‘Wellness’ fragrances aren’t a new thing – the first Colognes claimed health-giving properties – and aromatherapeutic suppositions have been linked to scents for centuries; but something that is very new are fragrance houses employing neurologists to look into the ways that smelling something has a direct effect on our brain chemistry.
This fascinating new era for fragrance design not only takes into consideration our pleasure in wearing the finished product – of course they have to smell nice for us to be attracted to using them – but dives far deeper into what’s happening in our brains when we smell some of the particular ingredients used, or when we inhale the finished perfume.
When founding edeniste, the key motivating factor for Audrey Semeraro was ‘Blending the science of emotion and the art of perfumery,’ because ‘…the link between scent and mood has long been known and talked about, but never been scientifically proven when it comes to perfume. Now for the first time, the worlds of cutting-edge olfactory neuroscience and classic fine fragrance are brought together.’
Though new scientific discoveries to do with our sense of smell were out there, Audrey says, ‘no one was using it to create luxury fragrances.’ What followed was a gruelling yet fascinating four year scented research stint in which she was ‘reading medical journals, speaking with neuroscientists, meeting with R&D teams in fragrance companies…’ Learning of the true impact fragrances can have on the structure and function of the brain, nervous system, and related physical responses, the final result of all that hard work is edeniste: ‘a fragrance brand that infuses scientifically proven olfactive molecules into a unique active fragrance collection that improves wellbeing.’
Neuroscientist Dr. Gabriel Lepousez was one of the experts Audrey reached out to when conducting the research used to inform the compositions of edeniste fragrances, and they explain: ‘From the beginning of the Edeniste project, Dr. Lepousez has guided and supported Audrey in her enterprise. For Edeniste, he discusses the vital connections between our nose and our emotions, and recent discoveries can help us innovate in fragrance.’ You can read a full interview with Dr Lepousez here, and you can also read much more on the methodologies they used. But for how it works, in a nutshell, Dr Lepousez explains:
‘The olfactory system is the only sensorial system to be directly connected to the seat of emotion, the part of the brain called the amygdala. Between the perception of a smell in the mucous membrane of the nose and the centre of emotions, there are only two synapses, whereas there are four to six for all the other senses. Olfaction truly has an intimate, almost unconscious connection with emotions.’
Of course, even though so much work has already been done, there are vast areas of research yet to do, and so many more exciting ways that we can use our scents directly connected to our emotional responses, utilising our sense of smell as the superpower it truly is. But what an exciting time this is for the science and the fragrance industry – and for we fragrance-lovers, who may have always instinctively felt that some scents truly seemed to help us more than others, but didn’t understand how (or why).
Let’s take a look at just some of the fairly recently-launched fragrances that go beyond merely smelling nice, to being perfumes with a greater scented significance, and more even more emotional impact than you may first have realised…
The Lifeboost® essences can be worn alone or layered with any of the eaux de parfums as an extra shot of whatever you need right now. For Relax, the mellowness of ylang-ylang melds with creamy monoi – the name means “sacred oil” in Tahiti – and the pure jasmine sambac simply sighs into the smoothness of Madagascan vanilla absolute. edeniste says: ‘Relax, feel the sun shining up above, let yourself be rocked by the sound of the waves and trees swaying in the breeze… You’re in Eden.’ And honestly, don’t we all need that feeling, currently, more than ever?
edeniste Relax Lifeboost® £68 for 30ml eau de parfum in our shop
Vyrao‘s founder, Yasmin Sewell wanted to offer ‘the power of nature to amplify energy, tapping into the science of scent and its potential to activate the parts of the brain where memories and emotions are processed.’ And for The Sixth, she collaborated with Irish perfumer Meabh McCurtin who used neuroscience via ‘scientific protocols from the Science of Wellness program at International Flavors & Fragrance (IFF)’ to guide her composition. Apple, patchouli and basil radiate positivity; juniper, cedar and fir add balance, while angelica, fennel and wormwood counteract negativity.
Vyrao The Sixth £150 for 50ml eau de parfum vyrao.com
P.S: For even more emotionally-supportive scents, read all about Vyrao’s High Five Discovery Set!
Using IFF’s Science of Wellness computer programme for the design of Phantom, it was ‘conceived by a team of perfumers — Loc Dong, Juliette Karagueuzoglou, Dominique Ropion and Anne Flipo — who were assisted by AI and powered by neuroscience.’ Identifying key emotional benefits for the chosen ingredients, the styrallyl acetate molecule (which smells green, slightly metallic, and can be found as a component of gardenia and tuberose, among other floral notes) was used at 10x the usual dosage – as suggested by AI to increase alertness – but woven with lavender to calm and create a harmonious balance.
Paco Rabanne Phantom £60 for 50ml eau de toilette pacorabanne.com
Launching with two wellness fragrances harnessing the power of neuroscience and experienced to their fullest potential using an app – 85% of people studied wearing them achieved a more focused state, while 90% reached a more meditative state. AI generated programmes of well-being rituals use smell, calming or stimulating visuals, and sound. Red Skies is a ‘functional fragrance’ designed to re-focus and energise via vibrant orange blossom, rose, pink pepper, mandarin and neroli in the top notes, blissfully enlivening jasmine, carrot seed, sap, iris and spices in the heart, resting on a grounding, earthy base of patchouli, oakmoss, resin and cedar.
Øthers Red Skies £90 for 50ml eau de parfum + 6 months app subscription others.co
This ‘scent and sound ritual’ was partially designed by AI for those ‘desperately seeking clarity of thought’ and feeling overwhelmed by ‘a rising sense of panic.’ [That’ll be most of us, then!] Using notes of cut grass and ‘green canopies’ entwined with soothing green tea, the heart resonates incense, wild mushrooms, worn leather and spices on toasted woods, while the base sinks into spiritual Palo Santo, shady vetiver, smoked amber, Hinoki wood (prized as sacred, native to Japan, with unusual hints of citrus) and a silken sandalwood. They suggest the scent and app are used in combination to ‘create a gearshift in your day.’
Øthers Mystic Zingaro £90 for 50ml eau de parfum + 6 months app subscription others.co
Written by Suzy Nightingale