How to find your feelgood fragrance
Perfume has an incredible power to affect our mood. It can conjure up nostalgic memories, provide a zesty boost in our morning shower and add that all-important feelgood factor before a romantic date or a night out with friends.
Nice smells make you happy. Fact.
Though a bottle of smelly stuff is perceived as the ultimate luxury, perfume – essential oils in particular – has a proven benefit on our day-to-day mood. Joannah Metcalfe, consultant aromatherapist for Base Formula explains: ‘The reason they’re so powerfully mood-enhancing is because the limbic system, which is the centre of the brain that deals with memory and emotion, is connected directly to the olfactory epithelium (the lining of the nose). So when you inhale an essential oil, you get an instantaneous trigger to that part of the brain, and it means you can use aromatherapy to create or enhance a mood.’
The science bit
Good fragrances are formulated with top, middle, and base notes, which evaporate at different rates, giving it depth and staying power. ‘Top notes evaporate first,’ says Lisa Hipgrave, director of the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). You smell them straightaway and they form your initial impression of a scent. They give a fragrance its strength, but the molecules are light and volatile, so the scent fades quickly. ‘The middle notes – often floral and fruit tones – evaporate next. They combine with richer woody and oriental base notes to create the main body of the fragrance. Base notes linger long after the top notes have disappeared.’
What’s good for winter?
After something to make the sluggish winter mornings a little sparkier? Find your feelgood fragrance by choosing floral and citrus oils, such as bergamot and geranium. ‘Bergamot is like sunshine in a bottle. It’s very harmonising and supremely uplifting,’ says Joannah. Looking to offset the festive excess? ‘Herbal oils, such as juniper and fennel are great for detoxing the system so are perfect for this time of year,’ she adds.
What will work for me?
This group is broken down into green notes (newly cut grass, herbs, green flowers); water notes (the sea or the smell of rain); and citrus notes (the juices of lemon, orange, bergamot, mandarin and grapefruit).
For you if… You like to wear perfume during the day and are happy to top up regularly, as delicate top notes tend to fade fast.
This is the biggest fragrance family and covers a wide range of flowers, from single floral notes, such as rose, lavender, lily of the valley, lilac, violet, jasmine, orange blossom and tuberose, to complex floral bouquets.
For you if… You’re a traditionalist who likes to stick to a signature scent you know suits you.
Rich exotic spicy notes, such as amber, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom and clove.
For you if… You prefer bold, can’t-miss-’em fragrances and comforting sweetness.
Aromatic wood notes, including sandalwood, cedarwood and oak.
For you if… You like even bolder fragrances, with more staying power, which develop over time.
The big question: parfum or eau de toilette? It’s down to personal taste, says Metcalfe. ‘Eau de parfum uses more of the fragrance oil – about 20 per cent to 80 per cent alcohol – while eau de cologne and eau de toilette use around five per cent of the fragrance oil. Parfum generally tends to last longer without being overpowering.’