The scent of wellness – when perfumes are more than just pretty

Perfumes can be far more than merely ‘pretty’ – certain scents can truly impart a feeling of wellness, uplift our moods and remind us of happy memories.

Increasingly, people are turning to aromatherapy and using smell to soothe stress, add a sense of comfort or revive their spirits. But fragrances you wear have the benefit of being emotionally restorative all day.

In fact, we’re pre-conditioned to have smell preferences, and our response is based partly on our individual genetic make-up (our DNA), and partly on our life experiences. So: that crushed tomato leaf note that reminds you of a beloved grandmother and her greenhouse – or the jasmine that was growing round a door when you were poorly on holiday, and which you can now hardly stomach.

Many people use fragrance as a boost for their spirits, perhaps without realising they’re doing so, and there is even a name for the science behind this: ‘aromachology’.

 

 

It’s been scientifically proven that different aromas can impact on mood and emotions – not just personally, but affecting those around you: Bergamot is a feel-good ingredient, peppermint makes you perkier and more alert, and grapefruit – believe it or not – apparently makes others believe you’re younger than you are!

Understanding the way differing notes in a fragrance can make us feel is one reason so many of us have a ‘wardrobe’ of fragrances, rather than just one signature scent: a perfume to make us feel ready to wind down, after a hard day staring at a computer screen; a scent to give us a weekend vibe – or simply something that we spritz on for work, in the morning, which makes us feel more focused and professional, in the same way as a smart suit or a crisp white shirt.

If you love the smell of a fragrance, allow yourself the luxury of a few minutes each day: inhaling the changing aromas as they warm on your skin and focusing on the smell alone.

 

 

Spray a scent on a blotter, preferably; close your eyes and keep sniffing for several seconds, then take the blotter away, inhale deeply, and re-sniff the blotter again. Repeat this for a minute or so, and then begin writing a few words in a notebook. It doesn’t have to be a description, and it shouldn’t ‘list’ notes – try to use words that make you think of other things. For example…

If this scent were a fabric, what would it be? What colour? If you made someone an outfit from that fabric, who would they be, where would they be going?

If it were a piece of music, what instruments would be playing? Is it classical, rock music, pop, rap or jazz?

When you’re smelling a fragrance this way, attempt to get past thinking ‘I do / don’t like this’ and focus instead on the mood it’s creating, the place or person it reminds you of. Lock a happy image in your mind, and whenever you wear that fragrance – or even think of it again – the joy of that memory or daydream will be yours to relish in, forever.

It’s genuinely life-changing!

To aid your fragrant wellness explorations, we recommend trying samples of several differing scents – even ones you wouldn’t perhaps be normally drawn to. Diversifying the range of fragrances you try will actively improve your sense of smell over time – just as eating a wider range of foods expands your palate.

 

 

Grab the opportunity to try this hand-picked selection of fragrances before they sell out – some of our very favourites for their mood-boosting effects – in the Launches We Love Discovery Box. £23 (£19 for VIPs). There’s 12 fabuoulous fragrances to try, including…

Contradictions in Ilk, Virtuous: Inspired by purity, specifically monks living in cloisters in the Tuscan hills – close your eyes and you can feel yourself walking through a fresh and cleansing herb garden, the aromatic plants offering up their therapeutic benefits as you pass them by. You then reach the cool stone walls of the monastery, catching the trailing vapours of old leather and incense coming from within, as a serene stillness settles over you.

Shay & Blue, Tallulah’s Camellia: The second you spritz this fragrance, you get an immediate sense of its personality, of who Tallulah might be – a rebellious, dancing and twirling through a woodland carpeted with bluebells, with bewitching heart notes of white florals, bringing to mind sheer, floaty dresses worn with hair untamed; a girl beholden to no-one as these soft, gauzy, dreamy notes take hold. The only thing that grounds her? A warm yet strong base of woods and white tea, entirely at one with nature and somehow, through that, very grounding.

Ahhh… now isn’t that better?

Fragrances to uplift (one year on from the first #lockdown)

Oh sweet heavens, how we need something to help uplift our spirits and keep us keeping on. If you’ve just about reached the end of your rope, we’ve some fragrant ways to tie a knot in it and help you hang on

Incredibly, we’re heading for the one year anniversary of the first offical #lockdown in the U.K, and while in some ways it has seemed like wading through treacle, in others barely a day seems to have passed.

We mark the days not in encounters and newness, but with calendars full of red slashes: the things we didn’t do, the people we’ve not seen (perhaps for all of that time), the trips we’ve cancelled and how few hugs we’ve had from loved ones, if any hugs were had at at all. But with the advent of vaccines and a better understanding of how we’re going to live with this virus, we are SO nearly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s not just whimsy and conjecture that fragrance can help in troubled times – your sense of smell is directly linked to emotions and memory, so wafts of a favourite scent throughout the day can be a perfumed pick-up for you, or worn as a fragrant shield against the world in general. And there’s research to back up those beliefs.

When you take a deep breath and inhale aroma molecules, they’re detected by the olfactory receptors in your nose and immediately stimulate the Limbic system – some of the deepest, oldest parts of the brain – in ways that we’re only just starting to understand.

 

Scientists have conducted studies on single aromas, like lavender, rosemary and vanillin, but not yet on more complex blends. For example, lemon (and other citrus notes) are often regarded as the most instantly upifting smells – they make us feel energised, somehow, and can smell like distilled sunshine in a bottle – but as with all smells, this does depend on the quality of the ingredient and personal preference.

Interestingly, lemon is among the notes in a ’10 smell test’ given to those who may be experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease – along with ‘strawberry, smoke, soap, menthol, clove, pineapple, natural gas, lilac and leather.’ So, although a study published by Frontiers in Psychology found that tests with citrus and feelings of positivity ‘yielded inconsistent results’, they also discovered that ‘Indeed, depressive individuals seem to display a specific preference for citrus fragrances…’

It sounds simple, but it all comes down to finding out which fragrances make you feel happy. An easy way to find six new scents you might like is to use our Find a Fragrance tool – just type the name of a scent you love and the algorithym searches for fragrances with similar emotional characters.

Whatever your preference, we have no doubt there are perfumes out there to help you feel brighter, more alert and ready to face the day…

 

Shay & Blue Mermaid Kisses
The perfect pocket-sized pick me up, this is all swaying palm trees and wiggling your toes in warm sand as you drink that first holiday cockyail. If citrus doesn’t do it for you, try crispness and zing via apple and salty samphire sea lily atop luscious honeydew melon. You can practically feel the warmth on your skin and breathe a sigh of satisfaction from the very first spray. We recommend applying the second that clock hits 5pm, for a hit of hopefulness!
£12.50 for 10ml eau de toilette
shayandblue.com

(PS: Try a 2ml sample of Mermaid Kisses in the Scented Retreat Discovery Box)

 

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.1
Sparkling fresh, this citrus scent with a rich floral heart is ‘perfect for spritzing any time your spirits need a boost,’ as they put it. It’s that sudden snapshot of summer memories, memories of laughing while dancing in a garden, the fizz of Champagne bubbles still on your lips, a warm breeze swirling rose petals at your feet. Spray whenever you need reminding that these better days will come again.
£54 for 50ml eau de parfum
uk.lizearle.com

 

Molton Brown Orange & Bergamot
Whisking you to the light-filled royal courtyards of Seville, bitter orange, sun-drenched bergamot and mandarin giggle into neroli and the cardamom-flecked, florist-shop freshness of galbanum; while ylang ylang is (unusually) found in the base, making for a giddily joyous landing. Wrapping cedar with flirty floral tendrils, the musky trail of sunshine-infused happiness surrounds you like a much-needed hug, which lasts even longer in this formulation. Plus, layer up the sunshine and try the scent in the matching bath & shower gel, also included in The Scented Retreat Discovery Box!
£120 for 50ml eau de parfum
moltonbrown.co.uk

 

Clarins Eau Dynamisante
A revolutionary fragrance and body treatment that was first launched in 1987, the invigorating aroma was unisex way before the word became trendy, and offers uplifting essences along with the promise of moisturising, firming and toning. Containing essential oils of lemon, patchouli, petit grain, ginseng and white tea, it leaves you feeling like you’ve just bounced out of a spa treatment. Book the appointment and splash this on at will as you countdown…
£52 for 200ml eau de Cologne
clarins.co.uk

 

La Montaña First Light Reed Diffuser
It isn’t only fragrances we wear that can lift our mood – scenting your home with something to give you a boost of happiness is another brilliant way to use scent in everyday life. We adore the freshly squeezed sparkle of citrus in this – delivered via candle or reed diffuser – along with a fresh, herbaceous breeze that altogether evokes the tendrils of sunshine, that kiss of dawn that wake you from a dream. Try the entire La Montaña home collection in mini room mists to find your most uplifting home scent within The Scented Retreat Discovery Box.
£35 for 120ml reed diffuser
lamontana.co.uk

By Suzy Nightingale

Eau dear what can the matter be? (How to spray away the blues)

In these darker days while we stumble through that twilight zone between the dog end of winter and the strat of spring (and with that, the hope of daylight or anything nice happening ever again), our spirits may need some manual help with lifting – and luckily for us, fragrance is one of the most direct ways of doing this.

For anyone who’s had a terrible day and reached for the bottle – the perfume bottle, that is – the answer is resoundingly in the affirmative. Little wafts of a favourite scent throughout the day can be a perfumed treat for you, or worn as a fragrant shield against the world in general. And now we have some research to back up those beliefs.

 

When you take a deep breath and inhale aroma molecules, they’re detected by the olfactory receptors in your nose and immediately stimulate some of the deepest, oldest parts of the brain – in ways that we’re only just starting to understand.

‘This process produces nerve impulses which travel to the limbic system, the part of the brain which is most concerned with survival, instincts and emotions. It’s thought by scientists the activity of the nerve signal passing through this region causes mood change by altering brain chemistry,’ says Christina Salcedas, of Aromatherapy Associates London. Our ability to smell ‘…is a window into parts of the brain related to core functions, like pleasure, emotion, and memory,’ agrees Jayant Pinto, MD, author of the study and an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon at University of Chicago Medicine.

 

 

‘Pleasant ambient odors have also been found to enhance vigilance during a tedious task and improve performance on anagram and word completion tests’ reports scientificamerican.com, going on to explain that, conversely, ‘…the presence of a malodor reduced participants subjective judgments and lowered their tolerance for frustration. Participants in these studies also reported concordant mood changes. Thus,’ they conclude, ‘the observed behavioral responses are due to the effect that the ambient odors has on peoples mood’

 

 

Scent alters mood, mood increases creativity and productivity: it’s a win-win. But what exactly should you spritz to give yourself an olfactory boost for the spirit? I don’t necessarily want to reach for bottles of perfume I normally associate with winter – you know, those fragrances that seduce you into a state of langorously scented stulification, with rich, velvety florals swathed in spices and cosseted in cashmere. No, it’s time to be gently jolted a little, to kick-start your senses when your spirits are low, or whenever you just need a dose of extra sunshine in your life…

 

Still going strong since 1792, I’ve heard some wise French grandmothers advised leaving this in the fridge and splashing your breasts with it every morning, to tone and invigorate. Lemon, orange, dewy fresh rose and sandalwood oil combine with some sort of alchemy to take the heat out of a situation and ease the onset of a headache – particularly useful for those of us constantly tied to our computers. Did you know this is the only scent that Holly Golightly wears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? In the mailbox of her apartment, she keeps her everyday essentials – a mirror, lipstick, and bottle of 4711. Quite right, too.

4711 Eau de Cologne Cool Stick £5.99 for 20ml
Buy it at Boots

A revolutionary fragrance and body treatment that was first launched in 1987, the invigorating aroma was unisex way before the word became trendy, and offers uplifting essences along with the promise of moisturising, firming and toning. Containing essential oils of lemon, patchouli, petit grain, ginseng and white tea, it leaves you feeling like you’ve just bounced out of a spa treatment (while avoiding awkward small-talk and the need to pre-wax your lady garden).

Clarins Eau Dynamisante £50 for 200ml Eau de Cologne
Buy it at clarins.co.uk


Abandon all thoughts of “grenade” in the sense of pulling a pin and hot-footing it in the opposite direction, for pomme grenade in French is what we know as “pomegranate”. An exotic melange of intensely fruity notes for a feeling of exuberant light-heartedness. Orange gets zesty with the mango-like davana, hypnotic neroli flowers fall like confetti on a base of vanilla – a scent now proven to calm startle reflexes and is being used to help patients undergo stressful sessions of chemotherapy in some hospitals. Spritz, breathe and dream, exotically.

Weleda Jardin de Vie Grenade £21.95 for 50ml eau naturelle parfumeé
Buy it at weleda.co.uk

Whisking you to the light-filled royal courtyards of Seville, bitter orange, sun-drenched bergamot and mandarin giggle into neroli and the cardamom-flecked, florist-shop freshness of galbanum; while ylang ylang is (unusually) found in the base, making for a giddily joyous landing. Wrapping cedar with flirty floral tendrils, the musky trail of sunshine-infused happiness surrounds you like a much-needed hug.

Molton Brown Orange & Bergamot £39 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at moltonbrown.co.uk

If you’re anything like me, you spend half your life searching for plug points to charge up whatever electronics you’re lugging around – if only our own batteries were boosted so simply. Consecutive days of not enough sleep and hectic lifestyles can really take it out of you, as can eating your own body-weight in dairy products, I have discovered. Book me in for a barrel-load, then, of crisply revivifying grapefruit, lemon & rosemary to help refresh and re-energise.

Neom Energy Burst £49 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at neomorganics.com

Sparkling fresh, this citrus scent with a rich floral heart is ‘perfect for spritzing any time your spirits need a boost,’ as they put it. It’s that sudden throwback to summer memories, a snapshot of yourself laughing while dancing in a garden, the fizz of Champagne bubbles still on your lips, a warm breeze swirling rose petals at your feet. Spray whenever you need reminding that better days will come again.

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.1 £54 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at uk.lizearle.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale