These fragrant mood-boosters have been lifting my spirits – and my complexion – over the past few weeks.
It’s fair to say that many of us have extra time on our hands at the moment – however much the siren call of the laptop seems to entice in these working-from-home days. And it’s worth utilising that time to not just stop and smell those proverbial flowers but also our beauty products, because the process can hold real benefits.
‘I’ve gained about an hour and a half from not having to travel to work and I’m using some of that to body brush in the shower every morning,’ says Christina Salcedas, global director of education at Aromatherapy Associates. Because, seriously, how many of us manage that on a regular basis? She uses Revive Morning Bath & Shower Oil (£48, aromatherapyassociates.com) with grapefruit, rosemary and juniper. The brand has seen a 160 per cent uplift in sales of its Wellbeing collection since lockdown began (deep relax and sleep blends have been particularly popular) as people try to smell their way to happiness.
There’s science behind this, too. ‘Of the five senses, smell is the most emotive because the olfactory nerve connects the top of the nose directly to the limbic system of the brain,’ explains neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart, who recently was appointed as Aromatherapy Associates’s new spokesperson. ‘The limbic system is the emotional part of the brain and the olfactory nerve interacts with the hippocampus, where emotion and memory come together. So it can help create neural connections between scents and a state of safety, pleasure, rest, etc.’ Even the act of inhalation ‘increases the oxygen supply to the brain, essentially enabling it to “work harder” as oxygen and glucose are the two resources for our ability to think, make decisions and manage stress’.
This idea relates to your facial skincare routine, too. ‘Really smell your products before applying them: put the cream in your hands, hold it up to your face and properly inhale!’ advises Christina. The feelgood factor of fragrance is also key to the Slow Ageing Essentials range in which aroma is as much a consideration as skincare and therapeutic benefit. ‘For us, all three are related,’ says founder Margot Lieber. I like its Essential Moisturiser (£45, slowageing.co.uk).
Shiseido includes aromachology (based on the functionality of fragrance) in its skincare: the aim is to help you to holistically look and feel your best. Its bestselling Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate (£70, shiseido.co.uk), for instance, includes its comforting ImuCalm Compound with rose and lotus to help calm and relieve stress.
Although particular smells are known to boost certain moods, you can go your own way. ‘The generalisations are based on population norms so apply to most people but not everyone,’ says Tara. ‘If you’ve identified a smell that uplifts or calms you then prioritise it.’
For some spirit-raising cleansing, I love Fresh Soy Face Cleanser (£30, spacenk.com), which leaves skin feeling clean but never stripped and has a refreshing cucumber extract.
Alternatively Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Brighten Gentle Daily Micro Polish Wash (£9.99, superfacialist.co.uk) has the zing of fresh oranges.
For more uplifting aromas, try Chantecaille Jasmine And Lily Healing Mask (£75, spacenk.com), which also calms and nourishes, or De Mamiel’s delicious seasonal face oils.
Its Summer Facial Oil (£80, demamiel.com) – which includes antioxidant prickly pear and pomegranate – is available from 1 June.
Getaways in a bottle
If, like me, you’ve ditched your usual daily ‘armour’ fragrance – the one that helps you hit your stride as you set off to work of a morning – then you’ve likely been reaching (or looking) for something that suggests escapism.
I have turned to one of my favourite summer getaway perfumes, Goutal Eau du Sud eau de toilette (£76, johnlewis.com) – in a brand revamp the company has dropped the Annick and redesigned the bottle (I prefer the original, which had a charming retro glamour to it). For me, it’s synonymous with one of my favourite places, the South of France, and one of the most beautiful fragrances, featuring bergamot, mandarin and grapefruit.
Also evoking glamorous getaways is Loewe Paula’s Ibiza eau de toilette (£70, loewe.com), a new fragrance inspired by the Balearic island (and a famous former boutique). It’s floral with frangipani and patchouli but blended with green galbanum and a dash of mandarin and vanilla.
Serge Lutens’ latest offering Des Clous Pour Une Pelure eau de parfum (£110, libertylondon.com) is instantly transporting. A hit of fresh orange zest blends with a light dose of cloves to create a gorgeous sultry citrus.
And Elizabeth Arden White Tea Mandarin Blossom eau de toilette (£36, elizabetharden.co.uk) is a charming addition to the collection.
Beauty assistant: Alice Robertson