Sexy Colognes, Part Two: Pheromone for Men

This is day two of a series in which I try sexy colognes on and ask my fiancée Mira for her opinions. Yesterday I wore Jovan’s Sex Appeal for Men. Mira’s verdict was that it was in fact sexy in limited quantities.

Day Two: Marilyn Miglin’s Pheromone for Men. $38 for 1.7 oz.

Pheromone for Men—which does not contain any actual human pheromones—is very soft, almost feminine; so much so that I wonder if the women’s perfume version of Pheromone is really any different. But that softness is pierced by a coppery metallic note, like the smell of a penny. It nearly ruins it for me and I find myself taking shallow breaths when I smell my skin, trying not to take in that last acrid note.

Marilyn Miglin, the brand that makes Pheromone, describes it as “Crisp green notes and the freshness of citrus, combined with the warmth of labdanum and sweetness of honey create this rich, masculine scent to bring out the inner-qualities of man.”

The women’s perfume version of Pheromone predates the men’s cologne by more than 20 years and costs almost $20 a bottle more. The story behind the perfume, which came out in 1978, is fascinating. Marilyn Miglin, a Chicago-based perfumer, went to Egypt in the 70s with some archaeologists. The story goes that she based Pheromone (which, like the men’s version, does not contain any true chemical pheromones) on the residual fragrance concoctions in 5,000-year-old Egyptian clay jars. Her resulting perfume apparently contains 179 ingredients; the men’s cologne contains “over 100.”

At least one of those 100 ingredients gives me a mild but persistent headache. Occasionally I’ll detect sweet notes that remind me of Frederic Malle’s excellent Dans te Bras, but the rest of the time, especially where I sprayed my wrist, it penetrates my sinuses like ammonia. The disadvantage of this is of course that the woman who gets close to me may be repelled by the very Pheromones I’m using to try to attract her.

But let’s see what Mira, my fiancée, had to say.

What do think? I like it. It’s soft and powdery and it’s even something I could wear. I don’t know if it would make me sexy though. This morning when you put it on it was screechy and it kind of hit me in the head. Now it’s very nice.

But is it sexy if it’s feminine? I think a feminine scent can be sexy [on a man]. I guess it’s just that it’s not super obviously masculine, and I’m not necessarily drawn to super masculine fragrances. What makes a scent masculine? Is it pine? Is it woods? Is it leather or tobacco? Those aren’t things that I want up in my face, but those are traditionally masculine notes. Right? What is sexy?

Now you’re asking me questions? I’m asking you a question.

I agree, I don’t actually know what makes a cologne sexy. It’s all about personal preference, and my preferences are for softer, more subtle fragrances that you don’t smell until you’re very close, and then you get a whisper. To me, that’s perfect.

So you’re saying that a sexy scent is something intimate. If I’m consciously aware of a strong fragrance, I’m thinking about how I want you to scrub it off. I can’t believe I’m talking about what’s ‘sexy.’ I guess I can—you’re my fiancé.

So which is sexier: Sex Appeal or Pheromone? My preference is for Sex Appeal. It’s a warmer fragrance compared to Pheromone, which has a slightly more high-pitched quality.

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