The Power Of Perfume: 5 Secrets For Single Women


The Power of Perfume

Know what I just now realized?

One hundred percent of the first dates I ever had where my date complimented me on my perfume led to a second date.

Every single one.

That’s an undeniable success rate, that 100 percent.

Maybe I’m making a false correlation here, but I honestly don’t think so. It seems clear: Fragrance does something that makes the wearer more attractive. 

Let’s face it: We all like it when someone smells good. If it’s not from a fragrance, it’s probably from pheromones. Pheromones are our very mysterious natural scents, although they don’t have an odor themselves. I don’t know quite how it works, but even though pheromones are odorless, they are still detected through the nose. I vaguely knew about their power, but didn’t know what it was about them that made them so influential. Turns out pheromones were the way early man was able to detect if a potential mate was from the same clan or not. Genetic glitches are too much of a risk, especially when life for early man was so precarious to begin with. So pheromones give our brain signals as to who we should avoid and who we might be compatible with. In fact, this whole idea is the basis for the latest trend in dating.  

Natural pheromones aside, the manufactured scents we wear are a whole other thing. We can choose them to express something about ourselves. And obviously, we can use them to attract people other than our own clan members!

Most people would agree that they feel more attractive when they know they smell good. If we feel more attractive, people respond to our confidence. So in thinking about how we can use fragrance as a tool for our own attractiveness, I made a few parameters that I find most effective: 


1. Avoid involving other scents. When it’s financially possible, everything else I use — deodorant, soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, moisturizer, even laundry detergent and fabric softener — is unscented. Unscented products are sometimes hard to find, but well worth the effort. This leaves my perfume as the one and only scent.

I’ve often leaned in to hug a woman and gotten an olfactory assault from every last product she put on that morning. It is unpleasant, but it goes a little deeper than just the clash of scents. 

To me, it signals insecurity — she needs a protective shield of countless products to feel good about herself. Usually women like this wear too much makeup as well. It also indicates she buys a lot of beauty products; the cosmetic industry capitalizes on these types of consumers. So it wouldn’t be an entirely unfair correlation to make between products and spending habits. If I were a guy, I’d take this as a subtle hint that she might be insecure, and might be a frivolous spender. Also, just imagine the girl-clutter in her bathroom! 

In the words of perfumier Claude Christian, “What would you prefer as your personal accompaniment: a marching band or a solo violin?” 


2. Less is more. Similar to the overlapping scents is the overdone scents. I just put a dab behind each ear, between the collarbones, inside each elbow (the insides of the wrists are useless, as the frangrance fades every time you wash your hands) and, most effectively, a spritz in my hair. Hair holds a scent beautifully. I also put it on when my skin is still damp from a shower or from moisturizing. I try avoid getting perfume stuck in my clothes; because while it seems like a good idea, sometimes the fibers change the scent … and not always in a good way.

If someone can smell my perfume before they see me, that’s too much. I’d rather have them catch a whiff only when they’re in close proximity to me. The person who leans in to get a hug or tell a secret or even  for a kiss associates a lovely experience with a lovely fragrance.

And isn’t that a lovely idea? Isn’t that the whole lovely point of attracting someone lovely? 


3. Don’t avoid a fragrance you like just because someone you know also wears it. Each fragrance mixes with each person’s pheromones, so it ends up smelling slightly different on everyone. Perfumiers know this, much to their benefit.

The same does not hold true for other beauty products, however, which is why I reiterate not to mix other scents in with your perfume. It’s also why no one needs to ask when they can smell Tide detergent on you, but they always ask what you’re wearing if they like your perfume. I’d rather have them ask!


4. Don’t avoid perfume altogether because of allergies. There are plenty of beautiful scents that are hypo-allergenic. Many are expensive, but of course if you don’t overdo your application, it lasts much longer. The other advantage is that if you are allergic to scents in general,  you’ve probably found all the unscented products already. This is an excellent thing!


5. Stick with one fragrance, don’t switch off.  Many women claim to wear different fragrances to coordinate with their outfit or their mood. Fair enough, but then it leaves no single trace of you on anyone’s memory. The most powerful thing I can do — with such an easy thing as my perfume — is make someone remember me. In a nice way, of course. And if the scent is nice, the memory is nice.

I’ve heard it said best by perfume aficionado April Long: “I want to be the scent that people remember me by.” I wholeheartedly agree.

I am a big believer in the singular, signature fragrance. I was lucky enough to find mine when I was 19: the downright intoxicating “L’eau D’Issey”  from one of my favorite designers, Issey Miyake. I’ve wearing it ever since. People who hadn’t seen me in 15 years have said, “I remember your perfume!” after a hug. Scent and memory are very closely intertwined, according to research.

Perfumiers call that indelible imprint a fragrance leaves behind “sillage” or “lift”. It’s the lingering scent that creates the memory that April Long speaks of. The sillage is perhaps the most responsible for my 100 percent second-date record.

And if that alone isn’t reason enough to want to link your fragrance to someone’s memory, then you’re on your own!

And speaking of scent and memory, I just now realized something not entirely kind-hearted, but true nonetheless. Somewhere, in that petty teenager part of my brain, I considered the residual benefits of a signature fragrance. Occasionally, I would wish some of my exes would someday get a hit of my fragrance, be overcome with regret and nostalgia, and think, “Wow! That scent reminds me of Catherine. She was the best-smelling girlfriend I ever had. I shouldn’t have (insert offense). I should find her and apologize. I should probably  give her some Terry’s Dark Chocolate Orange, too…”
… but that’s a story for another time.


1 Comment »

  1. Lynn-189934 May 3, 2012 Reply

    I agree scent makes an impression, but don’t feel that a woman HAS to smell only one way. I personally don’t use fabric softener (I had ezcema once in high school so avoid it), but don’t mind similar base notes, i.e. lavendar detergent with lavender/floral perfume. My two favorite perfumes are Romance by Ralph Lauren and Eternity, although many women consider these dated or matronly. As far as a low-cost scent, Bath and Body Works “Oriental Cherry Blossom,” gets my attention any time a woman walks by wearing it.

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