Alan Smithee, my source is the Dutch book “Verborgen Verleider, de psychologie van de reuk” (“Hidden Seducer, the psychology of smell”), a rather good popular science book, published in 1994,written by Piet Vroon, professor in psychology at the Dutch University of Utrecht. It has an extensive reference-list, mostly citing American and English research from the 70’s and 80’s.
The chapter on human pheromones is page 138-160 in a 250-page book.
Androstenes is the generic term for at least four identified different chemicals, of which androstenone and androstenol are most researched. All of these substances are made by dermal flora feeding on human sweat.
The concentration is highest in the armpits, and some is found in saliva. Oddly enough the concentration peaks in the month December. The amounts secreted differ considerably from person to person, increasing with (sexual) excitement, with women producing, on average, 5 times less then the average male.
Blacks produce slightly more androstenones then Caucasian men, Asian men slightly less. I’m sorry to perpetuate a certain racial stereotype here, but that’s what the book says
Androstenone has a disgusting, urine like smell, but the smell can be perceived as interesting or even pleasant if it is mixed with other smells.
Androstenol has a musky scent that is generally considered pleasant. The higher the concentration of either, the more unpleasant the scents appear. But again, the other smells that accompany androstenones can change the impression
Electrical skin-resistance, (an indication of general alertness) gets considerably lower when the subjects smells androstenone, and that happens especially if the scent is not consciously detected, OR, if it is detected, but perceived as pleasant. The electrical skin-resistance does not change if the scent is consciously detected but perceived as unpleasant. (Cite: Van Toller, Perfumery, the psychology and biology of fragrance, New York, Chapman and hall, 1988)
These very same chemicals, androstenone and androstenol, are the working ingredients in “boar mate” an aerosol that farmers sprayed over the snout of a sow to determine if she’s in estrus (in heat). About half of the sows in estrus will respond by adopting a mating stance (“lordosis”). Yes, the very same human pheromones. People are almost pigs
Oddly enough, the ability of pigs to find truffles (those overpriced black mushrooms) seems to be facilitated by the fact that truffles contain high amounts of androstenes (*Claus e.a., 1976, Occurrence of 5 alfa-androst-16-en-3-one, a boar pheromone, in man and its relationship to testosterone. In: Journal of Endocrinology, 68, 483-484) *
A few famous experiments have been conducted in the late 70’s to determine whether androstenol and copulines had any effect on the interaction between men and women. One experiments involved a setting resembling a job-interview, where the people “hiring” wore surgery masks that had either androstenol, copuline, or a placebo on them. (*Cowly & Johnson, 1977. The effect of two odorous compound in assessment –of-people test. In; Psycho-neuro-endocrinology, 2, 159-172) * . The women smelling androstenol felt slightly more positive towards the men they were evaluating. On the other hand, men wearing either and androstenol-mask or a copuline mask (copuline is the female pheromone) had a slightly lower opinion of the women they were judging.
Another experiment involved spraying seats at a dentist’s waiting room with androstenone. Women sought out these seats a bit more, while men avoided them. The effect was most noticeable with the lowest concentrations of androstenol. (S. van Toller , GH Dodds, Perfumery, the psychology and biology of fragrance, New York, Chapman and hall, 1988). A similar experiment with seats in a theater yielded the same results.
On the other hand, in a similar experiment, women needing to pee did not particularly seek out the toilets in a ladies-room that were treated with androstenol.
Finally, a group of 18 female students aged around 20 were asked to put a drop of alcohol on their upper lip every morning, that either did or did not contain androstenol. The students were asked to rate their mood every day. The dimensions tested were: happy-depressed, lively-listless, seductive-uninterested, cheerful-irritable, aggressive-submissive. The test group did not differ on these dimensions from the placebo group, with one exception: the dimension aggressive-submissive. The testgroup felt slightly more submissive or “mild” then the placebo group. (*Source: Benton, 1982 The influence of androstenol –a putative human pheromone –on mood throughout the menstrual cycle. In: Biological Psychology, 15, 249-256. *
Also see Comfort, A, 1971 Likelihood of Human Pheromones. In : Nature, 230, 432-433
So, all in all, male pheromones can be factory produced, and I see no reason why the products mentioned in the OP wouldn’t contain androstenol. It can’t be that expensive, if they put it in boar mate, to make it worth faking. However, if you buy such a product, you buy something your own body produces for free and that you rise off in the shower every day.
It might be so that some products contain, beside androstenones, perfumes that mask the smell of androstenone and make it more pleasant. That might be interesting.
The best effect you can hope for, is for women within smelling distance of you to feel slightly more receptive and more “mild”. If I were you, I’d invest in a nice smile and a friendly self-confident approach, instead.