A smelly coworker can be a big issue in today’s workplace. Some wear too much cologne or perfume, while others don’t wear enough antiperspirant. But it is awkward to approach a coworker about their personal scent. Luckily, today I’m going to discuss how to properly apply fragrances so that you aren’t the overpowering scent in your office. I’ll also talk about how to deal with that coworker who is driving your olfactory senses crazy.

How to Wear Cologne or Perfume

The simplest and most effective way to apply a spray fragrance, in my opinion, is to spray the cologne or perfume into the air at chest level and just walk through it. In my experience this approach works best for a couple reasons. First of all, the scent is applied to your skin instead of your clothing. That means when you sweat or your body heats up, the scent will be released. Also, this prevents the spray from potentially staining more sensitive clothing (like a silk tie or blouse).

Applying your scent of choice using this method also allows you to wear a shirt more than once. If you spray directly onto the clothing, that scent will be on that clothing the next time you wear it, and it will be much stronger than any residual scent from your skin. Finally, this method allows for an even application. Some people will spray the fragrance right on their chest. That results in the scent only existing in one location, instead of being spread out. With lighter scents, you may also be able to add a secondary spray to your neck or another area, but I don’t think that’s usually necessary.

Another way to apply your cologne or perfume is with spot contact. Lauren Roso prefers spraying the scent in specific spots. She recommends the wrist and neck, and also the hair. Your hair holds the scent longer, according to Roso, so that you smell just as good at the end of the night as you did when the day started.

Spot contact is also great for non-spray applicators. Chris Rovny, of AskMen.com, says the best way to use these is to “apply one finger over the bottle opening, tip the bottle over and evenly apply cologne onto your favorite application points (could include behind your ears, the glandular points on your neck, or your inner wrists; whatever’s most comfortable).”

What to Do About A Coworker’s Scent

When a coworker’s personal hygiene has an effect on you, it creates a very awkward work situation. To avoid these issues, the city of Portland is putting a new policy in place “discouraging personal scented products in the work-place.” Assuming you don’t live in Portland, how do you deal with the person in your office who just doesn’t realize the issue?

There are websites to send anonymous notes to people, but that doesn’t seem very professional. You can make subtle hints like bringing in gum and offering it to everyone in the area. Or you could even confront the person directly. Kat Griffin of Corporette.com points out that going to a human resources person is probably the best route. They’re trained to handle that kind of thing. By going to an HR person, or even a manager, everyone gets to preserve their dignity and minimize the social fallout.

(photo: Shutterstock)