We Asked Fragrance Experts To Tell Us What Sex Smells Like…

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We Asked Fragrance Experts To Tell Us What Sex Smells Like…

by Debrief Staff |
Published on

Sex sells. Sex also smells, and some perfumers have dedicated their life’s work to capturing the whiff of a good shag. We’re talking Eau de arousal here, the subtle way of trailing procreation in your wake and getting nostrils twitching.

‘We smell with the most primitive part of our brain,’ explains master perfumer Roja Dove. ‘When you smell a desirable fragrance on someone, the hormone balance in your body is stimulated, and you subconsciously become more attracted to them.’ We got Roja, plus three other fragrance connoisseurs, to talk us through the naughty-AF notes in question, and to reveal the secret Barry Whites of the fragrance world…

1. Sweaty Skin

Unless gentle missionary in an air-conditioned room is your bag, there’s going to be a bit of slick skin involved in making the beast-with-two-backs. ‘Extract of costus, an unassuming herb, smells of very sweaty, slightly oily hair,’ explains fragrance expert at Olfiction, Nick Gilbert. ‘It reminds me of those weekends when you first meet someone and don't leave the bedroom apart from to answer the door for the Deliveroo driver.’ We hear ya! Master Perfumer at Firmenich, Honorine Blanc, points out that you can’t actually smell ‘wet’ or ‘salt’, which is why synthetic notes such as cascalone were created to give fragrances that unmistakable aquatic whiff. Oakmoss is another favourite for leaving a damp, earthy, creamy trail. So that’s moistness covered (yuk!), but what does actual skin smell like to the pro nose? ‘For me, a mixture of salty, sweet and spicy musks in carefully considered doses,’ explains Honorine. Nice.

2. 50 Shades Of Waheey!

Even for those who don’t have a Red Room in their basement, the smell of leather *screams *sex. ‘It’s the scent of the stable,’ says Reek Perfume founder Sarah Sheridan. ‘Think, Mr Darcy out for a ride and then coming back to Pemberley to have his way with you.’ Some leather-laced juices err on the delicate side; the powdery, suede-y leather of the inside of a handbag, for example. Then there’s the orgasmic freshly-tanned end of the scale. ‘One of the raunchiest fragrances I’ve ever sniffed smells of naughty leather and rooms with wipe clean surfaces that have never seen natural light,’ reveals Nick. (It’s by Laurent Mazzone, check it out in our fragrance selection below).

3. Skanky Animal

No, we’re not talking muddy Alsatian. It’s that indescribable smell of unwashed human – a little bit filthy and a little bit wrong, but in the correct doses and blends, raw and arousing. ‘Hyraceum is the petrified pee and poo of the desert hyrax,’ says Nick. ‘It smells of both of those things in its absolute form, and therefore like the less savoury but undeniably human scents of sex.’ Civet is another popular poopy note and, needless to say, it’s not for everyone. ‘I wouldn’t spend my time with someone who wore heavy civet,’ says Honorine. Noted. Like granny lavender, don’t discount innocent-looking florals either. ‘No ingredient in perfumery is as narcotic as Tuberose,’ claims Roja. ‘It smells like very, very hot flesh after you’ve had sex.’ Because white flowers lack any colour, they need something more to attract pollinators.' They all contain a particular molecule that we as humans produce in our private areas called indole,’ Roja goes on to explain. ‘So, when the brain thinks it is smelling flowers, the subconscious is actually smelling sex.’ Your finest bunch of fanny flowers, please.

4. Bed Sheets

Usually associated with deep sleep or your gran’s potpourri, it turns out lavender has a secret minxy side. ‘It’s the smell of rolling around on clean bedsheets,’ says Sarah. ‘It’s also the smell of medieval sex - laundresses were hugely underpaid and often moonlighted as sex workers.’ Honorine uses lavender in many of her scent creations because it’s a predominantly masculine note, and when included in female scents, smells like a woman’s skin after a man’s skin has rubbed against it. ‘It’s easy to overdose on notes when trying to create a sexy fragrance,’ she says. ‘But sensuality doesn’t need to be shocking or dark, it can be approached in an elegant way and deliver subliminal messages instead.’

5. Essentially, Spunk

Linden blossom is the little white flower you smell at the beginning of summer and wonder why something isn’t quite right about it. The thing that’s not quite right? It smells of semen. ‘There are no two ways about it,’ says Nick. ‘Linden blossom is spunky, and when you smell it on the breeze, you are either reminded of sex or innocent enough to not know.’ If you’re the latter, you probably shouldn’t be reading this story… don’t tell your mum.

The 10 Bottled Barry Whites Of The Fragrance World


Debrief scent of sex perfumes

scent of sex perfumes1 of 10

Floral Street Black Lotus EDP, from £22 for 10ml

Dark love, with black violet accord and black leather.

scent of sex perfumes2 of 10

Bvlgari Goldea The Roma Night EDP, from £45 for 30ml.

A Roman orgy, with irresistible nocturnal beauties night-blooming jasmine and tuberose.

scent of sex perfumes3 of 10

L’Artisan Parfumeur Mon Numero 10 EDP, £109 for 100ml

Sweaty costus and leather hidden beneath a grand oriental.

scent of sex perfumes4 of 10

Laurent Mazzone Hard Leather EDP, £310 for 100ml

Pack-a-punch leather and wipe-clean rooms that have never seen natural light.

scent of sex perfumes5 of 10

4160Tuesdays The Dark Heart of Old Havana EDP, £120 for 100ml

A sexy, spicy oriental with post-coital notes of tobacco and coffee.

scent of sex perfumes6 of 10

Reek Damn Rebel Witches EDP, from £10 for 2ml sample

A spike of naughty-but-nice lavender among smoky, leathery woodland.

scent of sex perfumes7 of 10

Guerlain Shalimar EDP, from £51.00 for 30ml

Carnal meets oriental for a juice that dances on the edge of respectability.

scent of sex perfumes8 of 10

Scandal Pour Femme Eau De Parfum, from £40 for the 7.5ml Discovery Atomiser

A bouquet of those naughty white flowers we mentioned earlier.

scent of sex perfumes9 of 10

Calvin Klein Obsessed For Women EDP, from £35 for 30ml

Manly lavender intermingled with skin-imitating musk.

scent of sex perfumes10 of 10

Tom Ford Noir Anthracite EDP, £103.50 for 100ml

A peppery chypre for men, with a hit of aphrodisiac ginger for good measure.

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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