Credit: Tega Brain/Vimeo

Some say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”… but how about in the nose of one? Introducing Smell Dating, which calls itself “The first mail odor dating service.” (Clever!)

Yep, you read that correctly. Now you can — literally — sniff out a date. There are no profiles to fill out and no swiping to be done. All you do is sign up online and then Smell Dating sends you a T-shirt to wear for three days and three nights — without deodorant. Then, you send it back in their prepaid envelope. They cut up your shirt, and others’, into swatches back at their “Sweat Shop.” (ROFL.) They send you 10 people’s swatches and you choose whom you like and enter it into their database. Simple.

Oh, btw, you have no idea what gender someone is. Or their age. Or sexual orientation.

The New York-based dating experiment calls itself an “art project,” and was created by Tega Brain, an artist, and Sam Lavigne, an editor and researcher at NYU.

“Most normal dating services, you rely on profile pictures, assumptions that come from visual information,” Brain said. “You either really like the smell of someone or you don’t. It’s much more innate.”

We probably all know or hear of people who experiment with “natural” deodorants or don’t wear any, so maybe this experiment’s not too much of a stretch for them. “Smell dating delivers you from prejudicial cultural images that interfere with the ancient cues of attraction,” Smell Dating’s website says. “At the same time, a growing body of research suggests that a person’s genetic compatibility, gender, age, and predisposition to illness are reflected in their ‘smell signature.’ Even in blinded experiments, subjects’ smell preferences align broadly with their sexual desires.”


If you and another random smell-tester match, the site will hook you up with your partner-in-nose’s phone number. The whole thing is like old-time matchmaking… with a modern olfactory twist, of course.

NYU grad student Jesse Donaldson, 25, tried it. “I’m like so many other people in New York City, using Tinder, using OK Cupid, and my main issue with these things is you feel like you’re shopping for somebody as opposed to making a genuine connection with another human being.”

And Smell Dating believes that scent could be everything when it comes to a romantic partner. “…When it comes to long-term romantic partnership it may actually be riskier to ignore the powerful signal of scent than to rely on it. Smell researchers even speculate that high contemporary divorce rates may be related to the overuse of deodorants and the underuse of our natural olfactory intelligence.”

Who knew?!

The first round of Smell Dating is now closed, but all you have to do is enter your email address into their site to be notified about the next one. And why not? Sociologically, it does seem fascinating, and you can always mull it over while you wait.

It’s worth a sniff, right?

Oh, and it’ll cost you $25 (to cover the prices of the service, T-shirt, and shipping costs). But that’s a small, one-time price to pay for love. As the site says, “Trust yourself, your nose knows.”

Here’s Smell Dating in action: