(Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/Jet Tone Production)
There’s a pivotal scene in Wong Kai Wai’s masterpiece, In the Mood for Love, when Chow Mo-wan (played by Tony Leung) takes a puff of his cigarette next to slight-shouldered Su Li-Zhen (played by Maggie Cheung).
Set in 1962 Hong Kong, the entire scene is breathtakingly beautiful as it is painfully subdued. There’s not much said, but the tension is real. The scene takes place outside of a building mixed with gray concrete and dusty brick, with paraphernalia plastered all over. It’s juxtaposed with Li-Zhen’s colorful floral cheongsam and dangling earrings. She leans on the wall, looks away from the man she feels a deep connection to, and remains still. Mo-wan inhales his cigarette and there’s so much that is said without any actual conversation.
The tension is piercing as Director Wong uses cinematography that’s saturated and seductive. Both are connected by their spouses, who have been both having extramarital with each other. They, too, begin developing strong feelings toward each other in a movie that’s full of forbidden love, lust and caution.
(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)
I think about this pivotal scene time and time again and how extraordinary it is to find the wonder – and power – of what isn’t seen or heard, but felt. It’s the feeling I receive when I use a perfume or fragrance oil, one that takes me back to a specific time in history. This visceral reaction happened when I first spritzed Byredo’s Rose Noir onto my skin for the first time. Its notes of damask rose, delicate and subtle, is soft and barely there at first spray. It’s only until it settles that it becomes darker, potent and decadent. This happens with the fragrance having fresh top notes of grapfruit and freesia, which are light, middle notes of rose damascena, its very floral scene and then with a foundational base notes comprising of moss, musk and cistus.
The result: a fragrance that builds on its seduction throughout the day. I imagine this is exactly what Mo-wan smelled in the air when he was in Li-Zhen’s presence. At first sweet and light, the smell blooms into a dark fragrance with a lot of depth.
Byredo’s own description is perhaps best: “A traditional olfactory rose, the Damascena, is made potent and contemporary once again by darkening its character,” it says. “Rose Noir becomes a decadent, dirty rose with an intense and animal quality.” The latter, exactly encapsulating the feelings of both characters who suppressed their emotions and lust for so long that they ended up withering away, like a rose on the last day of summer.
Whenever I spritz this, I recall that powerful scene and wonder if either characters ever expressed their devotion to each other – and it’s heartbreaking.
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.
Double masking is now officially a thing.
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Fall, winter, spring or summer. It doesn’t matter the season. Chances are, your balls probably smell.
There’s truly nothing to be embarrassed about. And if you’ve caught yourself wondering what that smell was coming from your calls, it’s totally natural. Call it a guy’s own “ew de toilette,” or one’s own musk. Whatever it is, it’s junk funk that’s synonymous to every locker room. For those who aren’t quite familiar with the smell, it can be described as thick, putrid, sour, clouded in a heavy, pungent musk with notes of salty taint.
Perhaps it’s been encountered while sitting behind a dude furiously pumping iron at the gym. Maybe from a whiff that’s traveled from the direction of a sweaty dude sitting spread eagle-style at track practice. Or, simply, in close quarters, like in a hellishly crowded train. Summer and sweaty weather may be gone, but ball stench still remains, especially when guys layer themselves with unbreathable clothing.
So why, exactly, do those gonads smell so … raw?
Mostly, we can blame ventilation and how we as a modern society opt to wear things like skin-tight briefs. When in tight quarters, poor air circulation to cool the cajones is prevented, which eventually leads to sweat. Lots and lots of sweat. Of course, sweat in and of itself doesn’t have a particular smell. It’s only when bacteria latches onto it and feeds on it when odor is developed and released.
Good news for mankind (and womankind, for that matter!): We now live in an era where brands big to small are all doing their own good by combating scrotum stench. This odor-eliminating crusade is addressing this pervasive problem head-on, finally allowing all men to be free to jump, run, sit and yes, just be, without being so self-conscious.
From anti-microbial underwear, to cleansers, sprays and creams, achieving fresh balls is finally possible. Here’s how.
Rinse and Repeat
The easiest way to curtail odor? Be hygienic. Sounds easy because it is. Whether bar or liquid in form, both will do the job. A recommendation is for those who are extra prone to smell to cleanse their bodies multiple times in a day. An easy rule of thumb that should go without saying: The more the area is kept clean, the less chance of bacteria festering and rudely making itself at home.
Keep it dry
This is probably the most difficult part of the entire process but possibly the most important. Keeping the area extra dry. After getting out of the shower, it’s very important to wipe off the area and ensure there is absolutely no moisture. If you’re unsure as to if you’ve toweled off completely, use a blowdryer on a cool setting. Then, apply your favorite cream, spray or powder. Choose from your preference below.
If you’re averse to touching or don’t want any residue on your fingers, opt for this spray from Dry Goods. It instantly cools, there’s no mess, no fuss, and it works very efficiently. Buy it Dry Goods Athletic Spray Powder $14
For those of you who are more evolved than Gold Bond powder comes this new brand, Chassis. The brand, which markets itself as “premium,” and uses menthyl lactate rather than menthol for a cooling sensation. It’s supposedly better for you and lasts longer. Simply cup the product in your hand and dip it in the powder. If that’s not an option, powder your underwear before wearing. Buy it Chassis Premium Body Powder for Men, Original Fresh Scent $18
If you’re in a bind and out and about and feeling a little damp, have these handy wipes on hand. They’re from the brand, Nadkins, which touts itself as being “100% natural and 100% non-toxic.” Ingredients include aloe vera, vitamin, allantoin that cleanses while hydrating the skin. Keep these in your back pocket or in your wallet for emergency situations. Buy it Nadkins 30 pack, $19.99.
Armor yourself with underwear
You’re only as good as the underwear that keeps you together. These days, savvy brands are now introducing materials that keep you fresh and cool with anti-microbial fabrics that fight off bacteria.
Mack Wheldon offers a line specifically combining pima cotton with silver XT2 fabrics, which makes for a soft underwear with anti-odor properties that keep you fresh, dry and cool. But it Mack Weldon Men’s , $32
Buck Naked The brand, from Duluth Trading Company, is stretchy and super comfortable with its almost silk-like feel. It’s actually cotton treated with sweat wicking materials that will keep you dry all day long. Buy it here, $22.50.
MeUndies is a subscription model that sends you new underwear essentially every day. If you’re lazy and don’t readily clean your own clothes, this could be a good solution to replenishing for a new day. The underwear comes in new styles and truly, are super, super comfortable. The ones we’ve tested are actually extremely soft and feel like second skin. Buy it here, $20 and up.
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