We won't deny ourselves a Tom Ford Lost Cherry dupe, and we certainly can't resist testing out new fall perfumes, but is scent seduction something that truly affects our decision in selecting a mate? Should we have specific fragrances on our checklist next to "good job" and "sense of humor"? According to various studies, scent is definitely important when it comes down to attraction, and it can affect the way in which people connect with one another.
"There's been research on people's responses to others' bodily scents, often in the context of researching pheromones, which suggests that for at least many of us, it really matters to attraction and pleasure if we love the way our partners smell," says Dr. Carol Queen, Ph.D., the in-house sexologist at Good Vibes.
As much as we encourage a stroll down the fragrance aisle at Sephora—who are we to resist?!—your vanilla-scented body mist is not going to necessarily be a make-it-or-break-it factor. Here's what you need to know.
Dr. Carol Queen is an author, editor, sociologist, Good Vibes sexologist, and sexologist active in the sex-positive feminism movement.
Is 'scent seduction' important in attraction?
According to a 2017 study in Frontiers in Psychology, one of many of its kind, visual, auditory, and olfactory cues suggest that attraction is multimodal, meaning a pretty face isn't the only determining factor in who we find to be good-looking.
Agata Groyecka, a researcher at the University of Wroclaw in Poland who oversaw the study said, per CNN, "Some odors are not only rated as more pleasant but also sexier, and therefore, they are likely to make people eager to flirt or date. Similarly, unpleasant odors can be discouraging to engaging in a relationship."
But more often than not, the scents in question are natural, not manufactured.
"The focus here is not on artificial scents—there's a lot of PR trying to convince us to embrace various perfumes, aftershaves, scented candles, etc.," Dr. Queen notes.
Likewise, Dr. Laurie Mintz, a sexpert at Lelo, says, "We know that scent does play a role in attraction. However, there is no one scent that fits all. Scents that we find attractive aren’t necessarily artificial ones. In cultures that don’t mask body scents, a person’s natural body odor or the 'smell of sex' may be a turn-on. In societies that value covering up scents, these same smells may be a turn-off."
Given the uptick in sensory play sex trends, fragrances are definitely worth noting but understand that what might be appealing to you could be totally different to someone else. Much like sexual experiences themselves, everyone has a preference—there's no right or wrong answer.
"All of this is deeply personal," says Angie Rowntree, founder and director of Sssh.com "We don’t want to say 'all women love Lavender or Jasmine' or 'Cinnamon or Sandalwood always does the trick' because the way a scent registers with your brain and my brain might be very different. It also seems clear that there’s a strong relationship between scent and memory, and our associations likely evolve throughout our lifetime."
Well, pheromones aside, if you're looking to explore the sensory play sex trend (yes, with some manufactured goodies) have a look at our sexpert-backed guide.
Dr. Laurie Mintz is a feminist author, therapist, professor, and speaker whose life’s work has been committed to helping people live more authentic, meaningful, joyful—and sexually satisfying—lives through the art and science of psychology. As a tenured professor at the University of Florida, she teaches the Psychology of Human Sexuality to hundreds of undergraduate students each year. She also teaches and mentors graduate students in both their clinical and research training, helping them to find their own niche as psychologists. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association.
Angie Rowntree is the founder and director of Sssh.com, which works to destigmatize adult entertainment. Its extensive collection of films, sex-ed videos, ASMR and erotic audio content make it the premiere destination for sex-positive, ethical porn made from a woman's point of view.
Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.
Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few.
When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.
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