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…
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.