You know how some people just smell so good? And not in a "I'm choking on your cologne" kind of way (because again, the operative word here is good). Scent is a highly studied component of female and male attraction—and perhaps a tad misunderstood on a public scale, since many of us (I am so, so guilty) tend to reach for bottled fragrances when we're trying to leave an impression. But the truth is that when it comes to the scientific laws of attraction, it's all about going au (eau?) naturel. On a primal level, we're really attracted to the pheromones that are present in each other's BO.
This alone is a very nuanced subject. One recent study, for example, pinned down exactly how different foods impacted the attractiveness of male body odor. The men who participated in the study were instructed to eat certain foods before providing sweat samples, which were then presented to female participants. According to the results, the women were most attracted to the sweat associated with fruit and vegetable intake, as well as tofu, fat, meat, and eggs. The sweat associated with heavy carbohydrate intake was deemed the most unpleasant. So the next time you get a pleasantly heady whiff of eau de dude, you might have a pretty decent guess at what he ate that day.
On the flip side, it's different for women. For starters, we're far more sensitive to pheromones than men, hence the aforementioned ability to detect different notes of food in male sweat. (Can we just go ahead and categorize that as a superpower?) Another basic fact of life is that men tend to find women more attractive when we're ovulating (thanks, biology), and that includes the way we smell during that time.
But aside from that one component of our menstrual cycles, research shows that men tend to favor scents that are a tad more obvious than, say, the salad a woman may have eaten several hours prior. One study conducted in 2014 found that men were most turned on by the combined scent of lavender and pumpkin pie, believe it or not. (A combined scent of black licorice and doughnut was a close second.) Our advice: Backlog that fun fact and save it for a rainy day.
Still, we can't say no to a great perfume. Shop our go-tos below.