Pheromone Sprays: Do They Really Work?

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Want to attract women by the power of smell alone?

Packed with ‘natural human pheromones’ and ‘guaranteed’ to ‘drive women crazy’, there is no end of products available online purporting to harness the power of chemical attraction. The science of pheromone sprays is a controversial and largely speculative one with very few studies providing sufficient evidence to support these claims. But, even with the weakest of links suggesting that these sprays could work, surely even a narrow advantage over the rest of the male population is worth taking a chance on, right?

In this feature, we take a closer look at some of the studies undertaken on the efficacy of pheromones in human sexual arousal to find out whether these sprays can really help boost our ‘animal magnetism’.

What Are Pheromones?

what are pheromones
Turned on yet? Pheromones seem to work best when we can smell them! Image via Wikimedia.

So, what are pheromones and what role do the play in sexual chemistry?

Known for their behavior-altering qualities, pheromones are a type of hormone that are produced in all animals. However, unlike most substances produced of this class of molecules, pheromones are secreted externally in order to influence other individuals of the same species. So, whilst hormones change our own behavior by creating a powerful chemical reaction inside our bodies, pheromones are designed to alter the behavior of another by acting outside the body. This is usually received by the other party via the olfactory senses (smell) but can be received by specially adapted sensors (in animals such as snakes for instance).

Pheromones are used by many different creatures in many different ways such as:

  • A form of communication
  • To mark territory
  • To strengthen a bond between a mother and her offspring
  • To warn off other animals.
  • To signify a food source.
  • To trigger sexual arousal.

It is this last function that can be seen in the use of pheromones in other species that has piqued human interest the most. In insects such as moths, the chemical bombykol is produced by females to attract a male and can travel enormous distances to achieve its goal.

The use of pheromones in the animal kingdom to elicit such a response to gain the attention of the opposite sex is widely documented and can be seen in simple organisms like nematode worms to complex mammals including elephants, pigs and dolphins.

Naturally, if the potency of such a substance could be harnessed in humans, the potential benefits could be incredibly profitable. So, is there a correlative effect in our own pheromone production that could turn an ‘everyman’ into an irresistible sex god?

If you’ve seen the scene in Ocean’s Thirteen in which Matt Damon successfully applies ‘the Gilroy effect’ in order to seduce Ellen Barkin’s character then you may already be aware of the fact that pheromone preparations already exist. But, is there any science behind these products to suggest that we can all have women falling at our feet in this irresistible way?

The Science of Pheromones in Humans

Pheromones are secreted in a clear liquid (much in the same way as sweat) via our skin; primarily in our armpits, genital regions, and navel. Containing a subtle scent that is only detectable through the olfactory tract, pheromones are a primal means of communication and supposedly bypass the rational part of our brain. In doing so, it is claimed that a sex pheromone exists  which contains a scent that can hijack the mind of the opposite sex, effectively tricking them into believing they are attracted to the owner of that pheromone.

In humans, there is evidence to suggest that these airborne hormones can play a vital part in the way we perceive one another although the presence of a specific ‘sex’ pheromone has yet to proven to a sufficient degree. Well, one that is to an acceptable standard to the scientific community anyway.

What scientists do agree on is that the humans do indeed excrete pheromones but it is the extent to which any one of these can influence sexual behavior (in the modern world) that remains in doubt.

According to the Smithsonian Mag, women seem to prefer the scent of men whose DNA is sufficiently different to their own suggesting an innate inability to determine a potential based on the increase likelihood of having a baby with a more robust immune system.

Interestingly, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have attacked the argument from a very different angle. Asking some willing women to watch a sad movie and then collecting their tears, the team gave samples to some male volunteers. The results showed a reduction in sexual arousal and testosterone levels suggesting that the presence pheromones could be responsible for a decrease in our sexual desire.

science of pheromone sprays
News Flash! Weeping women don’t turn men on..surprise, surprise. Image via Pexels.

The Institute for Women’s Wellness Research in Chester Springs conducted a small study in 1999 which seemed to suggest pheromones have a positive effect. In their findings, the sexual activity of men wearing the substance were reportedly more successful with the subjects reporting an increase in the frequency of:

  • Foreplay and sexual intercourse
  • Affectionate gestures
  • Informal dates
  • Sleeping next to a romantic partner

In a 2013 study conducted by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (‘A Putative Human Pheromone, Androstadienone, Increases Cooperation between Men’) the substance androstadienone was put to the test in a study focusing on social interactions between men. The research found that this particular pheromone increased cooperative behavior between men. The same substance was put to the test in a controlled environment using a group of women and the findings suggested that the pheromone increased a woman’s libido…albeit to a minor degree.

There have been thousands of studies based on the power of our sense of smell that prove everything from newborn babies preferring the scent of a woman who is lactating to research that indicates women’s menstrual cycles can be influenced by the smell of other women ovulating.

So, whilst there are plenty of studies which undoubtedly prove the efficacy of our olfactory senses to distinguish certain characteristics, traits or states of physicality there are none, so far, that prove the undoubted influence of pheromones on our sex drive.

do pheromone sprays work animal attraction
Pheromones are known to work in the rest of the animal kingdom so why not in humans? Image via Wikimedia.

The trouble with all of these studies is that the results are never ‘overwhelmingly’ in favor of supporting the theory that a sex pheromone exists in humans. One of the reasons cited is the modern obsession with cleanliness and hygiene has possibly altered the way we perceive natural scents and the true odor of pheromones may be considered repulsive to us. Either that or to get a good dose of these powerful chemicals you they will invariably be mixed in with other, less pleasant, body odors.

Of course, there are other inherent problems with studying the influence of pheromones alone in human sexual behavior and that is due to the fact we rely less on our primal functions in the role of sexual attraction than we do on our complex brains. In short, whilst the olfactory senses play a major role in the rest of the animal kingdom, we humans like to use our other senses more such as vision (particularly in men) and touch/sound (evidence more in women).

Pheromone Sprays: The Claims

Attract women effortlessly! Develop instant chemistry! Have more sex!

Notice a distinct improvement in the way women approach, interact, flirt, and respond to your advances.

So, if there is a distinct lack of scientific data to support the claims that pheromone sprays work, why are they so popular and do they have any value at all?

Well, in the interests of science, we’ve reviewed some of the most popular products to bring you our (non-scientific) findings.

The Ingredients of Human Pheromones

All of the products that we looked at have their own blends of pheromones the exact combination of which is kept a pretty guarded secret. Some of these fluids are left natural whilst others are mixed with a cologne to produce a distinctive cologne scent.

The most common ingredients in pheromone sprays designed to attract women are:

  • Alpa Androstenol
  • Androsterone
  • Androstenone
  • Androstadiene
  • Beta Androstenol
  • Epiandrosterone

And, for women, the following pheromones are used to attract men:

  • Copulins
  • Estratetraenol

All of these substances are known to occur naturally in humans and other mammals (including other primates where the efficacy of their effect on sexual behavior has been observed).

Best Selling Pheromone Sprays for Men

So, with their own blend of these ‘powerful’ pheromones, which products are selling well online and getting the most positive feedback from satisfied customers?

Raw Chemistry

do pheromone sprays work raw chemistry
“Amazing, powerful scent that is youthful and empowering.” Image via Amazon.

Bold is the ‘For Him’ cologne oil by Raw Chemistry and is the ‘number one Pheromone Blended Cologne Available Made in the USA’. The product contains a ‘lab proven’ blend of 50mg, extra-strength human grade pheromones including:

  • Androstadienone
  • Androstenol (Alpha and Beta)
  • Androstenone
  • Androsterone

The Raw Chemistry website contains plenty of reviews that recommend the product including the usual level of highly dubious claims, such as:

“OMG What a great product I temporarily had to stop using it because my black book was filled up in one wk!!!!

However, the reviews are quite balanced and include a lot of people who call the company out for selling a product which, they claim, doesn’t work. Taken across this (seemingly) open review platform, the product gets a strong 4.5 stars out of 5.

Bold is also the number one bestselling pheromone spray for men on Amazon. At the time of reviewing the product, there were more than 2,400 reviews resulting in an overall rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars with:

  • 67% of customers rating Bold as 5 stars;
  • 18% of customers rating Bold as 4 stars;
  • 5% of customers rating Bold as 3 stars;
  • 3% of customers rating Bold as 2 stars;
  • 7% of customers rating Bold as 1 star.

We quite clearly didn’t read all of the product reviews but we were able to get a good sense of the feedback being offered which, in summary, reveals that whilst most people liked the smell of the cologne and felt more confident whilst wearing it, there wasn’t any magic reaction in the female population towards them.

What we also know from various trials run independently with results recorded online including (shock, horror) some people who weren’t paid to test it is that the product smells good, isn’t too oily and doesn’t irritate your skin.

For $30 a bottle (which apparently lasts at least a month with conservative use), the price isn’t too bad. So, if it does boost your sex appeal even by a minuscule amount then it could well be worth switching your regular cologne for.


nexus pheromone sprays
“Not every guy gives off the SAME pheromone “scent”. Image via Nexus.

Nexus claims that its unique blend of pheromones “bypass the “rational brain” to target women’s ancient, instinctive mating behaviors!

Nexus has been featured on plenty of big name channels including CNN, abc News and MSNBC as well as appearing in the New York Times and Time magazine.

Theirs is a blend of seven different types of human pheromone compounds which, they claim, amplifies the potency by a thousand times! That’s a big hit of pheromones and, if they work, should come with a free stick for beating off the undesirable women who must surely be attracted to this scent. Well, we say scent, this product has a very subtle odor, a faint muskiness, so can be worn underneath your favorite cologne.

The company sells the spray ‘risk-free’ for 67 days so there is some assurance that you can at least try the product and, if it doesn’t work, get your money back.

Nexus’s website has a couple of customer quotes which actually don’t say much about whether the product actually works and there are no reviews or any feedback on the company’s own Amazon listing. However, we did find some other stores stocking the spray and it receives a very mixed bag (3.4 stars out of 5 with 40% giving the product a single star).

Reportedly designed over 12 years and with the input from award-winning human sex pheromone scientist James Vaughn Kohl, the Nexus pheromone spray sells well in the U.S. and U.K.

Pheromone XS

do pheromone sprays work pheromones xs
An artisan supplier of pheromone sprays. Image via website.

Pheromone XS has been in business since 2011 and was created by a hobbyist who wanted to develop a product that actually works. Blending his own unique recipe into several different products, the company was started in the back bedroom of the owner, SteveO. Now fulfilling orders across the USA and offering pheromone sprays for men and women, the company still has the same founding principles that they try everything out for themselves and, if they wouldn’t use, they won’t sell it.

The company, like Nexus, also offers a money-back guarantee so if the product doesn’t work for you within 45 days then you can get your money back. At roughly $35 a bottle and enough here for a month’s supply, it’s not going to break the bank to try and is similar in price to a cologne you might be using anyway.

There are some customer testimonials on the website which (obviously) give a great review of the product; however, we were able to find some independent sites which offered a middle of the road judgement on the product’s success.

Pheromone Sprays: A Word of Warning

Though the ingredients used in many pheromones sprays are ‘natural’ and some are human-grade quality, there are usually some synthetic ingredients contained within these products. As a result, it is worth pointing out that their use can cause side effects.

Most commonly is skin irritation which can be a result of any added cologne or oils used in the preparation of these sprays. However, rarely, the use of additional pheromones may cause the wearer some noticeable symptoms. This is particularly true in those products which guarantee a ‘hit’ or ‘blatant hit’ or pheromones.

Common side effects with these products include:

  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness

To make sure you don’t experience any negative reactions to a product, always test it sparingly before splashing it on. If in doubt, check with a pharmacist or medical practitioner particularly if you are using heart medications.

Pheromone Sprays: Do They Really Work: We Say….

It would be easy enough to fly in the face of scientific evidence and throw our hats into the ring as a proponent for pheromone sprays but we just can’t. After all, some far more intelligent and learned boffins have spent decades of their lives trying to prove they work. And why shouldn’t they? If you could quite simply bottle up sex appeal and deliver an unending line of women to your door, all begging for sex, irrespective of what you looked like then it would be like discovering the fountain of eternal youth… or, at very least, a license to print money.

However, before we rip the rug out from under the entire market, it is also hard not to be impressed by the anecdotal evidence which supports the value of these products. Whether this is due, simply, to a ‘placebo effect’ is irrelevant. If, by wearing these colognes, body sprays and other products, men (and women) feel more confident and improve their strike rate then who cares how this is achieved, right?

More or less, we’d agree. However, as with any market for sexual stimulants and performance aids, there are definitely some snake oil salesman out there that are peddling products that are far inferior to others on the market. By this, we mean that the pheromones may not be human-grade or may just contain synthetically similar ingredients. Others, quite frankly, smell vile and some just burn your skin when you apply them.

For these reasons, if you are tempted to give pheromone sprays a chance then we’d recommend choosing a product that has been tried and tested first. Oh, and make sure you pick a spray that attracts the correct target gender!

Just remember that if you find yourself at the center of the attention of the female population then don’t keep the brand name to yourself. Good luck.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.


Mike Morris

Mike is a senior contributor to the Red Light Network and is tasked with reviewing the latest adult products, services and trends. He previously worked in production for a famous adult game and is very familiar with the growing space of X-rated titles. Mike has contributed to several other adult blogs, including Euro Sex Scene and Fetish Engine.
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