Columns This Week in Fragrance: Threat Toilette, the Scent of a Man, & Rosy Buses

This Week in Fragrance: Threat Toilette, the Scent of a Man, & Rosy Buses

03/15/17 10:04:20 (8 comments)

by: Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison


Marquita Harris at Refinery29 reveals a new fragrance duo anti-virus software firm?

One beauty blogger captured the essence of fear for the masses and bottled it up in two pretty little packages. According to The Sun, blogger Scarlett London created Threat de Toilette in collaboration with security company Kaspersky Lab. The fragrance was launched as an effort to make people think twice about what they choose to share online. READ MORE...

Talk about out of left field, but I suppose this is an ingenious marketing tool. No retail outlet has been named so I'm not certain if this is a real product or purely advertising. I guess the big question is what do you think these these aromas would actually smell like?

Kaspersky Threat de Toilette

Zoe Ferguson at ABC reflects on new Australian research that places the concept of pheromone perfumes in a dubious light:

Common perfumes advertised as containing pheromones may in fact not be as effective in helping to attract members of the opposite sex as many might think, new research has found. Scientists from the University of Western Australia tested the chemicals on human subjects and found they did not reliably create the intended effect. READ MORE...

It's yet another conversation about the psychology of why (and for whom) we wear fragrance. Have you had any experience with pheromone fragrances?

Illustration of two noses and a heart

However, The Toronto Sun offered the results of an intriguing international survey about the importance of smell and sexual attraction:

Broken down by region, 25% of American women claim they've never been attracted to a man based on how he smells. However, 43% of French, 42% of Polish and 33% of Spanish women polled said they had been swooned by a man's scent. The survey also found five out of 10 women had broken off a relationship because they didn't like the smell of their partner. READ MORE...

I know I'm biased, but the scent of my partner is very important. What about you? Where do you weigh in on questions like these (regardless of sex/gender)?

Man with fragrance

How about some news about the fragrance industry somewhere other than Europe and the USA? Priyanka Golikeri at DNA offers an exciting look at the changing face of India's developing niche perfume industry:

Move over the Burberrys, Calvin Kleins, Dolce & Gabbanas, DKNYs and other top-notch international luxury brands offering the best of scents. Home-grown perfumers are making it big by leveraging exotic ingredients and concocting exclusive luxury perfumes, positioned to entice a well-heeled and well-traveled clientele. A Euromonitor Report suggests the fragrance industry in India is set to grow at a compounded annual rate of 12%. The industry was estimated at $450 million a few years ago. This has fuelled the appetite of perfumers who are eager to provide niche perfumes on par with international standards. READ MORE...

One such example is Bombay Perfumery, a new niche brand that we have already added to our ever-growing database. Have you had any experiences with India's new niche brands? What are the fragrance trends in your part of the world?

Bombay Perfumery

And further south in Singapore, public transport is getting its own fragrance! Linda Poon of CityLab reports:

It’s not often that you hear commuters talk about how much they enjoy the smells of the city bus. But this month in Singapore, taking a deep breath in through your nose might not be such a risky proposition for commuters. In fact, they might even pick up hints of rose and peppermint. That’s the “signature scent” being deployed over the next month to entice people to use more public transit. The public bus operator Tower Transit [image below, via Flickr] will pump the new scent into 100 of its buses, following a months-long partnership with the local marketing company AllSense. READ MORE...

How do you feel about public transportation being scented? I certainly wouldn't mind if some of the trains and buses I've traveled on smelled sweeter.

Singapore buses



Image of the author

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Managing Editor & Columnist

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison’s journalism in the fragrance industry has appeared in international print and online publications such as PlayboyMen’s JournalMen’s Health and the New York Times. Marlen is also a regular contributor to and works as a graduate professor, thesis advisor and faculty supervisor for MA programs in TESOL, Education, Writing and Literature. Learn more about Marlen by visiting:




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Oh, yes, a romantic partner MUST have an attractive natural smell. I once had to stop seeing someone shortly into a relationship because his odor after even minimal exertion was so foul. Fresh from the shower and for a couple of hours afterward (the duration of a date, for example) he was fine but beyond that he smelled like a combination of bad fish, garlic and onions. Just no.

Regarding scented public transport, I'm in the "mixed feelings" boat with NLS. Body odor mixed with rose &/or peppermint might be even more unpleasant than body odor alone.

Masking scents most certainly cover rather than eliminate the underlying nastiness. When I was little my parents used a pine detergent on the cement around the pool in our backyard to hose away our dog's poop. I couldn't appreciate pine scents for over a decade after that because all pine came with an imagined whiff of dog poop.


I live in Singapore and daily commute in public transport, but yet to experience scented buses.

drugstore classics
drugstore classics

Good week, Marlen. :D

SmellAgent, if ever I travel to New Orleans, a perfumery will be first priority after finding a home for my luggage!

Scented Buses, oh my. In a truly hot climate, this might even be a necessity. Hurrah for Singapore. :)

I feel that pheromones really do have some basis in truth, despite this newer studies. Not having personal experience, this is just my opinion based on a multitude of convincing reviews I've read over the years. (To be clear, I'm referring to pheromone oils, not name brand perfumes.)

Pheromones don't increase the attraction of those who already hate you(!) or necessarily have a sexual effect on passing people. But it seems to me that there is adequate info to indicate they MAY positively impact the MOOD of those around you, making you a more noticeable, appealing, and calming presence to those in your near radius. Just my thoughts. ;)

Matt Abdul
Matt Abdul

Thank you for your wonderful column, Dr.Marlen.

I actually has goosebumps reading your column, it made me realise that if perfumes can alter human behavior for something better or to attract them buy something.

It is not impossible if someday perfumes and scents can bring peace to our world. I wonder who might that be the greatest perfumer that can create that powerful perfumes just like Jean Baptiste Grenouille.


Hmm. Mixed feelings on the scented public transportation. As stinky as things sometimes get on there, I've also been very put off by the heavy citrus aroma after the transportation department has done a good cleaning on our buses here in Philadelphia.

Plus, heavy duty "masking" aromas never entirely cover the stench of whatever they're trying to cover. As with scented bathroom sprays, instead of poop, we get poop covered by roses, and every time I smell roses after that, I think of the poop, too. (For example.)

Thought-provoking column, as always. :-) Thank you!


Threat sounds more like the premise for an awareness or ad campaign than anything backed up by science. Androstadienones are released by people under stress or in fear situations, but their effects on others are not established. (Do they cause fear to spread or do they elicit sympathetic/helpful responses? - the answer to that question is unclear.) I doubt this company has included androstadienones in Threat, although they could have, how would I know. But why would you want to smell scared - it would be like a flop sweat smell. Bleh. Androstadienones are sometimes added to scents that claim to include attractiveness pheromones, but there's not much evidence they have a powerful effect in that way.

Yes, smell has a lot to do with attractiveness. We humans don't smell each other five miles away as some moths do, but it's a factor once everything else is right. One of the things I liked about my husband first off was his clean smell. It was not fragrance, just his smell. Maybe he had some fragrance on, but it wasn't that alone. He wears a lot of different scents now, and fragrances are something we like to explore together. Nevertheless, it's not his cologne, it's the way it meshes with his personal chemistry. He actually smells best after playing sports. So he has a smell that attracts me.

Some people have an odd metallic smell. Not him. And I hope I don't. But sometimes you can be in a public place and get this metallic tinny whiff of a person. My theory is they take a lot of antacids (which are full of metals). Other people smell like spicy food, which really annoys me more than loud perfume. Garlic and shrimp are THE WORST. It's also gross to smell someone's gum, I will actually change seats to escape gum smell if I can do so without being obvious. Then again, I have a virulent distaste for gum chewing, so it's more than just smell.


Scented public transport sounds like a good idea to me, especially in a hot climate like Singapore! I like scented hotels. They usually use some sort of relaxing white tea scent. I definitely relate to the personal scent issue. My husband smells wonderful all the time. I would not have married him if he didn't smell good to me. If a guy smelled bad to me when I was single, he was gone!


Good week Marlen. I would love to smell that fear based scent. I have never really had any experience with pheromone fragrances although I know in the 70's and 80's they were a trend for awhile.
I don't need any study to tell me how important smell is for sexual attraction. I have always noticed smells and when I used to date, before marriage, if I was less than thrilled with that persons scent I took charge. First came a present in the form of a perfume or cologne I loved to smell. Laundry detergent has always been an important smell to me too. I always notice it.
Those Indian niche perfumes look interesting. I sometimes feel that I live in a foreign country as New Orleans is like no where else in America and we have several local based perfume brands that are the best. When ever I travel I always look for local brands of perfumes and soaps etc.. that are limited availability. It is the best kind of souvenir.


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