From the milk baths that famously kept Cleopatra’s skin alluringly soft, to the ruby red Max Factor lipstick favored by Marilyn Monroe, beauty products are often inextricably linked to the “getting ready” ritual of seduction.
And, turns out, it’s with good scientific reason. “There’s a saying that men need sex to relax, and women need to relax to have sex,” says Susan Blum, M.D., founder of Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, N.Y., and author of “The Immune System Recovery Plan.” “Activities that help women relax, like lighting candles and using lavender, will help decrease stress hormones and increase testosterone—and setting the mood is also important for a woman’s ability to climax,” she explains. Read on to get beautiful, and get in the mood.
Leave it to the cheeky chums at Benefit to create a glimmering body balm with a name that reads like a Bette Davis line. Take A Picture … It Lasts Longer comes with a velvet puff, so you can buff your shoulders, décolletage and gams to a seductively golden-pink sheen that looks silver screen-worthy.
2Bodacious Body Oils
Body oils have been all the rage lately, and Lather’s newest collection blends the sensual aromas of summer with a handcrafted blend of pure essential oils. Jasmine, neroli, coriander, blood orange and bergamot all make appearances, in a moisturizing base of safflower, grape seed, sesame, sweet almond and avocado oils.
3Fancy French Hair Oil
Known for using high grade natural plant extracts since the 1960s, French luxury brand Leonor Greyl conjures the tropics with its newest hair oil. Lemon grass, tiare and yucca softly scents, strengthens and silkens strands. Apply to damp hair to detangle and condition, or as a 10-minute pre-shampoo mask on dry hair before rinsing out.
Luxury British home and fragrance brand Jo Malone looks to the east for the latest permanent addition to its Kohdo collection, which celebrates the ancient Japanese art of incense. The exotic Dark Amber & Ginger Lily scent captures aromatic black cardamom with a smoky kyara wood base for an arousing scent that could double as meditation aromatherapy.
5Candles After Dark
Inspired by the provocative Ke$ha hits she heard while driving, NEST Fragrances founder Laura Slatkin created a sultry candle trio intended to set the mood for “late night activities.” One O’Clock layers oriental flowers with exotic woods, Two O’Clock marries soft suede with bergamot, cardamom and nutmeg, and Three O’Clock entwines Mysore sandalwood with smoldering amber and frankincense.
6Steamy Budget Buy
Bodycology’s rich cocoa and shea butter, aloe and lanolin body cream base is infused with a gentle touch of sweet rose that smells more high end department store than drugstore to our particular noses. Apply fresh out of the shower to damp skin for a deep seep-in that’ll last all day and night.
7Get-It-On Shower Gel
Cowshed’s boldly named Horny Cow range relies on romance’s signature scent—rose—by way of rose absolute, patchouli and cinnamon for a heady cocktail to help get things going. Our favorite pick from the line is the bath and shower gel, which gently cleanses and leaves skin with just the right trail of scent.
The Indian art of Ayurvedic beauty—balancing inner calm with outer wellness—is at the root of Au Naturel Ayurveda’s harmonizing line of bath, body, hair and facial skincare products. We love the Shree Rose Body Massage Oil that coaxes the body to relax like nature’s antidepressant, and the shea butter-infused Satvik Orange Lip Balm that flavors kisses with fresh orange peel.
Luxe Parisian brand Votre Vu turns the body into dessert with its Tarte D’Amande Soufflé that whips together the warm fragrance of almond pie with rich tropical nut oils and vitamins that leave skin super soft and hydrated. It’s so yummy, we had to stop ourselves from licking our fingers.
10Bewitching Body Wash
For a scent that relaxes and calms as well as subtly seduces, Dr. Hauschka’s lavender body wash contains essential oils of the rejuvenating flower, as well as organic sandalwood. Oils rich in essential fatty acids like avocado and sunflower seed combine with hydrating glycerin to leave skin supple with moisture.
11Alluring Island Perfume
Named for the stunning small island in the Indian Ocean, Diptyque’s Mohèli blends the indigenous ylang-ylang flower, violet, blackcurrant and pink peppercorn with woody balsamic accords like patchouli, vetiver and tonka bean. The result is a hedonistic fragrance your love will not soon forget.
12Complexion Perfection Oil
For skin that glows, Patyka shakes a cocktail of 11 fine essential oils that breathe life back into your skin. The omegas of dog rose strengthens skin while olive oil nourishes and jojoba oil provides non-greasy hydration. Oils of tangerine, sunflower and sesame seed mist skin with moisturization as well as a soft veil of natural fragrance. Apply to face, neck and the back of hands for instant gleam.
13Bubbles For Two
For a shared ritual to cap off a romantic evening, nothing beats a lavender bath. For less than $5, Dr. Teal’s delivers at the drugstores, with pure lavender essential oils that foam generously into hydrating bubbles. The natural anti-inflammatory also helps relax muscles and set the stage for a satisfying night of sleep.