How to Feel Good with Fragrance

Increasingly, people are turning to aromatherapy and using smell to soothe stress, add a sense of comfort or revive their spirits. There’s a whole feel-good festival with this in mind, and we’re thrilled to be taking part in Live Well London from 1-3 March 2019 – which you can read all about here – where we’ll be bringing our How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop and exploring how scent truly can have a deeply emotional effect, every 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!

This is one reason so many people now have a ‘wardrobe’ of fragrances, rather than just one signature scent: a perfume to make them feel romantic, after a hard day staring at a computer screen; to give them a relaxed, weekend feel on Saturdays and Sundays – or simply something that they spritz on for work, in the morning, which makes them feel focused and professional, in the same way as a smart suit or a crisp white shirt.

We’re huge believers in using scent every day as a way to – literally – take a breather, and for the first time, Beauty Bible and The Perfume Society have teamed up to collate the Feel Good Discovery Box, filled with fragrant award-winning goodies you can use and enjoy on a daily basis.

If you love the smell of a product, you’re far more likely to use it regualrly and see the benefits of adding it into your beauty routine, but it’s also time to consider allowing yourself the luxury of a few minutes each day: inhaling the aromas and treating yourself to a mini-spa experience by focusing on the smell alone.

It’s genuinely life-changing.

If your spirits could do with a boost, read more about wellness scents to try, or why not indulge yourself (or treat a friend who’s been going through a hard time) to a whole box of fragrant, feel-good delights….?

Feel Good Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

So how do you use fragrance to make you feel better, stronger, calmer or self-assured? Are there perfumes you find yourself reaching for in certain situations, and how do they make you feel? Live Well London would love to hear from you about whatever makes you feel better – and we sure many of our readers will already be using scent to boost their spirits on a daily basis – so do get involved in the discussion by using #yourlivewell in social media…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz & the renaissance of natural perfumers

Finding her way to fragrance through the art of painting, natural perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is a leading light in the niche fragrance world with a devoted following of fragrance fans. From working at Boston’s renowned ESSENSE Perfumery, Dawn developed a particular talent for creating perfumes based on her fine art principles, and took the plunge to launch her own label, DSH Perfumes.

Anyone who has smelled Dawn’s scents can attest to the fact that they’re taking natural perfumery to another level – a subject we explore in-depth in the latest edition of The Scented Letter Magazine: Flower Power – now available online for International Subscriptions and in glorious print for those of you who prefer to be hands-on…

From the first time we got to smell DSH Perfumes for ourselves – and to meet the very engaging Dawn – during the Art & Olfaction gathering earlier this year, we have been haunted by their other-worldliness, the way that Dawn somehow transforms notoriously tricky (and often ‘muddy’ smelling) materials into something truly artful. But we wanted to catch up with Dawn to find out exactly how she crafts her fragrances so beautifully, and the challenges she faces when working with all-natural ingredients…

– Why do you love natural fragrance materials so much, and when did this love really begin?

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz: ‘I have loved natural materials from the very first; from the moment that I began working with perfumery materials (both natural and synthetic) I was immediately attracted to the incredible beauty/strangeness, depth, complexity, and intrinsic ‘quality’ of the naturals.  You can feel the energy of the place that the materials were grown in and with each distillation method, some new facets come out from the plant itself.  It’s almost like they speak to you if you want to listen.  Of course, I love the beautiful things like Bulgarian rose, or jasmine sambac, neroli, santalum album, and so many others but I really love the strange, hard to use, and exotic naturals like choya nahk, cumin, seaweed absolute, or hyraceum, too.’

– Do you have a favourite natural fragrance material, or something you’re particularly enjoying using at the moment?

DSH: ‘That is a very, very difficult question to answer… kind of like choosing a favorite child.  Oakmoss absolute was one of my absolute favorites from the very beginning and I’ve become a connoisseur of various oakmoss absolute materials over the years.  There’s a surprising amount of variation with oakmoss.  Natural sandalwood is also a long time favorite material but you know there are so many WONDERFUL naturals coming out on the market these days that it’s hard to choose a current favorite. The fact that natural ambergris tincture is now widely available is like a miracle to my younger self just starting out in perfumery, and it’s a truly lovely material to work with. OK, perhaps if I had to chose, in this very moment, I would have to say that tomato leaf absolute is rocking my world.  I get a buzz each and every time I get a whiff of the stuff.’

– Do you think the public perception of natural fragrances is changing… have preconceptions and snobbery disappeared?

DSH: ‘I think that interest in natural perfumery is growing; for many reasons.  Some people are more concerned with the materials used in their fragrances than the overall aesthetic or design of the perfume.  Others actually find natural perfumes much more appealing, in a general way, than commercial perfume designs, which they find overwhelming.  For the perfume lovers or aficionados, who are well versed in traditional perfume styles, many natural perfumes seem too dense, opaque, or muddy in comparison to the transparency that synthetics can provide in a design.  The design challenges that working in an all natural palette presents is either in making very streamlined perfumes with perfect transitions from one note to another that is done using unusual materials choices or by interweaving a very intricate structure to make perfumes that feel complete and complex, but not opaque.  Either way, the challenges are great and (fascinatingly) difficult, which is part of why I love the all natural palette.

Pictured above is the divine Mata Hari fragrance – one whiff of which and we were transported to a shimmering golden world of seduction by Chypre. The list of ingredients is huge, but it still retains the lightness of touch and a certain luminesence rarely seen without the use of synthetics, and which will surely turn natural naysayers into true believers at first sniff… Continues Dawn, ‘Having said all of that, there are many natural perfumes and perfumers who are creating clever, interesting, and unique fragrances that have the structural integrity and completeness to change many minds.  I don’t think that preconceptions have disappeared but I do think that the plethora of new materials available to the natural perfumer should open many doors to encourage the ‘naysayers’ to come and try the genre again.  They might be pleasantly surprised..’

Written 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