To the respite of many, Indian men have started to smell good. A recently released report by Euromonitor International suggests that the market for deodorants in India grew by a massive 177 per cent between 2011 and 2016. This is good news, considering another report last year had suggested that 54 per cent India had said body odour affected personal relationships and 79 per cent perceive body odour as a negative trait in professional-social settings like job interviews. While these are facts, when it comes to personal hygiene, unlike women, men often shy away from discussing their habits or numbers. “It’s unfortunate that no one ever told them better. No one tells them about body odour, bad breath, or even instructs them to wash their hands after using the washroom,” says etiquette expert Sheena Aggarwal.
The famous phallic connection that Freudians found with cigarettes had made fortunes for cigarette barons. Similarly, thanks to advertisers, “deodorants have become a sexual tool than a product for personal hygiene,” Sheena adds.
“If the men who smoke carry a box of mint, it wouldn’t harm their masculinity,” she quips.
But things have definitely improved and a reversal study of the influencers says a lot. “India has often been influenced by cricketers or film stars and if we look at the latest role models — be it Virat Kohli or Ranveer Singh — they symbolise everything that the young men of our country would aspire: money, cars and women,” points out Nischay Gogia, founder of Moochwala, a moustache and beard merchandising brand.
“But today, even Anil Kapoor has changed his image,” adds Nischay with a laugh. Pointing at the importance of maintaining personal hygiene, he adds, “Be it men or women, personal hygiene is very important. Today, with such a variety of products, men can keep themselves clean.” But smelling good is at the top of his priority list. “Lot of people still get the basics wrong. Deodorant is for the skin and perfume is for the clothes. And perfume cannot be sprayed as injudiciously as deodorants,” he adds.
While the olfactory business is restricted to deodorants and perfumes, young entrepreneur Aditya Shah is looking at making the old fashioned cologne popular among the young online buyers. Aditya’s family run business of manufacturing and selling colognes has taken a step ahead. “We are trying to reach out to more college students who invest more on deodorants; but colognes are cheaper and more effective,” says Aditya. Talking about the ways to use cologne, he explains, “In the olden days, people would put a few drops of cologne in the bathtubs or buckets. Or they would also use it as aftershaves.”
“Of course we have men whom we call metrosexuals, who were okay about talking personal hygiene or waxing their body, but there is still a gap in the mindset,” concludes Sheena.
Things to remember, by etiquette expert Sheena Aggarwal:
- Wash your shirt every time you wear them. “Men often have the habit of repeating their shirts without washing, that’s an absolute no-no,” says Sheena.
- Indian men should know that if they have gray hair, they shouldn’t apply heena because orange and black aren’t a good combination of colours. Although salt and pepper are good, if men really have to dye their hair, they must choose a proper colour.
- This is especially for young boy, who should not keep the ‘soul patches’ beard (a patch of beard right under their lip).