Do Your Genes Determine Your Perfume Preference?

Rachel Adler

A new study claims that there may be a link between your genetic makeup and the type of perfume you pick from the store shelf. We had learned in the past that there may have been a connection between smell and sexual attraction, and that same study influenced researchers to look into how genes may affect scent. August Hammerlich, author of the study that was published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science said, “Our idea was to bring biology into this question and ask: Can we determine what perfume scents a person would like based on their genotype?”

According to HuffPo, Hammerlich’s study took the information from the sexual attraction study, noting that evolutionary biologists found that a certain set of genes known as MHC genes help decide which people are attracted to each other’s scents. Two people with dissimilar MHC genes enjoyed each other’s scents more than did two people with similar MHC genes – an evolutionary adaptation meant to discourage closely related animals from mating.

Hammerlich and his team then hypothesized that the same genes might partially determine a person’s preference for perfume also. To explore that, he had 116 participants smell and rate different combinations of scents found in perfumes. They found that how much a person enjoyed a scent was related to his particular set of MHC genes.

Hammerlich said that the significance of liking one perfume over another is unclear, but it is possible that people choose perfumes that enhance their own body odors (which may explain why genes play a part). Either way, it’s pretty interesting to finally understand why your friend likes that sickeningly sweet fruity scent and you favor the more subtle, soft florals.