15 Evidence-Based Aphrodisiac Scents to Improve Date Night

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Scent is a powerful tool. Studies show that it’s linked to memory and emotion, even more so than our other senses. But did you know it also plays a significant role in our love lives?

Throughout history, people have used aphrodisiac scents to set the mood. Ancient Indians mention using certain oils and spices in the Kama Sutra and Egypt’s famous Queen Cleopatra is said to have used perfumes to seduce her lovers. Even the word itself is linked to love; “aphrodisiac” is derived from the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.

As such, it should come as no surprise that scents are still commonly used for their erotic qualities. What’s more, studies show that many of them actually work. Below, you’ll find a list of 15 scents that can enhance desire, heighten the senses and boost vitality — all backed by science. If you’d like to skip ahead to the condensed visual you can do so here.

female couple kissing

What Are Aphrodisiac Scents?

Aphrodisiac scents are fragrances that arouse sexual instinct, bring desire or increase pleasure or performance. While aphrodisiacs can be found in some foods, drugs and even in our bodies, this section is going to focus on external aphrodisiac scents. These include flowers, herbs and even the scent of some foods.

Despite some skepticism around the use of aphrodisiacs, studies show that many of these aromas do work — they can be easily incorporated into anyone’s fragrance routine. Check out our list of scientifically proven aphrodisiac scents below.

couple smiling and holding hands

Natural Aphrodisiacs: Pheromones

A guide about aphrodisiac scents would not be complete without mentioning pheromones — the natural scents animals and humans secrete that induce activity. Pheromones are similar to hormones but work outside the body to affect the behavior of those around us.

Animals use these subtle scents to raise alarm, trigger instincts, mark territory, bond a mother and offspring, and induce arousal. However, the jury is still out with regard to how much human pheromones affect behavior

Studies show that androstadienone, a component of male sweat, can affect the mood and increase arousal. Androstenol, a secreted female pheromone, is said to attract males while other studies show that the types of pheromones humans give off help them attract a more compatible partner.

Many scent companies have tried to concoct synthetic pheromones to add to their perfumes, but there is no evidence to prove they actually work. However, that doesn’t stop people from trying their luck with synthetic pheromone fragrances.

Humans are driven by the smells around them, and desire is no different. In both ancient and modern times, these tried and true scents have proven the perfect addition to any date night, bedroom or fragrance. In fact, you can find many of these scents in popular perfumes and colognes.

To spice up your love life, simply pick and scent and incorporate it into your daily routine, from spraying it on yourself in the form of perfume or using it in a candle or essential oil.

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Aphrodisiac Scents Throughout History

Over the course of history, aphrodisiacs have been used to stimulate desire and lust. As we mentioned, ancient Egyptians used perfumed oils to set the mood. Cleopatra is said to have used cardamom, cinnamon and basil to seduce the likes of Mark Antony and Emperor Julius Caesar. It’s also said that she bathed in a mix of milk and saffron because the Egyptians believed it had aphrodisiac qualities.

Both the Torah and the Bible’s Old Testament mention using scents as aphrodisiacs, specifically calling out the erotic power of a fragrant “love-flower” found by Reuben to increase his mother Leah’s fertility. The particular flower mentioned in the ancient texts were mandrakes.

The Greeks and Romans coveted aromatic spices and perfumes for their pleasant odors and aphrodisiac qualities. They would bathe and sprinkle themselves with scented oils and floral scents like rose, jasmine, lavender and chamomile. They even added animal compounds to their perfumes like deer musk, ambergris (a secretion from sperm whales) and civet from civet cats.

During the Renaissance, women who wanted to increase fertility had midwives make them potions of herbs and spices. Shakespeare even referenced perfume as an aphrodisiac, as well as burning herbs and incense.

As humans became more hygienic around the 1800s, scents became associated with fashion and trendiness. Women and men began to spray perfumes on themselves before meeting their lovers to increase their level of attractiveness. Even today, people use scents like vanilla, lavender, cinnamon and jasmine in perfumes to set the mood.

aphrodisiac scents infographic