Does Pheromone Perfume Work? (Explained for Beginners)

I’m sure you’ve seen pheromone perfume ads promising to make you more attractive or enhance your libido. These claims may seem too good to be true and have you wondering: does pheromone perfume work?

While pheromone product makers aren’t completely off base, their claims are excessive. A pheromone perfume would never be the sole reason why a person might find you more attractive. And it won’t solely contribute to increased arousal. Human sexual encounters are far too complex to be restricted to the use of one product.

Keep reading to learn more about the effect pheromones can actually have on humans and whether buying pheromone perfume would actually be worth it.

Does Pheromone Perfume Work

The Science Behind Pheromones

Scientists studying insects first discovered pheromones in 1959. It’s a chemical substance that is created within an organism. They noticed that when these insects released pheromones, it caused organisms of the same species to behave differently.

Since the late 1950s it’s been confirmed that pheromones are produced and released by many different types of organisms. Scientists aren’t sure if birds release pheromones, but amphibians, fish, crustaceans, reptiles, and of course mammals have been proven to release them, either from certain glands, sweat, saliva, or urine.

There are different kinds of pheromones. Some are released into the environment as a warning about the presence of danger, or a call to action, such as the location of food. They can also help mothers (animal or human) bond with their infants. And of course, some types of pheromones are a reproduction signal.

Here’s a more detailed and entertaining explanation:

Can You Bottle Up Human Pheromones?

Humans secrete sex pheromones from their genitals, sweat, skin, and saliva. And they’re considered to contribute to human sexual attraction.

It’s also possible that women are more sensitive to the smell of sex pheromones when they’re ovulating. This detection goes beyond bodily soaps or colognes to that individual’s unique scent.

And this is why scientists have yet to isolate these signature odors produced by humans. You can’t exactly pinpoint human sex pheromones.

Many of the pheromone products out there contain trace amounts of pheromone releasers. The chemicals most frequently found in relation to human sexual arousal are:

  • Androstenone
  • Androstenol
  • Androstadienone
  • Estratetraenol

But the caveat is that these chemicals, when added to pheromone products, have often been isolated from pigs. For instance, androstenone is found in the saliva of male pigs. Once released, female pigs engage in a mating stance. But it doesn’t elicit the same intense response from humans.

We all interpret smells differently. There’s a real emotional connection to the smells we encounter day to day. And it’s possible that certain odors create a deeper connection to people than pheromones alone.

The way humans respond to odors isn’t as straightforward as it is for animals. Scientist George Petri has conducted extensive research on this topic. It seems that pheromones aren’t as essential a communication tool for humans (or primates in general) in comparison to other species.

Pheromones can be classified as primers, signalers, modulators, and releasers.” Sex pheromones are classified as releasers – eliciting an immediate, specific behavioral response – but it’s unclear what effects releasers actually have on humans.

Even after decades of research, there are still more questions than answers regarding the effect of sex pheromones on humans.

Unlike pigs in heat, human response involves multiple factors. Preti has stated that human response to odors is a multisensory experience. We can be influenced by smell, sound, sight, environment, social expectations, past experiences, and environmental conditions all at once. So how can we isolate which of these elements a person is actually responding to? It’s been impossible thus far.

Pheromones can be excreted out of any human bodily fluids, making it even more difficult to isolate the pheromone possibly responsible for human sexual attraction.

Just as we find some cologne fragrances to be more or less attractive, we respond the same way to unique odors produced by humans.

Varied responses further complicate the ability to isolate human pheromones. There aren’t any “well-defined behavioral or endocrine effects” that can be objectively measured by scientists.

That being said, androstadienone, found in high concentrations of male sweat, can actually be detected by women. But the extent to which a woman can detect this pheromone varies widely from person to person.

Women who did respond to a synthetic version of this compound experienced better mood and focus. More specifically, they were more receptive to emotional information. The researchers remind us that women who are in a good mood usually have a heightened sexual response. Also, enhanced focus can lead to higher sexual satisfaction. These are indirect responses to pheromone exposure.

Research suggests that smelling androstadienone might contribute to mate selection but not enough scientific evidence exists to confidently state that this pheromone definitely and consistently contributes to sexual arousal.

What Are Pheromone Perfumes Made Of?

Reading through this information may cause you to wonder just how effective pheromone perfumes could actually be.

It’s impossible to isolate and collect human pheromones, so what’s in the perfume bottle?

Most pheromone perfume products on the market are made using animal, synthetic and/or plant materials. Companies may also use language like, “human-compatible” pheromones, which could be misleading.

This is actually kind of genius because the manufacturing companies focus on the mental and behavioral states needed to enhance sexual encounters, and then create a non-pheromone product that mimics that effect.

For instance, Pure Instinct’s pheromone roll-on perfume is unisex. This is a red flag because men and women release different pheromones. The ones released by men begin with, “andro-” and the ones released by women sometimes begin with, “estra-.” There isn’t any authentically unisex pheromone perfume.

Next, its ingredients are essential oils. Top notes include mandarin and mangoes. Heart notes are honey and cinnamon. And the base note is white musk.

Citrus scents are known to improve moods, increase focus, and invoke feelings of delight. As mentioned in the research article above, women have a better sexual experience when they’re in a good mood and are focused.

Cinnamon is a stress reducer, which helps a person reach a relaxed state. It also increases blood flow. So when it’s applied to the skin as with this roll-on perfume oil, cinnamon acts as a natural aphrodisiac.

Honey also helps reduce stress and encourages a sedated effect. It’s also a textural element that helps the other oils feel sensual on the skin.

Another stress and anxiety reducer is musk. Musk can also trigger reproductive instincts in women.

The company even suggests that you layer this product with your favorite perfume. Review writers indicate that when doing this, they’re still getting lots of attention. This may be true, but it can be true for more reasons than rolling on the pheromone perfume. These people may simply be physically attractive, or their perfume scent might draw in suitors.

It seems that Pure Instinct pheromone perfume is an example of a company understanding how humans respond to certain essential oil properties, and then combining those ingredients to create a product that’s labeled as “human-compatible pheromones.”

Ingredients in this product simply mimic the effect of exposure to pheromones.

How to Choose the Best Pheromone Perfume

It’s challenging to suggest that you purchase pheromone perfumes because they’re basically snake oil.

Take this Alpha Marker Pheromone perfume as an example. It’s described as being made with “reconstituted women’s pheromones” that will attract a man to a woman “even if the man was not interested in the woman because of her appearance or the sound of her voice.”

That statement is hogwash. Firstly, in order for something to be reconstituted, it has to first exist on its own. You can’t create a new form of something without it having previously existed. Scientists have not isolated pheromones from men or women, so this is a false statement.

Next, there isn’t a product in this world that can force someone to be attracted to you in spite of appearance or voice. Appearance isn’t even always a factor when determining attraction. But when that’s true, it’s not a product that leads a person to that conclusion. It would be the character and integrity of the person that chooses to place emphasis elsewhere.

Purchasing pheromone perfumes may not yield desired results.

Should You Try Pheromone Perfume?

So long as you manage your expectations, there’s nothing wrong with giving pheromone perfume a try. It’s unlikely to attract someone who wasn’t already drawn to you, but it can possibly enhance an existing attraction.

Human pheromones have yet to be clearly identified, let alone isolated and stockpiled in order to make products from them. Learning about essential oils and the effects of fragrances might actually be more effective than using a pheromone perfume.

In short, you’d be better off allowing nature to take its course. If you come in contact with a human who releases pheromones that you find attractive, and vice versa, that’s a more reliable indication of attractiveness than a pheromone perfume could ever provide.


Hello and welcome to Fragrance Advice! My name is Grace Young, and I’ve been drawn to fragrances since I was a little girl. There's just something about scent that brings me so much joy! 

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