Thursday, October 21, 2010

Perfumes that Attract Men and Smells which Turn Women On

Are there sure-fire ways to lure the opposite sex "by the nose", so to speak? Fragrances and colognes which produce that extraordinary feat of attracting a partner? No disclaimer should be necessary, but let's put it anyway: Sexual attraction is a complex process which relies on sublimilar as well as physical attributes and is -here's the catch- completely individualised. Even if one could argue that value or beauty have an objective facet to their basis, it's sexual attraction which escapes preconceptions, cultural lumpings together and the "golden rule", being the last individualistic frontier. Simply said, there is no golden rule in attraction. Everyone's different and not even the same person is attracted by the same thing constantly! If Tania Sanchez infamously quipped men are attracted to the smell of bacon (in order to make a point that there needs to be put an end to this "objectifying" perfume and regressing it to the status of voodoo talisman ), still it's enough to Google "perfume that..." in order to bumb into autocomplete options that heavily feature"perfume that attracts men, that men love on women, and that turns men on". But it isn't just the ladies who are doing the asking. There are also the popular autocomplete options to the phrase "what smells" which run the gamut from "what smells do guys like" and those that "turn guys on", to "what smells turn women on". Men are also searching for what women like to sniff on them. Like with words in languages, when there is a keen interest, there is a keen need for something. What is this need? A shortcut into a maze, most probably.

So let's take the suggestions by a popular webzine, and break them down one by one with our own comments and see if we can get out of that maze. They have nicely proposed lists for both the ladies and the gents. I suppose, if you're playing for the other team, you have to improvise a bit and expand your horizons on the perfume counter (Doesn't sound so bad!)

  • Old Spice: From 1937 and with no signs of waning (witness the ingenious award-winning commercials), this is a dependable classic of lavender and citrus over spicy woodiness that even back in 1969 ads it was advertised with the tag line "Girls like it -Is there any better reason to wear Old Spice?" Careful though, lest it reminds her of her dad.
  • Victoria's Secret Very Sexy for Him: I will have to take their word on it, as I haven't smelled this myself. Is it that sexy?
  • Guy Laroche's Drakkar Noir: Named after a Viking ship, the definition of a chest-thumping masculine fougere, and still quit popular, decades after its release. Oddly enough it has characterised a generation of dykes who snatched it from the masculine cologne shelves in the late 1980s. Perfume and sex orientation can make for a fascinating thesis.
  • Ralph Lauren Polo: There is something about this scent which smells both outdoorsy (that mossy background) and at the same time like one is doing their own laundry at home (that powdery fresh and coumarinic blast). Interestingly enough, the article mentions that "any Lauren scent fares well". I beg to differ.
  • Aftershave: Nivea and Gillette. What do we see? The triumph of the familiar yet again. The classic aftershave "note" is one constructed on the deceptively simple axiom of the "aromatic fougere" fragrance family structure. Do I hear a stampede at the drugstore while doing the weekly shopping now?
  • Laundry detergent/soap: Now you know why everything is being advertised as being "clean-smelling", like "just out of the shower" sexy etc. etc. I guess, if you're going to be doing any skin contact with any guy it's a relief to know he is at least hugienically approved. The rest of the problems are just waiting to raise their little head, but at least he's clean.


This list was inspired by the famous Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation and the findings of dr.Hirsch and yes, you can imagine I'm wielding my fist at them, spawning as they did a myriad incarnations of the same sweet swirl laced with vanilla and juvenile foodie smells on Sephora shelves, making us all smell like little bakery girls eternally putting glaze on ourselves! But I digress...Supposedly, some of these smells produce alpha-brain waves, which produce a relaxed state of mind. Or others rouse penile flow. I don't know which is worse, having someone fall asleep on your neck from nuzzling thus denying you the continuation into a promising ~fireworks!~ night, or being chased around by a rabit erection and a not-so-subtle glint in the eye? Again, I digress...So let's get down and see which smells make the cut. Ahem...anyway...
  • Vanilla: Guerlain could tell some tales on that score, as they have long held it's an aphrodisiac and put it in many of their sophisticated creations. Apparently, the somewhat less sophisticated readership of seems to agree. Dear reader, please, if you must go the vanilla route, pick up something rich, full-bodied and reminiscent of real vanilla pods (a very complex, almost boozy smell). recommends Shalimar. Excellent choice, I'd add, unless it was his grandma's scent of choice. (Success lies in the details)
  • Doughnut & Black Licorice: This depended on the appex of penile flow charted. Don't be so swayed and exhaust yourself trying to find that combo in a ready-made perfume, other brave souls went there before you and returned empty handed. Demeter makes a Licorice though reminiscent of candies and as to the doughnut, get your lazy bum in the kitchen missie and make him one, already! He will be thankful.
  • Pumpkin Pie: Purely a cultural breed apart. This is specifically a fond association for American born & raised men, as the dish isn't popular in other parts of the world. It is thought to be particularly effective when combined with lavender (the spices suit it). It is thought to be particularly silly to be hunting for that combination at the perfume store. Yet Bath and Body Works makes a Cinnamon Pumpkin, which might be second best choice for that thing. Also a Pumpkin Pie Paradise body lotion...
  • Orange: Humble fruit, a happy smell. Euphoria is, ahem, uplifting. There are hundreds of fragrances on the market which feature a distinct orange note, from orientals like the body products line of the classic Opium to the fruity smell of Marc Jacobs Splash and Boss Orange.
  • Lily of the Valley: If you are a non gourmand fragrance lover and have been exasperating reading this list, rejoice. Lily of the valley may have a demure and chaste image but as we have focused on in our previous article, it's anything but; on the contrary it attracts male sperm! Who would have thought? The classic Diorissimo coupled with something white might run the thought of your white sheets through his head. Only he will be too apprehensive of that thought and feel a little guilty, fooled by the virginal quality of the flower. Prey on it, ladies!

And you, what do you recommend? Which fragrances have been men-magnets or women-attractants in your experience?

    Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Romancing the Scent part 1 and part 2

    Paintings by Stella Im Hultberg and Sexy by Tatinan Escobar.


    1. I definitely would not like to smell like doughnuts (ever!). But Shalimar is on my list. :)
      One perfume I find works good on my man is Lyric by Amouage.

      But as you said in the beginning, it's really individual. I find the scent of Old Spice almost repulsive.

    2. cheiroso15:34

      I finally got up the nerve to ask a female coworker what she wears that smells so good. Answer: Coco by Chanel. That may be the sexiest scent I've encountered.

      I also really like fig fragrances. L'Artisan's Figuier Extreme is very nice, and despite the controversy I like Marc Jacobs for Men. I like the combination of the creaminess and greenness of the fig fruit and leaves.

      There is a musky note I really find attractive (ferret-like, though I've heard it described as lilac-like also). I've smelled this in Creed's Silver Mountain Water and Vetiver (1948). Any guesses what this might be? Castoreum? Civetone?

    3. Tamara*J17:13

      I usually find these lists absurd but I'll give the woman one a go on the Nivea aftershave and clean clothes. But that's it! My first boyfriend wore Drakkar Noir and at the time(14 yrs.!old) I thought it was great.
      Although my hubby is a construction worker and when he comes home smelling of metal, drywall and dirt I always like his scent even though I can't indulge, I itch so bad on my skin if I do -haha.
      Ummm he like's Montale's Vanilla Absolu on me but since it's not something I wear often,I can't tell if it's a manly man magnet. Eveything else is definitely a NO.
      It just seems to simplistic especially for me, that list! He loved the Lumiere Noire Pour Femme decant I just got. He wouldn't if he knew the price of the FB though. :P
      I wore vtg. Emeraude the other night and got play like crazy from him so go figure. I felt very Joan from MadMen rolling around with him with that on! HA.

    4. Anonymous17:35

      Dearest E,

      Sexual attraction is WAY too complicated to bring it down to a scent, but it is sure fun to try. So my suggestions are based on what puts a smile on my or my better half's face, but does not necessarily always lead to the ripping of bodices, so to speak. One identifiable scent that I love to smell on my husband is AT's Lonestar Memories; there is nothing like dirt, smoke and leather to make a girl feel raunchy.

      Still for the gents, I recently returned from a vacation in Italy and encountered a sublime scent on many men passing in the street. It was unlike anything I usually detect on men in Canada (either soap/laundry or a wallop of Armani, Lauren, Davidoff, etc). They smelled almost powdery, citrusy, clean, soft but definitely masculine. Would love to find that for my man.

      As for women, I always get appreciation from my man (as well as a male colleague)when I wear L'air du desert marocain (there's AT again). and my husband has professed love for anything spicy, so I guess that's where the pumpkin pie comes in (the pie is flavoured with cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, etc).

      He also likes Bandit on me, although I question whether that is becasue of the scent or because I feel fearless when I wear it so I project that confidence, and confidence is sexy.


    5. Funny lists! I will confess to an undying attachment to Polo. I had a huge crush on somebody at work who wore it (WAY back in the 80s), and any whiff of it still reminds me of the feeling. In general, I like pretty old-fashioned things for men--Guerlain Vetiver, Yatagan, etc.

      As for men's preferences, IMO they do indeed love vanilla and all its olfactory kin--benzoin, etc. I find that they are most interested in it when combined with woods or florals, though. They're not particularly interested in identifiably foodie fragrances. And they do love LOTV, as well as orange blossom. None of the men in my life have really loved shrill tuberose and gardenia, much to my sorrow.

    6. Drakkar Noir and Polo both did it back for me in my teenage years, and I still especially love the scent of Polo.

      However, the scent memory of Polo is so strongly tied to my first boyfriend it's too weird for me to have my husband wear it, and when my 15yo son wanted to try it I asked that he not, because that would be EXTRA strange. (Thankfully, the boy loves Tauer's LADDM, it's becoming his special-event fragrance.)

      My other half likes fragrance on me in general, but I suspect that half the reason is because I usually apply some to my chest so I can smell it throughout the day, and he enjoys "checking out" whatever I'm wearing - it makes the kids groan, "Daaaad, you're so gross!" I thought the whole fragrance-to-drive-a-man-wild thing was hype, until I sampled Black Cashmere.

      Suffice it to say, I just got it for my birthday.

    7. When I wore Shalimar, in my 20's, men loved it. Meaning, I got a lot of comments from my boyfriend and others. Another that has been a man-comment-getter is Jungle l'Elephant by Kenzo. Also, more recently, is Jardin en Mediterrannee by Hermes - men seem to like this a lot, even though it's certainly different than the mainstream feminine perfumes coming out now.

      For me, I love Yatagan on a man - very sexy. But I also like A*men, which my husband found too sweet (loved it on him!). Insence by Givenchy is beautiful and elegant. Ambre Sultan is also beautiful on a man with enough courage to wear it proudly.

    8. I usually sigh when this is asked on fragrance sites as attraction has to be more than perfume. I mean I look like Mrs Kruschev so loaded with my beloved Une Rose men are not going to flock to me ( thank goodness !). That said I am forever trying to get my husband to wear it . So I think visual appearance personality etc is what attracts but smelling good is a must. My husband likes any rose scent on me .When we were students we used Kneipp's Juniper soap and that seemed to do it ...or maybe it was all those suds ?

    9. Rappleyea23:45

      A fun post and comments to read after a hard week at work! The only scent that has ever consistently gotten raves from men was Je Reviens parfum. From the time I was first allowed to go to dances up until my early 50's, boys and later men went crazy for JR.

      While I've been a life long Old Spice lover (along with various Bay Rhum colognes), in the last few years I've been smelling forest-y/evergreen type scents on men when I've gone out. I'm not sure what it is, but I like it! ;-)

    10. I get sniffed a lot when I'm wearing warm vanillas, particularly deep vanilla-based perfume oils.

      I read somewhere a few years ago that a study had been done and the perfume that most men found the most attractive was Ysatis by Givenchy. Not one I'd have picked myself, but there you go.

    11. Astrid15:48

      I've always gotten male compliments from Chanel Coco. But after buying a new bottle of the thin, reformulated EdP version last year it irritates my lungs and somebody said it's suffocating and too sweet. Whatever the "sexy" kick was appears to be gone. Another reformulation I'll never buy again.

    12. Wordbird19:46

      How interesting! I asked this very question on Basenotes recently, as I'd seen a lot of threads asking what fragrances women find sexy on men, but nothing quizzing the gents on the same subject.

      The overall favourites were Coco and Angel, but the chaps had some fascinating favourites.

      For me, fragrances that have long, happy, sexy associations for me include Eternity for Men and Kouros - both from the 80s when I was borrowing boys' jumpers. And while I haven't had chance to smell them on men yet, I am looking forward to scenting a man with Caron Pour Homme, Yatagan, Bulgari Black, and/or Dior Homme.

      Though Chanel 19 might be killer too!

    13. I wear perfume all the time, but the only two that generated comments were Amouage's Jubilation 25 and Woods of Windsor's Rondeletia. So, maybe spice does it?

    14. very interesting. I admit to having my head totally turned by Armani Code even though it isn't particularly 'good' it's just manly and you know... works.

      Men and women seems to love Musc Ravageur on skin- I like it but more as a warming gourmandy comfort scent myself- but I don't really get the pure sex in a bottle thing. Still seems to work! Also Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood- but it has to be worn incredibly spraingly or it's completely tarts boudoir- but one very very small spray on one part of freshly showered skin and you will be asked by every man there what scent you're wearing.

    15. Ines,

      indeed I believe it has to do with particular associations. Obviously those lists are built on the majority of people answering specific questionnaires. They also tend to be invariably mostly American-based, not taking into account thus cultural differences. (I guess this happens because the American market is so vast that it necessitates more research and American companies are so many miles ahead in that field anyway)

      Lyric is stunning, as are most Amouages, Alas for our pocketbooks... ;-)

    16. Cheiroso,

      Coco seems to be often cited, although I have yet to smell someone in real life wearing it. (It also proved very difficult to swap once, so I'm wondering if the admiration is more intellectual). Often people mistake Coco Mademoiselle for Coco and they reply with one when they mean the other. I have seen this happen as well.
      That said, Coco does have a very appealing spicy resinous accord which comes across as sexy. If one uses it judiciously....oh my!

      I can't possibly guess without more comparable fragrances. I only know the Silver Mountain Water and that one seems infused with a lot of musks and some ambergris, actually. I agree that a ferret-like note though might be accountable to either ingredient. Do you have any more fragrances to bring to the mix? It might help pinpoint.

      As to figs, I find them quite sensual. The tree and fruit is certainly a sensual thing.

    17. Tamara,

      they're mostly fluff and fun, I agree. Not to be taken seriously. Hopefully clothes should be clean at all times, LOL! (eww, nothing worse than stale sweat on clothes)

      Metal has a nice zing to it. I admit I find the smell of electro-melting (when they melt metal into metal) rather addictive! (and I think Goutal's Vetiver reproduces it nicely with an iodine touch)

      Your choices are very nice and there's something to be said about those vintage orientals/florientals....if you know what I mean (of course you do!) Joan would be a nice role-model for that kind of thing.

      I do hope your birthday "stocking" will include some Kukrdjian then! :-)

    18. Natalia,

      thanks for the interesting comments!

      Italian men are known for their attention to detail. Instead of searching for something super-rare I think they're relying on classic eaux de cologne or lavender and citrus eaux (the powdery, citrusy, clean, and soft points to a light fougere or EDC.) Not necessarily Aqua di Parma which is considered in its own country a bit of a cliche.

      I can't do the Lonestar (nor can my man) but we can (and do) the L'air du desert!! Isn't that fabulous or what??
      I tend to agree with both your spices adding zing point and your confidence-boosting effect.

    19. M,

      thanks for chiming in!
      Yeah, Polo has happy memories for many. I wonder whether it also has to do with many women in the 30-40-50 bracket having "grown up" with it at college and high-school so to speak, so they have fond memories. In that regard, any enduring best-selling fragrance has potential of being nominated for sexiest in the future (I can see how Hypnotic Poison or Aqua di Gio for men will be referenced in 20 years' time -my personal tastes not withstanding)

      I agree with you on vanilla being appreciated when non foody. I think there's a gross misunderstanding about it, especially among women, who hear that men like vanilla and they go out and buy -say- Pink Sugar or Vanilla Cupcakes with Apple Glaze on Top and then wonder why men view them as playground girls...There needs to be something more abstract in perfume vanilla for it to work: benzoin is a nice touch, good point!! It's not so straightforward, more sophisticated.
      Tuberose and gardenia not being very much appreciated eh? Pity as they're gorgeous. Maybe they're too intensely floral for them. Do they react so with other distinctly floral things? (lily, carnation, rose etc)
      I think lily of the valley and orange blossom have de-flowered themselves -so to speak- in people's minds through their ubiquitous use in detergents, fabric softeners, functional products etc. They don't register as flowers anymore.

      And ah....I like some old-fashioned men's frags as well. Equipage, Givenchy Gentleman (vintage), Eau d'Hermes, Santos, Aramis, Chanel pour Monsieur...*joining you in dreamy eye-ed mode*

    20. Dionne,

      another fan of Polo (and Drakkar!). They are readers here who can identify! They did smell so manly, didn't they? I have proposed a theory on my comment above to M/Bittergrace. Do you think it's valid?

      I do get your point about having specific associations tied to particular frags though, making it difficult to break them.

      And enjoy the Black Cashmere!! Sounds like you have a winner (and a husband who is crazy about you and not gross at all!) Lucky woman!

    21. Josephine,

      there' no doubt that Shalimar (vintage) can be seen as sexy. It's whole raison-d'etre was to be romantic. For men who haven't smelled it on their female relatives (as it was so popular) it should be interesting to test on! My SO likes Shalimar Light, because it brightens the composition while still retaining (mysteriously) the smokiness in the depth of the original vintage.
      Your other choices for female "catnip" are very intriguing!!! I hadn't thought about them, I bet not many have, so thank you.

      As to your men's suggestions, they are all lovely and I do think Ambre Sultan smells better on a man. That herbal quality fits them very well!

    22. Angela,

      it is rather a question which can't really be answered.
      How interesting, I bet Une Rose would smell perfect on a man! (not that I have tried it, but I take your word on it). Kneip's eh? Lathering up together should be sexy by itself, but you know that well ;-)

    23. D,

      thanks for saying so, glad I provided some light-hearted entertainment. :-)

      I have heard about vintage Je Reviens being very good indeed in that aspect. It's sometimes cited on men's polls and it's impressive, knowing it's so old (you'd think people would have forgotten about it, as it's not as publicized about as other classics)

      I like the foresty-mossy things myself on men!! *girly squeal*

    24. Dee,

      there, you give credence to the vanilla rumour! The fact that they're oils might have to do something with how they blend well with the skin.

      Ysatis is spectacular (was? haven't tried it recently) and it wouldn't surprise me, although that's the first I hear about it! Impressive, thank you!!

    25. Astrid,

      isn't that a shame...They went and made it sweet? It was anything but sweet. From the spicy zing to the chocolate bitter and benzoin drydown. Ah well, indeed, another reformulation not to buy again!

    26. Wordbird,

      how very interesting, thanks for linking the Basenotes thread here!

      Well, some favourites seem to be mentioned a lot because a lot of people wear them, so no surprise there. (Coco I admit I have't smelled on anyone in real life, though)

      Ah, I love Kouros myself, what a frag! The other you mention are wonderful too and my, what I would give to persuade my man to wear Chanel No.19. He loves it on me, but he sees the Chanel in there and thinks "it's for girls". *rolls eyes*

    27. Blogbaebe,

      I can vouch for Jubilation, but Rondeletia? You've picked my interest!!

    28. K,

      isn't it fun? I think it's always fun to see how people free-associate with these issues. The readers' comments are as interesting as the studies.

      Musc Ravageur is quite spice so does this give rise to the theory that spices act as a stimulant to the senses and the sexual drive? (I don't find it particularly musky) Look like it! Coco, Rondeletia mentioned above, now this...As to Boudoir, well, it's infamous for being the "ladies bits" scent, so... ;-)
      It smelled like rose-powdered bubble-gum on my mum, fancy that!!

    29. Adama4419:40

      Vintage Grey Flannel does it for me. That a two gallses will turn me into a handsy slut. I honestly was flirting with a senior a few months ago in Wal-Mart simply because he was wearing it.

      For men Cristalle is big winner. Back in the day Joop did it too.My best friend who has almost completely opposite scent taste from, realized on our way out she's forgotten to apply perfume. Since we were at my house she had to choose from my chypres, woodsy and musky scents. She chose joop. I told her to put in her purse.

      Next week she said that Joop is nothing I would have chose but the men love it. I never got it back.

    30. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    31. All may be fine for different women but D&G attracts me most.It really makes me crazy for the men who use it.I can go wild for anything if man has D&G spray on his body.

      1. Anonymous11:23

        What mam is telling is 100 prcent correct.

    32. Anonymous14:46

      To me all perfumes (on men or women) are repelling, in the way that insect-repellents repel insects, perfumes repel me. Any guy who wears a scent I need to instantly keep my distance from. (And women who wear strong scents I have to back off from too or I get an immediate headache and lose any ability to think). I would say someone´s natural scent is much more of a turn-on, then some chemical concoction. Fortunately for me my guy doesn´t wear any scents and says he never has. My advice for those who do insist on using perfumes is to wear just a tiny bit that people can only smell when they come close to you, as in for a kiss or a hug. I think they main problem is that people incorrectly assume that more is better and then their perfume (chemical concoction) smells up an entire room, or bus, or street even. That is just being rude and is uncalled for.

      1. Anonymous14:58

        What a totally useless comment.

    33. adama,

      interesting stories! I wouldn't have thought it.
      Thanks for dropping by. :-)

    34. HMW,

      that's fun, especially since you have pinpointed it, down pat.
      Thanks for commenting.

    35. Anon,

      I sorta get what you're saying (obviously putting on too much is really bad manners and an intrusion of personal space of others as dedicated perfume lovers are very well aware of most of the time), yet I'm kinda perplexed why you chose a perfume blog to vent your dislike of perfume en masse.

      The mere argument that "perfumes are chemical" is replicating a less than scientific logic used by scent polemists (everything is chemical, even water, all the cosmos is built of combinations of chemical matter). It's granola logic championing the least sensual as preferable.
      The fact that you like an unscented person is -if you think of it- a fallacy and illusion: do these people forgo deodorant, or washing powder in their laundry, or even simple soap on themselves? All these products (and many many more in our everyday life) are heavily scented, and I do mean scent as an add on, not just inherent in the product itself. The industry in fact dedicates as much time and effort in developing the scent of those products as they do with "fine fragrance" (i.e. the scent we spray/dab on ourselves).

      So, what I'm saying is that this particular rhetoric has become tired because although it expresses a valid sentiment (displeasure, annoyance) it does that without a solidly built argument. In fact in these very pages I have tackled it many times.

      Hope this comes through as a well meaning step in conducting a dialogue, as it was intended.

    36. Anonymous04:36

      i love RX attraction it smells so good on my b/f it lasts all day!

    37. Anonymous21:13

      I prefer a girl's natural body odour. Sweat, urine etc. I'm not joking.

    38. Anon,

      sweat has an illustrious history of adoration behind it. I'm sure you know.
      And urine, well, I suppose that's got its on history too. ;-)

    39. Anon,

      sweat has an illustrious history of adoration behind it. I'm sure you know.
      And urine, well, I suppose that's got its on history too. ;-)

    40. Anonymous11:20

      As fo as i am concened the fagance of jasmine mostly attracts and invites for sex. While having sex it acts as inertia. Because of this only in south india the brides r using varieties of jasmins for their firstnight. And also on the day of fist night spreading of flowers especially jasmin on the bed is also for this reason only.


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