Perfumes and fragrances might be designed to act as aphrodisiac scents to attract the opposite sex, but the reality is the smells that really make men drool aren’t the smells you’re going to find in fancy bottles.
In fact, the key to learning how to turn a guy on has to do with more than something you can buy.
So, what perfume turns guys on?
The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation (the best or worst foundation to work for, depending on what they’re researching) sniffed out the smells that attract men most.
The surprising finding? It wasn’t just perfume that they loved. The most seductive scents to men were common yummy foods!
But short of coating your body in cookie dough and shampooing with vanilla ice cream, there are plenty of floral fragrances and perfumes of sensual scents that make the most of what men love, you just have to know what kind of aphrodisiac you’re looking for.
Here are 20 of the most attractive scents to a man including aphrodisiacs, fragrances, and where to find them in the perfume aisle.
It’s long been believed that vanilla is a natural aphrodisiac: as early as the 1700s, physicians recommended it to male patients to ensure potency. And the sweet, welcoming odor has a euphoric effect that sets the sensual mood.
I say if something smells like vanilla and it is not a vanilla cake, the world best be prepared to burn. But hey, that’s just me.
The perfume to try: Shalimar By Guerlain
This powdery vanilla scent is a classic. It’s not candy-sweet, either. Inspired by the love of an Indian Emperor for his wife (for whom the Taj Mahal was built), this delicious fragrance starts fresh and light, with lemon and bergamot, and reveals itself to be sensual and soft, with base notes of vanilla and incense.
Bonus points, whenever you put it on you get the fun of whispering “SHALIMAR” dramatically to yourself.
2. Doughnut & Black Licorice
This sweet combination increased arousal in more than 30 percent of men studied by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. That said, I find the inclusion of black licorice deeply problematic.
The perfume to try: Demeter Fragrance Library’s Licorice
This library of singular scents (everything from fresh laundry to Hello Kitty-inspired fragrances) has something for everyone, including your guy. Not sure you want to douse yourself in licorice? Lather up with the licorice bath and shower gel, or add a few drops of the Angel Food bath oil to your next bubble bath.
3. Pumpkin Pie
The scent of pumpkin pie increased penile blood flow in 40 percent of men. The Foundation theorized that the men in their study may have reacted to the vanilla and cinnamon in the pumpkin pie, both of which have been claimed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
The perfume to try: Bath & Body Works Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin
This sweet and spicy collection includes shower gel, body lotion, and a body splash, and combines pumpkin and cinnamon with apple, cranberry, and clove, for a subtle, light scent that’s alluring, not Thanksgiving. An alternative, cover your entire body in pumpkin pie and ask him to lick it off.
On more fruity notes, the citrus smell produced an arousal reaction in almost 20 percent of men, and it makes sense. Oranges conjure up thoughts of sun and sweetness.
The perfume to try: Boss Orange
This scent from Hugo Boss will have his senses tingling, with top notes of sweet apple and soft florals that give way to orange blossom. The base includes sandalwood, olive wood, and creamy vanilla, another male favorite.
Movie night just got a whole lot better thanks to Dr. Alan R. Hirsch’s 1995 study. Turns out, men are incredibly turned on by the scent of our favorite salty and crunchy snack. Maybe pick a movie you don’t actually want to see? You might be distracted.
The perfume to try: Demeter Fragrance Library’s Popcorn
It’s another unique singular note from Demeter Fragrance Library. This one literally smells like popcorn. Better pop a hole in that popcorn bucket or get ready to bring movie night to the bedroom.
Of course, chocolate is on the list because chocolate is the greatest thing that there is except for maybe my cat, who is also darling, but sadly, whose scent does not inspire lust.
The perfume to try: Serendipity 3 Serendipitous
Forget about eating the frozen hot chocolate… why not wear it? This perfume has some serious chocolate notes with hints of vanilla and orange (both of which are also arousing fragrances).
7. Lily of the Valley
The guys responded to a scent that doesn’t come from the kitchen. The delicate white flower gives off a light, subtle scent that men love: in this study, it heightened arousal in 11 percent of men.
The perfume to try: Lily of the Valley by Yardley of London
This is a watery floral scent that’s cool and fresh. Lily of the Valley combines with pink peony and freesia for a subtle floral he won’t be able to resist. Creamy musk and white amber lend some appeal to the scent, and grapefruit and ginger keep it fresh, not overwhelming.
Bergamot was found to increase the amount of amino acids in the brain. Why do we care about that? Well, science tells us that these amino acids trigger heightened levels of hormones, leading to an increased libido.
Bergamot is a citrus fruit the size of an orange with the color and sour bite of a lemon that hails from Calabria, Italy — known to be a pretty darn romantic spot in the first place.
The perfume to try: Love on the Run x Seduce
Seduce him with this deeply penetrating blend of bergamot and woodsy Damascus rose, caressed by sweet, sultry jasmine undertones.
This fragrance also contains Estratetraenol, a romantic and cuddly pheromone that enhances both emotional and physical intimacy. That means it’s power-packed and ready for intimacy.
9. Wild yam
Wild yam is a known aphrodisiac. Plus, it’s fun. It has wild in the name. This extract is so powerfully connected to hormonal issues that it is often added to creams that do everything from ease menopausal symptoms and boost arousal.
The perfume to try: Morning Glow
This fragrance is made from pheromones that are vegan and are derived from the wild yam root and contains a fresh bouquet of ylang-ylang, sensual jasmine, citrusy apple blossoms, freesia, and deep purple violets. Undertones of soft white musk will keep him mesmerized from morning to night.
10. Rose Oil
It’s rare to find a scent more associated with love and romance than the rose. Rose oil helps with circulation and blood flow — all important for love. But, of course, it’s a very sensual and romantic scent that is emotionally uplifting.
The perfume to try: Pacifica Spray Perfume, Persian Rose
This blend sets sweet and sultry vanilla absolute, with honey-jasmine notes including a touch of fruitiness, against a deep and beautiful base of tea.
Pacifica Spray uses a blend of Bulgarian rose, subtle violet, myrrh, and delicate fruit as a nod to the floral Empire of the Persians, the Kings of perfume in the 9th century.
It is said that those who smell and inhale sandalwood have a heightened mood and desire than those who do not. This is a pungent and woody scent that originates in the Orient and is often seen in high-end perfumes and colognes. It’s also often used to treat impotence and help relieve anxiety.
The perfume to try: Santal Majuscule by Serge Lutens Eau De Parfum Spray
Woodsy notes with scents of cacao, damask rose, and sandalwood, this one can be worn by both sexes. This is a long-lasting fragrance that has a woodsy, spicy scent created through a combination of notes, including sandalwood and cacao.
Adding on to the floral scents, studies have found smelling lavender plays a big role in decreasing anxiety and stress. This causes relaxation, which is a big part of pleasure. But that’s not all: According to the foundation’s study, its scent is arousing.
The perfume to try: L’Occitane Lavender Eau de Cologne
Lavender Eau de Cologne has a light, breezy scent, underlined by subtle woody notes. This vibrant cologne is a celebration of summer that captures the sunshine and brightness of Haute-Provence.
Cinnamon has tons of health benefits, but one is being a stimulant. It’s also warming, which increases blood flow and circulation, which obviously helps when going to the bedroom.
The perfume to try: Demeter Cinnamon Bun Cologne Spray
Cinnamon and sugar, all sticky and sweet. Much like a romantic night in. This smells just like freshly baked cinnamon buns — no baking or carbs required!
Jasmine boosts mood levels, which is such an important part of the attraction.
Jasmine is a well-known aphrodisiac and is often used in perfumes because it has a rich, sweet smell, and is known to be warming and seductive. In fact, in India, Jasmine oil has been used for centuries to help improve the libido.
The perfume to try: Byredo Flowerhead Eau de Parfum
A floral fragrance that opens with notes of Angelica seeds, Sicilian lemon, and lingonberry with middle notes of wild jasmine sambac, dewy tuberose, and rose petals.
15. Clary Sage
This scent has a deep, sweet, nutty flavor that helps to calm and soothe stress and anxiety but also to lessen inhibitions and boost desire. It can also stimulate energy and can help a woman to relax, which helps with anxiety.
The perfume to try: Arvedikas Clary-sage Natural Solid Perfume
This gorgeous fragrance is made with special blends of natural essential oils, Jojoba oil, natural beeswax, natural herbs, and natural aromatic compounds to give long-lasting fragrance
Patchouli is earthy and woodsy, but is also known to help with anxiety and increases energy, and stimulates desire while decreasing inhibitions. All important when it comes to attraction. It stimulates the glands, increasing libido.
The perfume to try: VIKTOR&ROLF Flowerbomb
Warm and sweet gourmands, with notes of jasmine, orange blossom, and patchouli. Deep amber, woody, and patchouli notes combine with warm vanilla and praline notes to complete a truly addictive fragrance.
17. Ylang Ylang
This one is known to be a powerful aphrodisiac because it influences energy. It also supports the circulatory system. Inhaling this scent leads to “feelings of euphoria,” which is an important part of getting it on!
The perfume to try: Chanel No. 5
One of the most classic fragrances one could buy, a blend of aldehydes and floral notes like rose, ylang-ylang, jasmine, lily of the valley and iris, layered over a warm, woody base of vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla, amber and patchouli.
Masculine scents like musk are a known attractor of both men and women. Scientifically speaking, musk’s effects are attributed to it being structurally very similar to pheromones.
The perfume to try: Eau De Musk
Kiehl’s Original Musk Oil is believed to have been created in the 1920s at the “Kiehl Apothecary.” Discovered in a vat labeled, “Love Oil” in the late 1950s, this fragrance, Musk Eau de Toilette Spray, was re-introduced in 1963.
Spicy and warm aromas increase perspiration, which then leads to heightened chemicals that lead to attraction. So pile on that capsaicin!
The perfume to try: NEST Indigo
A spicy blend of Moroccan tea, Kashmir wood, and black cardamom with hints of wild fig and bergamot. These notes combine to create a captivating fragrance that transitions well from day to evening. A perfect fragrance as the weather begins to chill.
This is energizing, and great attraction is all about energy. Recent studies have shown it helps in stimulating the brain and dilating blood vessels, all great for a love response.
The perfume to try: Paco Rabanne 1 Million Eau de Toilette
The freshness of grapefruit invites you into this audacious scent, combining in the top notes with mint and blood mandarin. Striking and assertive middle notes follow with a refined yet virile combination of rose, cinnamon, and spicy notes.
The base notes evoke the ultimate velvety harmony of leather, white wood, amber, and Indonesian patchouli essences.
Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her.
YourTango may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through links featured in this article.