If you haven’t heard of the dating site ‘Smell Dating’, it works like this: You are sent a T-shirt. You wear it sans deodorant for three days and nights before returning it in a prepaid envelope. You then receive ten swatches of T-shirts worn by other individuals and select those you like the smell of. If they like the smell of you too, you get their phone number. The rest is up to you… In other words, not your average Tinder process and perhaps not the best ‘how-we-met’ story to tell the in-laws either.
Call us old-fashioned but at Murdock we prefer the idea of meeting our significant others in more romantic circumstances. Each to their own of course, but there is a solid trail of credibility to ‘smell matching’, because when it comes to attraction, while we initially rely on our sight, as we get closer it is the sense of smell that starts to play a more dominant role.
From the moment we are born we are surrounded by different smells. There are approximately 10 million smell receptors in the cavity behind the nose and humans can distinguish up to 10,000 different scents. Although on the conscious level we tend to pay little attention to them, they become imprinted in our memories and life’s important events. Hence how an accidental whiff of something from the past can instantly elicit a bout of ‘involuntary memories’ (the term famously coined and described by Marcel Proust in his ‘Remembrance of Things Past’). Not surprisingly then we are subconsciously attracted to scents that have positive associations for us and avoid those that don’t. But the scent is not all about the past. It can influence your happy-ever-after too.
Let’s talk pheromones
Pheromones are chemicals produced by our bodies that send subconscious scent signals. These can trigger powerful responses in those on the receptive end and the argument is that they are crucial in deciding whether we find other people attractive. You can help keep your pheromones at optimum level by using mild, non-stripping soaps, hitting the gym regularly to fire up your testosterone, getting enough sleep and… eating oysters. Hey, it worked for Casanova who allegedly had 50 for breakfast every morning. Then again, we doubt he had to get to the office for 9.
But don’t rely on pheromones alone. There is more to chemical attraction and another airborne aphrodisiac: a complimentary fragrance. I.e. a scent that works for you and enhances your body’s own natural smell, rather than masking it.
Our favourite “pheromone-booster” is Patchouli Cologne. Complex and velvety, it mixes stimulating spices (Cardamom, Nutmeg, Black Pepper) with the warmth of Ylang Ylang, Suede and the eponymous oil of Indonesian Patchouli. Known as the trademark scent of the free-spirited 70s, patchouli oil - like fine wine - improves with age. It warms and develops on skin into its trademark carnal muskiness. It becomes you; but with a little added mystery.
Because of your skin’s unique chemistry the same scent will smell different to how it first comes across when testing paper or another person, so when fragrance hunting do always wear it yourself too before making the decision. A well-chosen cologne will compliment what nature has given you. The only question remaining is, “how do I know when I’ve found the one?” The same answer seems to ring true in love and perfumery: trust your gut, follow your nose and remember it’s all about how it makes you feel.