Mood-changing fragrance

From calming to confidence-boosting, we reveal the real power of perfume.

My father once described perfume as ‘smelly water’. Admittedly, I was tugging at his shirt begging for another CK One aged 14. But his view still was that the whole category was purely a medium for commercial gain. If he knew what I know now, would he still feel that way? Oh, Charles. I do hope you are reading.

You see, you may think we choose scents. But in fact they choose us. They hold all the cards. Their invisible nature – quite literally – runs rings around our feelings, moods, memories. To this day, if I catch a whiff of CK One (naturally I got my own way), I am immediately transported back to being 15, with three friends in my room attempting to fluff their flat but frustratingly frizzy hair, far-too-flimsy Kookai and Miss Sixty items flung into the air. Although I don’t like the smell now (too watery for my citrussy tastes), I will always feel some kind of attachment. It is enveloped in my own history, my own skin.

But how much do scents go beyond memories, how great is their power to impact situations, even if they have never been smelt before? According to Sushma Sagar, Founder of Energy Healing brand The Calmery, they can change our behaviour. They can uplift us and calm us. Ever wonder why children sniff their teddies and blankets? It’s because it’s a cognitive response, a need for comfort as inherent as being thirsty for a glass of water.

If you feel better after smelling an essential oil, it might be simply that it is lifting your vibration through a process called ‘entrainment’.

Sagar points out that ingredients in fragrance have long been known for their therapeutic qualities. “Essential oils contain the concentrated and distilled essence of the plant, flower, bark or herb and, as such, relay their attributes. All plants consume light in order to grow, and it’s this light that contributes to their high vibrational qualities. If you feel better after smelling an essential oil, it might be simply that it is lifting your vibration through a process called ‘entrainment’. It means that you have synchronised with the oil’s high vibe!

The key is to find the right fragrance for the environment you want to create. Need a helping hand? Sagar is here to tell you what to look for:

DATE NIGHT…for the loving and sensual

“This is a situation where you need your hearts to be open. Using scents that vibrate in harmony with the heart chakra will enhance your ability to relate to each other. Neroli, rose, ylang ylang are my personal favourites for a date night. Rose has an extremely high vibration, and neroli and ylang ylang feel so sensual… they’re wonderful to put on your skin before you go out. Bergamot is uplifting in any situation. Light a candle when you’re getting ready, to create a loving atmosphere when you get home.”

DINNER PARTY…for the perky and uplifting

“When you want a happy atmosphere with stimulating conversation, opt for something uplifting and lively. Use fragrances that align with the throat chakra to aid communication, such as rosemary, rosewood or basil and a candle with a joyful citrus fragrance such as orange or a punchy black pepper. You want your scent to allow you to show warmth and empathy, such as ginger, or confidence, with cardamom plant vibration. In situations like this, I lean toward scents I want to cook with.”

FEELING BLUE…for the soothing and joyful

“Those days when you want someone to wrap you up in cotton wool, certain fragrances will cushion and soothe your erratic hormones. Geranium is a favourite, as is Magnoila & Hyacinth, which I use liberally as bath oil, candle and mist, to comfort me. Cedarwood, amber and patchouli have grounding vibrations that bring me back to earth and make me feel safe. That said, when you feel a bit ‘meh’, use a smell that you love. This is in itself will relax you and help you feel peaceful.”

BEDTIME…calming to sleep well

“The traditional choice for sleep is lavender, but you can also use jasmine, Roman chamomile, hyacinth and violet leaf, all of which have a calming, almost sedating effect. It is said that jasmine and chamomile help to align with higher spirits for sweeter dreams. Use in a candle or pillow spray, or as bath oil.”