Romantic versus sexy scents

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

We put heart-fluttering scents into the ring with their sensual sisters to see who comes up trumps.

Romantic versus sexy scents

“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,” writes perfume expert Tania Sanchez, author of Perfumes, The Guide. Jokes aside, sex sure does sell but often women are more in the mood for romance than seduction. So, what smells sexy and what smells like love? And, yes we know what you’re thinking; the two aren’t mutually exclusive (well, we sure hope not!), but sometimes it’s handy to use different fragrances to set different moods.

Romantic fragrances often have classic floral notes such as rose at the heart – in other words the middle note (often considered to be the fragrance’s “true” personality) is an ode to rose. You may find that fragrance your granny or mom wore, had a lot of rose in the composition. Estée Lauder’s Beautiful for instance has been described by Sanchez and her co-author Luca Turin as, “classic rose”. It is and always has been a big hit with brides on their wedding days. Why? Well, because exchanging vows is the height of romance and maybe not the best time to haul out your sexiest scent! And what about that all-time favourite Chanel No. 5 parfum? We love Sanchez’s poetic description of this fragrance legend: “It is an ideally proportioned wonder, all of a piece, smooth to the touch and solid as marble, with no sharp edges and no extraneous fur trimming, a monument of perfect structure and texture. And some people think perfume is not an art.”

And now that we’ve pulled at your heartstrings, let’s talk about scent that many of us (especially with the big V-day approaching) are out shopping for: fragrance for seduction. Traditionally, sensual scents would have been animalistic musk or the heavy and heady scents of base florals such as jasmine and tuberose. But before you’re completely turned off by ingredients sourced from animals in your perfume, feel rest assured that today’s musks are synthetically produced in a lab. And the reason it’s as popular today as in years gone by, is because musk develops in the dry-down (the late stage of a scent) and results in a sensual and warm “musky” note rising up to the surface.

What other smells in a fragrance immediately say sexy? Like musk, sandalwood is said to help boost attraction and is often found in the base of a fragrance. And we can’t talk sexy and not mention vanilla. A gourmand scent ingredient (that means it’s designed to smell like dessert) it’s also commonly found in base notes of perfume. We recommend you “bring some sexy back” by spritzing a modern classic like Narciso Rodriguez EDP Essence, an ode to modern, white musks. And for those who like to mix a little masculine in with feminine, Thierry Mugler’s Angel (think flowers and candy) has long had a cult following.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Other articles you may be interested in:
Maximise your scent
How to wear perfume
Smells like fame
Your party perfumes
What fame smells like

Written by

Julia Hunter is a freelance lifestyle writer, editor and stylist with a special interest in beauty. She’s written for Marie Claire, Women’s Health, and Fresh Living magazines. When not writing about lipstick, she can be found tweeting about other very important topics such as which nail polishes really live up to their long-wear claims! She lives in Cape Town with her husband and far too many beauty products.

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  1. Rashmee Bagirathi

    Beautiful love is a limited edition and in my opinion a better version of the original

    3 years ago •

  1. Khensani

    I prefer romantic scents. Musky scents seem more like a turn off.

    5 years ago •

  1. NaturalDiva

    awesome article, personally im a jasmine-y sandalwood type girl, rose tends to make my head hurt but its a beautiful smell

    5 years ago •

  1. Lah

    My boyfriend just got me the new Issey Miyake <3 Totally sexy!

    5 years ago •

  1. Angelface

    Narcisco Rodriguez is one of my favz and when I wear it almost everyone I come in contact with tells me I smell devine. One of my other favourites is Boucheron..awesome.

    5 years ago •

  1. SpiceY

    I love spicey scents…literally leave a trail behind u …..

    5 years ago •

  1. Azraa

    I dont like either of the 4 scents, are there other options? I prefer jadore, or organza, what group does that fall into?

    5 years ago •

  1. DIVA

    I love romantic perfumes, I must say I think Chanel no. 5 is overrated, I was disappointed when I tried it out, it smells nice after a while.

    5 years ago •

  1. Lah

    Oooh divine! Think I like the sexy perfumes!

    5 years ago •

  1. Leana

    Then I’ll go for romantic thank you very much.

    5 years ago •

  1. Chocolates

    i prefer romantic fragrances. at the moment i’m using opium.

    5 years ago •

  1. Pannack

    I think I prefer the more romantic perfumes

    5 years ago •

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