We choose fragrances based on our own body odor

The best fragrances enhanse your natural scent. Photo by Thinkstock
The best fragrances enhanse your natural scent. Photo by Thinkstock

Fragrances are very personal, and we love and hate different scents for reasons that we can't quite comprehend beyond "floral and soothing" or "too fruity and gives me a headache." But Dr. Jan Havlicek, an anthropologist at Charles University in Prague, can explain it quite succinctly: "Perfumes have been used by people for thousands of years and the prevailing view has been that this was to mask our natural body odour to make us smell more attractive," he told the UK Telegraph. "In fact, what we have found is there is a strong individual interaction between perfume and body odour. People choose fragrances to complement their own odour. It is probably why buying perfume as a gift is so difficult and why they end up lying in the bathroom not being used."

Friends, kids, and significant others may think they have your fragrance type pegged, but only you know your natural odor and which perfume will pair well with it. Dr. Havilick conducted a study to prove this point where a dozen women chose their own fragrance to spray by one armpit and had a different perfume selected at random for the other armpit. Then a panel of 21 women were asked to smell each of the two fragrances and decide which smelled better. (We guess they had to test them on armpits to really pick up on natural odors, but man, that's a rough job.) In the end, the sniffers all felt the fragrances each woman picked out for herself was more appealing than the random one. Women just know what works and what doesn't! No word on if men are best at picking out their own cologne, but we'd assume so. (We just beg that they lay off the Axe sprays.)

Looking for a new perfume this holiday season, or planning on giving one to somebody else? Hit up a department store together and discuss which ones you like. Ignore the saleslady and even your boyfriend: now there's proof that only you know which truly smells the best on you.

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