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Top 8 Scents That Attract Women: Use This Knowledge Responsibly

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David Martin Writer & Photographer   Updated: 
Scents That Attract Women African American Woman Smelling Her Arm in Bliss
Key Takeaways

While you could easily fill a tome with all the scents that women are attracted to, those that come up most frequently in scientific studies are vanilla, jasmine (as found in our favorite Geologie body wash), and cinnamon. Wearing these scents won’t bring women flocking to you like moths to a flame, but research has shown that men who wear cologne are more attractive to women than men who don’t.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to natural body odors, colognes, and attracting a partner

I fell victim to some of this as a teen, especially the notion that you could pick up any old cologne or body spray, apply it liberally, and have a horde of women chase after you like a pack of zombies.

Looking at you, Axe.

As we all (hopefully) know by now, it doesn’t quite work like that. Attracting a partner is about much more than just how you smell, unless you smell like a pig, in which it’s almost entirely about how you smell. 

Thus, you don’t want to smell bad, but you also don’t want to apply a good scent too freely, as this can be overpowering and make you seem desperate. 

The only question, then, is what smells pleasant?

This depends on the context.

If you’ve got the late night munchies after a night on the town with your friends, the savory, salivation-inducing scent of the local food truck’s double cheeseburger is one of the best scents to come across. But, that doesn’t mean you should shake up a cheeseburger with some oil in a spray bottle and spritz your wrist with it.

In other words, we want a scent that women find attractive in all contexts, and walks the middle ground of smells pleasant without being overpowering. 

I was tired of randomly spraying samples of men’s cologne on myself in Nordstrom without a good idea of whether women would like it, so I took to Google to do some research.

I’ve unpacked the top 8 scents that women find attractive and arousing, so you can shop for soap, body wash, deodorant, colognes, and candles with confidence.

8 Scents That Arouse Women

man applying perfume smelling fragrance close

If you talk to any woman (or man, for that matter) you’ll find that they can easily think of more than eight things they find pleasing to the sense of smell.

But that’s not all we’re after here—we’re looking for scents that will have the chance of making you more attractive to a woman, or at the very least, make being in your presence more bearable.

Anything counts, right? It’s a game of inches after all.

If you’re still skeptical that having an additional scent beyond your god-given natural musk is actually beneficial, a study from cologne and perfume purveyor Scentbird tells a compelling tale:

  • 92% of women who participated in the study said a man wearing a cologne is a turn on.
  • 66% of women who took part in the same study said a guy that smells good is sexier than a guy who dresses well.
  • 92% of women have stood near a male stranger and noticed how good they smell. 

Another study from the National Library of Medicine found that women generally have stronger senses of smell than men, which brings me to an important point: just because you think you smell good doesn’t mean women think you smell good. 

displeased housewife apron rubber gloves plugging hose hand while spraying

At some point, likely due to more misinformation, men got it in their heads that women like the smell of their natural sweat. 

As such, some dudes stopped wearing deodorant and cologne, and stopped showering before a date, thinking that their natural, musky sweat would directly channel their pheromones and devolve any unsuspecting woman nearby into a feral beast consumed with desire for some random man.

Science can help explain this. Another study found that there are two male pheromones—adrostenone and adrostenol, that are largely responsible for the natural smells of sweat.

Adrostenol is the scent produced by fresh male sweat and is actually an attractive scent to females. Adronstenone, however, is the scent of male sweat after oxygen exposure, and is highly unpleasant to women.

exhausted handsome man holding hand face while suffering heat grey

As you can imagine, there’s hardly any time between sweat being produced and its exposure to oxygen, which basically just means that unless your girl creates a vacuum seal with her nose over some of your pores, your sweat smell is highly unpleasant.

All of this to say, get your scent choices vetted by a woman first, and definitely do not rely on the natural muskiness of your sweat to attract a partner. 

Now, onto some of the tried and true scents that women generally find attractive or arousing.

Vanilla

vanilla pods glass bottle essential oil wooden cutting board

Despite vanilla’s modern associations with things that are plain, bland, or unexciting, true vanilla scents are a force to be reckoned with. 

Vanilla is sweet, warm, comforting, and seems to evoke happy memories of childhood for most people, likely where you felt safe and loved. More than just the mental association, studies have found that vanilla is calming to the mind and mood-enhancing, which has led many to believe that the scent is an aphrodisiac. 

You might think that you need to smell like a campfire or a bucket of sap to smell “manly”, but it’s likely a better idea to wear warm, inviting scents that make your partner of the person you’re trying to woo feel safe and happy. 

When it comes to men’s products, vanilla is often found in colognes, where it’s mixed with other masculine scents like tobacco, pepper, or bourbon. 

These colognes are anything but plain or boring, and often have an intoxicating complexity that still maintains the alluring benefits of vanilla. I recommend these scents for the winter months, where the inherent warmth of vanilla pairs naturally with the cozy vibes.

Jasmine

jasmine oil

Jasmine is considerably less common than vanilla when it comes to everyday scents, but deserves to be more widely recognized.

The jasmine plant is a genus of flowering vines and shrubs found in the olive family, and the flowers have a heady, sweet scent that’s often described as a combination of honey, mint, lemon, and spice.

Jasmine is also known as an aphrodisiac, and is often included in massage oils and perfumes as a result. It’s also been found to increase feelings of well-being, and gives the sense of being more active, fresh, and romantic.

Despite all of these obvious benefits, it’s hard to find jasmine in men’s self-care products. The only brand I’m aware of that regularly carries products with jasmine is Geologie, which is a 25x award-winning skin, hair, and body care company recognized in GQ’s Grooming Awards, Men’s Health, Byrdie, Esquire, and more. 

Geologie has a line of self-care products that utilize jasmine’s unique scent in a mixture with cloves to give a robust, complex, and honestly, mouth-watering smell that makes me excited to use their products. 

I use their Hana Superclean Body Wash on a daily basis, which features the jasmine and clove scents, but you can also get this scent for their natural deodorants. 

Geologie Superclean Body Wash
(Get 20% off with code TAM20)

Between the amazing scent and strong lather, the Superclean Body Wash is making me think twice about being a die-hard bar soap user. That said, if Geologie were to ever come out with a bergamot and juniper bar soap, (wink wink, nudge nudge) I’d likely never use another product.

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Someone needs to invent an internet-supported scratch and sniff so you can get a whiff of these scents, but the jasmine has a slight musky smell that’s balanced by citrusy, fresh notes, and the cloves bring some spicy, warm scents to the party.

It’s a feast for the senses. 

Best of all, Geologie uses all natural fragrances in their products, which means they’re safe for sensitive skin and don’t cause irritating substances like aluminum, baking soda, phthalates, or parabens.

Geologie Complete 1-Month Personalized Skincare Sample Set
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If you want to treat your skin well and not think too hard about how to do it, Geologie is a great place to start. Their well-known Complete Skincare Trial set checks the major boxes of healthy skin maintenance in an easy-to-use system.

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Lavender

lavender

Lavender has a delicate, sweet fragrance with strong herbaceous, woodsy, and sometimes powdery notes. It’s a full experience for the senses, and the scent is known to reduce stress and encourage a calm state of mind. 

While this isn’t a stereotypically manly scent, that doesn’t mean it can’t be mixed with other ingredients like black pepper, musk, or pine to make it more rugged overall. 

Lavender’s calming properties can help make a woman more comfortable in your presence, which, if you have a good connection going, could lead to heightened arousal. 

While men can experience arousal at the drop of a hat, no matter the emotions they were just feeling, women generally aren’t going to become attracted to a man while feeling tense and unrelaxed. 

Thus, lavender can help to create a more comfortable atmosphere. That said, don’t rely on your lavender scent to be the only thing that matters in attracting a woman. 

Lavender is often found in men’s soaps, body washes, and shampoos, which can act as a subtle perfume for the skin after use.

Musk

siberian musk deer hoofed animal rare pair

More than any other scent on this list, musk has the greatest association with sex appeal and arousal. 

It’s a fairly divisive scent that seems to have a polarizing effect on women: either you love it or you hate it. 

Musk is characterized by a range of powdery, sweet, woodsy, earthy, and floral aromas. It has warm, rich tones that you can take a long sniff of and keep getting different aromas out of, which seems to be the source of its association with sensuality. 

Natural musk is actually a substance that’s secreted by male musk deer—hence the name—that the deer use for scent marking and attracting mates. 

Thus, the common belief is that musk awakens some primal instinct in those who smell it, which will make them strongly attracted to the source. In other words, when you smell musk, your base instincts are reduced to those of a female musk deer.

That line of logic seems a bit far fetched to me, but the fact that musk is used as a base note in so many perfumes and there are more than a few women talking openly about how much they love musky smells leads me to believe there’s some validity to this animalistic scent.

If you’re looking to get your hands on a musky scent to get in touch with your wild side, you’ll find an overwhelming number of choices in the world of men’s warm colognes.

Cinnamon

cinnamon

Someone toasted up leftover cinnamon French toast for lunch at work the other day, and the only conversation I heard for the next ten minutes was regarding how good it smelled. In other words, everyone loves the smell of cinnamon. 

Cinnamon has a sweet, warm, robust, peppery, vanilla-like, slightly fruity smell that’s spicy, inviting, and cozy all at the same time. As such, it’s been added to perfumes and colognes for centuries, and has yet to fade out of style. 

It’s most commonly found in body fragrances, but you can also find similar scents, like cloves, in men’s self-care products. 

My favorite natural deodorant is made by Geologie, and their ‘Hana’ jasmine and clove scent is easily the best deodorant I’ve ever smelled. It’s warm and slightly spicy, yet still fresh, clean, and invigorating. 

Geologie Natural Deodorant
(Get 20% off with code TAM20)

Since Geologie's Natural Deodorants aren’t made with baking soda or talc, which typically thicken the formulation, they’re lighter, easier to apply, and don’t leave any white residue. I enjoy knowing that every time I apply this, I’m blocking the foul smells my body is so apt at producing, without the use of heavy metals like aluminum, or other harmful chemicals.

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If you’ve secretly wanted your girl to jam her nose into your armpit and affirm your suave smells (I don’t get it, but I won’t judge), this is your ticket. 

Also, the classic movie theater move of stretching your arms up, giving a good yawn, and then bringing your arm down around your crush gets way less risky when you’ve got the intoxicating fragrance of jasmine and clove (or cinnamon) wafting invitingly out of your ‘pits.

Vetiver

dried vetiver roots vetiver essential oil glass vial fragrance material

Unless you’re well-acquainted with men’s colognes, you’ve probably never heard of vetiver. 

Vetiver has a dry, earthy, woody, citrusy, and sometimes smoky scent with undertones that some people liken to fresh cut grass. As you can tell from all those scent notes, it’s rather intriguing and complex, and works well in colognes. 

Some say that vetiver and musk have similar scent notes, but vetiver is decidedly more fresh, light, and doesn’t have the heavy intensity of musk. 

Vetiver is well-loved by women, and the scent gives an air of sophistication to any man who wears it well.

Citrus

citrus fruits on wooden table

Citrusy scents don’t get a lot of attention by themselves, likely because citrus is more of a complementary scent than the main character. 

That said, when citrus scents are paired with the right ingredients, they make great, fresh colognes and self-care products that are perfect for the warmer months. 

Take bergamot and juniper, for example. Bergamot is a type of orange that’s known for its super fragrant citrusy, musky, and floral aromatics. When combined with juniper, a classic woodsy scent, you get a robust, fresh scent palette that will keep you sniffing to discover all the undertones.

Best of all, Geologie has a bergamot and juniper scent for their natural deodorants and body washes. 

Since you’ll likely find yourself busting through bottles of their Moab Superclean Body Wash, it’s worth noting that Geologie offers convenient refill pouches so that you can keep enjoying the intoxicating fragrances without having to get rid of the original bottle. 

While I enjoy the robust, crisp scent of the Moab Superclean Body Wash while I’m using it, my favorite thing is how long the scent remains on my skin. My wife happens to love it, too 😉

Geologie Superclean Body Wash
(Get 20% off with code TAM20)

Between the amazing scent and strong lather, the Superclean Body Wash is making me think twice about being a die-hard bar soap user. That said, if Geologie were to ever come out with a bergamot and juniper bar soap, (wink wink, nudge nudge) I’d likely never use another product.

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Sandalwood

red sandalwood table

Sandalwood is a light fragrance with a warm, woody, earthy aroma that’s characterized by lightly sweet, creamy undertones. 

I’ve described lots of these fragrances as warm, woody, and earthy, but sandalwood has an exotic quality to it that makes it stand out from musk and vetiver. It’s dry and fresh, similar to vetiver, but slightly more sweet and gentle. 

Sandalwood is widely considered as an aphrodisiac, and is well-loved by women for its complexity and subtle undertones. 

This scent is easy to find in colognes, soaps, shampoos, and deodorants, and will definitely help step up your game with the ladies overall.

3 Key Rules for Applying Scents to Attract Women

Less is More

How to Apply Cologne Graphic

When it comes to colognes, err on the side of subtlety. If you’ve seen Parks and Rec and thought Tom Haverford’s cologne application was instructional, I have bad news. 

Short of trying to make someone pass out or give everyone in the immediate vicinity a migraine, you should never use more than five sprays of cologne at a distance of 5 to 6 inches. 

How you apply it matters, too. 

For the best results, apply your cologne to clean skin right after you shower. This ensures that the fragrance is not blocked by oils or dirt, which allows the fragrance to absorb deeply into the skin.

To apply properly, hold the bottle 5 to 6 inches from your skin and spray at your pulse points: both sides of the neck, the nape of your neck, your upper chest, and wrists. To be clear, you don’t have to hit all of these spots. 

Depending on the strength of your cologne, 5 sprays can be overpowering and you might only need 1 or 2 sprays at the neck and wrists. 

Test Colognes Before Purchasing

Always test a cologne you’re interested in before purchasing it. Since we all have unique body chemistry, the way a cologne will smell when sprayed on a test strip can vary drastically from how it will smell when applied to your skin.

Thus, head to your local Nordstrom, Sephora, or anywhere that sells colognes, and utilize their free samples to get a sense of how a cologne reacts with your skin. 

It’s a good idea to get a few opinions here as well, since your own sense of smell can become desensitized to something it’s encountered for a few minutes.

Mix Scents that Go Together

When I say mix, I don’t mean for you to use multiple colognes. 

I’m referring to pairing the scent of your body wash and deodorant with your cologne. For example, if your deodorant is light and fresh, steer clear of the warm, heavy colognes as these scents can clash in unpleasant ways. 

Citrusy scents will combine well with just about anything, but stronger scents like pine and juniper might not go well with other strong scents like cinnamon or vanilla. 

Find Your Scent

Now that you have a solid list of scents to choose from that generally attract or arouse women, you should have much less trouble finding your signature scents. 

Whether it’s cologne, body wash, deodorant, or shampoo, it’s important to test out the fragrance with your skin and see if the way it reacts is pleasant or not. 

Remember to mix your scents appropriately and choose complementary aromas for your body wash, deodorant, and cologne.

If you found this article helpful and know a guy who takes “cologne showers”, share this article with him! He’ll thank you when his dates stop feinting in a bad way.

Geologie Superclean Body Wash
(Get 20% off with code TAM20)

Between the amazing scent and strong lather, the Superclean Body Wash is making me think twice about being a die-hard bar soap user. That said, if Geologie were to ever come out with a bergamot and juniper bar soap, (wink wink, nudge nudge) I’d likely never use another product.

Check Price

FAQs

What scent are most women attracted to?

Women are most attracted to vanilla, jasmine, and cinnamon scents.

Do women prefer natural scents?

Yes, because the natural scents always smell more potent, robust, and alluring.

Does smell increase attraction?

Yes. Studies have shown that human facial attraction increases in the presence of pleasant aromas.