Any decent perfumer will tell you that scent is utterly personal—the same fragrance will react differently on everyone, giving off a different scent. There are so many variables that can affect the way you smell scent—whether that’s on yourself or someone else. For example, you might try a fragrance in a shop, think you love it, only to take it home and find it makes you gag. But I’ve been convinced for years that there are a few universal scents that everyone gets attracted too. Sure, there are the brilliant marketing campaigns that help sell perfume, but that can’t be the sole contributor to the popularity of something like Chanel’s Chance or Byredo’s Gypsy Water, both of which I continue to smell on people everywhere. So here's my hypothesis: There must be certain scents or ingredients that most people find attractive.
While I’m a lover of fragrances and can pick out a scent in the street, my olfactory receptors are far from professional. I spoke with perfume expert Nina Friede who runs Freide Modin, a niche perfumery based in London. While I was desperate to find out which fragrances are more likely to make you attractive, Freide pointed out immediately that scent is totally different depending on the person. When she speaks to clients and helps them select a scent, “It's important that it reflects your personality, your character, your skin, and your mood,” adding that you must find out “what perfume lasts and harmonizes with your skin, as not every ingredient matches.” However, that said, there were a few key ingredients she finally revealed that many clients and people often go back to when picking fragrances.
Keep scrolling to find out which fragrances are the most attractive and shop the scents that match up with them.
Meet the Expert
Nina Friede is a professional perfumer and the founder and owner of Freide Modin, a niche perfumery based in London, England.
Patchouli is a "warm" ingredient, says Freide, which is included in Chanel's Chance perfume. As one of the most popular fragrances in the Chanel scent range, it's easy to see why people love this: It's sexy without being overpowering, thanks to the inclusion of vanilla and the powdery orris.
While many associate rose with being a mature scent, it's actually very European. Freide revealed that the French love a floral scent the most. So if you're keen to give off that French-girl vibe, then making sure rose is in your perfume could be the way forward.
Bergamot is key when it comes to creating seductive scents. We personally love the Jo Malone London Oud & Bergamot Cologne Intense, which contains just the right amount of bergamot as a top note with some stronger woody base notes to anchor its black musk.
Interestingly, Byredo's cult classic contains many of the ingredients that Friede mentioned. Not only does it have a base note of vanilla, but it also includes bergamot and sandalwood.
The grass plant vetiver is used in 90 percent of all Western fragrances, but there are a few that really stand out, such as this unisex option from Diptyque. It's a strong, confidence-inducing scent that is sure to make you feel like the most powerful person in the room.
Cedarwood is one of those scents that evokes mystery and intrigue. Our pick for top cedarwood-containing fragrance is the Jo Malone London Black Cedarwood and Juniper Cologne. "Evocative of midnight rain" reads the description of this scent—and we're attracted to it for its mysterious—but also warm and woody—notes.
While this isn't everyone's cup of tea, the sweet and woody scent of this ingredient can be intoxicating. This perfume from Penhaligon's is our current favorite in the Byrdie office (even the office handyman asked us to douse him in it, such is its appeal).