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Beauty
February 26, 2016

All You Need To Know About Heady Love Potions

Text by Aparrna Gupta

Here’s how you can use scents as clandestine weapons in the game of seduction

Don’t you love the scent that makes the object of your affection go weak in the knees and maybe lean in a bit closer to get a whiff of its essence? The connection between scents and sensuality runs deep.

Since time immemorial, scents have been used by wearers to attract the affections of their lovers. It is believed that Cleopatra indulged in a special blend of rose, cardamom, and cinnamon to seduce Mark Anthony. Legend also has it that single women were not trusted to harvest the blooms of tuberose as its scent was so heady that it was said to have the ability to seduce any man. So much so that it was often considered a cure for impotency. Vanilla-rich decoctions have promised amorous evenings since the early 17th century, and rightly so. Scientific studies have proven that inhaling pure vanilla essence helped boost men’s libido. Lotus blooms have also been used to decorate the bedchambers of Egyptian brides to symbolise fertility. Scented gloves, which were perfumed with oils, musk, herbs and civetto to mask the unpleasant odour of animal skin, became popular in the mid-16th century among the aristocracy. Since then, leather notes have evoked regality, sophistication, sensuality and power. The aroma emitted by male musk deer to attract a mate has been used by master perfumers for centuries to give their compositions an addictive appeal. Since the use of natural musk is legally prohibited, its rich, carnal scent is synthesised in laboratories.

“Sensuality is all about the way you carry yourself, including the scent you choose. The rule works for both genders. If you are looking to seduce somebody, it can’t just be about how you dress. You can stand out by wearing a scent that commands attention,” states Danny Ventura, international communication and development manager, Beauté Prestige International. Responsible for the Jean Paul Gaultier, Issey Miyake, Narciso Rodriguez and Elie Saab lines of fragrances, he feels that sensuality is an attitude. “To me the most sensual thing on a woman is confidence. If she is confident, the scent becomes even more sensual.”

Depending on the notes in your perfume, you could feel confident, flirtatious, or happy, increasing your desirability quotient. Even today, master perfumers are often requested to create bespoke love potions. Rupal Tyagi, aromatherapist and founder of Wicca, is usually busy concocting blends for brides and grooms during the wedding season. “Floral oils such as jasmine, tuberose and rose have aphrodisiac properties and help stimulate the reproductive system. The potions are created by grinding together whole spices and dried petals with base oils chosen on the basis of the user’s climate,” she explains. “Contemporary fragrances classified as oriental, spicy, amber, woody, gourmand and floral have a long-lasting trail,” adds perfumer Rajiv Sheth, CEO and Creative Director, All Good Scents.

Technically, it is the intensity of notes and higher concentration of oils that lend a fragrance its seductive appeal. “Eau de parfum has 17 to 23 per cent of oil, whereas this goes up to 30 per cent in pure perfumes,” Ventura elaborates. Spices, such as clove, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger, apart from whisky and coffee, are found in scents meant to ignite passion. According to Jean-Louis Pierrisnard, scientific and (R&D) communication director at L’Occitane, earthy notes such as patchouli, wood and musk are powerful aphrodisiacs. “Once coated with flowery or fruity nuances, they create an addiction, making you want to smell the fragrance all the time. These notes also help to fix the scent on the skin.” He mentions that L’Occitane fragrance Arlésienne is seductive because of its enveloping floral-woody scent, and its story of an unattainable woman who leaves a delicious fragrant trail wherever she goes.

Traditionally, men’s fragrances smelled of leather, woods and spices, while feminine ones were gentle reminders of heady floral bouquets. This finds its premise in the caveman theory that when the man — the hunter — came home he would smell like the outdoors (wood, grass, sea, etc). Now, however, the boundaries are blurring. There is something sexy about a woman wearing a man’s shirt and his scent. It’s an act of rebellion when the norms are broken. There is also the surprise factor: when a man sees a girl utterly feminine, he expects her to smell like roses, but what if she smells of leather and spice? His senses are tickled and curiosity heightened. Instantly she has added layers to her personality. “Recently we find masculine fragrances using much more floral notes, which conventionally were regarded as feminine. And the woody nuances usually found in masculine scents are now increasingly used in feminine perfumes,” notes Pierrisnard. Androgynous scents are more than just fragrances. They are choices that allow you to think outside the box.

A fragrance is designed to uplift our mood, transporting us to magical destinations — scented gardens, beach holidays or enchanted woods — depending on its notes. It is an invisible tool used to draw people towards us. Resist the urge to wear fragrances that smell great on others. Don’t even try to delve into the notes your partner adores. Wearing something just to impress someone is as ridiculous as walking in a pair of shoes that don’t fit. In the world of fragrances, there is more than just what meets the nose; it is also about the whiff that connects to your heart.

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