light.

It makes sense. People are filthy. And when they’re clustered together? Filth volcano. Bacteria eruption. Impending doom.

Let’s start with just the lavatory alone. The average bathroom sees around 75 passengers, according to Gizmodo. That means there’s lots of room for diseases to spread, especially when a few passengers won’t wash their hands afterwards (or simply can’t because their hands are way too big for the teeny tiny sinks).

These humans (including you) carrying many diseases. Get your guards up.

Humans, (or the average human, at least), shed 30,000-40,000 skin cells every hour, which is completely covered in bacteria. Some, which can actually kill you. According to a Time report, an estimated 1% to 2% of people in the U.S. alone could be carriers of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) AKA totally life-threatening if it enters your bloodstream. Yikes.

According to the New York Post, the following are the most bacteria-prone spots on a plane:

  1. Tray tables
  2. Magazines and in-flight entertainment touch screens
  3. Bathroom handles
  4. Toilet and lid
  5. Water faucet and soap dispenser
  6. Paper towel dispenser
  7. AC knob on the ceiling
  8. Headrest (includes blankets and pillows that are never washed, simply reused)

The most troubling part of this all, though, is that you really can’t do anything about it. You can’t avoid the air circulation (which airlines claim is 97% “fresh air”, uh, what’s the other 3% then?), can’t choose who sat in the seats you’re sitting in now, and surely can’t control who comes into contact with you. So what is it that you can do? Pray. Well, that and a few proactive steps you can take.

Try the below to avoid acne, splotchy skin, a dehydrated complexion and more:

1 Bring sanitizing and antibacterial wipes

Use these before you sit down on your seat handles, actual seat, inflight touchscreen monitor and especially your trays. Apparently, airline attendants do not wipe each down before a new flight. We recommend Wet Ones, which has packaging perfect for being on the go.

2 BYOW (bring your own water!)

As per mentioned, inflight water is deplorable. It’s also infested with bacteria and incredibly harmful. According to Time, the United States Environmental Protection Agency found traces of E. coli in inflight water for the past six years. Also, coffee and tea is made before each flight and don’t reach high enough temperatures to kill certain bacterias. Watch out for any and all water that’s served outside a container. It’s best you bring your own.

3 Makeup wipes

Since there’s so much bacteria in the air that’s harmful to your skin, it’s pertinent you wash your face every few hours. Since we’ve heard how unsanitary bathrooms are, this is obviously not a choice. Instead, try a makeup wipe from Burt’s Bees in a grapefruit scent. It isn’t oily, the fragrance is fresh and goes on with a clean feeling. Use every other hour or whenever you’re feeling in need.

4 Face masks

Another reason for breakouts could be an overproduction of oils to make up for low humidity levels. Keeping hydrated throughout (with your own water!), is important yes, but also hydrating the exterior is very essential as well. We recommend a face mask. It’s easy to put on in small spaces and is easy to take off. There’s nothing else you need to place on and off. Though warning: Your neighbors might get rightfully spooked. Bring an extra one for them and do it together as a bonding experience. You can buy a variety of them but our favorite is from Amore Pacific. It isn’t juicy like most and sticks to your face much like a sticker.

5 Sleeping masks

Sleeping masks are great during long flights because they totally hydrate while you doze off. They’re also extremely hydrating. After your face mask, apply (with clean hands!) all over your face. We recommend one from Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. It’s a water mask that goes on lightly and seeps deep into your pores.

6 Face mists

Mist every so often to rehydrate your skin. A good option is Kiehl’s own In Flight Refreshing Mist, a product designed just for this experience. It’ll keep your face supple and ward off dehydration.

7 Balm it up

Prevent chapped hands and lips with a nice balm. We’re really into Lucas Papaw Ointment, a beauty secret for tons of people for over 100 years. Apply as needed.

The surprising reason why some people don’t produce body odor

(Giphy)

(Giphy)

I once watched a Korean variety show when a Korean pop star admitted to using deodorant. The entire audience proceeded to erupt in laughter. 

“You use deodorant? Poor thing,” a female announcer went on to say. “You must really smell.”

It was a conversation that was completely jarring to me as an American, even though I’m of Korean descent. Are Koreans super unhygienic, I wondered, or do they really just not smell badly? It’s interesting to note that when I went to Seoul, deodorants were nowhere in sight, not sold in drug stores or retailers or anywhere. There’s even countless articles from foreigners who search far and wide for deodorants in Seoul to find that, well, there is none. 

Then, last summer, my crude friend Nich, also a Korean American, dared me to sniff his under arm. It was the middle of a heat wave and we had just wandered around Bushwick, sweating like cats giving birth, if cats sweat. Being the daredevil that I am, I then stuck my nostrils onto his hairless pits, which resembled an ostrich’s eyelashes, sticking out sharply in random places.

The conclusion? To my dismay, they really, truly didn’t smell. At all. 

It’s a sentiment that I found difficult to believe in. All people certainly produce body odor, don’t they? At least, that’s what the cosmetic industry has been selling to us for, well, forever? After Googling “Koreans don’t smell,” I came across several articles explaining how and why. I also realized how much I’d been scammed by the cosmetic industry into reapplying deodorant multiple times throughout the day (not even considering how much I spend on it!)

According to a LiveScience article from 2013, scientists discovered there was actually a gene called ABCC11, which determines if a person is smelly or not. Those who produce a dry version of earwax apparently also lack the same bacteria that festers in underarms and causes odor. Huh. The reasoning, this Guardian article explains, was because those who produce dry earwax also don’t produce the protein that transports sweat out of pores in our armpits, which attracts bacteria that cause body odor.

“While only 2-percent of Europeans lack the genes for smelly armpits, most East Asians and almost all Koreans lack this gene,” an expert named Ian Day, a genetic epidemiologist at the University of Bristol, told the publication.

Still, in the Western world, the study by LiveScience found that more than three-quarters of people who don’t actually smell still use deodorant. Like me, an apparent luddite who’s been continually scammed. But even as I’ve read this information, it’s proven difficult for me to ween off of the sweat stick out of fear that if a crowded subway train ever shuts down ~I’m~ the one that stinks it up.  

So I spoke directly to a third party dermatologist named Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at the Department of Dermatology, Mount Sinai Hospital. I wanted to see if these findings were, in fact, true.

“A high percentage of Korean patients have the mutation called ABCC11 which alters the composition of sweat so that they do not produce body odor,” he confirms with Very Good Light. “Body odor is produced when sweat is broken down by bacteria that live naturally on the skin.  Depending on the composition of the sweat, odor may be different or have no smell at all when broken down by bacteria.  The mutation does not alter the production of sweat at all, so wetness itself is not affected.  Antiperspirants may be still necessary to reduce sweating, even if a deodorant effect is not needed.”

Okay, cool. So I know I still sweat (a lot actually, just see me during Crossfit, lol), but good to know that I can walk into a meeting right after and no one will say a damn thing. This definitely makes up for the fact that I can’t drink (get the Asian glow, aka allergic to alcohol aka totally a party pooper). Case closed.

If you’re wondering if you, too, carry the genes (or absence there of!) that produce B.O., the article simply says to check your earwax. Dry? Chances are, you, too, are Korean! We kid. But maybe – just maybe – you don’t smell like what we’d imagine Hodor smelling like, either. RIP, Hodor. RIP.