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WOMAN MADE:

WHAT’S YOUR 
BEAUTY
APHRODISIAC?

We asked a few super-smart women to tell us about the products, rituals, and procedures that heighten their own sense of desirability (or just plain get them in the mood). Here are their TMI-in-a-good-way responses.


Photography By PAWEL PYSZ

Makeup By BENJAMIN PUCKEY

Hair By PANOS PAPANDRIANOS

Styling By MELANEY OLDENHOF

Nails By SHERIL BAILEY

Art Direction By VICEN AKINA


Nothing quite excites us like the opportunity to wax philosophical about women and beauty. Here we’ve paired them together for a look at beauty’s aphrodisiacal power to inspire a passion for, well, passion. Our intimate conversation with a circle of friends we admire—including entrepreneurs, mothers, creatives, and beauty experts—dives head first into the relationship between our beauty routines and sex life. And because no one should feel shame for asking questions, we kept ours candid: What beauty aphrodisiacs do you keep on your vanity? Are there rituals, specific to beauty or grooming, that you rely on to feel attractive or aroused? And what seems to suppress these same feelings? Although the sources are diverse, the following responses are collectively relatable, unguarded, insightful, and inspiring.

INDIA HICKS

Model and Entrepreneur | @indiahicksstyle

As a mother of five who crisscrosses between three countries for work, when the opportunity arises for sex, I hope not to be face down with utter exhaustion. So I am looking for a good night's sleep, some dazzling underwear, and an all-over—and I mean truly ALL-OVER—spritz with Uber Mist to hydrate and revive even the darkest places.

CORTNEY NOVOGRATZ

Interior Designer, The Novogratz | @cortneynovogratz

I've been with the same partner for over twenty-five years, my husband, Robert Novogratz. No matter how in love someone is, with time things can get dull, so it's important to spice up your sex life. Since moving to California, I've gotten into more oils. I like a more natural look, and I know Robert prefers for me to look like myself, too. Oils simply make my skin and hair softer. The key is not to use too much, a little goes a long way, and don't forget that oils can be used in the bedroom, too. Plus, great sex leaves us with great sex hair, and who doesn't love that? Good luck with your lover and, as I always try to tell myself, remember that beauty starts within.

ELLE STRAUSS

Editor and Stylist | @ellestrauss

I think the actual ritual of getting ready for a night out heightens my sense of sexual attractiveness. As a married mum of two little girls, I don't go out anywhere near as often as I used to, especially since moving from New York City. I pop some music on, light a candle, tie my hair up, and begin. P.S. I love products that make my skin glow (but not sparkle), a slick black cat eye, and lashings of mascara.

PAULA GOLDSTEIN

Editor in Chief and Creative Director, Voyage D'etudes | @paulasanexplorer

I use to play to the classic Lolita character, so any flaws on my face made me feel utterly debilitated. I wanted to be lusted over as soon as I stepped into a room, so a doll-like face was what made me feel hot. Now that I'm older, I'm more discriminating but still want to be sought-after (obviously). I don't mind overlooking the occasional pimple, but I want to win points with an overall luminescence, a togetherness, and health. I want my extremely pale complexion to reflect light and not have a sallow appearance. [I want] an internal glow that's helped by an external glow from, well, a really good moisturizer—sexy, huh?

EMILY MORSE

Sex Therapist and Founder, Sex With Emily | @sexwithemily

When I’m most consistent with my daily practices (and not too hard on myself when I’m not), I’m certainly more in the mood for sex. Candles and products with delicious scents, textures that feel good on my bare skin, music that helps me relax or fit whatever mood I’m settling into, and a glass of wine or sweets usually does the trick. Being aware and focused on my senses also help to quiet the mind and anchor me into my surroundings. When I know that I’m taking the time and treating myself to the things that work for me, the deeper my desire for romance and ultimately sex.

ARIANNA MARGULIS

Well, I’d have to say first and foremost a sweet and musky scent. It throws me into a wild night that I need to relive. I want to be remembered for my scent and the way I make someone feel. And I want that dewy, after-sex glow, but before—okay, maybe always. 

SOPHIA ROE

Beauty and Wellness Expert | @sophia_roe

I feel like entire books could be conjured on this topic. I think for me this gets broken up into two parts: first, what makes me feel sexy, and second, what makes me feel like having sex. I don’t think those things are necessarily in constant alignment with one another.

What makes me feel sexy? I typically feel the sexiest when I’m in the midst of a “good skin” moment, and I’m fresh out of the shower. There’s something special about being clean that contributes to feeling super sexy for me. I think it may also be the calm that comes over me after I’ve just showered. To add to the complexity of this topic, I also find that I feel super sexy when I am in the middle of a workout or have just worked out. The feeling of being strong and able ALWAYS contributes to me feeling super sexy.

What makes me feel like having sex? I am extremely sensitive to smell, and I personally find that sandalwood and jasmine do a great job of getting me in the mood. I have also found that when I’ve just finished a cleanse or some sort of fast, even if it’s only for a day or two, that I have a heightened sense of sexual desire. I think I also desire sex more when I stay off social media—social media can many times make me feel the opposite of sexy, and completely shut down my sex drive. I’ve been experimenting with staying off social media after 5 p.m., and I always notice I have more of an urge for sex when I do.

CHARLOTTE MCKINNEY

I’ve realized the times where I have felt the most confident and sexiest is when my "natural" beauty look is on point. When I feel too "made-up", I just have that feeling of trying too hard, and nothing beats that effortless, understated beauty look. You can’t beat a nice natural tan, a blush that gives a good natural glow, some bronzer, eyelashes, and a nude lipstick. Also, never overdo it with the perfume. I’m a believer in less is more when it comes to feeling confident and sexy. To me, it’s important to feel beautiful and sexy from the inside out. I put great priority into my skin care routine, and just my general wellness overall. I’m a big fan of yoga.

JESSICA GOMES

Model and Founder, Equal Beauty | @iamjessicagomes

For me, showering and bathing in beautiful products with incredible scents make me feel sensual! Nothing makes me feel better than feeling lathered in a luxurious cream. I love that sense of ritual, and the feeling of starting over and feeling fresh. This turns me on as a woman. It’s an aphrodisiac to simply bathe. Washing the day away under a warm shower or laying in a bathtub full of bubbles is heaven.

JULIE SCHOTT

Beauty Expert and Consultant | @julie_schott

I think personal hygiene goes a long way. I don’t mean to say that the body needs to be sanitized—I have a girlfriend who doesn’t believe in washing with soap—but for me a nice bath or a shower with some kind of body oil, while the skin is still damp, does the trick. Obviously, you don’t want to scrub away all the pheromones! You want to be just clean enough.

ROBIN BLACK 

Influencer & Founder of Beauty Is Boring  | @beautyisboring_

When I want to feel sexy in public, I wear a strong red lip, an extra dab of perfume behind my knees and neck, wild hair, and [make] lots of direct eye contact. But I feel the most sexual when my face is bare, my hair is undone, and I am barefoot and naked.