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15 Evidence-Based Aphrodisiac Scents to Improve Date Night
By Leanna Serras Published: July 18, 2019
Scent is a powerful tool. Studies show that it’s linked to memory and emotion, even more so than our other senses. But did you know it also plays a significant role in our love lives?
Throughout history, people have used aphrodisiac scents to set the mood. Ancient Indians mention using certain oils and spices in the Kama Sutra and Egypt’s famous Queen Cleopatra is said to have used perfumes to seduce her lovers. Even the word itself is linked to love; “aphrodisiac” is derived from the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.
As such, it should come as no surprise that scents are still commonly used for their erotic qualities. What’s more, studies show that many of them actually work. Below, you’ll find a list of 15 scents that can enhance desire, heighten the senses and boost vitality — all backed by science. If you’d like to skip ahead to the condensed visual you can do so here.
What Are Aphrodisiac Scents?
Aphrodisiac scents are fragrances that arouse sexual instinct, bring desire or increase pleasure or performance. While aphrodisiacs can be found in some foods, drugs and even in our bodies, this section is going to focus on external aphrodisiac scents. These include flowers, herbs and even the scent of some foods.
Despite some skepticism around the use of aphrodisiacs, studies show that many of these aromas do work — they can be easily incorporated into anyone’s fragrance routine. Check out our list of scientifically proven aphrodisiac scents below.
1. Pumpkin pie: This traditional Thanksgiving dessert increases arousal in men. In fact, one study found that the scent of pumpkin pie mixed with lavender increased blood flow to the nether regions by 40 percent when sniffed.
Additionally, the smell of pumpkin pie mixed with the smell of doughnuts increased blood flow by 31.5 percent. Scientists speculate that the men might be reacting to the vanilla and cinnamon in the pie, both of which also made our list.
2. Lavender: As mentioned above, the smell of lavender mixed with pumpkin pie was shown to increase arousal in men by 40 percent. However, lavender can stand on its own — the flower’s scent has been proven to relax and arouse at the same time, which is a wonderful way to set the mood.
3. Vanilla: In a study of male Wistar rats, a 200 mg dose of vanillin demonstrated aphrodisiac properties. The aphrodisiac qualities of vanilla should come at little surprise, since vanilla’s soothing scent has also been shown to increase arousal by 9 percent in men.
4. Strawberry: In one study, the sweet scent of strawberry increased arousal in people who were told the smell had that effect. While we would normally chalk this up to the placebo effect, the same results were not reported when subjects smelled other fruits, suggesting the smell may affect the body after all.
5. Jasmine: A study that tested several men’s and women’s fragrances for aphrodisiac properties found that the “winning blend” was the aroma of jasmine. Its rich, sweet smell has been used for centuries to improve libido and promote intimacy, which makes it one of the more well-known aphrodisiac scents.
6. Ginger: Warming and spicy, ginger has been used throughout history as an aphrodisiac; more recently, ginger essential oil has been found to be energizing and uplifting. A recent study of Chinese folk medicines found that ginger acts as a circulatory stimulant and that it can aid in erectile dysfunction.
7. Black Licorice: The scent of the controversial candy has been shown to increase arousal in men by 13 percent; when combined with the scent of doughnuts that number jumped to 32 percent. The sweet smell, which comes from anise, has been rumored to work on women as well.
8. Cinnamon: While cinnamon has several documented benefits including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, it’s also widely known as an aphrodisiac. To back up these claims, researchers found that the scent of cinnamon increased sexual function in aging, male rats, suggesting it might be an aid in erectile dysfunction.
9. Doughnuts: In the study of the Human Male Sexual Response to Olfactory Stimuli, the scent of doughnuts were found to enhance the arousing effects of other smells on the body.
The smell of doughnuts on its own increased blood flow to the groin by only 7 percent, but the scent of doughnuts mixed with black licorice increased blood flow by 31 percent. Mixed with lavender the doughnut smell increased blood flow by 18 percent and mixed with cola it increased 12 percent.
10. Pink grapefruit: Vitality plays a large part in human attraction, which is why pink grapefruit is considered an aphrodisiac. Studies show that women who wear the scent of pink grapefruit are perceived to be six years younger on average and therefore more attractive to men.
11. Orange: Orange is another scent that’s proven to increase blood flow to the sexual organs, testing at 19 percent. The smell of citrus has also been shown to increase alertness, which makes a person more sensitive to the stimuli around them.
Sandalwood: Used in eastern Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Sandalwood has often been touted as an aphrodisiac. Recent studies back up these claims, showing that sandalwood elevates the pulse and exhibits antidepressant and relaxing qualities.
12. Lily of the Valley: This floral scent, which is used in many modern fragrances, has potent aphrodisiac effects. One controversial study found that sperm were attracted to the fragrance, making women more likely to get pregnant when wearing it during intercourse. Another study found that the scent heightened arousal in men by 11 percent.
13. Rose: The floral scent of rose has been used throughout time for medicinal reasons, and it’s known to fight depression and boost confidence, fertility and libido. Ayurvedic practitioners will also tell you that it helps regulate the nervous system, making people more responsive to touch.
14. Peppermint: Named after the Greek nymph Minthe, the mistress of Pluto, god of the underworld, peppermint has deep ties to forbidden desire. Recent studies have found it an aphrodisiac for women — increasing alertness, stimulating the brain and dilating blood vessels in the sexual organs.
Natural Aphrodisiacs: Pheromones
A guide about aphrodisiac scents would not be complete without mentioning pheromones — the natural scents animals and humans secrete that induce activity. Pheromones are similar to hormones but work outside the body to affect the behavior of those around us.
Animals use these subtle scents to raise alarm, trigger instincts, mark territory, bond a mother and offspring, and induce arousal. However, the jury is still out with regard to how much human pheromones affect behavior
Studies show that androstadienone, a component of male sweat, can affect the mood and increase arousal. Androstenol, a secreted female pheromone, is said to attract males while other studies show that the types of pheromones humans give off help them attract a more compatible partner.
Many scent companies have tried to concoct synthetic pheromones to add to their perfumes, but there is no evidence to prove they actually work. However, that doesn’t stop people from trying their luck with synthetic pheromone fragrances.
Humans are driven by the smells around them, and desire is no different. In both ancient and modern times, these tried and true scents have proven the perfect addition to any date night, bedroom or fragrance. In fact, you can find many of these scents in popular perfumes and colognes.
To spice up your love life, simply pick and scent and incorporate it into your daily routine, from spraying it on yourself in the form of perfume or using it in a candle or essential oil.
Aphrodisiac Scents Throughout History
Over the course of history, aphrodisiacs have been used to stimulate desire and lust. As we mentioned, ancient Egyptians used perfumed oils to set the mood. Cleopatra is said to have used cardamom, cinnamon and basil to seduce the likes of Mark Antony and Emperor Julius Caesar. It’s also said that she bathed in a mix of milk and saffron because the Egyptians believed it had aphrodisiac qualities.
Both the Torah and the Bible’s Old Testament mention using scents as aphrodisiacs, specifically calling out the erotic power of a fragrant “love-flower” found by Reuben to increase his mother Leah’s fertility. The particular flower mentioned in the ancient texts were mandrakes.
The Greeks and Romans coveted aromatic spices and perfumes for their pleasant odors and aphrodisiac qualities. They would bathe and sprinkle themselves with scented oils and floral scents like rose, jasmine, lavender and chamomile. They even added animal compounds to their perfumes like deer musk, ambergris (a secretion from sperm whales) and civet from civet cats.
During the Renaissance, women who wanted to increase fertility had midwives make them potions of herbs and spices. Shakespeare even referenced perfume as an aphrodisiac, as well as burning herbs and incense.
As humans became more hygienic around the 1800s, scents became associated with fashion and trendiness. Women and men began to spray perfumes on themselves before meeting their lovers to increase their level of attractiveness. Even today, people use scents like vanilla, lavender, cinnamon and jasmine in perfumes to set the mood.
Fragrance & Sex Appeal | How Do Women React To A Man’s Scent? | Smell & Mate Selection
Ask any woman for her most desirable trait in a man.
She might say a kind heart, a charming smile or even good looks.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll hear women admitting that a man’s scent makes them weak in their knees.
Smell – or a man’s scent – has been proven through experiments to be the #1 factor for women when it comes to selecting a potential partner.
What causes instant attraction between a man and a woman? According to a group of researchers in Europe – A man sees but a woman smells.
The research study they published in the Personality and Individual Differences journal showed that men are visual while women rate olfactory (fancy Latin for smell) cues as more important in mate choice.
Taking the results a step further – the study proved that women valued olfactory cues significantly more than men even in non-sexual contexts.
The researchers worked with over 700 European students and asked questions about what senses were most important in these areas:
- Choosing a potential lover.
- What causes sexual arousal outside sexual activity.
- What causes sexual arousal during and after sexual activity.
- What affects the meal choices made by men and women.
- Things that attract attention – like a beautiful landscape.
- Stimulating memories and what senses are important in remembering them.
- Flower choice – what do men and women visualize or think about when they remember flowers?
- Selection of pets.
The participants were asked to make their selection in these different areas by choosing one of these 6 senses – visual, auditory, olfactory, taste, touch and imagination.
The researchers did a number of analyses on what senses had the biggest impact for men and women. The results showed that men and women differed in the following ways.
#1 Selecting Potential Lovers
For men, visual was most important. For women – olfactory was most important.
Women seem to be more driven by scent while attraction for men was driven by what they saw.
That’s really no surprise because men are naturally attracted to the shape, body proportions, skin and face of a woman. However, women rate a man’s body smell as most important when choosing a potential partner.
Researchers studying the human brain suggest that women are able to detect a man’s biological compatibility through signals in their odor.
A majority of the male population do not wear a fragrance. Why would you want to spend $50-$100 on a bottle of perfume?
Does it make any difference? Yes, it does.
#2 Sexual Arousal During Non-Sexual Activity
For men – it was visual again. No surprises there.
Women rated imagination (fantasy/thoughts) as the most important sense that causes arousal during non-sexual activity.
The main point here is that men are visual – the data proves it. With women it could be a lot more about the smell, the touch and the imagination.
When asked whether they found perfume arousing during non-sexual activity – women were more likely to say yes than men!
#3 Sexual Arousal During Sexual Activity
For men, again visual was most important. For women – touch was most important, followed by body smell, imaginary and sexual sounds. Visual wasn’t even in their top four.
You’ve heard that women need more romance – they need a story. It’s more about their mind and not so much about the visual – which is good news for anyone who doesn’t have a fantastic body.
Women rated visual, non-body smell and music as not important in arousal during sexual activity.
That doesn’t mean you have to drop the Barry White playlist, skip the gym workouts and trash the aroma candles. It means you need to first pay attention to the scent you choose – is it complementing your natural body odor?
#4 Meal Choice Selection For Men & Women
Men and women weren’t significantly different in this area – they both rated taste as most the important criteria for meal choices.
The other senses listed in order were smell, visual and touch (the texture of the food).
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#5 Landscape Attention – What Grabs Their Attention In A New Place
Both men and women rated visual as the most important sense in observing a landscape for the first time. Men and women are attracted to the visual beauty of natural landscapes.
However, women rated the olfactory more than men. Women process multiple sensory perceptions of a landscape while men are focused on the visual.
#6 Landscape Memory – How Men & Women Remember A Place
In revisiting the memory of a landscape – both men and women rated visual as the most important sense. The first sense that is activated through memory is the visual landscape.
Olfactory was still high for women.
#7 Flowers – Senses Activated For Men & Women
Although women rated the scent of flowers (olfactory) higher than men – the top choice was visual for both men and women.
The sight of flowers increased positive moods before the fragrance was added to the mix of sensory perceptions.
#8 Senses Driving Selection Of Pets
Both men and women rated visual as their first deciding sense. For women, the sense of touch rated higher than men. In pet selection – the olfactory sense was (for obvious reasons) not listed high.
What Can We Learn From These Results?
Women were more likely to say smell was important in other ways – such as choosing a flower or keeping their attention in an unfamiliar landscape.
The analysis indicated that women had more complex senses of smell. They responded very differently to a man’s body smell compared with object, environmental and even animal smells.
Men responded to all sources of smell in the same way – something either smells good or bad.
Women tend to develop a better understanding of smell. Their noses are trained to pick subtle cues that men are often unable to detect.
The results proved that men and women have a different seletion criteria. In other words – what’s important to men may not be important to women.
Being a good person will certainly help you get and keep a date. But there is a complex set of factors that go into whether women will find you desirable. How you smell could be a big factor in who you attract.
You may have improved how you dress but if you want to attract a woman and keep her attention after courting her – pay attention to your smell.
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