What’s The Most Attractive Scent To A Woman?

Updated April 9, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
Pheromones -- a mighty invisible force behind physical attraction

The scent is a powerful variable when it comes to attraction. Women are attracted to various scents, and there isn’t one smell that will be an instant aphrodisiac. Some smells are more likely to make a woman feel drawn to you. There are scientific reasons for the attraction. For example, you may have heard of pheromones. These are biology’s messengers that tell us who to gravitate towards and who to stay away from, and they are powerful. 

Some scents make us experience powerful emotions. Some odors make us feel good and remind us of happy times, whereas others trigger painful memories. You may be wondering, what’s the most attractive scent to a woman?

It varies from person to person as to what a woman finds attractive. Some people prefer the natural scent of their partners, whereas others love the scent of cologne. Scent can be a powerful psychological tool. When you’re away from your partner, you might want to hang onto their hoodie because it reminds you of them and carries their smell. This is one example of how scent can be comforting. 

Despite the obvious variation in scent preferences that people have, research has shown that certain scents truly can be attractive in nature. Natural scents and synthetic odors can attract women. Whether it’s pheromones or vanilla cologne, certain scents can compel a woman to stop and want to get closer to you.

Research on scent and attraction

Scent and sexual arousal are connected more than you might realize. The smell of the human body can create arousal in women. These odors can remain on clothing that your beloved leaves behind. A study was conducted where a group of female participants smelled different shirts and decided which of them had the most attractive scents. In the study, the women, interestingly enough, preferred men who were the most different from them; it’s almost like proof of the idea of “opposites attract.” 

This might seem odd, but it makes perfect sense. The human body has over 100 different immune system genes, referred to as the MHC or major histocompatibility complex. There have been studies done that show that MHC relates to scent preference. Partners with different immune system genes will produce healthier offspring because the variations enhance the immune system. 

It is also true that women may be more attuned to scents than men. There may not be a universal scent that attracts women, but there are some common ones. Here are some smells that women find attractive according to different research studies and statistics:


Men who eat a lot of fruit and vegetables produce sweat that smells good and is attractive to women. In a 2016 study released by Evolution and Human Behavior, it was found that people who take in a high volume of carotenoids (which are found in fruits and vegetables that are of orange, yellow, or red hues) have more attractive-smelling body odor that is appealing for women. Foods that contain carotenoids include grapefruit, mangoes, carrots, oranges, squash, bell peppers, cantaloupe, and yams.



Musk is a scent that makes people seem more attractive. You may have seen it in various perfumes or body soaps. The smell derives from animal glands, and it’s quite a primal scent that reminds people of physically being together or sexuality. According to the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) in the UK, women tend to be more sensitive to musk than men.


Also, according to the SIRC, vanilla is a scent that human beings typically perceive as pleasant. It has been proven to decrease stress levels as well as anxiety. Given this, it makes sense that vanilla elements are present in various perfumes and colognes that you might wear to appeal to a romantic partner.


Mint has a clean smell that can be very attractive to people. Cleanliness and good hygiene are, of course, good traits to have. A fresh minty smell can help to communicate that you have these attributes, so take care of yourself and be sure to brush your teeth before heading out on a date!

Leather or wood

Similar to musk, the scent of leather has masculine attributes that can be attractive to women. When searching for cologne, you might look for a scent with subtle hints of leather in it. You might also look for aftershave or cologne that has elements of wood in it. Outdoorsy or woodsy scents give off a sexy, rugged vibe, much like the scent of leather does.

What are pheromones?

Pheromones are a type of chemical that animals and humans produce that influences how we behave and how we become attracted to others. Pheromones differ from hormones. While hormones work inside of the body to influence us, pheromones work outside of our bodies to influence the people around us, such as romantic partners. 

While they’re often referred to when talking about sexual attraction, that’s not the only thing that pheromones do, and they are powerful in many areas. Pheromones are messengers, sending signals to other human beings. They tell us how to perceive others and give us a heads-up if there is a friend or foe ahead. Listen to your sense of smell and what your pheromones are trying to tell you. Here are some more fun facts about pheromones:

  • Many insects use pheromones to communicate with one another

  • There are four kinds of pheromones (releaser, primer, modulator, and signaler)

  • Pheromones impact people and induce arousal

  • It’s believed that the first pheromone was discovered in 1959 in a study that showed that a pheromone secreted by moths called bombykol attracted male moths to female moths

  • Animals can use pheromones to locate prey

Types of pheromones

Each of the four types of pheromones has a key role to play. Let’s discuss the similarities and differences among the four types of pheromones below.

Primer pheromones require time to get a response after their release. They can affect sexual development and reproduction.

Signaler pheromones give information or “signals” to others. For example, this pheromone can help mothers use their sense of smell to identify their newborn babies.

Modulator pheromones are typically found in sweat and can cause a shift in bodily functions such as menstruation.

Releaser pheromones, unlike primer pheromones, are responded to quickly. Releaser pheromones are linked to sexual arousal and attracting mates.

Pheromones and human beings

Despite the research on scent and attraction, which shows us that scent is a powerful part of attraction, there’s less research on whether human beings are affected by pheromones. One of the prominently known theories regarding human beings and pheromones was released by the University of Chicago. 

According to the study, women’s menstrual cycles will synchronize when women are close to one another because they will pick up the sweat and odors from other women. Nowadays, this phenomenon is typically known as the “dorm effect.” Still, it has also been referred to as the “McClintock effect,” named after Martha McClintock, the head researcher of the study, with these findings. 

Changes that occur in humans during puberty have also been suggested to relate to pheromones. As time moves forward, we’re likely to learn more about pheromones as they relate to human beings.

What about off-putting scents?

In some scents, women find love extremely appealing, while others deter them. Some odors communicate disgust. You don’t want to go around smelling like you haven’t showered in weeks; that won’t be attractive to most people. 

Another extremely off-putting scent is drowning yourself in cologne. You might believe you smell phenomenal, but your potential love interest is probably unimpressed or turned off. And if you put too much of nearly any fragrance on, it’s likely to become overwhelming to those around you. 

Remember, when you use these products, make sure that you utilize a “less is more” mentality. You’re not putting it on only for you, but rather to attract a potential partner. Think about how they perceive your scent and what they might like to smell.

Pheromones -- a mighty invisible force behind physical attraction

Since people are biologically inclined to be attracted to a human being’s natural scent, you don’t have to do a whole lot extra to attract someone. As stated above, there is a balance when it comes to scents that aren’t biological. Remember – don’t douse yourself in fragrance and be mindful of your hygiene. Let your natural scent shine through by using fragrance-free products such as detergent or lotion. 

A bonus of doing this is that using scent-free products might be a healthier option for you. Some people find that scented products irritate the skin. It could even get a person headaches or migraines. If your partner or love interest is sensitive to smells, use subtle scents or scent-free products. It will be beneficial for the relationship to be respectful of their scent sensitivities.

Other components of attraction

It’s fascinating that body odor or sweat can impact a person’s sexual attraction. Additionally, there’s a lot more to human attraction and relationships than smell. Attraction can be complicated; you can’t necessarily control who you’re attracted to, and you might be confused as to how to know what you’re attracted to in a person. 

There are so many components of attraction. Aside from the smell, there are personality traits to which you will be attracted. Perhaps, you like someone with a great sense of humor. For you, that is a large component of attraction. Humor can be sexy, and you’re not alone in connecting it to the attraction. You might enjoy being around creative types and seek that out in a mate. It could also be that you’re attracted to specific physical traits, which could be anything from a particular fashion sense to someone’s hair color. 

Body language, behavior, or a person’s voice may also play a role in your attraction to them, as well. Not all of us are the same, and people vary greatly in terms of what they seek out in a mate.

Build relationships in online therapy

No matter what scent draws you to your partner, one true thing is that you deserve to have loving, healthy relationships in your life. Therapy can help you make sure that your needs are met. Online therapy is an excellent place to discuss attraction, relationships, and more. Search the mental health professionals’ network at Regain to find an online therapist working with you as an individual or with you and your partner.

When you sign up for online therapy, you can meet with your therapist at convenient times and from any location with a reliable internet connection. You can even text your counselor in the moment if you could benefit from some advice in a certain scenario. 

Perhaps it’s the case that you feel uncertain of your ability to pick appropriate partners, that you’re re-entering the dating world after a divorce from a long-term marriage, or you’ve recently started exploring relationship compatibility with people of the same sex. An online therapist can guide you to valuable resources and help you learn strategies for initiating conversations, flirting, and communicating directly. In cases where a diagnosed mental health condition like depression or anxiety is interfering with your belief in your own ability to attract a partner, online cognitive behavioral therapy may be handy.

Online CBT is a form of talk therapy wherein the online counselor helps the user reframe negative thought processes into more empowered versions. For example, instead of using language that positions one’s self as a victim -- “Everybody I trust ends up letting me down!” – an online therapist might help someone identify their own agency and choice in any given situation, such as in forming this belief: “I’ve learned a lot from my past relationships and will use those lessons to guide me toward a partner who makes me happy and fulfilled.”

Various studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of internet-delivered CBT in improving people’s symptoms of depression, anxiety, and emotional distress from other illnesses. In another trial, researchers tested the efficacy of internet-based interventions in improving body image, finding that online body image therapy is highly beneficial for many populations, including those going through breast cancer.

If you’re curious to learn more about Regain online therapists, consider reading the reviews below from satisfied users.

Counselor reviews

“My girlfriend and I have been working with Alison for about four months now and with her help and guidance we have strengthened our relationship tenfold. Her communication style is amazing and she really strives to make the best of our time with one another. If you’re looking for a counselor you can put your faith in with the whole experience, she’s the one to go to.”

"My experience with Priscilla has been immensely helpful in better understanding myself and providing me with the tools to see my life and relationships with more clarity and compassion."


Attraction is a funny thing. While we can likely articulate the physical aspects of a person that we find attractive, there are often other forces at work – invisible to the human eye – aiding in boosting our oxytocin levels when we are around an attractive person. Whether you struggle to trust your own instincts or are looking for ways to initiate deeper connections with others, a compassionate online therapist can be an asset in your endeavor. Know that you don’t have to navigate the dating world alone; when you’re ready, reach out to a Regain counselor today.

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