“Friend, you stink...but I still love you!”

A comprehensive guide on breaking the news.

As humans, we’re always looking for ways to avoid confrontation or telling others something that might ~offend~ them. It’s in our nature to be kind and sweet, because we don’t want someone turning their back on us...that is, unless they have bad breath.

That’s why Team Zelmin's still can’t understand the big deal/stigma/taboo around telling someone their breath is a little less than fresh. If anything, it’s a social courtesy! Just like letting a friend know their shoe is untied or that they have a little something stuck in their teeth. If it’s someone you love and trust, then the honesty will be much appreciated (and refreshing).

But, there is DEFINITELY a wrong way to do it! You shouldn’t be rude or belittling about it, because it’s not their fault. We’ve all over-indulged on garlic bread or eaten fresh onions at lunch and forgotten about it. And calling someone out to poke fun is never the right way.

So, here’s our take on the best way to break the bad breath news:

 Be discreet (when possible)

Just because it’s a loving gesture, doesn’t mean you have to broadcast it if you’re with a group of people! There’s always still the chance it makes them uncomfortable, so try to find a moment to mouth, whisper, or pull that friend aside.

Let them know they aren’t alone

If you’re with a friend or loved one whose breath is harsh, chances are yours is, too! Most social interactions revolve around eating or drinking together, so if you’re smelling it on someone else, make it a “team moment”. It’s ok to be a little self-deprecating: “Hey friend, your breath stinks...but I’m sure it’s not as bad as mine” is an easy way to soften the blow.

Motivate and give a reason to care

Getting ready for a big meeting or a first date with a pal or loved one? Be a dear and offer them a sniff-test. It’s an easy way to disguise the fact that you already know there’s something smelly in there AND it will make you the hero! No one wants to make a foul first impression and, as a result, you’ll be showered with thanks.

Offer them a fix to freshen things up

To further elevate your hero status, be prepared to help! No one wants to be stranded knowing they have a problem without a way to fix it. And of course, you’ll need the right tool for the job. A pack of gum? Tastes delicious, but it’s just going to mask the problem. Mouthwash? No one carries a bottle around in their pocket (plus, our friends at Quip just did a brilliant deep dive on the truth about mouthwash that’s worth a read). We recommend keeping a pack of Zelmin’s handy at all times, if for no other reason than to share the bad-breath-fighting love. Our mint-coated parsley seed oil capsules are clinically tested to help fight the bad breath you’re trying to make go away.

But, we all know that person whose breath is so bad it can clear a room.

And if you aren’t comfortable enough to tell them or fear it might embarrass them, we’re here to help. Our “tell a friend they stink” program is TOTALLY ANONYMOUS and works like this:

  1. Place an order on our site using your friend or loved one’s name and address. Make sure you use your own billing address and email address, so that all of the order details go to you!
  2. Send us a short note to with your order number and tell us that it’s an anonymous “tell a friend they stink” care package.
  3. Sit back, smile and breathe easy. We’ll take care of the rest and you can rest assured that fresh breath is on its way to save the day!

Alternatively, you can send a Zelmin’s Gift Card anonymously as well!

And of course, treat others the way you want to be treated! That means being mindful and keeping your own breath fresh, even if you personally can’t smell it. Trust us - your friends, co-workers, loved ones, and pets will thank you.


*It’s important to note that in some cases, bad breath can unfortunately be a clinical issue (like chronic halitosis) and there are medical solutions out there to make things better. If you’re concerned about your own breath, and any underlying issues or symptoms that might be causing it, please contact your dentist or physician.