Can Pheromone Body Wash Make You More Desirable?

By Allison Bond | July 30, 2009 2:50 pm

perfumeIf you’re hoping to appear more attractive to potential mates, the solution may be simple: Just shower with some pheromone-laden body wash, or dab on some lip gloss containing these so-called “attraction chemicals.”

At least, that’s what the makers of an increasing number of pheromone-based products want you to believe. Body washes, cosmetics, perfumes, and more all boast of their pheromone contents. There’s just one problem: There is no scientific evidence that people produce or respond to pheromones at all, or that dabbing them on will make you more attractive to potential mates.

This dearth of scientific evidence didn’t dissuade Dial, however. The soap-maker recently released a “pheromone-infused” body wash, then held a speed-dating “experiment” in which nine blindfolded women had to choose between nine men (some had used the wash, some hadn’t) they would go out with in order to “prove” the wash worked.

The way someone smells can obviously affect how much you want to be around them; in fact, scent has even been shown to influence attraction. But it’s never been proven that humans can “smell” pheromones, and their purported effects are far from scientific fact. According to the New York Times:

“There has been a lot of misconception about what human pheromones do,” said Dr. Charles Wysocki, a behavioral neuroscientist at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and an author of “Human Pheromones: What’s Purported, What’s Supported,” a recently published report commissioned by the Sense of Smell Institute, a branch of the Fragrance Foundation. “We want to raise a flag and say, where’s the evidence? How human pheromones work is still totally questionable.”

At least we can take consolation in the noble cause the product developers have in mind:

“We don’t claim using our product you’re going to hit a home run,” said Ryan Gaspar, a [Dial] brand manager. “We say, ‘We’ll get you to first base.'”

Related Content:
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Discoblog: Attention Women: You Can Sniff Out a Man’s Sexual Intentions
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Image: flickr / lissalou66

  • Gadfly

    How did Dial’s “study” turn out? what were the results. If they actually had a statistically significant correlation with pheromone = attraction that might point to some kind of subliminal receptor — or just coincidence. But I’d still be interested to know how it turned out.

  • James V. Kohl

    I was mentioned in the NY Times article, and so was the manufacturer of my products: Stone Independent Research, and the marketer: Love-Scent. Obviously, there’s more to the story than can be conveyed in this type of article–even with its links. For example, Wysocki and Preti’s assessment of the published literature may not be the best assessment of support from current research on putative human pheromones (e.g., not yet replicated/published). Wysocki and Preti attend conferences, but appropriately do not include conference presentations in their assessment of published literature. I attend conferences and also obtain abstracts of conference presentations. Here are some authors and titles from current unpublished research.

    Lenochova, P., Havlicek, J., Oberzaucher, E., & Grammer, K. (2008). Do perfumes mask or interact with body odour?

    Olsson, M., Lundstrom, J., Esteves, F., Arriaga, P., & McClintock, M. (2008). Effects of androstadienone and menstrual cycle phase on flirting behavior in random couples.

    Muir, C. C. (2009). The Relationship Between Male Salivary and Axillary Steroid Content and Sexual Arousal.

    Kohl, J. V., Kelahan, L. C., & Hoffmann, H. (2009). Human pheromones increase women’s observed flirtatious behaviors and ratings of attraction.

    If cosmetic companies quit marketing products to improve visual appeal, we might better learn to assess cross-species comparisons based on current neuroscientific facts and whatever “art” these facts support. For now, it seems the art of marketing products that supposedly make us more visually appealing needs no neuroscientific support. If what we see in our social environment has an effect on our hormones and behavior, someone should explain how the effect is caused by what we see. But wait, in other animals, it’s their pheromones.

    see also: Kohl, J. V. (2007). The Mind’s Eyes: Human pheromones, neuroscience, and male sexual preferences. In M. R. Kauth (Ed.), Handbook of the Evolution of Human Sexuality (pp. 313-369). Binghamton: Haworth Press.

  • ghani riasat

    pheromones have lost their apeal in humans. yes agreed that they do work in animals. but man is a special animal. he gave up his animality in exchange for a more comfortable albeit restricted humanity. so pheromones are a useless remnant in man … much like the vermiform appendix which has a function in the rabbit but not in man.

  • Chikara cologne

    Pheromones only help improve opportunity for attraction in the end it is up to you.

  • James Stuart

    “so pheromones are a useless remnant in man …” and this has yet to be proven

    Cosmetics are visual and objective claims made by advertisers are usually only made as “aesthetic enhancements” . They do not need to be assessed on their ability to attract sexual partners or based on some sort of study that attempts to reason on objective things such as beauty.

    Attraction and what causes attraction in humans is a very complex thing and it can be certain that science has only seen the tip of the iceberg on the subject.

  • baron78

    Looks like one more way to help its manufacturers and promoters make money… Let us Hope someday Pheromones preparations become Effective enough to really do the job :-)


    I think that pheromone perfume thing is absolute nonsense! Good looks are also important!

  • Chas

    At first glance (or sniff) it’s strange that a product that washes pheromones off the body actually has added pheromones. I do know I’ve had some luck with pheromones – I received a sample of Alphaero cologne (courtesy of my wife none-the-less) and can report that, yes, I did have more dialogue with women. Was it a placebo effect? I don’t know, but it did seem to work.

  • Jason

    Hey Chas,

    I am interested in the science behind pheromones and alphaero. However, what I really care about is results. I think I will order a sample of alphaero and give it a try.

  • ThePheromoneForumDotCom

    Not all pheromones work for everyone, on anyone, at all times, in all situations.

    @ghani, National Geographic recently published an article that says “…Appendix, tonsils, various redundant veins—they’re all vestigial body parts once considered expendable, if not downright useless. But as technology has advanced, researchers have found that, more often than not, some of these “junk parts” are actually hard at work.”

    So stop making assumptions and start making observations. Our pheromone forum, and several others like it, might be a great place to start.

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  • Miguel

    I am going to wear pherlure and alphero and see if pheromones really work. I bought the Dial and will compare that to the actual pheromone colognes.

  • http://Google Curious Skeptic

    There’s a line in an old song that goes “pretty women walking with gorillas down my street”. We’ve all seen this: gorgeous, sexy females wrapped around the arms and necks of absolute neanderthals, and it isn’t just an isolated incident kind of thing. So what causes females to attach themselves to men who are , by far, not the most attractive or sexy man in the room? An over abundance of money usually helps, but could it be something much deeper and primal, maybe even vestigial? We’ve all seen these couplings, and asked ourselves “why is SHE going out with someone who looks like THAT? It may be pheromones, and it would be interesting to do studies and see what causes this phenomena.

  • that funky monkey

    We are the same animals that crossed a land bridge 12,000 years ago. Pheromones give perceptions of us a hue that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

    Its body chemistry 101 that tells us that make-up, and lipstick simulate a visually sexually responsive female.

    When talking to an attractive female, I try to get close enough smell her. If she can smell me too (clean, no cologne), I have a greater chance of showing my monkey.

    Its that “funk” that we suffer physical withdrawals from when that breakup inevitably comes. Its pheromone withdrawal that makes the stomach ache. That is why a one nighter may help ease the pain of breakups, if done clinically.

  • pheromone fanatic

    I am an active user of pheromones and I do believe they work. Of course it is very hard to prove they work in a rigorus way but by observation one can make their own decisions.

    It’s not the kind of thing I would bet money on but I do believe they helped me further my relationship with various people in the past and I’m not just talking about a romantic way, think business meetings, bank loans etc.

  • Pheromones work for me

    Pay attention to Mr. James V. Kohl, he’s a wise man.

    I’ve tried a lot of pheromones, and they vary widely in quality. Some work, most don’t. Kohl’s own product is not bad, but the ones I’ve been using with the most success are Pherone V-5 and M-11. V-5 actually seems to make women respond better to me. I really notice the difference.

    People who want to claim that pheromones don’t work on humans are the same people who want to pretend that we’re not animals. Well, we are, and they do work on us.

  • Pheromones

    Although I can understand why some folks may be rightfully skeptical about Pheromones, and the degree in which they truly may, or may not influence human behavior, there is clearly a good amount of empirical evidence out there these days which suggest that pheromones do in fact effect human interpersonal reactions.

    I for one was at one time a complete non-believer in the ability of pheromones to influence others behavior, however after observing things like pheromone colognes at work in the “real world,” I quickly was forced to re-think my previous position…There is definitely something to all this, we are just not yet sure to what extent.

  • pheromones

    There has been some scientific research done to specify the fact that pheromones do play some type of role in human interaction and behaviors. Although there is still continuing research being done on the subject, there is no doubt that the hidden scent of pheromones does work well in the effective interaction between two people in a relationship.

  • mike p

    There a plethora of pheromones on the market and not all pheromones are equal. That is something the reader should keep in mind.

  • pheromones

    Pheromones spray results will vary with the concentration used. Anything over 10 mg per ounce should work good.

  • Hayley Loterbauer

    I’ll must come back again when my class load lets up – on the other hand I’m taking your RSS feed so I can examine your web page offline. Many.

  • Edmundo Gerking

    Ya, I can’t stop using best mens cologne because they ship fast and i get real cologne at a discount price

  • Perfumes con Feromonas

    I agree. safe is important.
    Perfumes con Feromonas

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  • pheromones



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