ON THE UP
Mood boosts in a bottle
Have you ever stepped into an elevator and had the lingering trace of the previous occupant’s Calvin Klein Eternity transport you into the arms of a past love? Or encountered a heady bouquet of white blooms and come face to face with the teen you once were, all dark lipliner and asymmetric hemlines, doused in Gucci Rush? If so, you’ll know aromas can have a powerfully nostalgic emotional effect — but what about inciting new emotions?
From mate-attracting pheromones to the warning signal smoke provides, there’s proof aromas play a part in our behaviour and decisions, often on an instinctual level. One French study even found that the smell of freshly baked bread can make us kinder to strangers. Although science hasn’t dived deep enough to find concrete evidence of their effect on our emotions, proponents of essential oils have also long promoted their mood-enhancing properties.
According to Rachel Herz, an expert on the psychology of smell and author of The
Scent of Desire, our reactions to certain smells are more about psychology and our own unique experiences than a one-sizefits-all response. That’s because our olfactory system (our sense of smell) is connected to our limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for processing memories and emotions. Our reaction to a scent is related to the emotions we’ve connected with it, either when we initially came across it, or with repeated exposure. The scent triggers a memory that influences our behaviour and mood accordingly.
Herz’s research shows that the way we ‘read’ fragrances also relates to the way our brain has perceived them since we were very young, a reaction that’s typically lifelong. If you choose a fragrance with notes that have always made you feel happy, that feeling will be easy to recall.
For an instant hit of happy, choose a fragrance that evokes wonderful memories of cherished holidays or walks in fragrant spring gardens. Solar notes are described as a ray of sunshine in a bottle, while seasalt elements are increasingly being added to fresh fragrances. Zesty citrus notes can also provide an uplifting boost, and coconut might transport you to a tropical island.
1. Chopard Happy Lemon Dulci EDP 100ml, $199. A radiant citrus explosion with fresh green notes.
2. Jo Malone
Honeysuckle & Davana Cologne 100ml, $236. Like warm sun shining on honeysuckle.
3. Lancôme La Vie est Belle Flowers of Happiness EDP 75ml, $205. A bright bouquet of peony, rose, jasmine and lily of the valley.
Fresh citrus combined with white flowers is an excellent choice to encourage alertness, but a more contemporary take is a fresh green scent with hints of dew on foliage or woody-herby notes. Elements of tea are also emerging as a popular new addition. 4. Elizabeth Arden My Fifth Avenue EDT 100ml, $109. Sparkling citrus and elegant violet leaf. 5. Valentino
Donna Rosa Verde EDT 125ml, $228. Bergamot, ginger and mate tea. 6. Guerlain
Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune EDT 75ml, $113. Radiant with tangy grapefruit.
If rose fragrances are your go-to, you’re on the right track, but choose carefully as they can have old-fashioned associations. Choose ones that are teamed with updated accents such as patchouli or deeper woods and amber.
7. Narciso Eau de Parfum Rouge EDP 50ml, $170. Seductive rose, iris and cedar.
8. Giorgio Armani Sì Passione EDP 100ml, $175. Juicy and bold fruit, rose and wood notes. 9. Gucci Bloom Nettare di Fiori EDP 100ml, $209. Rose, ginger and wood.
Scents that remind us of our youth and happy times in our childhood often contain delicious, ‘edible’ notes like vanilla, almond and caramel. Their intensity varies from saccharine sweet to modern and chic. 10. Paco Rabanne Olympēa Aqua EDT 80ml, $188. Smells like sensual, salty vanilla.
11. Prada Candy Sugar Pop EDP 80ml, $162. Perky peach, apple and caramel 12. Alaïa
Paris Nude EDP 50ml, $170. With tonka bean, cardamom and orange blossom.
Got an important interview coming up, or just want to boost your self-confidence and sense of 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 easily forgotten.
13. Hugo Boss The Scent for Her Parfum 50ml, $159. Assertive peach, osmanthus and cocoa. 14. Boucheron
Santal de Kandy EDP 125ml, $310. Spicy pepper and warm woods. 15. YSL Black Opium Sound Pulse EDP 50ml, $179. A striking floral with coffee notes.