16 Aphrodisiac Scents That Set the Mood

fragrance bottle


There's no denying the power of smell. A particular scent can transport us to a special place and time, lift our spirits, and even trigger arousal in both men and women. In fact, when it comes to this last one, there are specific scents that are proven aphrodisiacs.

“To me, there are two types of aphrodisiac scents: animalic and spice,” says Kristen Quinn Castro of Los Feliz Botanicals. She notes that animalic scents don’t necessarily have to be animal-derived musks. “Today,” she says, “There's more demand for botanical musks.”

Meet the Expert

Kristen Quinn Castro is the founder of Los Feliz Botanicals.

Not sure where to start? The following scents have been known for their aphrodisiac properties for centuries, and recent scientific studies prove their reputations are well-deserved.

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Jasmine is proven to increase alertness and improve mood, both of which may increase your sex drive. In Hindu and Muslim traditions, jasmine is known as the "perfume of love." This scent is claimed to be one of the strongest aphrodisiacs out there, with many varieties that mimic animalic musk. A sweet and delicate floral. (P.S., these are the best jasmine perfumes).

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Castro notes that roses contain indole, a fragrance molecule found in decomposition and fecal waste. Although it’s a little gross-sounding, this aroma adds grit to the scent. Plus, a 2015 study indicated that rose oil can be a powerful stimulant for men. A natural relaxant, rose oil may also lower inhibition, which makes it perfect for unleashing the pleasure principle. Rose has a velvety, pungent floral scent.

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Sweet vanilla is also a potential aphrodisiac. Its nostalgic profile is intensely comforting, which may help you relax and feel at ease. Vanilla is light, sugary, and easy to pull off.

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Native to Asia, ginger is a spicy root that is proven to enhance male testosterone when taken as a supplement. Ginger has many other therapeutic properties and is known for increasing circulation, aiding headaches, and soothing stomach upset. A sharp and peppery scent.

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This botanical musk, notes Castro, mimics animalic aromas associated with arousal. Studies confirm ambrette as an aphrodisiac. Native to Asia and Australia, ambrette is one of the most on-trend scents on the market. A complex scent profile with nutty undertones and hints of cognac and leather.

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An exotic tropical flower related to flowering magnolias, champaca is so strong it’s used as a single-note fragrance. Its warming properties make it a sultry scent, notes Castro. In Ayurvedic medicine, champaca is used as an aphrodisiac tonic. A pungent floral with cedar undertones.

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Cultivated in Iran, India, and Greece, saffron has been found to increase sexual behavior, according to some studies, though results are mixed. Its spicy profile is energizing and saffron oil is known to treat depression. A surprisingly sweet floral scent with an aroma of honey and tobacco.

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Ayurvedic medicine has long revered sandalwood for its stimulating purposes. A 2020 review confirms sandalwood’s aphrodisiac qualities. One of the more expensive essential oils, sandalwood has many therapeutic properties and may also treat mood and digestive issues. A creamy and milky scent with smooth woodsy undertones.

When it comes to applying fragrance to enhance their aphrodisiac qualities, Castro encourages you to have fun and be creative. “Beyond your standard pulse points, taking time to apply fragrance to inner thighs and cleavage can set the mood,” she says. “Applying some to your palms and running your hands through your hair, focusing on your scalp at the nape of your neck will release the scent as you move. No matter where you apply your fragrance, take a few moments to breathe deeply and connect with the aroma and yourself.”

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A 2019 review indicated that lavender increases sexual desire in women. Reputed for its calming effects, lavender is also a soothing relaxant, which may help you feel comfortable and confident. A floral scent with a camphor-like base.

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A proven stimulant, some women even claim peppermint can help in achieving multiple orgasms. Known for its invigorating qualities, peppermint is often used as an herbal stimulant. A buttery fragrance with menthol undertones.

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A 2014 article reported that pumpkin, another zesty aroma, stimulates an erotic response in men. Like vanilla, pumpkin is associated with nostalgia and comfort and can trigger feelings of home and hearth. A rich, creamy, and spicy scent.

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Packed with antioxidants, the citrus essence of bitter orange has been used as an aphrodisiac. Lemon and lime scents have been creeping up in fragrances lately, offering a fresh flavor profile. A combination of bitter and warm scent profiles.

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Lily of the Valley

A famous and controversial study in 2003 indicated that sperm has olfactory receptors that respond favorably to lily of the valley. Its bell-like flowers are often associated with spring and are often used in wedding bouquets. A green, sweet, and creamy floral scent.

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Spicy and revitalizing, cinnamon has been proven to activate arousal in animal studies. Cinnamon has many reputed benefits and is said to improve mood and lower blood sugar. A smoky and pungent scent with sweet undertones.

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The woodsy scent of patchouli has been a known aphrodisiac for hundreds of years. It works by stimulating estrogen and testosterone while also relaxing the body and boosting blood flow. Patchouli has even been used to treat sexual dysfunction, frigidity, erectile dysfunction and impotence.

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The sweet smell of ylang-ylang is so intoxicating that Indonesians spray the oil on the bed of newlyweds on their wedding night. Research shows that people who inhaled the scent felt more relaxed and more "in harmony" with their minds and body. Ylang-ylang also serves as an excellent mood booster.

Article Sources
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