Researchers know well the power of fragrance: the calming scents of lavender and jasmine, the invigorating aromas of cinnamon and coffee, the mood- and stamina-enhancing qualities of citrus.
And for romance, fragrance is among the most powerful mating calls.
Experts know that scents can trigger strong emotional responses in people, as our scent receptors are directly linked to the emotional centers of the brain.
Most people have experienced aroma deja vu: a whiff of Drakkar Noir can instantly transport me back to my sophomore year in high school and my first real boyfriend. Aromas can conjure a variety of emotions such as the comfort and security of the scent of fresh-baked cookies or your mother's perfume.
So what makes a fragrance romantic?
Perfumers say some specific aromas lend themselves to romance: lush florals with powdery notes; sweet and comforting aromas such as vanilla and amber; and warm balsam elements.
In time for Valentine's Day, we chose five of our favorite romantic fragrances and put them to the test with 20 men of various ages to find out which scents they preferred.
The fragrances are: Michael Kors Gold Rose Edition, Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, Elie Saab Le Parfum, Especially Escada Delicate Notes and Kiehl's Aromatic Blends Vanilla and Cedarwood.
Surprisingly, 9 of the 20 men we surveyed chose the same fragrance as their favorite: Elie Saab Le Parfum.
The light fragrance has notes of white flowers, cedar woods and a drop of honey.
Overwhelmingly, the men we asked used the word “subtle” to explain why they preferred the fragrances they did.
“You should only be able to smell it when you're close,” said Adam Kemp, 25, a reporter at The Oklahoman. His favorite scent was Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. “I don't like very strong perfume, so the soft floral scent is very nice.”
Four of the men liked best the bouquet of tuberose and creamy sandalwood of the Michael Kors Gold Rose Edition. Three preferred the warm vanilla and cedarwood notes of Kiehl's Aromatic Blends.
In addition to “subtle,” the men commonly used the words “fresh,” “light” and “clean” to describe the fragrances they found most romantic.
Women, beware of wearing too much of your favorite perfume. Experts say that when you've been wearing a fragrance for a while, your brain shuts off to the scent and you're more likely to spray on too much.
And to keep your fragrances smelling sweet, perfumers say to store them in the fridge.