The latest perfumes don’t just smell good: they can make you feel good, too, in body, mind and soul…
By Adriana Ermter
It’s safe to say that the recent global pandemic catapulted the word “wellness” into everyone’s vocabulary, transforming it from a simple noun into the must-say catchphrase. Bandied alongside popular expressions like “self-care,” “be mindful” and “me time,” wellness is now used as both a noun and a verb. It equates self-protection when said, for example, in conjunction with mask wearing and vaccine-jabbing actions, as equally as it is associated with drinks night with friends, bubble baths and multi-class passes to Pilates, HIIT and Spin.
Wellness’s surge to the top of our consciousness and, even, our priority lists has not died down despite COVID’s now new-normal status. Rather, the trend is alive and kicking, expanding in breadth in both spa and health services and in beauty and grooming product offerings. According to a 2022 McKinsey and Company report, wellness is currently a 1.5 trillion dollar industry – and growing by up to 10 per cent each year – complete with a brand new category joining the ranks: wellness fragrance.
Scent as wellness
Believed to spark a sense of well-being in body, mind and spirit (ideally, all at the same time) when its wearer spritzes or dabs a little on, wellness fragrance is perfume that smells good to make you feel better. “Wellness-focused scents and perfumes that combine mindfulness and self-care support consumers’ physical and emotional well-being,” according to Trend Hunter Inc., a global research company that leverages human research, big data and artificial intelligence to identify consumer insight, explore innovation and create international trend reports. In their 2023 Fragrance Trend report, wellness fragrance is described as “infused with essential oils and incorporates luxury properties like gemstones and crystals,” to benefit consumers as they “take a proactive approach to their well-being rather than a reactive response.”
This proactive approach starts with the perfume brand’s manufacturers, who create a fragrance recipe made up of perfume notes to highlight the leading sensation they want wearers to experience, be it calmness, happiness, relaxation, energy, confidence, love or otherwise. While all perfumes are comprised of an assortment of synthetic and/or natural fragrance notes, specific ones are required to induce these types of sensory functions. For decades, scientists have explored the neurological impact of scents. Notes like lavender and chamomile are said to create feelings of calm and relaxation. Neroli, grapefruit and other citruses deliver on happiness. Strawberry, lily of the valley and peppermint induce energy and confidence, while jasmine and rose provide a sense of love and romance.
All are mix-mastered by “noses” (chemists who are experts at perfumery), with each fragrance intentionally crafted in layers: the top notes you smell on first spritz; the middle notes, which tend to waft forward after 10 to 60 minutes of wear; and the base notes, the ones that linger longest on the skin. Every note is carefully and specifically chosen to blend and to provide the desired smell. Wellness fragrances take this one step further by focusing not only on the scent of the fragrance but also on the sentiment the brand wants their perfume to elicit.
Feel-good formulas in brands such as The Nue Co.’s Functional Fragrances and Fewe’s Eau So Happy perfume include notes of citronelle, lemon, orange, neroli, pear, lily, rose and amber, to name a few, and offer consumers the opportunity to uplift, harmonize, revitalize and/or de-stress their mood. According to a 2016 study published by the National Library of Medicine, these perfumes can and do achieve what they say they will. Because our olfactory system plays a major role in the brain to body’s central nervous functions and can modulate the activities of different brain waves, fragrances can influence our cognitive and emotional states.
Wellness fragrance brands like Ascention Beauty, Vyrao Witchy Woo and Pinrose are taking this theory one step further by infusing or accompanying their feel-good scents with crystals: minerals comprised of different elements and/or compounds. According to Live Science magazine, within the alternative medicine community, crystals and gemstones are widely believed to have healing powers and can interact with our mind, body and soul’s energetic system. Crystals such as clear quartz are attributed with healing and energy. Citrine is said to enhance concentration and creativity. Amber is credited with relieving stress and headaches, while rose quartz is said to stimulate love and trust.
“Each crystal is said to have a different effect on the mind and body,” explains Amy Mercee, a holistic health expert, in her book The Mood Book: Crystals, Oils, and Rituals to Elevate Your Spirit. These energies, she says, can interact with our own physical and mental energies, positively impacting the way we feel and think.
Sound too good to be true? More research is being done in the wellness fragrance category, further validating its efficacy and its longevity as a trend. And industry bigwigs, like the International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF), are helping to lead the way.
Global leaders in bioscience and sensorial experiences, the IFF recently launched a Science and Wellness programaddressing consumer demand for a more holistic approach to health, beauty and grooming. “The IFF has a long history of research into the effects of fragrance on consumer wellness and emotions, along with an AI [artificial intelligence] exploration initiated in 2006,” Nicolas Mirzayantz, president of scent for the IFF, stated on the company website. “Combining the results of these ongoing studies with the AI unique capabilities, a 15-year pioneer, is allowing our perfumers to awaken emotions…and [increase] our ability to serve growing consumer demand for wellness solutions.” Through this program, science-based scents are being crafted to intentionally support our cognitive and emotional well-being – possibly, even, with a gemstone or two.
After all, infusing each day with a spritz of joy, self-esteem and, even, mindfulness can only be a good thing.
ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.