Scent wellness tips for summer – Why changing your fragrance is good for your soul

Can you re-set your mood and enhance wellness with scent? Scientists say… yes!

Because changing your fragrance for something fresher when the warmer weather (finally!) comes around is not only a way of reinvigorating your scent wardrobe, but a way to actively improve your mental wellbeing, says Alfredo Fontanini, MD, PhD:

‘Each perfume is associated with different recollections and experiences. As you form new memories, older ones and emotions tend to fade. When you try a new perfume, you are trying an odor that has no associations, so it gives you the possibility to make new ones and write new memories.’

According to the neuroscientist, who’s chair of the department of neurobiology and behavior at Stony Brook University, and a co-director of its Neurosciences Institute; using a completely new scent helps us mentally draw a line under past experiences and start afresh.

In an interview with Elle magazine, olfactory expert Dawn Goldworm agreed, and spoke of people using fragrance to provoke memories – something we know first hand so many of you have been doing during the pandemic. Says Dawn:

‘Later in life, when you smell something, you are brought back to a specific moment or event. You remember how you feel.’ And she gives the advice that now is a good time to re-access your scent collection (even deodorants, shampoos and shower gels). ‘If it makes you feel good, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you change it,’ she suggests.

It makes complete sense. Because 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, an otolaryngologist (try saying that three times!) and head and neck surgeon at University of Chicago Medicine.

It turns out reaching for a fresher (and new to you) fragrance is more than simply pleasurable – it’s genuinely good for your mental health and wellness. We can get on board with that…

If you’re looking for a whole new summer scent wardrobe, the Seasonal Scent Subscription Box for Summer is your effortless, ready-curated collection. Lighter, brighter, filled with sunshine and allowing you to ‘travel with your nose’, these scents offer a chance to revel in the bliss of luminescent, uplifting fragrances.

If you already love a particular perfume but want to explore more, try our genius Fragrance Finder: simply type in the name and it’ll offer SIX new scent suggestions for you to try.

If you’re looking for something completely different, delve into one of our Discovery Boxesto find niche, luxury and new names.

It really doesn’t matter where you choose to begin – wiping the slate clean and starting afresh with a new scent for summer is one of the best (and easiest!) ways to re-set your mood and focus on wellness through fragrance…

By Suzy Nightingale

Why are smell memories so strong? New research reveals startling results

We all know how transporting smell memories can be – the whiff of someone’s perfume as they pass by immediately propelling you to another time, place or person you associate it with. It has long been known our sense of smell is the strongest link to unlocking these memories, but new research has only just revealed why

An international team of scientists, led by Christina Zelano from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, used neuroimaging and intercranial electrophysiology to discover why certain areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus, are more strongly linked with smell than any other sense. According to a report on the science news website New Atlas:

‘This new research is the first to rigorously compare functional pathways connecting different human sensory systems with the hippocampus. The striking findings reveal our olfactory pathways connect more strongly with the hippocampus than any other sense.’

‘During evolution,’ Zelano explains, ‘humans experienced a profound expansion of the neocortex that re-organised access to memory networks.’ Basically put, all other senses got re-routed as sections of our brains expanded, but smell remained intrinsically (and directly) connected to the hippocampus. Or as Zelano more scientifically puts it: ‘Vision, hearing and touch all re-routed in the brain as the neocortex expanded, connecting with the hippocampus through an intermediary-association cortex-rather than directly. Our data suggests olfaction did not undergo this re-routing, and instead retained direct access to the hippocampus.’

While this is, of course, fascinating; perhaps the more practical outcome of this, and other continuing research, is a reaffirmation of how important our sense of smell is to our wellbeing, and impacts on our every day lives even more than was previously assumed. Indeed, the discoveries of links between our sense of smell and depression (and how scent might be used in the future to treat it), has been significantly highlighted because of Covid-19 cases often suffering with anosmia (a lack of smell) and parosmia (a distorted sense of smell).

 

 

You can read more about anosmia and parosmia on our website by searching for those terms, and also in Louise Woollam’s piece about how devastating it was to lose her sense of smell as a fragrance blogger. It’s a subject Louise wrote about so movingly, again, more recently for our magazine, The Scented Letter: Perfume’s Bright Future edition. VIP Subscribers receive this magazine FREE, but you can also buy print copies, here, or purchase an International Online Subscription at only £20 for a full year of fragrant reading.

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrances for ‘when this is all over’ – soothing scents + party perfumes

How often have you heard the phrase when this is all over during the past year? Well, the “when” is soon – at least in the U.K. with the government’s ‘roadmap’ for easing restrictions seeing the return of shops and outdoor hospitality services reopening on Monday, April 12th.

However, while our hearts may be full to bursting at the prospect of seeing loved ones we’ve missed for so long – there’s some real anxiety in the mix, too.

Because we know the ‘new normal’ (ugh, another saying that needs to get in the sea) is still far from resembling what our lives looked like in those hazy ‘before’ days, when many of us (perhaps lazily) took our freedom foregranted. To travel, to meet a friend for coffee, to hug them when we arrived – blimey, just to walk into a shop! And things will remain strange for some time. So we’re going to need some extra help, still, to get through this together.

 

 

If you’re feeling anxious about mixing in public again, you’re certainly not alone. The medical website patient.info has a great article with tips to combat stress in a post-Covid world, quoting psychologist and well-being consultant Lee Chambers, who says of course we’re all still worried, because ‘Over the course of the past 12 months, there has been significant change to adapt and acclimatise to.’ and explains: ‘Without a clear future anchor and the ability to create a longer-term plan, we lack the ability to prepare, and the constantly changing rules lower our tolerance to uncertainty.’

We know that so many more of you have been finding comfort and great mental-health support from scent during lockdown. It stands to reason we’ll need a fragrant anchor to help us get through the next few months as well. So, here are some soothing scents to help calm your nerves and help you feel grounded, but also some party perfumes for when the celebratory spirit strikes and you need an instant spritz of glamour.

Whatever your mood, there’s a fragrance to match or counteract, if needs be. Think of them as bravery: bottled. For when this is all over? For right now, or whenever you need them…

 

 

Nancy Meiland Gaia £45 for 30ml perfume attar
A beautifully nurturing scent delievered via a handy rollerball. A nuzzle of jasmine wrapped in warming nutmeg, brightening bergamot and a soft breeze of blue lotus on a caressing base of cedar and sandalwood.

 

Vines House Parfum Signature Story £75 for 30ml eau de parfum
Founder Rebecca Harrison shares her signature scent ‘for a mood of composure and contentment’ – a veriutable hug in a bottle. Cool lychee snuggles with ginger lily in a whisper of warm amber-rippled vanilla.

 

Angela Flanders Bleu de Chine £79 for 50ml eau de parfum
Swathe yourself in the hush of dry lavender, grounding patchouli aged for extra depth and the woody heart of bois de rose. Inspired by vintage Chinese textiles, it’s immediately comforting yet effortlessly elegant.

 

 

Histoires de Parfums 1899 £35 for 15ml eau de parfum
With a pop of Champagne corks flying, the bohemians emerge from the clubs of Paris into the dazzling lights of the city. The fizz of bergamot and juniper floats on orange blossom ablaze with amber in the vibrant base.

[Try a sample in our Scented Retreat Discovery Box]

 

HERMES_LOMBRE_DE_MERVEILLES

Hermes L’Ombre de Merveilles  £75 for 50ml eau de toilette
Perfumer Christine Nagel encourages us to ‘see the world from new and marvellous angles’ via contrasting light and shade. Shimmering tops notes swirl to black tea and simmering tonka.

 

Kierin NYC Nitro Noir £65 for 50ml eau de parfum
Mathieu Nardin’s powerhouse gourmand/floral positively swings its hips, with ripe berries swirled through rich patchouli and dusted with orris for a hypnotic, individualistic ‘hurrah!’

[Try a sample in the Kierin NYC Discovery Set]

Whether you need soothing or a chance to celebrate, there’s a whole world of fragrances out there to support and reflect how you’re feeling (or would like to feel). If you’re still wondering what would be the best scent to suit your mood, take a look at our genius Fragrance Finder. Simply type in the name of a fragrance you love and it will suggest six others, thanks to the so-clever personality-matching algorithm…

By Suzy Nightingale

Feel-good buys the experts adore

Do you ever reach for a calming bath oil or reviving lotion to soothe away stresses or lift flagging spirits? From 11-16th June 2018, the International Federation of Aromatherapists (IFA) will be launching Aromatherapy Awareness Week – an annual campaign that aims ‘to raise awareness of the benefits of aromatherapy’.

As fragrance fanatics, we’re always surrounding ourselves with beautifully scented things, but wondered what aromatherapy-inspired products some of our favourite fragrance experts and bloggers liked to use…

Liz Earle, Founder, Liz Earle Wellbeing: ‘My long-term favourite is Aromatherapy Associates Revive Bath Oil, a delicious blend of neroli, sandalwood and patchouli. I was given my first bottle by their founder, Geraldine Howard, who I used to see for aromatherapy treatments when I was pregnant with Lily (now aged 27!) and who encouraged me to write my very first book, Vital Oils. She sadly died a couple of years ago, but I’m reminded of happier, less complicated times and her talented, gentle care every time I smell it. My newest fave is Ren’s & Now To Sleep Pillow Spray, an up-date on the classic lavender-only sleeping spritzes as it combines traditional lavender with hops to relax and frankincense to still the mind. It’s a fabulous sleep-inducing combination and I have become quite addicted.’
Aromatherapy Associates Revive Morning Bath & Shower Oil £48 for 50ml

James Craven, Fragrance Archivist at Les Senteurs: ‘What else but OLVERUM bath oil? Of German origin and a best-seller for over 80 years, OLVERUM has always been a firm favourite of mine. It has the most amazing holistic healing magic: a little dash and I sleep like an angel and awake restored. Relaxing at night, a reviving tonic in the morning, OLVERUM is kind to the skin and helps to clear and stimulate a stuffy head or sluggish brain. A little gift to oneself.’

Olverum Bath Oil £29 for 125ml
olverum.com

Thomas Dunkley, a.k.a. The Candy Perfume Boy: ‘I adore a shower – honestly, I could spend hours under warm water and hot steam, so it makes complete sense that my favouite aromatherapy product is the Neal’s Yard English Lavender Bath & Shower Gel. The soothing scent of lavender mixed with shower steam is the most soothing, calming thing after a stressful day. Just what one needs!’

Neal’s Yard English Lavender Bath & Shower Gel £11 for 200ml
nealsyardremedies.com

Jo Fairley, Co-Founder of The Perfume Society: ‘For me it has to be Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil. I genuinely feel like I’ve been coshed over the head – in the nicest possible way! – when I use this. My head goes ker-thump when it hits the pillow, and I know I’m guaranteed a great night’s sleep. What’s more, it honestly scents the entire house with wafts of sandalwood, camomile and vetiver, so while it’s quite pricey, I think it’s actually good value.’

Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil £49 for 55ml
aromatherapyassociates.com

Dariush Alavi, a.k.a. Persolaise: ‘Although aromatherapy isn’t a prominent blip on my scented radar, I confess there is one product that is never out of my eyeline: the Altitude Oil from De Mamiel. Originally designed to counteract the stultifying effects of air travel, it’s one of the most effective – and exuberant – cloud-banishers I’ve ever encountered. Lavender, pine, peppermint, eucalyptus, patchouli and a whole load of other wonder-oils come together to lift your spirits, widen your eyes and give you the tranquillity to face the day with a smile. Magic!’

De Mamiel Altitude Oil £28 for 10ml oil
demamiel.com

Samantha Scriven, a.k.a. I Scent You a Day: ‘I definitely find the right scent can calm me down and it almost always goes back to the smells of Mother Nature. I currently carry round a little roll on fragrance from Our Modern Lives by Sarah McCartney. It’s called Yellow Sunrise Hope and I roll it on my pulse points to give me a moment of head space. It evokes an al fresco breakfast with fresh orange juice, sunshine and bunch of daffodils. It is the absolute polar opposite of the usual noisy, chaotic breakfast times in my house. It helps me escape for a few minutes, and those minutes are precious.’

Our Modern Lives Yellow Sunrise Hope £30 for 10ml roll-on
4160tuesdays.com

Marcus Jaye, a.k.a. The Chic Geek: ‘Can I say Aveda’s Shampure? That smell is just pure calm and puts me in that spa/zen state, even if only for those two minutes it takes to wash my hair.’

Aveda Shampure £14.50 for 250ml
aveda.co.uk

Maria Angelidou, a.k.a. Greek Goddess London: ‘I joined the “aromatherapy inspired” products bandwagon quite late, but I realised that I was using them anyway to scent my home and help me relax. I was using Jurlique‘s Calming Blend Aromatherapy Mist with lavender and grapefruit for quite some time on myself plus my bedding, but lately I got a diffuser; the Sterline Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser. It’s quite compact but diffuses the oils I choose beautifully and the changing colours relax me (and my husband who demands we switch it on every evening) a lot…’

Jurlique Calming Blend Aromatherapy Mist £15 for 50ml jurlique.co.uk

Sterline Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Diffuser £11.50 amazon.co.uk

Stephan Matthews: ‘I’ve always loved the opening hit of rosemary in Clarins Eau Dynamisante and then the mouthwatering orange and Amalfi lemon that immediately follows. It is “summertime” to me, which is why there’s a bottle at the front door, a bottle at the back door, a bottle in the summerhouse and a bottle in my travel bag! Some would call it an addiction but I find that it invigorates and uplifts me, which is one of the best aromatherapy traditions.

Clarins Eau Dynamistante £50 for 200ml spray
clarins.co.uk

For those of you interested in learning more about the aromatic powers of fragrant ingredients, do have a browse of our extensive Ingredients index!

Meanwhile, you may be interested to learn that we were recently completely enamoured by the newly launched anatomē [see our Instagram post about our afternoon with them] – founded by Brendan Murdock working with perfumer Anastasia Brozler for a fascinating new wellness approach, using Anastasia’s phenomenal and potent essential oil blends alongside nutritional supplements.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Valeur Absolue get passionate with crystal powered perfumes

There is no doubt that fragrance has the power to utterly alter the way we feel – it can lift our spirits, transport us to a specific time and place so rapidly we’re left reeling with sensorial shock or swathe us in comfort just when we need it most. But what about taking that further and using ingredients in perfumes to target particular feelings and to provoke our enjoyment beyond merely “smelling nice”?
Valeur Absolue take inspiration from aromacology, mineral therapy and the roots of 17th century fine perfumery: each scent created to fragrantly enhance a mood – the key ethos being to uplift, relax and revitalise. Of course fragrance-lovers instinctively understand perfume’s feel-good factor: But Valeur Absolue’s founder – Geneva-based Benedicte Foucart – wanted to take that one stage further. Imagine fragrances infused with ingredients known to soothe, to nurture, or to inspire passion. Imagine gemstones, not only creating something beautiful to look at – but, according to Foucart, helping to shift energies… With many people now subscribing to the idea that semi-precious stones can harness “healing” powers, it’s certainly a fascinating path to follow within the world of luxury perfume.

Having worked as International Vice President at Elizabeth Arden (where many fragrances were launched, during her tenure), and then perfume house Firmenich as head of global marketing, Foucart came to the brand with ample consumer experience. Indeed, Valeur Absolue was actually inspired by a consumer study of 10,000 women in the USA and Europe, which revealed ‘the growing dissatisfaction among women concerning the current offerings in the fragrance market,’ observes Benedicte, explaining, ‘Our products are “more” than perfumes; above all, perfumes that smell absolutely delicious, but they are also real wellbeing elixirs which offer real benefits to women.’
“Areumat perpetua” features in all the blends – a natural extract of immortelle flower, linked to the release in the body of feel-good beta endorphins. The ultimate vision Benedicte had for Valeur Absolue was ‘to bring fine fragrance and wellbeing back together,’ returning to the tradition of the 17th Century roots of fine perfumery, and the time when perfume had a  health- or mood-enhancing powers.

Rouge Passion marks the seventh fragrance in their line, and takes the story further with regard to creating a scent that takes a more intensely sensual direction. Champacca is the stand-out ingredient for us, here (collars woven with champacca were traditionally worn by Indian women as a seductive ploy, so Benedicte informs us!) with a deliciously addictive quality that keeps your nose clamped to your wrist long after spraying. A softly powdered tonka bean was chosen to round off the base – a highly sophisticated yet totally on-trend gourmand touch that we dare you to try and resist…
Valeur Absolue Rouge Passion £59 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at House of Fraser
Can crystals “heal” or enhance? Well whatever you believe, there’s no doubt the gem-filled bottles are beautiful objects in and of themselves, and the soft rattle you get with each spritz is terribly satisfying and soothing to play with. More than this – and most importantly – the fragrances smell great. These are not “spa” products, it was vital for Benedicte to give women contemporary, sophisticated scents they actually wanted to wear. The new branding – which we love – reflects this, and the whole ethos of the brand: wellbeing through elegant simplicity, for people who don’t want to compromise.
Interested in finding out more of these crystal-powered, mood-enhancing scents? Read our page dedicated to the brand to match the perfume to your personality, and check out their website for an in-depth guide to each fragrance….
Written by Suzy Nightingale