What Is Pheromone Perfume? (& Does It Work?)

By Charlie Colville

6 days ago

This TikTok trend smells a little fishy

If you’ve been anywhere near #PerfumeTok over the last few months, chances are you will have come across the viral pheromone perfume trend. While the concept, which promises to make the wearer appear more attractive to others, sounds intriguing, we can’t help but wonder if it really works. We asked fragrance experts to weigh in on the trend, with the hope of finding some answers.

A Comprehensive Guide To Pheromone Perfume

What Is Pheromone Perfume?

‘Pheromone perfume is a fragrance composed of specific ingredients that are designed to mimic human pheromones,’ explains master perfumer Jérôme Epinette. ‘They are used more commonly in fragrance as means to attract others and make the wearer more attractive.’

As we’ve mentioned, the concept is that this particular fragrance can make the wearer seem more attractive to those who can smell them. ‘They’re created with the explicit goal of intensifying attraction,’ adds Michelle Feeney, the founder of Floral Street. ‘Achieving this is mostly driven by the inclusion of synthetic animal musk and chemicals specifically designed to emulate natural pheromones. The intention of these fragrances is to tap into our primal instincts intricately linked with sexual attraction.’

@viasophie would i repurchase the pure instinct perfume … probably not. but if you are into really sweet scents that make u smell like vanilla and a bakery you might like it #pureinstinct #pheromoneperfume #pureinstinctpheromone ♬ original sound – sophie

Why The Sudden Popularity?

While wearing a perfume to increase our attractiveness isn’t itself a new concept, the inclusion of pheromones in our favourite fragrances seems to be an up-and-coming trend for 2024. Driven by creatives and cult perfume brands (who, funnily enough, achieved their cult status via the app), the trend has generated a huge community of people who swear by these fragrances as a means of attracting partners – leading to fragrances like Venom Scents and Pure Instinct skyrocket in popularity on the TikTok Shop.

‘The idea of a spray that will make the wearer irresistible is the realm of sorcery – and therein lies the appeal,’ says Rebecca Rose, founder of To The Fairest. ‘Magic potions feature in stories throughout the ages, so it is no surprise that so-called pheromone perfumes have captured the imagination of platforms such as TikTok.’

‘I think consumers, often younger generations, are more experimental with fragrances and are constantly trend-seeking,’ adds Jérôme. ‘They are turning to beauty for added benefits, or are looking to be more educated and informed about the products they use. As such, the novelty (for this generation) makes it ripe to latch on to.’

What Are Pheromones?

We can think of pheromones as sensory signals that are communicated by smell; they’re released externally, and it’s thought that they are most present in sweat and areas like the armpits or groin. ‘Pheromones are chemical substances that are naturally produced by animals and humans to communicate with others of the same species,’ explains Jérôme. While their primary function is believed to be communication, some suggest that they also play a role in sexual attraction.

How Does It Differ From Regular Perfumes?

‘Olfactively, these fragrances don’t necessarily differ from regular ones, but rather they can claim to have specific benefits,’ says Jérôme. ‘They might lean in certain olfactive directions because of the use of pheromone-resembling ingredients.’

So, what does pheromone perfume smell like? For the most part, they will share a smell with similar, regular fragrances. ‘The fragrance may not be distinguished from a regular one, per se,’ agrees Jérôme. ‘But those that claim pheromone properties are often on the more musky, animalic side.’ So, think regular perfume, but with a muskier edge.

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Do All Perfumes Have Pheromones?

The short answer: no, not all perfumes contain pheromones. Some perfumes may be formulated with a small amount, but for the most part regular perfumes are crafted using a combination of different fragrances.

Does It Work?

The fragrance industry is mostly divided on this one. While brands that promote pheromone perfume insist on its effectiveness, others are a bit more sceptical about whether these fragrances actually work.

There’s also the fact that not a lot of research has actually come to fruition when it comes to human pheromones and their functions. ‘The scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of pheromone perfumes is extremely limited,’ commented sexual health platform Yoxly in a recent TikTok video. ‘Claims made by such products often go far beyond what current research can support. Unlike other animals, where specific pheromones have been identified, the subject of human pheromones continues to be an area of ongoing research and scientific debate.’

@yoxlyhealth #pheromones #pheromoneperfume #seggseducation #seggsfacts #uk #doctor #libido #science ♬ She Share Story (for Vlog) – 山口夕依

For the most part, it’s believed that pheromone perfumes create something of a placebo effect; if you believe something will make you more attractive, you will likely feel more attractive – and, likely, attracted to others. ‘Humans love the idea of perfume as an aphrodisiac – how exciting would it be to dab our pulse points with a liquid that made us irresistible to our intended partners,’ muses Rebecca Rose, founder of To The Fairest. ‘Seduction by scent has a witchy appeal, but is generally within the realm of fantasy. We may perceive that perfume helps us cast a spell, but how much is down to placebo effect? It’s almost impossible to evaluate.’

The Verdict

Instead, our fragrance experts seem to be in agreement that finding your signature scent – rather than relying on the supposed power of pheromones – is the best course of action when it comes to securing an attractive perfume. ‘The most effective perfumes enhance our individuality, rather than disguise or deceive,’ says Rebecca. ‘While it may be thrilling to imagine what powers a magical scent can bestow, it might be more practical to think of “pheromone fragrances” as an opportunity to discover what makes the wearer feel attractive – and which notes connect with that feeling.’

‘Whilst pheromone fragrances might feel like a new trend, the idea that a fragrance can make you more attractive or sexy has been pushed by the fragrance industry for years,’ adds Michelle. ‘Instead of choosing fragrance based on the opinions of others, I’d encourage anyone considering a pheromone fragrance to instead think about how they want to feel when they spritz on a perfume and select a scent that supports that. Most of us use fragrance to give us confidence, boost our mood and help us make memories – in my opinion, that’s a lot more attractive than a fragrance created with human or animal musk.’

Featured image: Laura Chouette, Unsplash