A TALE OF PERFUMED TRESSES

Your hair tells a story, not just by its tex­ture but also by its smell. And it’s up to you how you write its notes…

Hair - - Innovation - Text Apar­rna Gupta

Dark, soft and silky strands sway­ing in the breeze, leav­ing a lin­ger­ing trail of del­i­cate scent… Is this stuff that ro­man­tic lit­er­a­ture is made of or is it for real? Many of us could be obliv­i­ous to this but it’s true when in some­one’s arms, the first thing your part­ner smells is your hair. Like the quirky Phoebe ex­plains in pop­u­lar sit­com Friends (Sea­son 6)–”Ninety per­cent of a woman’s pheromones come out the top of her head! That’s why women are shorter so that men will fall in love when they hug them! Oh, come on, Ross, you’re a sci­en­tist.” Ap­par­ently, the ec­cen­tric masseuse did have her facts right. It may not be as mushy but tech­ni­cally pheromones are the chem­i­cals be­hind why we are at­tracted to some peo­ple and not ev­ery­one else. Ev­ery­one has their own unique pheromones and once ‘the one’ sniffs out our com­pat­i­ble pheromones, fire­works are ex­pected. It seems chem­istry def­i­nitely about the hair, honey!

No won­der, per­fum­ing the tresses has been a long-stand­ing beauty rit­ual across all an­cient cul­tures. Mughal and Ra­jput queens had an elab­o­rate bathing rit­ual. Post-cleans­ing with fresh home­made (now what would be called or­ganic) and sham­poos, their maid­ens would burn loban on coal, and pass the smoke gen­tly through the freshly-washed hair. The ad­di­tive woody scent of frank­in­cense would linger on not just for hours but days. Long be­fore hair mists made an en­trance, the princesses of Tra­van­core would burn cam­phor, agar­wood, herbs, and spices on coal, cover it with cane bas­ket and in­dul­gently spread their dark, lus­trous curls on it for a last­ing fra­grance. This is some­thing which you can still in­cor­po­rate in your Sun­day beauty rou­tine, pro­vided you have the lux­ury of time to let the fumes run through your hair rather lan­guorously. In our modern lives, with ev­ery­thing a click away, even fra­grant hair is just a spray away. Haven’t we all fallen in love with a par­tic­u­lar fra­grance and tried spray­ing it on our hair. There are a lot of hair mists at beauty coun­ters claim­ing to have a lesser al­co­hol content; so there is no real harm in spray­ing some of your favourite per­fume on your hair. We are talk­ing Eau de Toi­lette and Eau de Par­fum, def­i­nitely not de­odor­ants. In fact, the ideal way of wear­ing a per­fume is spray­ing some in a cloud in front of you and walk­ing in­side it. Like a dewy mist, the aro­matic droplets set­tle gen­tly on you, from head-to-toe. Also, the de­hy­drat­ing ef­fect of the al­co­hol is al­most mit­i­gated when it’s not sprayed on at a close range. And if the dreamy, op­u­lent way hurts the prag­matic in you, there is an­other not so ro­man­tic but equally if not more ef­fec­tive op­tion. Spray some per­fume onto your brush be­fore run­ning it through your hair. This is will leave your hair sub­tly scented. When it comes to fra­grances, whether for skin or hair, your nose is the best guide, but if you are look­ing for direc­tions, go for fresh, clean aquat­ics or mild flo­rals. Think Issey Miyake’s Pure L’eau D’issey, Wild Blue­bells by Jo Malone Lon­don or Pro­posal by Mo­cemsa. If be­spoke care is what you are look­ing for, then pick up Par­fum en Huille Chro­nol­o­giste by Kéras­tase, where a com­bi­na­tion of pre­cious oils such as amla, ar­gan and camel­lia, along with jasmine ab­so­lute and Myrhh ex­tract, leaves hair fra­grant, soft and shiny. A cut above the rest is Mime­sis, Ex­pres­sions de Par­fum, a range of fine fra­grances de­vel­oped es­pe­cially for hair by per­fumer, Karine Dubreuil. The prod­ucts con­tain nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents like plant-based Glyc­erol in­stead of al­co­hol. Ex­plain­ing the niche, she says “Fra­grance for hair is an an­cient prac­tice by French, and Mime­sis’ mis­sion is to bring back a long­for­got­ten, an­cient tra­di­tion back. Hair is more por­ous than skin, there­fore holds the fra­grance more ef­fec­tively.” A quick fix: an in-be­tween op­tion be­tween old worlds and new, is di­lut­ing a few drops of your favourite es­sen­tial oil (laven­der, rose, jasmine or ylang-ylang) in the last rinse after your sham­poo and con­di­tioner. Kama Ayurveda, Just Herbs, Ras Lux­ury Oils, Aroma Magic and Alanna of­fer a wide range of es­sen­tial oils. Some­times a wash of choco­late essence can also do its bit in trick­ing you into feel­ing good. You could try Aro­mazeia’s Mitti at­tar that drenches the locks in the most in­tox­i­cat­ing scent of rains on parched earth. It’s just about choos­ing the scent that en­er­gises or re­laxes, cap­tur­ing your mood of the mo­ment. Rins­ing vine­gar, like that from Yves Rocher, is a bril­liant op­tion that also work as hair care as it re­pairs and seals hair cu­ti­cles and re­duces min­eral build up. The only draw­back is that you are limited by the scented vari­ants on of­fer. Of course, you can always in­vest in some ten­der lov­ing care and try some hair mist. They not only pro­vide fra­grance but also moonlight as dry sham­poos, nour­ish­ing oils, and friz­zfight­ers. Guer­lain’s La Petite Robe ver­sion gives off a soft halo ef­fect with a faint, yet se­duc­tive, black cherry and rose scent. Stila’s Crème Bou­quet Hair Re­fresher blends the ben­e­fits of dry sham­poo and a fra­grance into one pretty, flo­ral-printed pack­age. If you are a deep wood and musk kind of a per­son, then you must try Nar­ciso Ro­driguez For Her Hair Mist, Rene Fur­turer’s 5 Sens En­hanc­ing Dry Oil for Hair and Body is a mul­ti­pur­pose for­mu­la­tion that leaves the hair soft and shiny and mildly fra­grant. L’Oréal Pro­fes­sionel Mythic Oil is a glit­tery leave-in for body and hair, en­riched with gold flecks and mag­no­lia es­sen­tial oil. So its gloss, scent and care all rolled into one. Just a word of cau­tion, while play­ing with the scented notes on your hair, avoid the temp­ta­tion of go­ing over­board. Like in ev­ery­thing in life, bal­ance is the key. You want the swirl of your hair to in­vite not over­whelm.

“Scent­ing the hair with smoke or in­cense (dhoop) has been prac­ticed by In­dian women cen­turies be­fore the ad­vent of modern hair sprays, per­fumes, mists and other fra­grance lay­er­ing tech­niques. Women use burn­ing coal mixed with Sal­laki or Frank­in­cense, placed on an earthen or brass tray which would be gen­tly wafted be­neath their wet hair, a kind of nat­u­ral hair dryer. In the Mid­dle East, the prac­tice is still preva­lent where the women use Oud, Bakhoor or Mub­hakaar to scent hair in the ex­act same way. Aj­mal’s R&D arm is cur­rently in the process of for­mu­lat­ing a unique range of Hair Fra­grances.’’ - Mr. Ab­dulla Aj­mal, Con­sult­ing Per­fumer at Aj­mal Per­fumes.

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