Is Your Perfume Working For or Against You?

Our sense of smell is so powerful that a whiff of a freshly baked apple pie brings us right back to the warm security of Grandma's kitchen, a piney aroma evokes Christmases past, and the lingering scent of cologne or perfume can be a turn-on or a turnoff. Whether you're new in a relationship or you'd like to attract a new guy or girl, be aware that the scent you choose can make you even more desirable. With the wide range of scents available, from floral and fruity to spicy and citrusy, you can choose the perfect one.

"Our olfactory system is linked to the primitive brain," says Debbie Mandel, MA, a stress management expert and author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. "A scent can cheer you up, de-stress you, excite you and make you seem younger."

Choosing the perfect perfume for when you're going out on date is a big decision. "Nearly 80 percent of men say they will feel more attracted to a woman if she's wearing a perfume that he likes," says Amy Laurent, relationship expert and professional matchmaker. "But some scents put a man off, especially if it is a perfume that his old girlfriend used to wear."

Scents that a guy likes in a woman are grapefruit (it makes a woman seem younger), citrus, cucumber and green tea (they say 'fresh' and 'natural'), pumpkin pie, licorice and vanilla (homey and comforting) and cinnamon (light and carefree).

Perfumes that tend to be turnoffs to guys are heavy and floral (they can make a woman seem phony and pretentious, Mandel says), lemon meringue and chocolate (too strong), anything that smells like baby powder or roses or lavender (reminds men of their grandmother).

Men tend not to like perfumes that are super-fruity or overly citrusy, Laurent says. "An exception to this is a fresh, subtle orange," she says. "But I advise women to stay clear of fruits like honeydew, pears and melon in a perfume."

Common Sense about Scents

  • Wear a perfume you love, not one you think a guy will like, says Liat Silberman, relationship expert.

  • The longer you wear a perfume or cologne, the more used to it you become, points out Lisa Dailey, dating coach and author of How to Date Like a Grown-Up. After awhile, you can't even smell it anymore and so you tend to keep putting on a little more and a little more. Result? It can become overpowering to those around you.

  • Find a perfume that fits your personality. Don't just go with the one that's the most popular at the moment, says Dailey.

  • Every cologne or perfume can potentially trigger a memory, be it a good one or a bad one. "If the man you are dating has had a negative experience with the perfume you are wearing, it will subconsciously sabotage the relationship," Mandel says.