How Do I Tell My Friend She Smells Bad?

Hi Heather,

I feel bad even writing this, but I need some advice about my best friend. She’s such a great friend – she’s always there for me, she makes me laugh and we totally get each other. But here’s the problem: she smells bad. Like really bad. I’m not the only one who has noticed it… our other friends have said something to me about it before. And she has no idea! I feel bad that she gets made fun of and she doesn’t even know it and also I just hate smelling her. How do I tell her she smells without hurting her feelings? Please help!

I feel your pain, girl. Sometimes trying to help and be a good friend isn’t easy and this is definitely one of those times. No one likes being the bearer of bad news, even if that news is only going to help someone. That being said, there are some ways you can give your BFF a hint about what’s going on without coming out and saying something really blunt.

While I would usually encourage you to be honest and straightforward with a best friend, in this case, being too honest is going to hurt her feelings and probably make her feel really embarrassed… and that might end up starting a fight. Instead, you can give her some subtle hints to try and get your point across. The next time you guys are hanging out, show her one of your perfumes and offer her a spritz. Say something like, “I’m in love with this perfume. You have to try it!”

But obviously you can’t offer her a spray of perfume every single time you see her, so maybe try something a little bit more direct. Go to the drugstore with her and say you need some new deodorant. Once you guys are there, say something like, “I love this brand of deodorant. You should try it. It smells good and it never stains my clothes!” You could also try checking out perfumes with her at the mall – when you find a scent you like for her, try encouraging her to buy it by telling her how amazing it smells on her. I know that sounds really manipulative and it is a little bit, but it could also be a strong hint to her that she needs to try something different.

If all of that fails, you may just have to be honest with her and tell her the truth as gently as possible. Tell her when it’s just you two talking (doing it in front of other friends might feel comfortable for you, but it won’t for her) and say something like this: “Hey, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I want to let you know that sometimes you smell a little. I’m just trying to be a good friend because I would want you to tell me that.” There’s no need to let her know other people are talking about her. Just try to be as nice as possible and let her know how much you care about her.

If you really don’t want to tell her, you may just have to live with the smell. But think about it: don’t you think she’d rather hear it from you than someone she doesn’t know as well?

take care,

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  • Alexia Panos

    My bff’s breath is stanky, and she’s really sensitive. To bigger problem is that she HATES mint. I’m real,t struggling here. Will u pls help me with my sich? Then also she has dried up milk always around her face. I REALLY need help with how to tell her gently.

  • lauren

    I totally understand everything to do with my friend about her smelling too ! well me and my friends and I since we all lived together had a intervention to tell her that she smelt bad and ways to help her and to take care herself! it was not a shit smell it was a dying private part the girl thing, which got on to your clothes and car seats and bathroom. it got to a point that people wanted to move out and not use the upstairs bathroom and new roommates moved in and didn’t want to be around her. I am friends with this girl for 4 years and I never smelt her till this years living with her I told her two times to take shower and nicely to get ready when we go out so its not direct but now I feel like I don’t want to be her friend cause I feel like she doesn’t care about me and my feelings when I am trying to help her an being a good friend so I just want to give up but cant so invited her to my mommy and me group and I did and I was so embarrassed my new friends thought it was me and that I hung out with nasty people and so they fabreez the room and open the classroom door for fresh air. now that was the end I stop calling her and everything she to live like that on her own . cant help someone who doesn’t helped

  • Panacea

    Humanity has lost connection with all that is natural.
    Giving hints and suffering in silence while being so close to the answer.

    Tell her straight, for I am Panacea, the remedy which lies in truth.