Style + Beauty

He Says You Stink! Perfumes That Men Hate


If you’re a woman who accessorizes with perfume, consider this: According to men, you might stink! Since Americans spend close to $5 billion on fragrances a year, it’s time to make sure we're getting our money’s worth.

We decided to ask men what they like and don’t like about women’s perfumes. Check out our tips for picking a scent before you hit the fragrance counter.

Avoid “grandma scents”: Certain scents trigger memories, and your scent certainly shouldn't bring up memories of grandma. As eloquently put by one man, “I hate any pungent smell that, with my eyes closed, makes me feel like I'm hugging my grandmother. It’s a concoction somewhere between potpourri and church incense.” Another told us, "Tea Rose smells like Grandma at a quilting bee. Whenever a younger woman is wearing it, she immediately looks like my Nana to me."

Flowery perfumes failed the test: Across the board, men were against floral scents. One even said that “Overly flowery and sweet is a turn off.” A few other men said that floral perfumes remind them of old women (see above). However, the current aversion to flowery perfumes could be due to factors beyond the nose’s knowing. According to Sue Phillips, an expert in “scentology” and president of Scenterprises, “In the same way that socio, political and economic trends fluctuate over the decades, the distinctive fragrance trends have gone from the bold, heavy, robust florals of the 1980s (reflecting the strong economic boom), to the watery, transparent, ozonic notes of the 1990s, like L’Eau d’Issey (depicting the economic retrenchment and less extravagant financial times)." She added, "The new millennium brought about a nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ and many 'oldie' fragrances enjoyed a resurgence — Shalimar and Chanel.”

Try these trendy scents: The latest fragrance trend for both men and women is oud or sandalwood, which can be found in many new fragrances such as Creed, Tom Ford and Bond no. 9. A safe bet? Vanilla and fruit scents: According to Phillips, many men enjoy a perfume that reminds them of their childhood: a time that was uncomplicated and sweet. She suggests finding a scent with warm vanilla notes, like Angel by Thierry Mugler. One man told us that he loves the fruity perfumed products from Victoria’s Secret, however, you should be careful not to combine too many sweet scents. “The worst thing a girl can do is put perfume on and then different scented lotions. I don’t want my girl to smell like a tanning bed.” We couldn’t agree more — use scented body products sparingly.  

And always remember, spritz lightly: No matter which scent you choose, don’t overdo it. According to one guy, there’s few things less sexy “than the overbearing smell of perfume.” No man (or woman) wants to taste your perfume in the air. The safest way to apply perfume is to spray it in front of you, then walk into the mist. If it’s a roller-ball applicator, dab (don’t roll) it behind the ears and on the wrists. Women should take caution spraying perfume on their décolletage; It can actually cause discoloration of the skin over time.