Many people are aware of the healing powers of aromatherapy, but plant-based scents can have other intriguing benefits as well. “Aphrodisiac” might be a bit of an overstatement, but there are several essential oils that have long been revered for their passion-inspiring properties. Our sense of smell directly stimulates the olfactory lobe of the limbic system in the brain, which rules over our emotions, memories and desires. Inhale the right fragrant oil and you just might trigger a romantic response.

Don’t overdo it, however. Too much of a good thing can be overpowering and off-putting. With concentrated botanical essences, less is more. Two to three drops in a diffuser, bath, base oil or carrier lotion adds a subtle sensual scent that is alluring beyond the nose.

For February, the month of love, here are our top five aromatherapy essences to help you set the mood for love.

Rose

There’s a reason why the red, red rose is the symbol of love and romance. The seductive essence of this classic flower was enjoyed by ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans as a way to woo. Lore states that Cleopatra scented the sails of her royal barge with rosewater to draw in Mark Anthony. It takes several thousand rose petals to distill just one ounce of precious rose oil, so don’t be alarmed at the price a little bottle commands – used sparingly and it should last a long time, and its tantalizing effects are worth every penny. Be wary of cheaper synthetic imitations and diluted blends, as the purity and quality can’t compare. Rose is a balanced aroma on its own, with deep rich base notes, floral middle tones and a sweet, leafy top note. Try it mixed with water and spritzed as a hydrosol onto your pillows and see what happens.

If you’re not into essential oils, you can still enjoy the luscious scent of roses in a luxurious facial moisturizer with Dr.Hauschka Rose Day Cream. 30 roses go into each tube of soothing, nurturing, fragrant tube so it’s a treat for your skin and your nose.

Neroli

Otherwise known as orange blossom, neroli is a light, sweet, slightly bitter citrus scent that long been associated with ardor. The name originates from an Italian Countess of Nerola, who scented her bathwater and gloves with this floral essence and helped popularize its perfume. Victorian brides traditionally wove a sprig of orange blossom into their headdress and bouquet to calm their nerves and help ignite the flames on their wedding night. The Chinese consider it a symbol of fruitfulness and fertility. For the most potent effects, look for a pure neroli oil produced from the steam distillation of freshly picked flowers. This balanced scent can stand alone, or can be blended with a variety of other essential oils like jasmine, lavender and rosemary. Place a drop or two of this liquid romance on some parchment paper and see if he’ll write you a sonnet.

You can indulge in a burst of orange fragrance in the shower with John Master Organics Citrus and Neroli Detangler. Not only does it nourish scalp and smooth your tresses, it imparts a sweet scent that will uplift your spirits and inspire your mood.

Ylang Ylang

Extracted from the flowers of a tall, tropical tree, this exotic essence with the double name just might inspire a repeat performance. There’s an Indonesian tradition for brides to lay out ylang ylang flowers on their nuptial beds. So powerful is its stimulating, inhibition busting effect, the oil is often used in tonics to help overcome sexual difficulties. This light libidinous scent has a good balance of feminine and masculine notes – both sweet and rich, part floral and part woodsy. Ylang ylang is an intoxicating essential oil that promotes relaxation, which is always a good first step to a night of love.

Ylang ylang takes a key role in red flower’s intoxicating, multifaceted, exceptional Yuzu Mimosa Sea Algae Body Wash. Citrus, moss and floral notes are blended with silky sea algae into a stimulating tonic that cleanses, heals and hydrates the skin.

Sandalwood

Sandalwood is a warm, rich, sultry scent extracted from fragrant wood of the Santalum tree, a dwindling resource primarily found in India. This oil has been heralded for its meditative, relaxing, soothing qualities since ancient times and is often used in spiritual rituals. In fact, the Japanese have been burning it in incense and Indians have used it in Ayurvedic medicine for millennia. Along with skin enhancing qualities, sandalwood is thought to magnify sexual pleasure and heighten orgasm. The scent is as seductive as a walk in the woods, with a earthy balsamic aroma ideal for those who aren’t into floral fragrances. A few drops in some massage oil or a bathtub for two and, well, you get the picture.

The soothing touch of sandalwood can also be experienced in Dr.Hauschka’s Lavender and Sandalwood Body Moisturizer. It warms, relaxes and comforts both body and soul for supple skin and a willing spirit.

Patchouli

Patchouli was the scent of the 60s, embraced and inhaled by the hippie culture as they experimented with free love. Before that, it was popular in the Far East, made its way along the silk route to the Middle East, and then was brought to Europe by Napoleon Bonaparte via an expedition to Egypt. A tropical herb of the mint family, complex patchouli has a deep, musty, earthy, sharp, smoky, sweet and spicy aroma that people either love or hate – there’s no middle ground. Those that like it find it quite a turn on, and it has been a common addition to various love potions and aphrodisiac elixirs throughout folk history. It’s a heavy, heady scent, so use sparingly or it may overwhelm. Like a fine wine – or true love – patchouli oil becomes better with age.

If you really want to be irresistible, try Tallulah Jane’s Gotham Natural Eau de Parfum. This sexy and sophisticated fragrance combines both romantic rose and potent patchouli for a one-two hit of hit-on-me temptation. The rest is up to you.