Smells like Matthew McConaughey: the new wave of celebrity odour | Matthew McConaughey


Matthew McConaughey has a lot going on at the moment. He has spent the last few months toying with the idea of running for governor of Texas. He has come under fire for his hazy attitude towards vaccinating children. He wrote a self-help book, Greenlights, that remained on the New York Times bestseller list for almost a year. So it goes without saying that the big McConaughey story right now is about how he smells.

To look at McConaughey is to have a rough idea of what he smells like. Wet hemp, perhaps, or maybe clothes that you left in the washing machine for a couple of days. However, it turns out that this assumption would be incorrect. McConaughey apparently smells amazing. This is something we recently learned during his appearance on the Kyle and Jackie O radio show.

“All the leading ladies always say how great you smell,” gushed Jackie “O” Henderson to a man who, until very recently, wanted to run a US state three times bigger than the UK. But the real revelation was still to come. McConaughey, you see, makes his own scent.

Describing the source of his smell as a “concoction”, he went on to call himself a “mixologist”, but stopped short of explaining how he made his own cologne. When pressed, his publicist jumped in and ended the interview.

McConaughey is not alone in this. Shailene Woodley is also known for creating her own personal beauty products, including toothpaste made of clay and coconut water, and lip stain made of beetroot. And this can only mean one thing: we are now living through the fourth wave of movie star beauty standards.

Lips by beetroot, teeth by clay. Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/Sportsphoto/Allstar

Wave one, you’ll remember, was when cinema was in its infancy and movie stars looked like slightly more genetically fortunate versions of normal people. This is when beauty standards were so low that you could never tell if a given performer was 16 or 50 or anywhere in between. You are right to miss those days.

Wave two, meanwhile, was when movie stars started licensing their likeness to sell existing beauty products. This didn’t require much of them – take off some clothes, lounge around listlessly like an elaborately abandoned corpse – and it paid well. You will still see examples of wave two in the media although, if you have ever seen that perfume advert in which Johnny Depp plays Wild Thing on an electric guitar to a wolf in the desert, you will know that they are generally absolutely mortifying.

Wave three was where we were until recently, where movie stars tired of being show ponies for big brands and started their own companies. So Gwyneth Paltrow has Goop, Jessica Alba has The Honest Company and Rihanna (who counts as a movie star because she was in the live action Battleship film for about 45 seconds) has Fenty. These companies made the movie stars wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.

Whiff queen … Gwyneth Paltrow.
Whiff queen … Gwyneth Paltrow. Photograph: AWNewYork/REX/Shutterstock

But that’s so gauche. And that may be why we have arrived at wave four. Now, like in wave three, the movie stars are making their own beauty products, but they’re choosing not to market them. And that’s actually quite refreshing. Woodley can’t trademark clay, for example. Clay is clay. Beetroots belong to everybody. Equally, McConaughey gives so much to the public, it’s important that he keeps some things back for himself. And if that means he can’t tell us the precise combination of sandalwood and donkey spit that he rubs on his body every morning, then so be it. Good for him.

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