The Science of Scent

When it comes to initial attraction, people often think that the most influential of our five senses is sight. It turns out, our sense of smell plays a larger role than most people realize–in fact, humans can recognize at least 10,000 different odors*! Of course, first impressions can’t determine the personality, beliefs, and values that we look for in a significant other, but it certainly can grab his or her attention. This Valentine’s Day, you can appeal to your sweetheart’s five senses through a new haircut, a delicious meal, a romantic song, a loving kiss, and, of course, an intoxicating scent.

For Her


Osmology (the research that studies the science of smell) has determined that people become attracted to each other through selective chemical messengers called “pheromones,” which are excreted from the skin, sweat glands, saliva, and even urine. Through the olfactory sensors inside of the nose, pheromones signal to us whether someone is deemed desirable*. The cosmetic Pheromone line by Marilyn Miglin uses nearly 200 ingredients to elicit these positive reactions. Through the bath and body gel, lotion, and cream, you can take advantage of these chemicals to create a subtle yet influential scent.

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Perfume is not meant to disguise or mask your body odor–it’s designed to heighten and fortify your natural scent. The chemicals react to each individual differently*, so to figure out which fragrance works best for you, you should test out as many as possible. In the SEPHORA FAVORITES Fragrance Sampler for her, you’ll find 14 of their most popular-selling perfumes, with designer brands such as Clinique, Coach, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Lancôme, and more. Once you figure out which one’s your favorite, you can take the included scent certificate to the Sephora store to redeem a full-size bottle at no extra cost*!

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For Him


You know what stinks? Well, I don’t know, but hopefully not you. If you just want something subtle to make you smell clean and fresh when your partner leans in to kiss you, some post shave gel should do the trick. Along with its olfactory power, it also provides a cooling sensation after you shave. Your skin will be smoother, less red, and irritation-free.

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According to two large studies conducted at Brown University*, women ranked scent as the most important feature for determining her romantic interest in a man. If you’re new to cologne, and you have no idea where to begin, consider The One by Dolce & Gabanna. It has an oriental, spicy scent that exudes the confidence and masculinity that you’d hope for in a cologne.

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Additional Fun Facts about Smell

    • Odors are one of the strongest triggers of memory. Different scents may have a greater ability to bring up an emotional memory than seeing a picture or hearing a voice*.
    • Humans possess denser skin concentrations of scent glands than almost any other mammal*.
    • Many of today’s perfumes include ingredients such as sandalwood, jasmine, and rose which were used by ancient Chinese, Indian, and Egyptian cultures over 5,000 years ago*.
    • The smell of lavender can contribute to a pleasant mood, but it may lower mathematical abilities*.
    • Anosmia is the inability to smell. Those who are anosmic cannot perceive odor and therefore can barely perceive taste either. Safety precautions for anosmics include installing multiple smoke alarms, switching from gas to electricity, and paying close attention to food with expiration dates*.