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The Psychology of Scent: Natural Perfumes To Change Moods

By Arwa Lodhi

Whether it’s your first boyfriend’s tee, your cat’s head or your mum’s perfume, our sense of smell can transport us back to a cherished memory almost immediately. There are strong emotions connected to scent, and it’s a complex process.

The limbic system, which processes different emotions, is closely tied to the olfactory system, which is responsible for smelling stuff. So it’s not surprising that different scents can influence our mood through not only learned associations, but limbic connections. Conversely, it’s been suggested that an individual’s mindset can actually alter their perception of smell. Doctors have argued that people suffering from depression have a reduced sense of smell, for example, whilst people with high anxiety may find ordinary smells more potent. And interestingly, not having a sense of smell can actually lead to depression.

Feeling stressed? You can rely on your sense of smell to deliver instant relaxation. Pamela Dalton, a sensory psychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, suggests selecting a distinctive fragrance, then pairing that aroma with a calming meditation session. After a few sessions, the perfume itself will elicit a relaxed state, even when you don’t have time to meditate. Wow, right?

“Scents can have positive effects on mood, stress reduction, sleep enhancement, self-confidence, and physical and cognitive performance,” says Theresa Molnar, executive director of the Sense of Smell Institute, the research and educational arm of the perfume industry’s Fragrance Foundation. By becoming more aware of the way specific odours affect you personally, you may be able to enhance your health and well-being.

Here’s a bit more about how natural perfumes change moods, and which brands you can choose to enter different states of mind.

Sexy, Sensual & Spiritual: Wood

Commonly used in both men’s and women’s scents, wood notes are heady, hedonistic, and healing. For example, sandalwood reduces insomnia and relaxes the wearer, while cedar relieves anxiety and frankincense boosts concentration, creativity and joy. No wonder it’s often used in religious ceremonies! To contrast, exotic oud evokes confidence and sensuality – perfect for a steamy night in.

Neal’s Yard Pure Essence No.1 Frankincense

With strong, pure frankincense notes, this perfume transports the wearer to the soft, golden warmth of the desert. Neal’s Yard uses a melange of 100% natural essential oils from flowers and plants that makes it perfect not just as a perfume, but also as a form of aromatherapy, as it lifts the spirits and reduces anxiety thanks to the presence of both lavender and frankincense.

Organic Glam Oud

Organic Glam use 100% natural and organic sources for this tantalising mix of powerful Oud and sandalwood. The aroma creates a kind of spiritual retreat, enveloping the wearer in spicy and exotic warmth of lands of golden sands. It’s a feeling that naturally comes from the earthy woody base notes, and it’s been proven that sandalwood reduces anxiety. Oud is a powerful scent that creates balance, inner peace and enlightenment.

 

One Seed Hope Eau De Parfum

One Seed have blended Australian sandalwood with the spicy notes of green cedar and delicate hints of dewy oakmoss, which results in a sensual and uplifting scent. The fragrance transports you to a quiet, mossy forest where you can escape the modern world and be carried into a more warming and energising place. In terms of moods and emotions, the sandalwood relaxes and reduces anxiety, while the oakmoss is restorative.

 

Spiritual & Refreshing: Green and Herbal Fragrances

The smell of ‘green’ scents can catapult you to the fresh evergreen days of spring, while connecting you more deeply to nature. These perfumes lie elegantly and delicately on the wearer, and also have powerful healing properties that can be used for your benefit – peppermint activates the mind, alleviates depression, improves memory and clears congestion, for example, while eucalyptus reduces pain and creates a calming effect while reducing exhaustion – in fact, some athletes swear by sniffing a bit before a race, according to aromatherapy expert Chad Pegura. Bay laurel and rosemary improve memory, while sage eases sorrow after heartbreak.

Scentered’s Stress Less Therapy Balm

Had a hard day at work? Got family or personal commitments? Or just struggling with the eternal juggle to keep it all in balance? This is the ultimate ‘feel good’ scent, with uplifting citrus herbal top notes of chamomile, neroli, mandarin, rosemary and sweet Brazilian orange. There’s also a balancing floral heart of jasmine, rose, and mimosa all held together by a grounding, deeply green cedarwood base.

Honoré Des Prés: Nu Green

The fragrance is vegan friendly and only uses 100% natural oils. The fragrance is crisply fresh with top notes of mint and dewy grass, creating a spring morning scent that will leave the wearer feeling invigorated and uplifted. The mint leaves improves cognitive abilities, leaving the wearer not just smelling delicious, but also with a healthier and happier mind.

 

Violet Twig Lemongrass and Eucalyptus

The clean crisp scent of the natural perfume will detox and relax you into an oasis of crisp greenery. The lemongrass is clean and sharp, leaving you feeling rejuvenated, while the herbal scent of eucalyptus will calm and soothe the soul transporting you to a sanctuary of bliss. The coconut oil carrier ensures the essential oils won’t irritate skin.

Soothing & Happy: Floral Fragrances

Floral aromas delicately envelope the wearer in a beautiful cloud, taking them off to soft summer days strolling along the gardens. Flowers have many different healing properties, too: jasmine, for example, reduces depression and lifts your mood. Peach blossom and rose scents relieve anxiety, while lavender improves memory. The scent of peony increases happiness, and  The powers of flowers are never-ending. 

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.15 Eau de Parfum

Derived from sustainable sources, this perfume is just the most perfect blend of botanical scents. The mixture of fresh and spicy notes creates the perfect oasis for your sense of smell. The blend of the intense damask rose and vanilla creates a feminine aroma to the perfume while the pink pepper and the ‘liquid gold’ sandalwood creates the earthy base notes. All of this blended together makes the perfume exotic and botanical, perfect for a person seeking a heaven like scent. The rose in the perfume relieves anxiety, while the vanilla promotes sleep through its soothing qualities.

Hiram Green Moon Bloom

This strong and feminine scent is elegant and exotic. The main note is tuberose, which is also known as the ‘mistress of the night,’ due to its sensual, provocative aroma. Notes of jasmine and ylang-ylang not only smell heavenly, but also give the perfume depression-healing qualities. A soft spicy undertone adds a touch of the exotic.

John Masters Fresh Floral Roll On

Enjoy a bright burst of springtime anytime with this fresh floral scent. Rose, lavender and geranium essential oils are designed to lift the mood and relax the mind. They’re all balanced by a splash of refreshing orange and neroli, while herbal hints of rosemary, sage and mint ensure this scent isn’t too sweet.

Energising: Citrus Scents

It’s funny, but the psychological effects of citrus scents are quite similar to those experienced by our brains when we see the colours that are generally represented by citrus fruits – orange,light green and yellow. Both these colours and citrus scents evoke happiness, generosity, cleanliness, and positive energy. Bergamot, lime, grapefruit, pomelo, orange, neroli, juniper and of course, lemon essential oils are just some of the key ingredients of these uplifting scents.

Pacifica Blood Orange Spray

Natural essential oils of petigrain, tangerine and Tuscan blood orange form the basis for this fun, fresh and fantastic spray perfume. This is a great one to layer with something else – perhaps you’d prefer to add a slightly woody tone? Or maybe intensify the citrus with a dash of something lemony.

Tabitha James Kraan Golden Citrus Hair Perfume

Here, essential oils of neroli and bergamot are the stars; but there’s also lavender to soothe the scalp. Since many of us spray perfume on or around our heads, this is a great perfume concept, and it’s also easier to feel the aromatherapy effects of a hair perfume, as it’s simply closer to your nose! That being said, this is so gentle and natural and smells so exquisite its use should by no means be restricted to the tresses.

Florascent Aqua Composite Citronnier Perfume

Vivid, crisp and refreshing, this is a fragrance that revives the body and soul. It fills the senses like a walk through a Sicilian citrus grove after a warm summer rain. Beginning with top notes of tart Italian lemon, the scent is followed by wonderful notes of bergamot and mandarin orange. Finally, spicy petitgrain and aromatic basil can be whiffed from this delicious perfume.

 

Calming & Relaxing

It may be associated with all things bland, but apparently our brain finds vanilla quite relaxing. Perhaps even for that very reason! Vanilla and Tonka Bean are sweet, unthreatening scents that remind us of comfort foods like cakes and pies. Lavender and chamomile are other fragrances whose effects are so calming, they can even lull us to sleep.

Walden A Little Star-Dust

This wonderfully named calming floral concoction is a based on a sumptuous bouquet of Ylang Ylang, iris and jasmine, with its  exotic Tonka Bean giving off its calming qualities.

Ecco Bella Lavender Perfume

Afraid that pure lavender oil may have you smelling a bit like someone’s granny? Never fear! Ecco Bella has created a great scent based on lavender but combined with Moroccan rosemary and Egyptian geranium to create a delicately spicy, floral scent.
 

Main image: Pixabay



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