The Perfumes and Fragrances That Turn Men On–and Off
Good Clean Fun
You’re not the only one who likes that just-out-of-the-shower feeling. Our man testers said oui oui to Christian Dior’s orchid-infused J’adore, claiming it smelled natural, like the girl next door. Of the Estée Lauder fragrance Pure White Linen, one guy said, “It smells fresh—in a sexy way that makes me want to jump into bed and mess up the sheets.” He can thank the combination of gardenia petals, white freesia and dewy greens for that. Another clean scent to try: Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue.
Save the Desserts for the Kitchen
One guy in our panel explained, “I don’t think women should smell like food—nor should men, for that matter,” and we can’t say we disagree. According to Dr. Hirsch, chocolate is among the scents that turn men on the least. Vanilla, however, is the one exception. The sweet smell was a hit with our panel—plus, it proved to be a big turn-on for the fellas in the study. For the most appealing mixture, try a fragrance that combines vanilla with amber and musk, such as Clean Skin, which even sounds sexy.
Florals and Woods Are Surprisingly Tempting
Don’t be put off if a perfume says musky, spicy or woody on the label. Although you might think the notes are masculine, these multilayered scents smell great on you—and will win him over in a big, big way. “It smells like pure sex. It really does. I’m giving it to my girlfriend the first chance I get,” one guy said about Victoria’s Secret’s Very Sexy perfume, which boasts pepper, vanilla orchid and soft wood scents, among others. “If I smelled this on a girl,” another guy said, “I’d think she was pretty outgoing—which is a good thing—since it hits you a little bit more than the floral or powdery stuff.” If you’re into flirting through your fragrance, you could also try Calvin Klein’s Secret Obsession or Tom Ford’s Black Orchid.
Go Easy on the Strong Florals
It may come as a surprise, but not too many guys are into stopping and smelling the roses—the men in Dr. Hirsch’s study were hardly turned on at all by the soft scent. Guys aren’t into other kinds of strong florals, either. “If it’s too flowery, it makes me think of an old lady,” noted one dude after getting a whiff of a bouquetlike perfume (maybe that explains why so many guys are hesitant to give flowers?). Instead try a fragrance with lily of the valley (a scent that proved a big turn-on in Dr. Hirsch’s study), such as Dior Addict 2.
Spicy Florals Are Feisty and Flattering
You might think guys are more into younger women, but it turns out they don’t want their gal pal to smell like one. Our sniffers loved sophisticated scents like Lolita Lempicka’s Si Lolita and Daisy Marc Jacobs. Look for floral notes infused with sweeter ones (like vanilla) and spicier ones (like white woods). As one guy put it, “It doesn’t smell like something a high school girl would wear. It smells expensive.” Bonus: Dr. Hirsch found that the combo of spicy and floral makes men estimate a woman’s weight at 12 pounds less than her actual weight! A signature scent that makes us feel (and smell) like a million bucks? Sign us up!
Mandarin and Orange Are Subtly Seductive
Dr. Hirsch found that one of the biggest turn-ons is the smell of sweet, fresh orange. Luckily, tons of perfumes incorporate mandarin notes in sophisticated ways (read: you won’t smell like a Creamsicle). Pick up a scent that combines the citrus with soft florals such as Coach Poppy and Hermès’ Eau d’Orange Verte and you’ll be irresistible.
Put Away the Powder
Leave the Love’s Baby Soft to middle school memories, ladies. According to our panel, the smell of baby powder reminds them of not only little ones but their grandmas, too! Not necessarily the worst thing in the world—but just about the least sexy. Dr. Hirsch’s study echoed the baby powder scentiment—it was one of the weaker turn-ons in his study. If you like powdery scents, try Love, Chloé, which has a note of powdery musk blended with super-sexy orange blossom and pink pepper.
Unexpectedly Sexy: Pumpkin Pie + Lavender
In Dr. Hirsch’s study, the combination of scents that turned guys on the most was the totally unusual combo of pumpkin pie and lavender! Crazy, huh? Since such a fragrance has yet to exist (get on that, perfumers!), you can test out the study yourself by layering the two together. Try Demeter Pumpkin Pie combined with LaVanila Vanilla Lavender for maximum sultriness.
Pink Grapefruit Is More Fresh Than Flirty
The freshness of pink grapefruit doesn’t exactly scream sexy. In fact, the smell ranked pretty low in Dr. Hirsch’s study. On the other hand, men did estimate women’s ages at about six years younger than they actually were. If you’re looking to seem a bit more youthful but don’t want to sacrifice sex appeal, try Yves Saint Laurent Baby Doll, which also contains romantic vanilla and sandalwood.
The One Scent All Guys Don’t Want You to Wear
This one is tricky because it varies from guy to guy, but every dude we talked to could recall the fragrances his ex-girlfriends had worn. So if you happen to know her signature scent, don’t bother wearing it. Of one well-known perfume, a tester said: “That’s crazy. It reminds me of the way my girlfriend smelled junior year of high school. It would freak me out if a new girlfriend wore it.” But would it be a dating deal-breaker for him? “Well, I might ask her not to wear it,” he said.