There's this really great passage in one of my favorite stories—' Pet Milk,” by Stuart Dybek—about aphrodisiacs. The narrator goes out with his girlfriend to celebrate his 22nd birthday, orders a dozen oysters and a bottle of champagne, and they proceed to slurp it all down. The story isn't smutty (far from it), and I don't know much about aphrodisiacs, but the rest of it is enough to make you only want to eat oysters and sip champagne for the rest of your life. Maybe it doesn't help that my college boyfriend was the one to introduce me to Dybek's book The Coast of Chicago. Whatever it is, I still really like oysters.
As for my personal experience with aphrodisiacs, I usually just spray on some Tom Ford Santal Blush and go out to dinner. (Have you ever woken up smelling that scent on your pillows? Magic, I'm telling you.) But a recent meeting got me thinking—perhaps I could be doing a little more to service the...mood when I go out with le boyfriend. Said meeting was with some PR reps (as many of my meetings are), and they introduced me to what they jokingly referred to as “date night lotion,” It was Neil's Yard Jasmine and Ylang-Ylang Body Cream, both scents of which are considered sexy mood stimulators. “It works,” one of the reps told me. Hey, why not? I figured. I'm going to moisturize regardless, so why not do it with something that might make me alluring. Excuse me— more alluring.
For the purpose of literary effect, I didn't just stop at the lotion, so herein lies what I hope can turn into the perfect date night (or any night, really) routine for when you're feeling a little randy. I can't say that I can share any of the concrete results of this experiment right here, right now, but I certainly felt good using all the products. And that's probably half the battle. At least.
Leonor Greyl Masque Fleurs de Jasmin: Starting off strong with this one because, man, it is good. Pay no attention to whatever hair type this mask is meant for—just use it and discover the soft hair you were meant to have. That's part of the sexiness right there: nice hair. Secondly, the scent—jasmine isn't particularly girly, but it is a bit mysterious (especially to the untrained nose). And as we learned, hair has the best scent sillage. So let it flow, friends.
Nars Monoï Body Glow II: I've read a good deal about how straight-up, non-branded monoï oil smells incredible and makes you want to take your clothes off immediately. If I were more egalitarian in my product selection, I'd jump on Amazon and buy it right now. But if packaging makes you feel all warm and tingly on the inside, then the Nars version it is. Just don't get too excited when applying. The bottle is definitely not kid-proof, so overzealous application to you and your loved ones may happen on accident.
Moon Juice Sex Dust: This one I can't really speak for (tried it but can't say my night went any better or worse than usual), but Gwyneth Paltrow endorses it, and she's living her best divorce of all time. That's enough for me.
Tata Harper Love Potion: If I've learned anything from a) dating men and b) articles like this, it's that perfume in its fanciest form is irrelevant when it comes to attraction. It's one of those things (like all things) that you buy and keep and love for yourself. But Tata Harper's Love Potion is not particularly fancy. It comes in a tiny little rollerball—like her Be Well: Aromatic Mood Therapy Collection—and packs what claims to be 10 of the world's most powerful aphrodisiacs in one convenient essential oil formula. So I'm assuming it's things like free rent and home-cooked chicken piccata on Sunday nights. Either way, it's sort of a nice, personal scent for when you want a break from your big, bad atomizer.
Fuchsia lipstick: Years ago, Tom Ford released what was possibly the most perfect fuchsia lipstick...called Aphrodisiac. Like all good things, it was limited edition and can now only be found on the back-est of Amazon back channels. For those unwilling to compromise the brand (and health code) integrity of their lipstick, there are a number of dupes out there. Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet in L'Exubérante is my favorite. Just enough comes off when you make out to make it really worth your while.
Image via Getty. Now that you've got your aphrodisiacs on, set the right mood music.