One of the most fun things about fragrance is its power to channel desire. But what exactly does desire smell like? Although scent is subjective, there is science behind what triggers arousal in both men and women. And while you are likely attracted to any scent that reminds you of your lover, there are certain notes that trigger a biochemical response. So while many fragrances may turn you on, these scents are proven aphrodisiacs.
“To me, there are two types of aphrodisiac scents: animalic and spice,” says Los Feliz Botanics Founder Kristen Quinn Castro. “We are animals at our core, and with the modern sterilization of our environments, the one area we can really connect to our instincts, our intuition, and our limbic system is within sex and sensuality.” Castro notes that animalic scents don’t necessarily have to be animal-derived musks. “Today,” she says, “There’s more demand for botanical musks.” Many florals can be considered animalic because of the inherent grit in their profiles. Grit adds dimension to a scent, giving it an earthy complexity, which is claimed to heighten pleasure receptors in humans.
Spritz fragrance on the back of your neck or even into your hair—whenever you move, the scent will intensify.
You might be skeptical about the erotic power of naturally derived plants, herbs, and foods—all ingredients that form the basis of fragrances on the market today. But if you consider the fact that desire starts in the brain, it makes sense that there are definite neurological responses to olfactory stimuli. The following scents have been known for their aphrodisiac properties for centuries, and recent scientific studies prove their reputations are well-deserved.
Although these proven aphrodisiacs have been around forever, Castro says perfumers are finding new ways of extracting essences that can add “new layers and dimensions to play with.” That means these scents might get even sexier. “Just as wines have been around for ages, there are still new approaches, farming methods, extractions, and aging processes,” she says.
When it comes to applying fragrance to enhance their aphrodisiac qualities, Castro encourages you to have fun and be creative. “Beyond your standard pulse points, taking time to apply fragrance to inner thighs and cleavage can set the mood,” she says. “Applying some to your palms and running your hands through your hair, focusing on your scalp at the nape of your neck will release the scent as you move. No matter where you apply your fragrance, take a few moments to breathe deeply and connect with the aroma and yourself.”