For centuries, we optimistic humans have been searching out foods and remedies we believe are aphrodisiacs. At Dexter & Mason, we can’t resist delving deeper into stories about scent, so we’ve been reading up on traditional aphrodisiac fragrances.

We’ve written before about the relationship between smell and memory. Because the olfactory bulb passes through the  “feeling” part of our brains, it’s also closely linked to emotion. The science behind aphrodisiacs may be sketchy; however there’s definitely an argument that any smell which creates a good mood has to be a plus for romance.

So which scents are commonly regarded as aphrodisiacs? Here are a few of the most popular sensual scents together with recommendations for St Valentine’s Day scented candles. Some of our findings surprised us: who knew that home baking was so sexy? (The makers of Bake off were definitely onto something there…) We’ve gone for candles rather than diffusers, because as we all know, candlelight is so romantic


Vanilla has a long association with love and romance; and in the ancient Totonec legend, vanilla first sprung from the blood of tragic, star-crossed lovers. Less romantically, when we were researching vanilla for our recent blog, we read that rats became more aroused when exposed to vanillin (apologies for that passion-killing image).

It’s thought that we humans love the smell because it makes us feel comforted and secure, with memories of warm childhood kitchens, home baking and comfort food. Feeling relaxed and at-ease plays a big part in which scents are considered sensual.

Best candle: Cardamom & Mimosa. Fresh and floral, with a hint of sexy spice and that warm vanilla base.


This heady base note was originally obtained from male musk deer glands; and its underlying richness seems to work on humans as well as does… Happily, today’s musks are usually synthetic and cruelty-free, but have still captured those earthy tones. If this fragrance could speak, it would have a warm, husky voice.

Best candle: Orchid Noir. Intense florals meet that woody, musky base for a touch of drama.


This beautiful flower symbolises love in several ancient cultures: an Indian Love God even uses jasmine blossom to soften his arrows. Its tropical scent transports us to warmer, more exotic climes – and that has to be a good thing for romance, right?

Best candle: Peony & Blush Suede. Jasmine brings its exotic edge to this sweet floral blend (and the base notes include rich musk).


Luxurious and warm, sandalwood is another comforting fragrance, redolent of wood fires and cosy nights in. It’s also used to create feelings of calm and contentment, and is a good scent to use if you want to feel happily relaxed.

Best candle: Blackberry & Bay has a splash of sandalwood for a smoky tone.


We were surprised to see lavender on so many lists of aphrodisiac fragrances, too. However, it seems that its fresh fragrance and calming properties are perfect for creating a romantic mood. And any fragrance promoted by Marilyn Monroe has to be a winner!

Best candle: Lavender, pure and simple.


Of course, for a touch of traditional romance, we had to include the rose. There must be something in the scent of a flower that’s been associated with love for so many centuries…

Best candle: English Rose. Both mellow and sweetly uplifting.


We hope that our list of sensual scents has inspired you to choose a romantic fragrance for Valentine’s Day. If you want to order a gorgeously romantic gift for your Valentine, take a look at our luscious selection of scents.