A spritz of an uplifting scent can do wonders for your mood, but a new wave of wellness brands claim they have the science to use fragrance to tap into specific areas of the brain and activate desired emotions, from focus to happiness and deep relaxation. The body of science backing up functional fragrance is growing and given the state of the world right now, we’re willing to give anything a go for an extra layer of emotional wellbeing.
French brand Edeniste, which describes itself as an “active wellbeing fine fragrance”, is the latest player to join this wellness space. It launched in Harrods last month with a line of genderless eau de parfums and booster essences, which founder Audrey Semeraro has spent four years researching with the help of Japanese fragrance house Takasago and perfumers Aurelien Guichard and Jerome Dimarino.
The brand says it has identified certain molecules that have a proven impact on an individual’s olfactory pathways and limbic system (or part of the brain involved in processing emotion and memory) by using various scientific testing methods, such as EEG analysis and fMRI. It’s a dual-pronged approach (though obviously that implies buying two products). First, lay the foundations with an eau de parfum (from £130 for 100ml, harrods.com). Choose from seven scents, each of which contain a patented de-stress heart accord that’s proven to regulate your stress levels, according to Semeraro. Next, layer with one of the six Lifeboost active essences (£68 for 30ml) to enhance your mood — from energy, happiness and the like.
The aforementioned neurophysiological analysis “has shown how some odorant molecules are more prone to induce some emotional responses”, explains Dr Gabriel Lepousez, neuroscientist and Edeniste committee director, and these have been carefully selected for each product. This analysis, the brand argues, is what sets it apart from your average uplifting scent.
Supplement brand The Nue Co. was one of the first to launch a functional fragrance in 2018, Forest Lungs (£85, thenueco.com), and has since introduced two more: Functional Fragrance and Mind Energy. Founder Jules Miller says she essentially set out to create a “fast-acting anti-stress supplement”. “On average a capsule takes between 20 and 40 minutes to break down... and a tincture takes about 20 minutes to absorb into the body, whereas your sense of smell is one of the fastest ways to impact our cognitive and emotional state.”
She continues: “Of the five senses, scent is the only one with a direct line to three of the most important areas of the brain: the orbitofrontal cortex, which signifies awareness; the hippocampus, which is linked to memory; and the amygdala, which helps us sort smells and is associated with our emotions and mood. There’s a powerful connection between cognitive function and the olfactory system; certain scents can elicit certain reactions with the body, both physically and psychologically.”
Miller and her team drew on research from a five-year study by The University of Geneva which focused on neural imaging processes to review reactions to scent. “MRI scans revealed the parts of the brain that were stimulated by different emotions and then, which fragrance notes lit up these same areas,” she explains.
Also formulating things a little differently is London-based Australian Yasmin Sewell, who created perfume and home fragrance brand Vyrao in May 2021. “Each ingredient in our formulations has been selected for its healing properties, we use plant and flower remedies, and inside each bottle is a Herkimer diamond — one of the most powerful quartz crystals on earth, which has been charged by our quantum energist Louise Mita,” Sewell says.
Are wellness scents the future? “I think this category is taking off now because I truly believe we have entered an age of consciousness — our awareness of the physical, emotional, and spiritual is growing and defining the choices we make. Taking a moment for yourself, to sit down and pause and give yourself that intention, creates a huge shift internally.”
Edeniste Vanille Irrestible Eau du Parfum
Seductive notes of caramelised vanilla, with earthy notes of vetiver and frankincense, rum and bergamot to add depth.
from £190 for 100ml, harrods.com
Edeniste Wellbeing Lifeboost Essence
Fresh and floral. This zingy combo of green notes, ginger, jasmine and iris is supposed to instil a sense of comfort and self-confidence.
from £68 for 30ml, harrods.com
Vyrao Free 00 Eau du Parfum for Liberation & Sensuality
Sicilian lemon, orange flower, jasmine, vanilla and sandalwood — a delicious summer holiday scent that’ll make you feel alive, free and uninhibited.
from £135 for 50ml, selfridges.com
The Nue Co. Mind Energy
A unisex “fragrance supplement” designed to enhance focus and mental clarity, with notes of clary sage, juniper, pink peppercorn and clove.
Neom Grapefruit, Lemon & Rosemary Natural Wellbeing Fragrance
Crisp, clean and uplifting. A spritz of revitalising energy to help you power through the day.
Rahua Palo Santo Oil Perfume
If you’re partial to burning energy-cleansing palo santo around the house, dab your pulse points with this rollerball perfume oil for some zen on the go.
£34 for 10ml, harrods.com