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Dear Sugar
How do you nicely tell a friend she smells a little rank? I have tried getting her bubble bath, fragrant shower gels, body sprays, and I have even bought her deodorant as little token gifts. Each time I buy her something I use the excuse that there was a buy one get one free deal and that it would take me forever to use up the second one!

This is such a taboo subject and it's not something you just come right out and tell someone, so I am reluctant to start a conversation with her that I am unprepared to handle. Do you know of any gentle ways to tell someone they need to tweak their personal hygiene? Helping a Sister out Hayden

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Helping a Sister out Hayden
Breaking the news to a smelly friend isn't easy, but she sure will appreciate your honesty. What part of her body odor is so off putting? Unfortunately, sometimes masking the poor order with fragrant perfumes and body sprays can make it worse.

Could she be suffering from bad breath or are you sure it is bad body odor? How close are you with your gal pal? Has she seen her physician lately? Although you don't feel like you can come right out and say it, sometimes blatant honesty works.

Do you exercise together? You could try saying, in a joking manner - wow - you need a shower, girlfriend! If you notice a new perfume, you could tell her you do not really like her new scent and that you don't think it goes well with her body chemistry.

If you aren't feeling up to being the messenger, a passive aggressive, yet borderline brutal way to get your point across is to write her an anonymous note and stick it in her mailbox. Chances are, she won't stop until she rids herself of the smell and probably won't even mention it to her friends out of pure embarrassment. Good luck.

Join The Conversation
vmruby vmruby 10 years
From what you wrote it seems like you have handled it well so far but she may not be getting the meaning behind it.Dear has some really great advice Tell her point blank but tactfully, so you don't end up making her your enemy instead. Good Luck!!!
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 10 years
DEAR has good advice. I just wanted to add that I think the way in which you've handled it is fantastic! You are a mature woman. :)
quietriott quietriott 10 years
please, do NOT send the anonymous note. the poor girl will just be awfully embarrassed and mortified, and although she may take action, she will probably feel isolated and like people are ganging up against her. although anonymity can be a great shield for constructive criticism, it can make the person on the recieving end feel like they have no idea who is their friend. my mother works in human resources in a medical office and has had to tell employees that they have body odour issues. she arranged a private meeting, sat them down, and politely told them that she was concerned about their health and stressed the social implications of their problem as politely and gently as she could, all while offering help and support. although the meetings did involve some tears and some minor embarrassment, all of them later thanked her for bringing the problem to their attention (1 turned out to be a health issue, the other two changed their hygiene routines).
neni neni 10 years
the anonymous tip reminded me of this website where you can email an anonymous comment to whoever you'd like. The website is . They'll have no idea who sent it! maybe this could be a good way of letting her know without having to confront her. GOOD LUCK!
Tiinnaaaa Tiinnaaaa 10 years
I've luckily never had this problem with a friend but i think i would just randomly spray myself with perfume and then offer some to her :P
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
there is more than one medical reason your friend has an odor and they could actually be serious. is this a new problem? if it is i would bring it up as in "i'm concerned about you because i've noticed something". diabetes has an odor (though usually fruity) and there are other conditions too. good luck. again, wish we got to hear the follow up :)
cubadog cubadog 10 years
I think as a friend you need to talk to her about it. It is possible to handle like an adult. If she does have a medical problem it will give her an oppotunity to open up to you about it. I would rather hear something like that from a friend than have someone at her job say something to her. To me part of being a good friend is being there for eachother.
almost-famous almost-famous 10 years
LOL. I havent had a friend with that problem. sadly im blunt and would tell her she smells a little bad. not point blank tell her and then look her dead in the face. just tell her she has a scent that's bad. lol sorry sounds bad but the truth hurts.
BeachBarbie BeachBarbie 10 years
qtpye, I never knew that. I wish you the best of luck. We all have something to deal with..Bless your heart. And, thank you for educating us on this disorder/condition. :HUG:
qtpye0831 qtpye0831 10 years
While some people have body odor because they either forgot their deoderant that day, and/or their deoderant does not work, or they might have not showered that day....there is also a big possibility that your friend might have hyperhidrosis or bromohidrosis. I happen to have hyperhidrosis, where my underarms sweat constantly, no matter if I am laying in bed doing nothing or running a marathon. I have gotten Botox injections, used strong prescription anti-perspirants, and used every deoderant available with no help. There is nothing that I can do about it, because as we know, with sweating comes odors. Bromhidrosis usually comes with hyperhidrosis or can come on its own. This is where your body omits foul odors for different reasons that are out of their control. These odors can be anywhere from regular body odor, to fecal, fish, and garbage odors. I think talking to a friend about her odor is a bad idea, as you have no idea if she has a problem that she cannot control, and if so, saying something (while yes, it is nice of you) hurts a lot and can make her feel uncomfortable. Most people usually know if they have an odor and when you can't do anything about it, obviously its going to be an embarressing subject that would rather not be brought up. MSN has a great chat forum about hyperhidrosis and bromhidrosis if you'd like to learn more about it. For people like me, it is good to get the word out that there is a medical condition for why some people smell bad and can do nothing about it. I feel that if people learn more about it they would be less naive and have sympathy for the other people with these conditions. -Brianne
BeachBarbie BeachBarbie 10 years
* Your :OOPS:
BeachBarbie BeachBarbie 10 years
Marci, I feel the same way, and I'm also grateful to never have experienced this situation. DearSugar, you advice was good. :) Hayden, I think the anonymous note is the best idea. I don't know how I could ever tell someone that without both of us feeling really bad. I hope you do something though..soon. Good luck, sweetie.
Marci Marci 10 years
I wouldn't want to have to touch this issue with a ten foot pole. Thankfully, I've never had anyone in my life that presented this kind of problem
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