Some guys can pull off Axe Body Sprays. I’m not one of them.

Out of curiosity, I’ll occasionally sample Axe Body Sprays, where for less than $6 you can smell…like less than $6.

Out of curiosity, I'll occasionally sample Axe Body Sprays, where for less than $6 you can smell...like less than $6.

Some guys can pull off Axe Body Sprays. I’m not one of them.

axe dark temptation 300x300 Some guys can pull off Axe Body Sprays. Im not one of them.Whenever I’m in a pharmacy or drugstore, I will occasionally pass the aisle where they stock and sell a product known as “men’s body sprays”, or “Axe Body Sprays”. These usually come in a 5 oz/150 ml spray canister, the most commonly known is a brand known as “Axe“, and there are a variety of scents from which to choose — Rise, Recovery, Excite, Anarchy, Vice, or Provoke to name a few. None are descriptive to the type of scent they’ll reveal – citrus, green, floral, aquatic, woody, or anything else — but all have this MTV-chicness about them. For about $5-6, you can smell…

Let me come back to that in a moment. First, I’ll try to describe my own experience and difficulty with Axe fragrances, and apparently I’m not the only person who has very strong feelings about Axe scents.  It isn’t that I’m strictly a snob about purchasing a fragrance that would cost only $6 and can be found in any drugstore in the US, let alone the world.  There’s a place for a cheap body spray in a can: destined to remain in that can. But before I give a clearer impression of my own views, let me at least be fair enough to have rated this from recent experience.

Axe chocolate Some guys can pull off Axe Body Sprays. Im not one of them.While shopping recently, I had an opportunity to try a scent being billed as “Dark Temptation”: A chocolate rendition of Axe. Chocolate for me conjures impressions of Cacao flavors, a la Bond No. 9 “So New York” or perhaps a very uniform and distinct scent from Demeter. Ok, I bit and sprayed this on the back of my wrist and waited not very long before I could form an impression. In some alternate reality, this could smell like chocolate. It could also very easily smell like rubber or plastic or the metal can from which it emerged. Similarities to chocolate, though, were just completely non-existent. The only ‘Dark Temptation’ in this scent was the morbid curiosity of trying out the can in the store because this was something that might be fodder for a good story, or at least be horridly funny.

It was both.

axe instinct 300x300 Some guys can pull off Axe Body Sprays. Im not one of them.I then tried “Instinct”. Now someone mentioned this was supposed to have a men’s leather-jacket quality to it, but given that this is Axe and sells for $5 and change, I’m expecting I might get vinyl instead. After spraying it? I could compare the scent to a Chicken or Beef Bouillon cube, or the broth made by one after it’s been dissolved. It’s leather, minus the hide of the cow, then adding the meat of that cow and adding water. Heat, spray and serve. It wasn’t very pleasant, and no, I wasn’t hungry at the time.

I’m reminded that I have nephews that probably would wear something like “Axe Score” (does this honestly attract women?) or “Axe Revolt” (which I once tried, and the name was apt). If there are two positive things I can say about any Axe scent:

  • They’re cheap.
  • They smell better than human fecal matter or rotting garbage. Slightly better. Most of the time.

Axe Body Sprays are a Frankenstein’s monster between cheap-and-cheerful and a burning nostril sensation that must resemble a severe case of “the Crabs”. (Ed. Note: I have absolutely no experience with that, seeking testers who might, please apply). Most have all the quality of air-fresheners sold at a car wash, promoting “That New Car Smell”, fully-knowing that “New Car Smell” is nothing like what your late-model resembled rolling off your dealer’s lot. The marketing notion behind any Axe fragrance — provided you believe the commercials — is that ‘they have a compelling affect on women’. The reality? They usually wind up on the short lists of “women’s biggest turn-offs“. If ‘compelling’ implies “repelling any female within sillage range”, then the marketing is accurate.

Were I to be fourteen years of age, Axe Body Sprays might be cool. I’m 40-something, so most all of these are just doucheworthy. In the worst possible way. Wearing an Axe scent would advertise to the world a few things:

  • I have less class and aesthetic than any cast member on Jersey Shore.
  • I don’t know what smells good.
  • I’m significantly judgment impaired to wear this.
  • I lost my sense of smell during the Clinton Administration; it hasn’t returned.
  • I haven’t a clue about taste or what my wife/significant-other/potential date for the evening would find even passably acceptable.

Can I fairly review an Axe fragrance? I’ll answer that with a question: Why would I bother? I’m sure there a wide majority of people who will think, “Hey, these are OK, especially if I don’t want to pay $75 for a department store fragrance.” Perhaps.  None of those people are reading this site or subscribed to my updates, nor would they be much interested in the $150-700 fragrances we mainly review. So…

If Axe Body Sprays are your thing and you’re ok with paying $6 to smell of total stink? Certainly your option. But for the sake of the rest of us, please don’t stand downwind.


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About Andrew Buck

Andrew Buck is the editor-in-chief of Scentrist.com, and a lifelong appreciator and aficionado of fragrance. He's also the author "(Not) PMO-in-a-Can", a practitioner's perspective on project management, in addition to several articles on the topic. When not writing or discovering new scents, he is a technology manager in New York's Wall Street financial sector. You can read more about him on the "About" page, or say hi to him on Twitter @scentrist.
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1287255680 Jim Beyel on Facebook

    Gee, in our house it seems to be used as air freshener.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=649947778 Andrew Buck on Facebook

    Whew! Glad I live north of you, won’t have to be downwind. :)

  • http://thescentedhound.wordpress.com The Scented Hound

    You are right, they are horrible. However, I believe that they are marketed specifically to the pre-teen, early teenage year boys who are just discovering girls. Maybe the manufacturers know something that we don’t – that body sprays attract girls and that means boys will buy the product. And also, if you’ve ever been around pubescent boys, they smell horrible. At least this covers up their stink!!!!

  • http://www.scentrist.com Andrew Buck

    I recall my freshman year of high school smelling a girl who had a perfume that was this syrupy sweet bubble-gum scent. I wish I could recall what it was, but at the time I thought it was neat. There isn’t much accounting for taste at that age, so anything that doesn’t smell like a gym locker…well, at least it doesn’t smell like a gym locker, and it could probably smell like anything.

  • Ferris@DKchocoMan

    I really enjoyed your blog. Very interesting take on the popularity of body spray deodorants/fragrances. You are right on the money though with the”Axe” brand of scents. They are awful; the absolute worst you can buy in my opinion. I hate it when guys spray themselves with this crap, contaminating my air with this synthetic mess. I guess they need it to cover their body odor when they don’t wear anti-perspirant/ deodorant. Yes, it’s sad, but some people choose not to. Anyway, the only difference between each one of Axe’s offerings is a few added ingredients and that’s all. Otherwise, they’re basically the same thing; a cheap alternative to the real deal. No thanks, not for me.