Can a fra­grance make you happy?

Per­fume is more than just a pretty bot­tle – it can also af­fect the way you feel. Me­gan Bed­ford ex­plains how your choice of fra­grance can lift your mood.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - FILM MAKER -

How does fra­grance re­late to our frame of mind? We know that aro­mas can play a part in be­hav­iour – for in­stance, both an­i­mals and hu­mans emit pheromones that are de­signed to at­tract a mate – but sci­ence gets a lit­tle more blurry when it comes to the ef­fect of scent on emo­tions. So far, no one uni­ver­sal scent has been pin­pointed as be­ing able to boost con­fi­dence or quell pain and fear, for ex­am­ple. Ac­cord­ing to an ex­pert on the psy­chol­ogy of smell and au­thor of The Scent of De­sire, Rachel Herz, our re­ac­tions to cer­tain smells re­late more to psy­chol­ogy and our own unique ex­pe­ri­ences than any one-size-fits-all re­sponse. That’s be­cause the ol­fac­tory sys­tem (our sense of smell) is di­rectly con­nected to the lim­bic sys­tem, a part of the brain re­spon­si­ble for in­ter­pret­ing mem­o­ries and emo­tions.

Our re­ac­tion to scent is re­lated to the emo­tions we as­so­ciate with an aroma, which are formed when we ini­tially come across it, or through fre­quent ex­po­sure to it – for ex­am­ple, the fra­grance your first part­ner wore. It trig­gers a mem­ory, which in turn re­minds us of how we felt at that time and sub­se­quently in­flu­ences our mood and our be­hav­iour.

Rachel’s re­search shows the way we “read” fra­grances – whether we see them as pleas­ant or un­pleas­ant – also re­lates to the way our brain has per­ceived them since we were very young. That re­ac­tion typ­i­cally re­mains true your en­tire life. So while some scents have com­mon cul­tural as­so­ci­a­tions (such as pine nee­dles at Christ­mas time or the in­cred­i­bly di­vi­sive durian fruit), it isn’t a given that ev­ery­one will re­act to them in the same way. If you choose a fra­grance with notes that have al­ways made you feel pos­i­tive, or re­mind you of a happy time in your life, that emo­tion will be easy to re­call.

On a more gen­eral level, to gen­er­ate some com­mon “good feel­ings” via a per­fume bot­tle, choose from the fol­low­ing sug­ges­tions:

To brighten up a dreary day, choose a fra­grance that evokes warm sum­mer mem­o­ries. So­lar notes are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar in per­fumes, and are de­scribed as a ray of sun­shine in a bot­tle, while sea-salt el­e­ments are also be­ing added to fresh fra­grances. Zesty citrus will also gen­er­ally pro­vide an up­lift­ing boost and a hint of co­conut could even trans­port you to a trop­i­cal is­land par­adise. 1. Hol­lis­ter Wave 2 For Her, 100ml, $65. 2. Jimmy Choo L’Eau EDT, 60ml, $99. Fresh citrus com­bined with white flow­ers is the ob­vi­ous choice for alert­ness and en­ergy, but a more modern take can be found in fresh green scents with el­e­ments of dew on green fo­liage or woody-herby notes. El­e­ments of tea are also emerg­ing as a pop­u­lar new ad­di­tion to fra­grances. 3. Miu Miu L’Eau Bleue EDP, 50ml, $140. 4. El­iz­a­beth Ar­den Green Tea Mi­mosa EDT, 100ml, $69. If rose is your first thought when it comes to ro­man­tic fra­grances, you would be right, but choose care­fully – rose can also have staid, stuffy, old-fash­ioned as­so­ci­a­tions. Choose one with a modern pair­ing like the more in­tense patchouli or deeper woods and am­ber. 5. Cu­ri­oNoir Purotu Rose, 50ml, $240. 6. Gior­gio Ar­mani Si Rose Sig­na­ture, 50ml, $165. Scents that re­mind of us of youth and happy times in our child­hood of­ten con­tain de­li­cious, “ed­i­ble” notes like vanilla, al­mond and caramel. They don’t have to be sickly – many gour­mand fra­grances are modern and chic, with just a touch of sweet­ness. 7. Alaïa Paris Blanche EDP, 30ml, $118. 8. Viva la Juicy Su­cré EDP, 50ml, $151. Got an im­por­tant in­ter­view com­ing up, or just want to boost your sense of self-con­fi­dence and pride? Choose a slightly left-of-cen­tre scent – a flo­ral ori­en­tal, or one with notes of am­ber, black pep­per, cof­fee or smoky to­bacco. They might smell a bit more mas­cu­line at first but they’ll make their mark – you won’t be for­got­ten quickly. 9. Yves Saint Lau­rent Black Opium Flo­ral Shock, 50ml, $175. 10. Tom Ford Black Orchid EDP, 50ml, $200.

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