Perfume As Seduction : On “What Drives Men / Women Crazy”

Not a week goes by without me getting an email with this question: “what perfume drives men (women) crazy?” I will tell you honestly that I do not believe in any such magical blend that will draw the opposite sex. However, if something makes you feel good, it will definitely contribute to your confidence, and as a result, to your appeal.

Do you believe in perfume as a weapon of seduction? And if so, what is in your arsenal? What fragrances do you find alluring on men (women)?

My most seductive fragrances generally include those with incense, amber, sandalwood and oriental notes such as Hermès Ambre Narguilé,Yves Saint Lauret Nu, Guerlain Samsara as well as my recent favorite Guerlain Tonka Impériale. Moreover, I find lush florals like Ormonde Jayne Ta’if and Serge Lutens A La Nuit very alluring. All of these fragrance gather lots of compliments for me.

In same vein, the fragrances I find seductive on men are in the amber and oriental families: Paco Rabanne Black XS, Chanel Égoïste and Guerlain Habit Rouge.



  • Uella: From my experience most guys get crazy for fresh, clean, fruity florals on girls. How funny that I always get a ton of compliments from men on Nuit de Cellophane considered by perfumistas the most boring and generic Lutens fragrance. I rarely receive compliments on classic perfumes or complex niche scents, but who cares, as long as I love them, I don’t need a man’s approval and validation. April 16, 2011 at 4:42am Reply

  • mischa: I find Dior’s homme very alluring (they say it’s a women’s magnet…)
    I also get compliments wearing Tonka Imperiale like you do 😉
    and my husband loves Soir de Lune on me very much. April 16, 2011 at 4:47am Reply

  • Alexandra: I get most compliments with L’OMBRE DANS L’EAU; Men, women, gays, straight, there hasn’t been a single day I wore it and I haven’t received compliments!
    Hallo from London! April 16, 2011 at 9:19am Reply

  • Ines: I feel very seductive wearing Lyric and it seems to work. 🙂
    If I want to appear as a strong, dangerous conquest, than I wear Courtesan. They are pretty much opposites in what the smell like.
    Btw, Shalimar always works for me, and I finally got to try Ambre Sultan – that one will work wonders in tzhe future when I get more than a sample. 🙂
    I agree that lush florals work well too – but I keep reading about how many women seem to not like wearing them… April 16, 2011 at 7:03am Reply

  • Olfactoria: Ambers are my weapon of choice for that purpose! 😉 April 16, 2011 at 7:11am Reply

  • Justine Jones: Both my husband and my grown son always comment when I wear Carnal Flower. I had heard that tuberose was an aphrodisiac but now I think it might be true…. April 16, 2011 at 11:47am Reply

  • elizablue: Believe it or not, whenever I wear Youth Dew I get loads of “What is that you’re wearing? It’s delicious!” Some other one for me are Dolce Vita, Bulgari Omnia, and anything amber. In my experience warmer orientals or florals as long as they have a warm heart are the way to go! April 16, 2011 at 11:55am Reply

  • caro78: Narciso Rodriguez for Her EDT gathers crazy compliments from men in general, but not from my husband. It´s not that he doesn´t like it, he just thinks “it´s nice”. My HG sexy scents such as Carnal Flower, Velvet Gardenia, Ysatis vintage, etc. are either “too strong” or just “nice” for him. I always felt a bit frustrated about his (non) reaction to my fumes… until… I received a sample of Avon Today on a swap and BAM!!!!!!!!!! I can guarantee you, this is a lethal weapon of seduction for him. For the life of me I cannot understand how an Avon fragrance can provoke this wild reaction (or any fragrance actually), but it does. He actually took the time to find an Avon Lady and order a couple of bottles for me (he´s not usually that kind of guy).
    He admits he never had a reaction like this to any other scent in his life. And this is coming from a guy that always told me his favorite smell was the smell of my unscented skin. Not anymore.
    I have never took this for a drive test outside home though. Not that I don´t wonder how it will do, but I just don´t want to go there 😉 April 16, 2011 at 12:53pm Reply

  • Olfacta: The most seductive fragrance I remember is Cartier’s original 1981 Must. I still think that if you wear a fragrance that makes you feel alluring, then that feeling will project out of you and be “read” by others. And it’s the orientals that do that for me. April 16, 2011 at 8:59am Reply

  • bojana: The elusive “mojo in a bottle” question… Here’s a story: there once was a beautiful young man who wore Kenzo. Fragile, romantic and strong, he was the embodiment of Air’s “Sexy Boy” (“mal rase, bien habille”) and needed no enhancement to his crushing, lean, muscular appeal. Nevertheless, the woody-Calone scent became intertwined with it and never failed to conjure, in his absence, a zillion fantasies. When someone’s heart was inevitably broken, this smell became painful, and a curious therapy was devised: to suggest that others (co-workers, fellow business travelers, in particular) start buying this fragrance. This proved effective; smelling the potion in decidedly unerotic contexts and on too many people eventually took away its terrible power. April 16, 2011 at 1:47pm Reply

  • Maria: For many years Tresor proved to be an efficient one, the men just love it. But since I discovered and fell in love with L’Heure Bleue, I am stubborn and I insist for myself that nothing it’s more seductive than it. Shalimar worked many times, too. And I find Back to Black to have impact, too.
    Bulgary Parfum it is also a men heart winner.
    As somebody always noticed, Nuit de Cellophane calls always for compliments. I terorize my friends with gifts from Serge Lutens (export line, though, which I can easily access) and I had the feeling that a friend of mine, a femme fatale, would go with Nuit de Cellophane. She was not sure at the begining but told me the men frantically told her how wonderful she smells.
    Anyway, if it was something to be proved as seductive for women or men, everybody would bath in it, wouldn’t they? But in the end it takes a good perfume and a person with attitude. It’s all about attitude 🙂 April 16, 2011 at 9:48am Reply

  • axum: I tend to believe that when a perfume truly _suits_ a person, it draws others in (a scent audience, as it were). I adore men who suit Dior Homme. For myself, Cinema has drawn the most compliments lately, and I do feel great in it. April 16, 2011 at 10:21am Reply

  • sweetlife: LOL! April 16, 2011 at 4:24pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Depends.

    On the man, the mood, the day, the age of the people involved, the lighting, the meal, oh my goodness too many variables! April 16, 2011 at 4:26pm Reply

  • Dee: This question baffles me, every time! Just when I think I know what smells sexy, my husband responds to something at the total other end of the spectrum. As you said, the things that make ms feel good boost my appeal. Two recent winners in the game of seduction: Chanel no 19, and OJ Tolu. The common ground between those two is… Me!
    LOL! April 16, 2011 at 1:05pm Reply

  • Elisa: I love when men wear sweet scents or florals. To me it conveys that they have the confidence to wear whatever they like in a judgy, heteronormative culture. Along the same lines, I love a man in a pastel shirt. April 16, 2011 at 1:18pm Reply

  • Elisa: Ha, every time I put on NR for Her EDT my boyfriend comments on it! I’m pretty sure it’s the perfume in my large collection that he has complimented the most. April 16, 2011 at 1:21pm Reply

  • sariah: Bacon of course! In terms of actual perfume, the fragrances I wear that receive the most compliments from men are New Haarlem and L’Instant. I love my husband to wear Guerlain’s Vetiver, but really he could wear anything that didn’t reak of calone and I would be happy. April 16, 2011 at 1:39pm Reply

  • OperaFan: My husband rarely comment on my fragrances because he said that I wear so many he can’t keep track. He generally finds what I wear favorable although two have particularly stood out: L’Heure Bleu and (recently) Samsara. Earlier this week, I put on a tiny dab of Samsara perfume on my wrist before bedtime and that was enough to drive him crazy enough he had to go sleep in the next room in order to allow ME to get my zzz’s!
    Years ago I had given a friend a sample of Estee Lauder’s Pleasures for Men, when the scent was just introduced. She gave it to her husband and told me she could hardly keep her hands off him when he wore it.
    I think though that there may be scientific evidences for certain types of scent/ingredients possessing certain allure in general, in the end, it’s a matter of personal taste and preferences. Now I’ll have to go and give Nuit de Cellophane a whirl…
    a:) April 16, 2011 at 5:40pm Reply

  • RMF325: I get a lot of compliments when I wear Chanel No. 19, but for purposes of seduction, I prefer Hermès Eau de Merveilles or some of Guerlain’s greatest hits, especially Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue and Vol de Nuit. April 16, 2011 at 10:53pm Reply

  • mals86: Oh, that’s exactly the point, isn’t it, Dee? The things that make you feel good just draw him in. April 16, 2011 at 9:01pm Reply

  • Susan Webster Adams: I have a hard time finding a fragrance my husband likes on me. I’m not even close to finding something he finds alluring.

    I took the “What’s your Fragrance Profile Quiz” ( last night and I agreed with everything it came up with except that it listed lavender as the best fragrance to boost my sex appeal. I always thought lavender was calming/relaxing. Do you know why lavender was listed?

    My fragrance profile:
    The best calming fragrance: vanilla (I love vanilla for calming)
    The best fragrance for everyday wear: orange (I wear orange every day! Love it)
    The best fragrance to boost your sex appeal: lavender (what WHAT??)
    The best fragrance for energy: pine (pine is actually very grounding for me) April 16, 2011 at 9:34pm Reply

  • Marion: Oh, my DH only recognises two perfumes ‘vanilla’ and ‘floral’…I have deduced that he *likes* vanilla and doesn’t like floral…BUT…his idea of vanilla then could be Carnal Flower!
    The sexiest male scents to me are the old Brut, which all the boys wore when I was young; and, since I started collecting niche, I would go crazy if I smelled a male in Lonestar Memories or Muscs Kublai Khan. However I rarely smell scent on men day to day…usually only a whiff of something ubiquitous from the deodorant aisle, some harsh woody thing.
    My prowling ‘fume was always Mitsouko, and is forever linked to love!
    I do agree with poster above about the old Must, la-de I lurved myself in that! And also L Heure B. Stonking white florals make me feel wonderful too, always suggesting the hot summer night. April 17, 2011 at 3:12am Reply

  • Marsha: To elizablu, I think Youth Dew still smells wonderful, as long as you don’t apply too heavily because a little goes a long way and it lasts forever!

    Marsha April 17, 2011 at 7:23am Reply

  • DianaWR: My SO goes for gourmands. Almost exclusively. Perhaps he is underfed. April 17, 2011 at 10:37am Reply

  • Anelie: I think sariah is ahead of me here, but surely we cannot contemplate this without being reminded of this quote from ‘Perfumes: The Guide’…

    “The question that women casually shopping for perfume ask more than any other is this: ‘What scent drives men wild?’ After years of intense research, we know the definitive answer. It is bacon.”

    Any men’s fragrance that avoids sharp, spicy notes and includes warm ambers attracts my attention, culinary preferences aside! 😉 April 17, 2011 at 4:23pm Reply

  • Victoria: I get lots of compliments on Nuit de Cellophane, which while not exactly the classical dark Lutens is nevertheless a well-made floral with a beautiful fruity accent. It grew on me. April 17, 2011 at 3:07pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love Dior Homme too.
    The reason I love Tonka Imperiale as much as I do (even though it is no perfume masterpiece) is because it is just so comfortable to wear. It feels like second skin for me, that kind level of comfort. April 17, 2011 at 3:08pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, I love your idea of Courtesan! Love that fragrance.

    Shalimar took me by surprise as far as seductive fragrances go, because I always thought of it as such a grand and elegant fragrance. April 17, 2011 at 3:10pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sounds like we think alike here! 🙂 April 17, 2011 at 3:10pm Reply

  • Victoria: The original is incredible, I completely agree. I’ve smelled it at the store recently, and it simply does not compare. April 17, 2011 at 3:11pm Reply

  • Victoria: I need to revisit it! It has been a long time since I’ve worn this perfume. April 17, 2011 at 3:11pm Reply

  • Victoria: How right you are! It is all about the attitude. And a perfume that makes one feel great is bound to make one feel more confident about one’s powers of seductive. 🙂

    Love your mention of Back to Black. It is one of my by Kilian’s favorites. April 17, 2011 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Jen: Hahaha! That was exactly the first thing I thought of as well. Tania Sanchez is absolutely hilarious.

    Sadly enough, someone out there did take that seriously and came up with Bacön (pronounced in the most pretentious way possible, Ba-cone).

    ‘Bacon Classic’ is described on the website as having a “spicy maple aroma,” while ‘Bacon Gold’ smells of “sizzling citrus.”

    Sounds like breakfast. Has anyone actually smelled it, by chance? April 17, 2011 at 7:26pm Reply

  • behemot: I don’t really know if the fragrance itself can attract a man. To me, attraction it looks like a combination of factors. If a man likes certain woman in general, he might like the fragrance they use. Then the fragrance itself might stimulate certain moods and desires in the future..
    Also, men often positively comment on my fragrance, when they want to start the conversation or compliment me. I think most of them do not really care what frag I am wearing!
    By the way, I have never been complimented wearing certain SL fragrances. The only one men seem to like is Un Lys. I have noticed strange reactions to SL Jeux de Peau and Louve. ..

    I do not like aquatic scents on men, prefer stuff like TF Tuscan Leather or … Angel for Men. April 18, 2011 at 3:15am Reply

  • T: According to a Ft Worth Star Telegram article in 1997, the #1 most provocative scent that caused physical arousal in men – pumpkin pie aroma mixed with lavender!
    The #2 – the aroma of doughnuts and black licorice. This was quoting a Dr. Alan Hirsch of the Smell & Taste Treatment Centre in Chicago. He was studying impotent men ages 18-64. I kept the requote article from my local paper because I was so surprised.
    As for myself, I wear so many (ALL made in France), depending on MY mood, that most people just say -“you always smell SO nice”.
    In my dating days there was a Revlon perfume/EDT called Ciara that is still around some places.
    That, dried down, kept men hovering close with a half smile on their face! I felt sexy & mysterious wearing it – an oxymoron with my babyface features.
    First time post from a long time lurker, Victoria! Love Your blog! April 18, 2011 at 4:15pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: I have never in my entire life driven a man crazy, except by means of psychological warfare and enhanced interrogation techniques. That said, the only perfume I have ever worn that has produced the hoped-for reaction in a straight man (I have a whole lotta gay friends) is Hermes’ 24 Faubourg, which made my staight male buddy wrap an arm around my waist, bury his nose in my neck and whisper, “I have to stay very close to you tonight.” Alas, adorable as he is, he is someone else’s man, but it was nice to get the validation.I stopped wearing Ralph Lauren’s Safari because a co-worker I disliked found it way too sexy- he said, “That perfume you’re wearing makes my knees weak”- despite the company’s zero tolerance for sexual harassment. Conversely, Gay Best Friend pronounced that same scent, “Nice- but it’s kind of sexless and preppie.” Neither reaction was the one I was hoping for.Amusingly enough, GBF was positively repulsed by Vivienne Westwood’s Boudoir, which smells like rose, bubble gum and excess estrogen. (Seriously.) That answers the nature vs. nurture question handily. Given the audience I usually play to, I should just rub some Glenlivet or other high-end single malt scotch into my cleavage, but I tend to feel sexy in Loree Rodkin’s Gothic II, Cartier Must (expensive and sexy- a great combination!) the original Chloe, Carnal Flower, Musc Ravageur, and best of all, Lutens A la Nuit, which I think is the most erotic scent I have ever tried- it makes me feel as ifI could seduce someone for his military secrets. Nobody else has ever shared these opinions, though, and I vaguely recall, with the help of huge amounts of psychotherapy, that the love of my life thought I wore too much perfume. I should have known…. April 19, 2011 at 6:38pm Reply

    • Melissa Rosen: This post is great…. May 27, 2018 at 9:28am Reply

  • Yulya: Well… My husband “loves” all my perfumes, at least he assures me he does. However, he hates all Guerlains and for that reason I own only one Guerlain. He loves all Chanels that I own and I also get compliments when I wear No. 5 from men and women alike. No. 5 is my choice! :)))))) April 26, 2011 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Nils: The woman comes first, with or without a perfume. With, then be very subtle, understated. Whisper to me. Anything like the cloying sweetness of Shalimar makes me leave the room. Happiness to all! February 22, 2014 at 11:43am Reply

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