Scents That Make Men More Attractive To Women

Think of the last time you instinctively turned your head to look in the direction of a person who just passed by you. What made you look their way? There's a decent chance that it was their scent. (We've all probably done this at some point, so there's no need to feel embarrassed.)

When it's clear that walking into a spa that smells of sandalwood or peppermint might instantly make you feel better, it shouldn't be surprising that the way someone smells can make them more attractive. After all, there's a reason why perfumes, deodorants, and aftershaves exist (and why there's a market for them). For some women, it might even be the first thing they notice on a date. According to Laura Wasser, relationship expert and chief of divorce evolution at (via Best Life), "Scents can trigger powerful memories and feelings, which can influence how attractive we find someone." Per Wasser, while certain perfumes can evoke feelings of comfort or familiarity, others can do the opposite and bring on sensations of excitement. And this is all part and parcel of the complicated thing we call attraction. 

Now that we know that scents can get women's hearts thumping, what particular fragrances are we talking about? Tabloids might portray sweaty, well-built men as more attractive to women, but what does science have to say? Simply put, evidence points toward perfumes and pheromones when it comes to female attraction toward men. Let's break it down. 

Women find scents like vanilla, musk, and rosehip attractive

While conventional wisdom and some surveys done by perfume companies might tell you that the woodier the scent, the better chance of a male finding a mate, according to Dr. Lisa Lawless, a psychotherapist specializing in clinical psychology, relationships, sexual health, and nutrition (via Best Life), there's something to be said about the comforting smell of vanilla. The scent, which might remind you of your favorite baked good, is "often associated with happy memories, such as baking cookies or other sweet treats," shared Lawless. 

According to a 2011 study published in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, musky-spicy fragrance came out on top as being preferred by men for themselves and by women for their male partners. If you're a man and you're already rolling with a favorite musk eau de toilette spray, you're probably on the right track.  

You might raise an eyebrow at the mention of this next scent: rosehip essential oil. But there's some science to prove its favorability. A 2014 study published in PLOS ONE that featured a small group of participants found that the scent of actual rosehip essential oil (not the artificial kind) made participants rank the faces they were shown as more attractive when compared with less pleasant odors like fish. As for the popular fragrance of citrus, it seems you can't go wrong with this one either. Per Lawless, "In aromatherapy, citrus scents, especially orange, are considered to inspire joy. They offer a sense of freshness and vitality, which can be quite appealing."

Now, let's talk about pheromones

Pheromones are what cause your adorable dog to sniff another pooch's rear end when you take him out on his daily walk. With animals, the science seems to be relatively clear — different animal species pick up on scents coming off of their kind and respond in relation to that. But what about humans? 

In a 2008 study conducted at a speed-dating event, women who had been exposed to androstadienone (which comes from male sweat glands) found the men in front of them more attractive. Yet another study found a connection between the steroidal compound androstadienone and women's mood and sexuality. As noted in the study: "Preliminary evidence suggests that androstadienone also plays a role in mate selection, perhaps through the attribution of attractiveness to facial and bodily features of potential mates."

However, according to Pamela Regan, a social psychologist who's particularly interested in aspects of sexual and romantic attraction, more conclusive studies are needed to establish any definite connections (via Insider). That's because humans may not function exactly like animals, so to speak. "We don't require the presence of a particular hormone or chemical secretion to feel desire, want sex, or become attracted to another member of the species," explained Regan. The takeaway for men? Start by identifying the obvious things you never realized were making you smell bad, and then move on to find a fragrance that you enjoy on yourself. After all, confidence can also be attractive.