The Sexiest Scent of All

by guest blogger Maya Rodale, author of smart and sassy romance novels

I used to have a signature scent: It was Chanel No. 22 (the younger, lighter version of Chanel No. 5, whose ads now feature Brad Pitt). My daily spritz of perfume was such a part of moi that on the one day I forgot it, I popped into Sephora on my way to work for a free spritz, lest I feel incomplete.

These days, I only use unscented products, but I still spend a lot of time thinking about scent. Characters in romance novels are always hankering after the hero’s or heroine’s scent, and it’s always said to be “indescribably male” or “essentially her.” It’s really that natural pheromone that is oh, so powerful—studies have shown that it effects our mood and level of arousal, and that we’re drawn to the scent of people with different immune systems, thus encouraging us to mate with those with whom we’re more likely to have healthy babies. I love that science is confirming what romance authors have known for years!

In real life, though, we often cover up that magical, powerful scent with Black Raspberry Vanilla shampoo, Coconut Lime Verbena conditioner, Honey Autumn Apple soap, and Spring Breeze–scented deodorant, none of which is likely to contain actual black raspberry, vanilla, lime, autumn apples, or spring breezes.

Skin moisturized with vanilla-scented lotion doesn’t taste like vanilla; rather, it has a chemical aftertaste that is decidedly not sexy. That’s one thing that got me to go unscented: I don’t want to dissuade my man from kissing my neck because of the toxic taste of my moisturizer or some celebrity fragrance.

Instead, I use actual sugar and actual coconut oil. You could lick it or eat it by the spoonful and you’d be fine, which is a good product test, if you ask me. The other reason I went fragrance free is that a main ingredient in all these potions is “parfum,” or “fragrance,” a catchall term for chemicals that studies are starting to reveal are toxic endocrine disruptors. That’s hardly the happily-ever-after we dream of.

Once I committed to unscented products, I developed—or revealed?—an outrageous oversensitivity to chemical based scents. A scented candle on my desk prompted a 12-hour headache. A ride in an elevator with someone wearing perfume or hair freshly washed with scented shampoo resulted in not being able to breathe.

The best scent I know is my husband’s, and I crave it/him. When I snuggle close and take a deep breath, I feel like I’ve taken a hit of a drug. Tension melts away. Happiness takes over.  And for better or for worse, it can’t be bottled and sold. What natural scents do you love?


Maya Rodale is the author of multiple historical romance novels, as well as the nonfiction book Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. She has a master’s degree from New York University and lives in Manhattan with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. Her latest book is Seducing Mr. Knightly. Learn more at


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11 Responses to The Sexiest Scent of All

  1. robin October 19, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    I sleep with my husband’s shirt over the pillow when he is away.

  2. maya rodale October 19, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    I do the same thing! 🙂

  3. Sadhvi October 19, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Hello Maria,
    I found your post today interesting in that I also cannot stand the artificial scents so common in just about everyone you meet, or go.
    I have a signature scent, Mitsouko, from Guerlain. I don’t get a reaction to it, it doesn’t turn to the generic smell that most of today’s scents do, and I love to wear it.
    It feels like a cloak of protection when I go out into the world.
    I enjoyed to imagine the coconut and sugar concoction as my new body lotion; I never thought of that!
    I really enjoy reading your posts (and your Mom’s).

  4. Dana B October 19, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    YES! I totally agree to this, and what a way to put it. So many women are so obsessed with scented this and that, and now that I’ve been fragrance-free for awhile, it’s rough to be around.

  5. Bonnie October 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    You fooled me. I thought you were going to say the smell of baking bread in the oven. That’s a big hit at my house.

  6. maya rodale October 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Ooooh, fresh baked bread is the best smell! Love that!

  7. Barbara October 21, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    I,too, am artificial fragrance free and love it. My middle son developed a desire to ‘smell good’ as a teen and started using Axe. Ugh! I tell him how much I hate his perfumy smell but he thinks it is wonderful. I gag and get blocked sinuses whenever he showers. All the education I try to give him regarding what these fragrances are doing to him get ignored. He has to purchase all his own body products as I refuse to spend money on toxic products. My other two sons agree with me thankfully. We use only essential oils. Citrus blends are our favorites, grapefruit is heavenly. I wash our bed clothes with lavender oil in the rinse. So many essential oils, and so many ways to benefit from them. 🙂

  8. Karen Waters October 22, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    I love placing a dab of Rose geranium oil on my wrists and behind my ears. Despite the hubs saying it smells like his grandma, I wear it for myself. The floral yet citrus scent is a fresh scent that serves as aromatherapy when I need that mid day pick me up I just sniff my wrist. Not to mention it conjures up summer days when my rose geraniums are at their peak in the garden!

  9. Donna in Delaware October 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    I have been fragrance-free for several years now. Like you and others, I hate to smell it, it turns my stomach, usually because it’s either too strong, nasty smelling, or people tend to overuse them. Being that I worked in hospitals, and knew how many people have allergies, I stopped wearing perfumes and many scented lotions and creams. I am desperately trying to get my husband to stop using colognes and aftershaves. Some of them really make me woozy.

    You are correct. Freshly washed skin is the nicest smell. When the warmth of the body intermingles with the nice soaps, it’s very sexy, and no, one cannot wait to smell, or be near your husband or boyfriend. Keep it real. Go au naturel!

  10. Sandy B. October 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I agree artifical scents are harmful and not pleasant. I use 100 percent essential oils. I love them and my husband does also.

  11. Rev. kristyne October 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    I used to purchase a ‘natural perfume’ until I discovered I could make it myself with essential oils of ginger, tangerine and a wee bit of patchouli and vetiver. Initially some essential oils can be pricey, but when you find a few you love and stick with them, it’s extremely cost effective and I smell yummy.
    So good in fact, people ask me everywhere, what is the scent you wear.

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