The nose knows more than you may think about human attraction.
Does an alluring scent make you weak in the knees? You're not alone. In a study by Oxford University, women rated men as more attractive when they were asked for their opinions while exposed to a pleasant fragrance. And in a recent survey conducted by YourTango, fragrance is the number one beauty item that makes a person feel irresistible, too.
Plenty of other inextricable links between smell, attraction and sex appeal have long been documented—most recently in a 1995 study by biologist Claus Wedekind while at the University of Bern. But it may all come down to the idea that "Fragrance is like magic, a whiff of mystery that stays with you forever," a favorite quote by Jovan Van Drielle of the La Jolla-based parfumerie Tijon, where visitors are taught to formulate their own perfumes and colognes using natural ingredients from the Caribbean and beyond. (Tijon, incidentally, is hosting a "Week of Love" from Feb. 9-16, 2014, in which they encourage couples to drop by to play with aphrodisiac scents to create their own "love potion".)
So, with Valentine's Day right around the corner, you may want to invest in a scent that will draw you to your partner all year long. But first, get a whiff of these fun scientific and historical facts that prove that smell and fragrances play fascinating and undeniable roles in sexual and romantic attraction:
- You can smell your partner's feelings (literally). Couples who are famiiar with each other learn to detect emotional cues in their body scent.
- Your signature scent is proven to turn a guy on.
- A woman can smell—through a man's sweat—whether he's "into" her or not. Sweat contains those good ol' pheremones, chemicals that are responsibile for the attraction that people chalk up to "chemistry".
- The word 'perfume' is from the Latin phrase 'per fumum' meaning 'through smoke.' This is because the first recorded history of perfume was around 4,000 B.C. when man burned oils to send fragrant smoke to honor the gods.
- Nerve "O" is a "secret sex nerve" that ties our sense of smell to sexual attraction. This olfactory nerve is thought to be the conduit between pheremones and the brain, alerting us that we're hot for that guy who just sat down next to us.
- Regency-era women in the early nineteenth century wore fountain rings. They were designed to mist their lovers with perfume as they bent to kiss their lady’s hand.
- Certain surprising scents have the power to arouse him "down there." Particularly, the smell of pumpkin and lavender are known to increase blood flow to a man's penis by 40%!
- Victorian perfume buttons, made in the mid-1800s, were designed so women could dab their oil based perfumes on the velvet within the button. During the Civil War, women would give such a button, scented with their perfume, to a husband or lover going off to war. He would stitch it under his uniform collar as a reminder of the love he left behind.
- Smelling a pleasant fragrance is an instant mood-lifter. Think vanilla, citrus, jasmine, pumpkin and baked goods.
- In 38 B.C. there was a famous Queen of Egypt who loved perfume. She made a boat out of fragrant cedar wood, dipped her sails in cyprannim (a perfume made from the henna flower) and had rose petals leading to her bed to lure her lover Marc Antony.
- Men can smell fertility. Researchers at the University of Austin set out to prove it.
- Sex hormone-like chemicals can have a pheromone effect. They produce changes in mood, heart rate, breathing and body temperature.
- Traditionally fragrance worn by women had adhered to two basic categories. 'Respectable' women favored the pure essence of a single garden flower. Sexually provocative perfumes heavy with animal musk or jasmine were associated with women of the demi-monde, prostitutes or courtesans. Chanel felt the time was right for the debut of a scent that would epitomize the boyish, modern flapper that would speak to the liberated spirit of the 1920s.