Why men smell the way they do, and why women like it (sometimes)

Why men smell the way they do, and why women like it (sometimes)

March 12th, 2010 by Holly Leber in Life Entertainment

Scent matters.

"For some women it is an important aspect of choosing a partner," said Dr. Avery Gilbert, author of "What the Nose Knows."

Lyn Leigh, spokeswoman for the Fragrance Foundation in New York, said: "When there's a guy who's smelling really great and you get close up to that, it's a turn-on."

According to Dr. Gilbert, olfactory appeal can be both biological -- there may be a genetic component to body scent -- and aesthetic, which he referred to as self-presentation. In other words, there's more than a social reason why Coco Mademoiselle might not suit a Teamster.

"The best thing is when your scent fits you," he said. "Smell has a natural masculinity or femininity to it."

Because of individual body chemistry, the same scent can smell different on different people. The amount of perspiration and the volume of lipids, salts and electrolytes in sweat affect how a scent smells on an individual, Dr. Gilbert said.

"Some people might absorb more than others," he said. "Rather than reflecting back the composition of the perfume, (they) reflect back just portions of it so you get a distorted picture. Their skin is sort of a bad canvas."

A lot of younger men, said Ms. Leigh, use body washes and sprays in lieu of traditional colognes and eaux des toilettes. "They're experimenting big time with all of that. You think of men's fragrances as Wall Street types or older, but in fact, younger guys are very into all of this right now."

My two scents: Readers sound off on favorite fragrances

Tanya Fairris, 38

Dolce & Gabbana, The One

"You can smell heat. It's sexy, it's enticing. This is a very sensual man. He's probably a little bit daring."

Katie Jones, 23

Axe Body Wash

"I just associate it with (my boyfriend), and I guess that's enough. It's a manly thing. He's a construction worker kind of guy. He's always doing things with his hands."

Jennifer Scoggins

Burberry for Men

"It's a spicy cologne. I think it smells really manly. I totally feel like (my husband) is making an extra effort, because he's probably not putting it on for himself."

Jessica Abbott, 33


It makes me think of cowboys. It's a manly scent. It's got a kind of musk to it, and I like it. It actually makes me think of dragons.

Jasmin Rippon, 28

Hugo Boss

"It reminds me of when (my husband and I) first started dating."

Erica Green, 25

Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue

"I like woodsy and clean-smelling. It gives me the manly but clean and confident and in charge of their life/ responsible vibe."

Carrie Elder

Eternity by Calvin Klein

It's clean, refreshing. (Her husband joked that it makes her think of their wedding night, and she didn't disagree). He wants to please me (when he wears it).

Soraya Montenegro, 29

Armani Code

"It's a masculine smell. It's not too sweet or light. I think (a man who wears Code) is a sexy man."