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It’s a wash

Last updated: January 2011

“We’re not saying that our new pheromone-enhanced body wash will cause you to be attacked by hordes of sex-crazed females,” says a website for Dial for Men Magnetic Body Wash. “But if that is your endgame, you should consider it a piece of the equation not to be ignored.” Dial claims the $5.50 shower gel is “attraction enhancing” and “pheromone infused.” But can a body wash really “improve your social life”?

Unlikely. In the ingredients list is a steroid called androstadienone, found in human sweat. But there’s little convincing evidence that it is a pheromone or that such human sexual attractants even exist.

An animated singing molecule on the product’s website says that when a woman senses a man’s pheromones through the vomeronasal organ in her nose, her body responds by releasing catecholamine, triggering dopamine, which makes her more receptive to male charms.

“Hogwash,” says Charles J. Wysocki, a behavioral neuroscientist and member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit, independent research center in Philadelphia. He maintains that humans don’t have a functioning vomeronasal organ. The few studies of androstadienone that do show an effect have been small and poorly designed, and use concentrations of the compound that are as much as a million times higher than what occurs naturally. And women might have higher natural levels of androstadienone than men, Wysocki says.

Bottom line. There’s little evidence to suggest that Magnetic Body Wash will help attract the opposite sex, but “placebos go a long way,” Wysocki says. “If it builds self-confidence, then so be it.”

   

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