The power of perfume

The power of perfume

Can wearing certain fragrances make you appear more attractive? A new study says yes.

Researchers at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia say that given the right scent of perfume, women faces are “rated more attractive in the presence of pleasant odors.”

Study leaders say people’s perceptions of each other can be directly affected by smells.

“Odor pleasantness and facial attractiveness integrate into one joint emotional evaluation,” said lead author Janina Seubert, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist, in a news release. “This may indicate a common site of neural processing in the brain.”

The Monell study finds that odors can not only affect a person’s overall appearance but even influence how their facial features look to others. The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

For the study, around 20 young adults, mostly women, were challenged to score levels of attractiveness and the ages of 8 female faces in photographs.

While viewing the pictures, one of five odors was emitted within the range of study participants. The smells ranged from unpleasant to pleasant using substances like fish oil and rose oil. The study subjects were then asked to rate how attractive they perceived the faces in connection with the smells.

“Across the range of odors, odor pleasantness directly influenced ratings of facial attractiveness. This suggests that olfactory and visual cues independently influence judgments of facial attractiveness,” the report said.

The less-than-pleasant odors had a “mixed effect,” on attractiveness, researchers said. Those smells had a greater influence on the perceived age of the women in the photos. Younger and older faces were seen as to be closer in age.

“These findings have fascinating implications in terms of how pleasant smells may help enhance natural appearance within social settings, said co-author, Jean-Marc Dessirier.  “The next step will be to see if the findings extend to evaluation of male facial attractiveness.”

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  1. I believe it! Bad smell can be very unattractive.

  2. I was actually expecting Advocate to publish an article criticizing the use of frangrances in the workplace and public in general. You know, a nod to those who suffer from sensitivities or “allergies.” Always nice to see a semblence of common sense.

  3. You know, because those of us who have sensitivities or “allergies” to perfume and cologne are just making it up to be an annoyance to people like you, Jefferson.

    I have asthma. Many people have verifiable allergies to one or more of the components of most modern perfumes and colognes. If I sit next to someone who is wearing more than just a minimal amount, it can trigger an asthma attack. You know, which can be FATAL. I don’t mind if people want to wear a scent, but the people who drown themselves in it are a health hazard to some of us.

  4. Adrien Bledstein July 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm · Reply

    I applaud Jefferson and James. I too have asthma. Fragrances as well as cigarette smoke can be deadly. I keep a mask with an activated carbon filter in my pocket in case of exposure. At Advocate health, not allure, should be primary.

    • Adrien,

      Jefferson was being sarcastic. And please feel free to post information on an actual death cited due to cigarette smoke.

  5. This is a very interesting study. Another expansion from this could be how you wear different perfumes in certain situations or social settings as mentioned in the article. I find myself having several daytime fragrances, and then certain ones that I wear out at night!

  6. Rarely wear scent myself. I’m glad it serves the needs of the fragrance-sensitive around me as I go through my day. However, the real reason is a lot less honorable: everything smells like rubbing alcohol on me.

  7. Judith A. Carlson July 22, 2014 at 1:33 pm · Reply

    Sensitivies to perfumes and cigarette smoke are rather common. Due to an over-exposure to fresh paint in an enclosed room I developed a sensitivity to ALL perfumes and perfumed products like dish soap, bath soap, laundry soap… I found myself kind of choking (although not quite short of breath) and It took five years before I could stand the smell of any type of perfume and now, five years after that, I have no problem. But because of my experience I am very careful about when I wear perfume and am very, very sparing when I do use it. Cigarette smoke didn’t bother me (probably because I was a smoker at that time) but I can understand how it can bother people with asthma, emphysema, or bronchitis. HOWEVER, regarding second- hand smoke, there has not yet been anything but anecdotal evidence that it causes smoking-related illnesses like emphysema, cancer, or heart disease.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.