There’s a lot of weird stuff proven to secretly enhance our attractiveness: The color red. Uncertainity. Sweaty T-shirts.
But this one makes sense. New research from the Monell Chemical Senses Center has found that people find our faces more attractive in the presence of pleasant odors. This means that perfumes, body sprays and fragranced soaps may, to some extent, put the beauty balls in our court.
“Odor pleasantness and facial attractiveness integrate into one joint emotional evaluation,” says lead author Janina Seubert, Ph.D., a cognitive neuroscientist. “This may indicate a common site of neural processing in the brain.” The finding suggests that attractiveness is an emotional process, while other judgements we may make about one’s appearance, like age, are rationally based.
In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, 18 young adults, two thirds of them women, rated the attractiveness and age of eight female faces, presented as photographs. While evaluating the images, one of five odors was simultaneously released: a blend of fish oil (unpleasant) and rose oil (pleasant) that ranged from predominantly fish oil to predominantly rose oil. The subjects were asked to rate the the attractiveness of the face and the pleasantness of the odor. The women were rated more attractive, by both women and men, when they wore the rose oil scent.
Now, the fragrances used in this study were pretty polarizing. Obviously most of us will think fish oil smells bad, while most like the smell of roses. Perfume, on the other hand, is a little trickier as not everyone loves the same fragrances. From the scientific standpoint, there are scents proven to be universally appealing. They include many notes that regularly crop up as top notes in popular perfumes: grapefruit, bergamot, orange, lime, freesia, and mimosa. Smells that rated lowest in the “pleasant” spectrum were musk and patchouli.
Bottom line: If you’re looking to enhance your beauty with fragrance, don’t leave it to chance. Enhance your aura with a spritz of rose, something citrusy or freesia.
READ MORE: The Complicated Relationship Between Scent and Attraction