Why spraying perfume while isolating is good for mental health

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It’s hard not to feel like Tom Hanks in Cast Away these days, in limbo with only a volleyball for company. My bottle of perfume has, it’s fair to say, become my Wilson. I’ve befriended it in a way I never thought I would. Spraying perfume just makes things feel normal. At a time when we need optimism more than ever, spring’s best perfume for women injects the missing feel-good factor.

How does fragrance improve your mood?

Studies show a massive 75 per cent of emotions are triggered by smell. Not to mention, it’s the quickest way to change your mood, too.

What’s happening behind the scenes goes something like this: when you inhale a scent it stimulates the limbic system, the brain’s emotional control center, where fear, depression and joy originate.

‘If you connect to the aroma because it reminds you of a time when you felt happy, your brain releases mood-enhancing chemicals including serotonin and endorphins,’ says Professor Tim Jacob, neurologist from the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University.

Photography Jason Hetherington

In addition to our emotional response, there is also scientific proof that some scents can cause chemical reactions within our bodies, which change how we feel.

‘The limbic system also controls heart rate, blood pressure and the nervous system, so certain scents can have a physical effect, too,’ says Jacob.

Amid the current lockdown gloom, the best fragrances for spring 2020 play on this idea of ‘psycho-perfumery’. They’re scientifically proven to hit us at emotional and neurological levels. They enhance sensations of pleasure, ramp up energy levels and reduce stress.

With this in mind, read on to find your ultimate perfume for positivity…

If You Want To Feel Energised Working From Home

Citrus scents including lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit are almost always used in the same sentence as ‘uplifting’. They’re also your go-to for improving productivity when working from home.

‘Citrus scents are hugely volatile so their burst of energy is intense but short lived,’ explains perfumer Roja Dove. ‘When you wear them, you experience the movement of lemon and orange molecules evaporating on your skin. It’s incredibly stimulating.’

The Best Perfume For Women:

Dolce & Gabbana Dolce Shine EDP, £88 for 100ml, Harrods

best perfume for women Dolce & Gabbana Dolce Shine EDP, £88 for 100ml, HarrodsOne part floral (jasmine), two parts invigorating (tart grapefruit and crisp quince) and 100% addictive thanks to the saltiness that conjures up a sea breeze. Close your eyes and imagine the first trickles of spring sunlight on the Amalfi coast.

Buy it now

CK One Summer, £42 for 100ml, Superdrug

best perfume for women CK One Summer, £42 for 100ml, Superdrug 

Fresh and herbal and totally spot on for a summertime refresh. First ginger, mandarin and a dash of sea salt sizzle on the skin. Then dune herbs and woods burst through, taking your mind straight to the beach as the sun sets and the sea breeze picks up.

Buy it now

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Orange Soleia, £63, John Lewis

best perfume for women Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Orange Soleia, £63, John LewisThink Sicilian citrus groves soaked in hot sun. A crisp cocktail of red orange and bergamot is tempered by creamy tonka bean and an unexpected peppermint twist.

Buy it now

If You Want To Feel Calm and Relaxed

Scents that make you imagine yourself holed up in a quiet bolthole with low lighting and soft throws at sunset? That definitely taps into the current mood.

It’s also where ‘skin scents’ come into their own – velvety woods, mellow musks and creamy vanilla that you spritz onto your neck to drum up feelings of calm.

They’re like getting a proverbial hug in a bottle.

The Best Perfume For Women:

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche Skinscent, £44 for 50ml, John Lewis

best perfume for women Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche Skinscent, £44 for 50ml, John Lewis

 

Buttery tiare flower, along with creamy coconut and warm amber, sandalwood and vanilla remind you of bronzed, damp skin.

Buy it now

Chloe Nomade Absolu de Parfum, £95 for 75ml, John Lewis

best perfume for women Chloe Nomade Absolu de Parfum, £95 for 75ml, John Lewis

A departure from the rosy smells that have become Chloe cult classics. This one is decidedly more boho as a mix of oakmoss, sweet plum and sandalwood imbibe sun-dappled deserts and warm, earthy skin.

Buy it now

If You’re Missing Being Outdoors

Research shows that we’re drawn towards scents that remind us of the simple pleasures of childhood when faced with worrying world events.

‘They unearth memories of a more carefree time, when all seemed right with the world,’ explains Dove.

Most are wound up with scents from nature,which science proves also gives over-stressed brains a break.

‘Stored in our memories are familiar and pleasant smells such as freshly cut grass, which reminds us of the freedom of playing outdoors when we were young,’ explains Jacob.‘They’re immediately reassuring.’

The Best Perfume For Women:

Jo Malone Waterlily Cologne, £104 for 100ml, Selfridges

best perfume for women Jo Malone Waterlily Cologne, £104 for 100ml, SelfridgesThis scent is meant to capture waterlilies serenely floating on a garden pond – something we could have guessed blindfolded.

Buy it now

Maison Margiela Replica Springtime In A Park EDT, £98 for 100ml, John Lewis

best perfume for women Maison Margiela Replica Springtime In A Park EDT, £98 for 100ml, John LewisLily softened with blackcurrant and fresh pear is basically the spray-on version of a walk through a gorgeous, flower-filled garden.

Buy it now

If You’d Just Like To Be Somewhere (Anywhere) Else

Ultimately, what we’re all hankering after is escapism bottled – especially as actually travelling abroad is unlikely this summer.

Photography Jason Hetherington

Fragrance, of course, has strong ties to memory and it’s often the fantasy of a place that inspires perfumers, who travel there in their minds and create a fragrance accordingly. So one way to look at perfume is as a one-way trip out of your living room to some place in your memory or imagination.

Take Paula’s Ibiza, which Loewe’s creative director Jonathan Anderson, says ‘reminds me of the sun-kissed summers I spent in Ibiza as a teenager.’ The effect is warm and faintly aquatic, like salty skin tinged with sunscreen drying in the sun.

Whether it’s nostalgia for your regular haunts or transporting yourself to sunnier climes, these should satisfy your wanderlust.

The Best Perfume For Women:

Loewe Paula’s Ibiza EDT, £70 for 50ml

Two words: soft and sultry. It takes unlikely notes to conjure the smell of an island, but the blend of coconut water and the plant galbanum (a riff on seaweed), as well as splashy mandarin, driftwood and creamy frangipani flowers succeeds in a very mellow way. Meanwhile, the rainbow-coloured flacon, alongside patchouli and incense, captures the island’s 70s boho past.

Buy it now

Chanel Les Eaux de Chanel Paris-Riviera EDT, £99 for 100ml, John Lewis

According to Chanel perfumer Olivier Polge, this is ‘a floral and luminous fragrance. It reflects the joyful, sunny spirit of the Côte d’Azur in the 1920s and the bright, happy atmosphere of party nights.’ Technically a launch from last year but the combination of jasmine, fresh citrus and sandalwood captures the promise of azure blue seas and dancing sunlight on bare limbs like nothing else.

Buy it now

Burberry Her London Dream EDP, £69 for 50ml, Next

There’s something special about hazy, romantic summer days in London, which this perfume works hard to bottle. First impressions are lemon and fresh ginger before simmered-down peony, rose and musk make their mark. A pretty, ultra feminine love letter to the Capital.

Buy it now

Proof perhaps that the key to feeling better right now might just be right under your nose.

The Marie Claire Perfume Directory

VISIT THE MARIE CLAIRE PERFUME DIRECTORY FOR ALL YOUR PERFUME NEEDS

 

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