Guys aren’t necessarily known for their excellent hygiene skills. Sure, it’s a bit of a stereotype, but this one feels true. Generally speaking, guys aren’t as interested in basic things like showering, brushing their teeth, and actually washing their clothes as women are. Most of them are also content to live in squalor, sleeping on dirty sheets and littering their places with old takeout containers and beer bottles. This obviously doesn’t apply to all men. However, it applies to enough that women in heterosexual relationships are complaining about being infected with “boyfriend air.” Gross!
What is “boyfriend air”?
Like many other trends, boyfriend air appears to have originated on TikTok. The #boyfriendair hashtag has more than 13.5 million views, with women from all over the world lamenting how their physical appearance suffers every time they go to their boyfriend’s place.
In essence, “boyfriend air” refers to the overall aura of nastiness present in straight men’s living spaces. As a result, their girlfriends experience greasy hair, spotty skin, and other negative side effects every time they visit. They don’t even have to stay overnight to see the difference. Even a few hours is enough to leave the women feeling like haggard, unhygienic messes.
While this might seem circumstantial, enough women are complaining about it that it’s clear there’s something real behind the trend.
What are women saying about this trend?
I was truly shook to see other ppl also related to this😭💀 #boyfriendair
In a hilarious yet kinda scary clip, college student Lauren Gallardo shows herself looking bright-eyed and clear skinned with “freshly washed” hair. Five hours later, after hanging out with her boyfriend, she looks a lot worse for wear.
Another user, 22-year-old Taylor Donoghuee, admitted that even showering doesn’t help wash the stink of boyfriend air from her skin. “I spent a lot of time this past summer at my boyfriend’s apartment in New York,” she said in a video. “I remember taking a full body shower, and the next morning waking up and being like, ‘I feel so dirty,'”
At first, she couldn’t figure out why she was feeling this way. Then she realized the culprit: boyfriend air. “[Boyfriend air] is a thing because it was only in his apartment that I would feel this way,” she explained, adding that while she originally put it down to not being used to city air, it was actually boyfriend air that was to blame.
What causes boyfriend air?
The idea that even a few hours in an unclean environment could cause such drastic effects seems laughable. However, it’s not really that far-fetched. While the term isn’t necessarily scientific and there’s no evidence for why this happens, it’s not hard to guess. It should go without saying that a change in your normal routine could easily affect your overall equilibrium.
For instance, if you sleep over at your boyfriend’s place and he hasn’t washed his sheets in six months, the dirt and bacteria trapped in the linens could easily transfer to your skin, causing clogged pores and breakouts. Same goes for if you usually eat healthily at home but live on greasy UberEats takeout when you’re with him. While it’s unlikely that once a week could have significant effects on your long-term health, it is worth thinking about.
In order to avoid these unwanted side effects, try to keep to your normal routine even when you’re at your boyfriend’s place. Shower often, remember to wash your makeup off at night, do your skincare routine, etc. Also, make sure you continue to eat as healthily as possible. And, for goodness sake, make sure his bedding is freshly washed. You can even make a date out of it!
Of course, not everyone believes it’s a real thing
While many women attest to having experienced boyfriend air, it does have some opponents. Many women on TikTok believe the term is a way to scapegoat men for women’s poor hygiene practices.
“The ‘boyfriend air theory’ just sounds like a way that you guys can blame your boyfriend for being gross and stinky,” one person wrote. “Why blame him? I was gross and stinky before him, nothing changed other than him loving my stink.”
A woman named Karina pointed out that while men’s less than stellar hygiene practices are pretty gross, “girlfriend air” can have a positive effect. “Everyone’s talking about boyfriend air but what about girlfriend air?” she captioned a recent video. “My bf is so organized now. He cleans his room, he has a skincare routine, he has a planner and calendar, his time management skills have gotten better and his communication skills, and he can enjoy shopping, smoothies, and spa days with me.”
Others believe that while it’s definitely a real phenomenon, it’s definitely not one that women just have to put up with. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to help him develop healthier habits.
“With the whole boyfriend air thing… I saw someone talking about girlfriend air and IT’S SO TRUE?!” Harlei Jean remarked in one clip. “My boyfriend now washes his face regularly, uses separate shampoo and conditioner, is the sole dish washer, keeps our space tidy, and so many more things I’ve instilled in him! The air theory is so interesting to me haha.”
The bottom line
As adults, we should be on top of our personal hygiene. Yes, chores are boring and tedious, but that’s life. Regardless of gender, everyone should be washing their bed sheets, towels, dishcloths, and clothes regularly. We should also be washing our dishes, taking the trash out, dusting, vacuuming, and keeping our living spaces clean. While many men seem to take longer to accept this — and it’s certainly not their girlfriends’ responsibility to whip them into shape — staying on top off things like this will make your life and relationship happier and healthier.