Love at first scent: The science behind fragrance lust

We’ve heard of love at first sight, but what about love at first scent? Whether it’s possible or not, we can’t tell you, but we are dishing on the connection between lust and the sense of smell. Get your perfumes ready ladies, because after all, Valentine’s Day is just days away!

Woman applying perfume

We chatted with Renee Bukowski, senior product development manager for Tru Fragrance, to get to the bottom of the science behind fragrance lust. Find out what she had to say!

SheKnows: Explain the science behind “fragrance lust.” How can a scent affect our desires and actions so much?

Bukowski: Of all of our senses, the sense of smell is the one linked with the limbic region of the brain. This old brain, as it’s called, controls our emotions and our memories. A scent memory stays with us longer and is more vivid than any other memory.

Scent is a powerful trigger on emotion, mood and memory. A smell can make you happy or sad because it reminds you of a time or place when you were experiencing those emotions and that scent was present. A good example is the traditional odor of apple pie — cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and cooked apples can bring a smile to your face because it takes you back to grandma’s kitchen where you spent many happy hours.

Perfume bottleSheKnows: What are a few common notes or ingredients in a fragrance that can inspire lust?

Bukowski: Lots of studies have been done on which types of notes are deemed seductive by men and women. Often notes related to food are considered seductive for males. Vanilla and licorice are often suggested as being seductive to men. Females on the other hand are often seduced by herbaceous notes such as pepper or lavender or rosemary, which smell clean. Musk remains a seductive note because it resembles the odor of human skin and carries a soft sweetness.

SheKnows: Valentine’s Day is coming up. What kind of scents should women wear to drive their man wild?

Bukowski: Scents captivate through a desire for discovery. Traditionally, the oriental family contains the most aphrodisiac characteristics. Orientals are based on warm accords of amber, vanilla and sweet musk, and these notes trigger temptations in men with their addictive edible-like qualities. As the saying goes, ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’

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