Two things in life give me instant gratification: perfume and wine gums. But while one rots my teeth and piles on the pounds, the other - no matter how bad my hair day - makes me feel beautiful.
I'm in good company. Cleopatra was known for her love of perfume, liberally applying lotus and rose oil to her upper lip.
'We know she made her own perfumes and would certainly have worn it to increase her powers of seduction,' says Mandy Aftel, perfume historian and author of Fragrant: The Secret Life Of Scent.
'She didn't solely rely on her looks. Cleopatra believed that smelling divine was the real key to a man's heart,' she says.
And according to scientists, Cleopatra was right. Perfume really can make us more attractive.
'Humans are mammals and though we're highly evolved, we have inherited mating mechanisms from the animal kingdom. One of the factors that influences our partner choice is smell,' says Tim Jacob, emeritus professor at the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University.
We react in an involuntary way to smell because our noses are connected to synapses in the unconscious part of the brain (the piriform cortex), which governs the subconscious mind.
The power of the subconscious mind is extremely strong. If we like someone's smell, they become instantly more attractive to us, and vice versa,' says Roja Dove, master perfumer at Urban Retreat Perfumerie in Harrods.
Small wonder, then, that perfumers spend vast amounts of time and money creating fragrances that evoke positive feelings of satisfaction and sensuality.
And there are ingredients with a proven track record of evoking other strong subconscious reactions.
'Vanilla, an ingredient in many perfumes, is a smell that's stronglyassociated with pleasure,' says Professor Jacob.
'Just think of confectionery and the feelings of happiness that go with traditional childhood treats.'
Lavender, another common ingredient in perfume, has been shown to calm and soothe the mind, while citrus smells evoke images of health and cleanliness.
So powerful is our unconscious reaction to smell that perfumers claim wearing certain scents will make a woman seem younger, more athletic or even slimmer than she actually is.
So what are the perfect perfumes to make others think we're slim, sexy, sporty or sophisticated?
Harrods' Roja Dove picks his favourites . . .
FLIRT WITH FLORALS
Vanilla, an ingredient in many perfumes, is a smell that's strongly associated with pleasure
Floral perfumes can take years off a woman, as long as the smell is subtle.
However, if it's cloying or overpowering, the effect can be ageing.
Anything that overwhelms our senses can begin to smell stale and musty, and these are scents that the unconscious mind associates with age.
Vivacious yet subtle scents of peony, lily of the valley and orange blossom will evoke images of spring and youth. Perfumes such as Balenciaga's Florabotanica (£56, Debenhams) or Love Story from Chloe (£65, Debenhams) use floral notes that create an impression of youthful energy.
They're flirty and fun, like actresses Helen Mirren and Felicity Kendal.
RAMP UP YOUR SEX APPEAL
Vanilla is an aphrodisiac that enhances sensations of pleasure across the central nervous system.
Therefore, it's no wonder that so many perfumes use vanilla as a base note.
Applied to the nape of the neck or dabbed lightly behind the ears, the smell is intensely seductive. For serious sex appeal you need a slightly heavier scent, one which comes from the perfume group we call the Orientals.
These are perfumes based on vanilla with touches of sandalwood, patchouli or coumarin, which is found in conker beans.
The fragrances are sensual - they speak of arousal and passion. Think rich, luxuriant velvet as opposed to bright, clean cotton.
Try Guerlain's Shalimar, (£62, John Lewis), L'Ambre Des Merveilles by Hermes (£82, House of Fraser) or Armani's Si (£64, John Lewis) for a date night your husband won't forget.
WAFT AWAY THE YEARS
Perfumes with a bright, breezy, citrus scent evoke images of health, youth and the outdoors.
Lemon has long been associated with a fresh, youthful vivacity, so perfumes with citrus notes combined with florals will have associations of vigour and energy.
Opt for perfumes such as Tom Ford's Private Blend White Suede (£142, John Lewis) or Givenchy's Dahlia Noir (£63, Boots) to knock the pounds off in an instant.
You may never run a marathon, but you'll smell like someone who does (in a good way).
SMART AND SASSY AROMAS
If you've got a tricky meeting or job interview, you'll want to appear calm, competent and chic.
The fragrance equivalent of an exquisitely tailored Chanel suit is a perfume from the Chypre family.
This group of fragrances is blended with uncompromising clarity, made up primarily of woody scents: juniper, cedarwood and bergamot and citrus top notes.
Cartier's Eau De Cartier (£46, House of Fraser) or Bottega Veneta Essence Aromatique (£60, John Lewis) are perfect examples of understated statement perfumes.
If a perfume can make you appear to be the sort of person who reads Proust at bedtime rather than Hello! magazine, it's going to be one of these.
GIVE YOURSELF A MOOD LIFT
Clean, energising citrus notes with hints of healing, soothing jasmine and lavender work best to dispel gloom, spread joy and your spirits.
These scents have been shown to have anti-depressant and rebalancing effects.
It really is true that a little lavender essence sprinkled on your pillow at night will help you sleep peacefully, leaving you calm and re-energised for the day ahead.
Try Clarins' Eau Dynamisante (£39, John Lewis), Fendi's L'Aquarossa (£64, Harrods) or, for a really lovely lavender feel, Marc Jacobs' Daisy Eau So Fresh (£72, Debenhams).