Nearly three decades ago, I ran across this weird book in the discount section of a Borders Books that was all about bio-hacks before the language of bio-hacking was a part of our cultural zeitgeist.
I learned some really interesting things.
One thing I learned was that most people sleep in 90-minute cycles and that how creating a consistent sleep schedule is healthy.
I haven’t used an alarm clock since. I sleep 6 hours a night, and I’ve never had real sleep issues of any sort.
I also learned about oil washing facial skin and I’ve been dong that since.
I learned about coconut oil long before that was a huge thing for everyone.
I learned about no-poo.
And, I learned a bit about the body and scent, and how to live inside the meat sack I’ve been given. And now, I rarely use soaps to wash my body, I don’t use antiperspirants (don’t even own any), and I’m very careful about perfumes and colognes.
No one who spends much time with me notices any body odor (I don’t have much), and I can tell when my own scent changes through my cycles and if I’m feeling a bit unwell.
And recently, on FetLife in some comments, a short discussion about how important scent is to attraction came up. And not long after I ran across this article about how humans rely more on scent than we think:
Noam Sobel and Idan Frumin secretly videotaped people after they shook the hand of someone new, someone they had just met for the first time. Here’s their delicious discovery: a few seconds after the handshake, the experimental subjects would inevitably sniff their own hands to gain some odorous information about the new person.
“When we showed them the videos, many of the subjects were completely shocked and disbelieving,” Frumin told me. “Some thought we had doctored the videos—not that we had the computing power or the expertise to do so.”
When the new individual was of the same gender (in this and many studies on odour signalling in humans, scientists have primarily focused on heterosexual individuals, and they have not included research subjects who are trans or nonbinary, or mentioned if they have), the subjects sniffed their own shaking hand twice as much as before. In contrast, after handshakes across different genders, subjects more than doubled the amount of sniffing they did of their own nonshaking hand.
Like, I never thought I did that, but I’m guessing I do. Even though if I knew I did, and I caught myself doing it, I’d feel really awk.
Because that’s just weird.
And yet, it makes sense.
And my partner and I are both into each other’s scent. And natural (clean/healthy) body smell. And so on.
In fact, I’ve really liked people whose scent I couldn’t stand, and it’s driven us apart. Which is also weird for me to say, but there it is.
There’s more: Claus Wedekind in 1995 showed that women can sniff out a genetically compatible mate—or at least mates with compatible immune systems. Female test subjects were asked to rate the attractiveness of odours emanating from T-shirts worn for two days by anonymous men. Meanwhile, blood samples were taken from everyone for an analysis of their DNA, specifically of a set of immune-system genes called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC).
These genes are involved in helping immune cells learn to recognize pathogenic foreign invaders. As it turned out, women preferred the odour of men whose MHC genes were different enough that any shared offspring would likely have healthy immune systems.
And then there is Russian Smell-O-Vision Dating. Like the Tinder of the schnozz.
You arrive clean to a dating event, and re-clean with wipes. Then, you work up a sweat. And wipe your chest and armpits with cotton pads that go into individual numbered glass jars.
Then, people sniff samples.
Like swiping with your nose.
And if there is a mutual sniff-love, you are matched for connecting.
Which, when it comes down to it, is probably not any sillier than picking people based on a mutual love of baby goats in sweaters, or of horror punk.
What are your thoughts?
Do you think you sniff your hand after greeting others?
And regardless of the answer to that question (SOOO weird to think about), on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being absolutely necessary, how important is scent to your personal life? That your partner smell good to you?