How Fragrance Affects Sexual Attraction

Fragrance is a pleasant smell, and it’s often associated with flowers. The scent of something fragrant is also called a perfume or cologne. The word fragrance can be used in a positive context, such as “These flowers have a very nice fragrance.” It’s also sometimes used in a more ironic or humorous way, as in “That’s a strong fragrance coming from your leftovers in the refrigerator.”

The earliest known reference to perfume dates back to the Etruscans who were devotees of adornment. They would rub scented oils on their bodies and dress with fragrant materials. Even today, the French are renowned for their perfume fashion and culture. Perfume was a popular craze in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as well when women doused themselves with fragrant substances and sprayed their robes with an array of perfumes each day. The odor of a person’s body is a significant part of their personal appeal and has been shown to affect sexual attraction. Two recent studies found that men’s natural body odor and their use of perfume can have a powerful effect on whether they are considered attractive by females. Moreover, the study found that women rate a man’s body odor and fragrance more highly than other characteristics including social status, age, height, weight, and education.

A person’s personal fragrance is often determined by their mood. For example, women in a positive mood will select a floral or fruity perfume. A woman in a sad or angry mood will choose a more masculine scent such as musk or woody. Mood isn’t the only factor that influences a person’s perfume choice; personality and situation also play a role. In one study, women were asked to select a perfume to wear in a job interview and were then assessed for their suitability for the position. The results showed that women who selected a perfume with a more masculine scent, such as musk, were rated more favorably than women who chose a more feminine perfume such as rose or lily. The researchers speculated that the men in the study perceived women who wore a more masculine fragrance as being tougher and more assertive, while the women who chose more feminine perfumes were judged to be more nurturing.

Many of the chemicals that make up a perfume are dangerous to our health and may cause disease. Inhaling these chemical vapors can cause hormone disruption and harm the reproductive system, for instance. The word fragrance covers dozens or hundreds of individual chemicals that are typically listed on the product labels of beauty, cleaning, and personal care products. Moreover, the majority of raw fragrance materials have little available safety information. Fragrance chemicals are ubiquitous environmental pollutants and are emitted into indoor environments where they can form air pollution in the form of volatile organic compounds. The International Fragrance Association claims that there are more than 3,500 fragrance chemicals in common use, and exposure to some of these can lead to a variety of health problems.