By Elizabeth Brous, Prevention
If Your Standby Scent: NO LONGER THRILLS
Have you been wearing the same scent since shoulder pads were in style—the first time around? Your nose may have adapted to it. “When your brain smells an aroma frequently enough, it no longer perceives it as worth paying attention to,” explains Stephen Warrenburg, PhD, a research fellow at International Flavors and Fragrances in Union Beach, NJ. That’s reason enough to update your signature scent, but many fragrance makers are giving you another: new scents that play down heavier notes but smell similar to classics you love (see a few of our favorites, left). Frequently nuanced with airy florals such as lily of the valley, freesia, and honeysuckle or notes like clementine, orange, mandarin, and grapefruit, these new blends “deliver a burst of freshness when you spray them on,” says Natasha Cote, a perfumer at Givaudan in New York City.
• Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gioia ($62 for 1.7 ounces;giorgioarmanibeauty.com) has a jasmine note similar to the one in Acqua di Gio’s classic blend, plus a kick of crushed mint and Italian lemon zest.
- Lancôme Trésor in Love ($55 for 1.7 ounces; department stores) features the rosy notes of the original Trésor, combined with fruity nectarine, bergamot, and pear.
- Yves Saint Laurent Belle D’Opium ($69 for 1.6 ounces; yslbeautyus.com), with peach, Casablanca lily, and gardenia, is lighter but just as delectable as the original amber-based Opium scent.
If You Need: A MOOD MAKEOVER
Sniffing something pleasant is a faster way to cheer up than, say, looking at a treasured souvenir or hearing a favorite song. “The olfactory system is like an interstate highway connection to the emotional part of the brain, while our visual and auditory systems are more like country roads,” says Charles Wysocki, PhD, a behavioral neuroscientist at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. And research shows the cheeriest scents may be citrus. In fact, one study at Ohio State University found that sniffing lemon oil can improve your mood and boost the release of norepinephrine, a mood-regulating hormone. Two scents to make you smile: C.O. Bigelow Lemon Eau de Parfum ($34.50 for 3.4 ounces; cobigelow.com) and Origins Gloomaway Grapefruit Body Mist ($25; origins.com).
Can Perfume Peel Off Pounds?
In a study done by Alan Hirsch, MD, neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, people who smelled green apple, banana, or peppermint several times daily lost an average of 30 pounds in 6 months. “We think the scents may curb cravings,” Dr. Hirsch says. Harvey Prince Eau De Lite ($55; harveyprince.com), which features all three notes, could do the same.
If Your Fragrance: FADES TOO FAST
A perfume that pulls a disappearing act by lunchtime may last longer if you apply it over a matching body lotion. Since moisture helps the perfume linger, even unscented lotion will do the trick. “Fragrances evaporate more quickly on dry skin,” says Rochelle Bloom, president of the Fragrance Foundation in New York City. Another trick? Reapply every 3 to 4 hours on pulse points (nape of the neck, base of the throat, and insides of wrists). “The body heat at pulse points intensifies perfume oils, so they don’t seem to wilt as quickly,” says Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, a perfumer based in Boulder, CO. Obviously, you don’t want to tote around a glass bottle, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a sample size. Try one of the new solid formulas cleverly concealed inside compacts or, in some cases, actual jewelry.
- Couture Couture Solid Perfume Ring by Juicy Couture ($42; sephora.com)
- Sarah Jessica Parker, SJP NYC Solid Cuff ($35; Macys)
- Outspoken by Fergie Perfume Pendant ($15; avon.com)
A Nose for Naturals
When you’re interested in natural beauty alternatives, choosing a new perfume can be tricky. Most scents, even the ones boasting natural-sounding notes such as lavender or herbs, are a complex mix of synthetic chemicals combined in a lab to mimic smells found in nature. And because fragrance formulas are proprietary, companies aren’t required to disclose their ingredients—making it hard to know what’s truly natural. But now perfumers are producing delicious, complex scents using only flower extracts and plant alcohols, and many print their entire ingredient list on the label to prove it.—Siobhan O’Connor
- Clean & Fresh: Tsi-La Misaki ($95 for 1.7 oz; tsilaorganics.com) uses certified organic essential oils and sugar alcohol instead of synthetic perfumes and solvents. The light blend of calming lavender buoyed with bergamot, mint, and citrus is like springtime in a bottle.
- Abundant & Floral: With Egyptian and Indian varieties of jasmine, Intelligent Nutrients Harmonically Made Jasminas ($45 for 0.37 ounce; intelligentnutrients.com) has a rich, floral blend that lasts all day. It’s also 100% food grade—which means it’s pure enough to eat (not that we recommend it!).
- Fruity & Spicy: Pacifica Mediterranean Fig ($22 for 1 ounce;pacificaperfume.com) is a mix of essential oils and plant alcohols. Its combination of sweet fig and bergamot with spicy clove and sandalwood makes for a seriously sexy scent.
If You Want: A UNIQUE SCENT MADE JUST FOR YOU
One scent does not fit all, which is why you might consider custom blending your own. At Aveda stores, choose from 12 essential oil blends to create a Personal Blend Aroma, then infuse your DIY formula into a spray-on fragrance, moisturizer, or body wash (prices start at $11; find a store near you at aveda.com). For a fun way to mix it up at home, check out Melange Perfumes Solid Perfume Blending Palettes ($28; melangeperfume.com). Each CD-size case contains four solid perfumes you can layer on your skin for a personalized blend.
If You’re Not: A “PERFUME PERSON”
If you’ve never found a fragrance you like, try one that smells like you—only better. As perfumer Hurwitz explains (and all dog owners know!), every person emits a distinct scent affected by genetics and diet, among other things. While some notes, such as rose, stand up to our natural scents, others, including certain musks, smell different on almost everyone. Armed with this knowledge, Hurwitz, who creates custom perfumes, developed a tester blend with a musklike note that she sprays on clients’ skin to judge how their scent will affect a perfume. When she realized that many women liked the tester almost as much as their custom scent, she bottled it as Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Special Formula X ($80 for 1 ounce, dshperfumes.com), which smells different on everyone and isn’t remotely perfume-y.
Parisian fragrance company Juliette Has A Gun has developed a scent that works similarly and tellingly christened it Not A Perfume ($85 for 1.7 ounces; luckyscent.com). Its single note, Ambroxan, gives off a unique, subtly musky aroma. Bonus: “Warm skin intensifies Ambroxan’s aroma, so it lingers,” says Stephen Nilsen, a perfumer at Givaudan.