Seven scents to make you happy
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
It was scientists Richard Axel and Linda B Buck who, in 1991, first discovered a direct link between our olfactory system and the parts of the brain that process memory and emotion. It’s why you feel nostalgic after smelling a loved one’s perfume. Or why an ex’s scent can fill you with dread.
French perfume house Edeniste was born of these findings. Having looked at various factors – blood pressure, saliva and temperature – the brand has concocted an eau de parfum line (from £68) with a “mood-stabilising accord”. Each can be layered with a choice of six “Lifeboost” fragrances (£68 for 30ml), from Happiness and Wellbeing to Energy or Dream. Happiness claims to activate the brain’s reward pathway with notes of mango and watermelon; the Energy and Wellbeing accords were developed by measuring brain activity. “Boost yourself with whatever you need,” says founder Audrey Semeraro.
In New York, supplement brand The Nue Co has also been developing its line of “functional fragrances” (£80). “They’re designed to de-stress, energise and help you rebalance,” explains Flo Glendenning, VP of product and sustainability, pointing to newly launched Water Therapy – a salty blend of vetiver and seaweed that aims to trigger the neurological connection to “blue spaces”. Across the three calming fragrances, more than 90 per cent of surveyed wearers report feeling less stressed. “It’s the next stage of aromatherapy – but with data behind it,” adds Glendenning.
A common denominator in happy fragrances is bergamot, a citrus fruit long used to uplift and reduce tiredness. It’s the star of classics such as Clinique Happy (£49 for 50ml) and Hermès Le Jardin de Monsieur Li (£45 for 30ml), and a head note in Cosmoss’s new Sacred Mist (£120 for 100ml). Sandalwood is also popular: my ultimate mood-booster is Diptyque’s velvety Tam Dao (£140 for 75ml).
But for German brand Escentric Molecules, the secret to happiness is found in a synthetic molecule called Iso E Super. The scent is said to tickle brain receptors in a way that replicates the feeling of touch; Molecule 01 (£79 for 100ml) has since become a cult phenomenon. Many claim to have met their partner through the fragrance. A very happy outcome indeed.