Is there a difference between a sexy scent and a romantic one?

How much is too much when it comes to seducing your date with your scent?
How much is too much when it comes to seducing your date with your scent?
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Suppose you're getting ready for a special night out with your date. After choosing a flattering dress, carefully upping the flirt factor of your makeup, and sweeping your hair into your chosen one's favorite updo, what fragrance should you choose? Does it really make a difference whether you spritz those pulse points with Shalimar or Chanel No. 19? Is your favorite scent sending out super-sexy or simply romantic signals?

Typically, perfumers describe the sexiest, most seductive scents as musky, spicy or woodsy, and their aroma is warm and inviting, such as the classic Guerlain Shalimar or Victoria Secret's Very Sexy. They have an earthy, almost primal appeal. Romantic fragrances are described as sweet, light, and airy with green, white, or rosy notes, often adding depth with touches of vanilla or warm balsam elements. Chanel No. 19 is a good example.

Some sexy fragrances include Fracas by Robert Piguet, a sultry bouquet of jasmine, tuberose, and gardenia; Narciso Rodriguez for Her, featuring honey and amber that fades to musk; Tom Ford's Black Orchid with citrus, sugar, flowery, and vanilla notes, and Guerlain's Mitsouko, a blend of oakmoss, bergamot, and peaches. These warm, alluring fragrances are perfect for evenings and special occasions.

Classic and enduring, romantic fragrances recall moonlight and secret gardens. Examples include: Nina Ricci's L'Air du Temps, a blend of carnation, gardenia, jasmine; Joy by Jean Patou, a legendary combination of rose and jasmine; Estee Lauder's Beautiful, a blend of rose, tuberose, jasmine and sandalwood; Chanel Christalle with Sicilian lemon, honeysuckle, hyacinth; and LancĂ´me's Tresor, a fragrance that starts with the scent of apricots, rose, and lily of the valley, then warms up and becomes more sensual with base notes of sandalwood, amber and musk.

As it turns out, the power of scent is all in the perception of the beholder. One person's aphrodisiac could be a complete turn-off for another. It depends on an individual's history with a particular fragrance, whether a floral note that recalls hugs from a great aunt, a spicy one worn by a previous girlfriend, or a green scent that your date associates with a wonderful summer at the lake. Strong floral scents run the risk of reminding your date of a grandmother, but fragrances with lily of the valley, such as Dior Addict 2, are romantic and appealing without being too overwhelming.

An independent study conducted by the Smell and Taste Treatment Research Foundation in Chicago inspired a fragrance called Eau Flirt, manufactured by Harvey Prince. It contains notes of pumpkin pie and lavender, demonstrated in a study to evoke a more passionate response from men than any other scent due to its association with happy memories. Somehow, the combination ends up being seductive.

Related Articles


  • Allure. "Top Ten Romantic Scents." (August 30, 2012)
  • Encyclopedia Britannica. "Perfume." (August 30, 2012)
  • Giusti, Julie. "The 10 Sexiest Fragrances." Allure. (August 30, 2012)
  • Marie Claire. "Organic Chemistry." (August 30, 2012)
  • Rosenbloom, Stephanie. "Pumpkin Pie: Provocative or Just Tasty?" The New York Times. July 13, 2011. (August 30, 2012)
  • Women's Health. "Sexy Perfume: The Science of Scent."