What is it about sweat that turns us on? (Media credit/Yay Micro)

What is it about sweat that turns us on? (Media credit/Yay Micro)

I’ve long been fascinated by the subject of pheromones, specifically in the context of sexual attraction. For those of you not familiar with the term: A pheromone, according to Wikipedia, is “a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species.” Much has been written about the role pheromones play in mating and attraction, including the infamous sweaty T-shirt study. In layman’s terms, though: Ever notice how you’re either attracted to or repulsed by a romantic interest’s natural scent? Well, there’s more to that than you may think.

I was excited to contact Eric Holzle for this article about his groundbreaking company Scientific Match (tagline: “The Science of Love”), which I discovered a few months ago but was founded in 2007. Holzle predicted his company would revolutionize the dating services industry by matching people based on non-matching DNA samples taken from their cheeks. He claimed that well-matched couples would enjoy each others’ natural scents, have more fun in bed, and bear healthier children than those who are genetically similar. Maybe so, but the company’s mating strategy never seemed to gain mainstream traction, its premise titillating but perhaps too far-fetched and impersonal for the romantically inclined (not to mention the service was probably pricey). I agree about the unromantic idea of it all – who wants to be matched with cells from a cheek swab? – but still remain fascinated by the role pheromones play in helping us, consciously and unconsciously, to select a suitable genetic match and curious about other, less clinical ways to harness the power of pheromones. (As an aside: If you really want your mind blown, consider the research that has found the birth control pill may be responsible for reversing a women’s natural sense of smell: That is, women on the Pill like more the smells (i.e. pheromones) that remind them of home and kin and thus are attracted to men with whom they’re genetically incompatible.)

Sadly, though, as I began to write this piece, I discovered Holzle had recently passed away. Shortly after my discovery, serendipitously perhaps, along came a representative from Love Scent who wrote to me via Twitter about the company. Here’s the even funnier part: More than two years ago, I had written about Love Scent on my old blog, in an entry entitled “The Nose Knows.” Essentially, the company’s concept is to sell sex pheromones in a bottle to help men and women attract that special someone. I don’t understand the science of it all but human pheromones can, apparently, be recreated in a laboratory. Love Scent then bottles those synthetically-created pheromones and sells them to the masses at various prices, depending on which product is desired.

There are several other companies that sell pheromones for the purpose of attracting mates, but Love Scent seems to be leading the pack. I don’t doubt their authenticity, so I asked them to send me some samples. A couple weeks later, I received several products, including The Edge towelettes (for women and men), Perception, Scent of Eros Unscented (unisex), Scent of Eros (for her), Chikara, Alter Ego (for him), and The Edge (for him). As the instructional sheet explained, their products range from pheromone colognes and scented concentrates to additive formulas and essential oils. They also sell unrated pheromone colognes – pheromone-containing colognes on which they have no clear data. Their “Fab Four” kit is only for seasoned “phero-gurus” – in other words, “if you have to ask, it’s not for you.”

It would have been nice to experiment with the samples during my single days (the product seems to be best suited for singles, anyway), but I figured I could wear one of them around my boyfriend to see if it was particularly … ahem, arousing. According to the Psychology Today article linked above, “since it’s known that women can detect genetic compatibility by smell – it’s not that men can’t but that so far no one knows – the onus is on females to sniff out a suitable squire,” but because Love Scent markets their products to both men and women, I enlisted the help of one my boyfriend’s male friends who was coming to town with his girlfriend. We asked Joe to smear on some of The Edge (for him) without his gal’s knowledge before going out to the bars.

After he applied the moist towelette, my apartment, quite frankly, smelled like a gigolo, or at least how I imagine a gigolo would smell. Unfortunately, Joe never had a chance to read the instructions: “Watch out for over-application,” which is especially true for The Edge because it is highly concentrated. Don’t get me wrong: It smelled good, but it was so overpowering that it practically consumed the place. Eventually, Joe confessed to his girlfriend, but I’m not sure it would have made any difference if she hadn’t known. I also used one of the samples – Scent of Eros – dabbing it on my various pulse points as instructed. Love Scent says that women have reported additional success when applying to ankles and thighs, but I stuck to wrists and behind the ears. It smelled lovely, like any number of musky perfumes I might buy at a department store, but again there’s no way to know if our significant others were friskier than usual because of the pheromones. Plus, both Joe and I are in fairly new relationships in which we can’t keep our hands off our significant others, anyway. I didn’t expect my boyfriend to attack me like a ravenous lion looking for prey, but I did wonder if I’d be able to detect more subtle behavior changes that would indicate the product was working its magic. I can’t say that I witnessed anything different in him.

Perhaps these products would be good for people in, say, stale relationships, so as to rev up a decaying sex life; in a fairly new relationship if you’re sex life has already decayed, well, then you may have more problems than a topical product (that Richard Gere in American Gigolo might wear) could ever solve. Although, a testimonial from “Julia” on Love Scent’s site makes it seem that their products have the power to unite couples in trouble: “My boyfriend had decided that he wanted to break up. We agreed to go to lunch on his birthday. I wore some of your magic oil and he went crazy…..We are back together. I also put some on a handkerchief and then under the seat of his car…..He keeps commenting on how his car smells like me.” I’m not sure how much stock to put on testimonials but Love Scent’s site does have a ton of them.

It should also be mentioned that Love Scent pheromones may be worth a try if only for the placebo effect. It’s long been documented that the placebo effect has enormous impact on people’s ability to heal. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote a piece about this effect entitled Why Placebos Work Wonders. If someone applies one of Love Scent’s products with the idea in mind that they have a secret, extra edge, they may exude more confidence because they believe themselves to now be more attractive to potential mates. Dating and attraction is often about confidence – it’s all in the head (no, not that head), as they say. So any suggestions or ideas that can inspire confidence when it comes to your dating life is a usually a good bet, unless of course, the idea is to wear a hat like this.

Another thought I had about using these kinds of pheromones is that once you run out of the product your natural scent will be exposed, and whomever you’ve managed to woo with your pre-made pheromonal concoction will now quite possibly be repulsed by you and have no idea why. Don’t worry, though, Love Scent accepts orders in bulk.

About The Author

Neely Steinberg is a Blast correspondent. Follow her on Twitter @NeelySteinberg She answers your dating/relationship questions in her Blast video advice column MP4 Love.

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