Let Them Smell Cake


Buckle up, here comes a rant of “Marie Antoinette” proportions. #FirstWorldProblems, indeed. But it needs to be said. Or rather, asked:

Why does every beauty product smell like “Birthday Cake?”?!?!?

I, too, remember the heady days of 2011, when everything was “Birthday Cake” flavored. Birthday Cake truffles! Birthday Cake cookies! Birthday Cake chewing gum! Birthday Cake candles! Birthday Cake body splash! And then there were Birthday Cake lollipops AKA cake pops and we all lost our minds and everything smelled like vanilla and sugar and Funfetti I guess?

Well, it took six years but that same “Birthday Cake” sticky sweetness has wormed its way into the Serious Beauty world. Of all of the products I’ve tried in the past few months, pretty much 90% of them have smelled like Birthday Cake. Lip products. Hair oils. Dry shampoo. Face masks. I don’t understand.

It’s as though the beauty industry forgot that any other smell exists. Or maybe “Birthday Cake” is some like, universally “safe” stench?

Did some tense R&D meeting get interrupted by Karen from marketing knocking on the door and reminding everyone that it’s Linda from HR’s birthday and telling everyone that there’s a sheet Cake in the break room, and after 96 hours of tense debate over what the new liquid lipstick should smell like, these serious cosmetics smell scientists flipped the table and screamed “THATS IT!”

I don’t hate the smell of birthday Cake, but it’s not like I actually like it, either. If someone told me that a new cosmetic smelled like something ELSE, I’d be very excited. Why do the products that I put on my body need to smell like food? I’m not going to eat them.


To be fair, I may have a slight antipathy towards “sweet smells” because of my job history. I did work for YEARS in a candy store, so the smell of saccharine sweetness to me dredges up dreadful memories of painful customer interactions. Or the nightmare that is the Cotton Candy Machine. Now, I have a hair oil that smells exactly like cotton candy, which gives me an immediate headache when I use it and causes me to flash back on spending DAYS trying to wash the cotton candy floss out of my hair, clothes, inside of my sinuses, everywhere. Several of my first shifts were spent at the fudge counter, assisting customers in making boxes of samplers of fudge. “Fudge Packer” is a great phrase to be able to put on your resume, by the by. It was a job that people were typically rotated out of after two hours, because standing over warm, sweet blocks of fudge would cause many people to get headaches, develop nausea, even feel faint. Yep, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Add this to the fact that there were “scent cannons” which projected scents like maple syrup throughout the store, and you’d be instantly bowled over by SUGAR SMELL the second you opened the door. It was intense. I’m not convinced anything should smell like sugar unless it’s actually candy. Not a store, not a lip gloss, and certainly not leave-in conditioner. Just, why?


Grant you, I have a very sensitive nose and peculiar tastes in smell — but there are other smells out there! A whole wide world of smells!





Can you imagine a lip balm that smells like Blood Orange, or Cinnamon Sugar, or Lime? Wouldn’t that be fun? 


I don’t know. Maybe you like the smell of over-enthusiastic cake, but maybe — just maybe — there’s a smell you’d prefer. What would your perfect product smell be?? And BRANDS! Pay attention! This is free R&D! A “sweet tooth” is one thing. Sweet lipstick, sweet lotion, sweet leave-in conditioner…at some point you have to draw the line!



cake image via Jeevan via Pixabay


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