The use of fragrance in commercial spaces is widespread – spas and department stores have used it for years to tap into consumers’ brains. But now it is being taken a step further.
By Elsa Kruger
Many companies are spending money to have their own scents developed, which their clients can associate with their business. It has apparently been shown that consumers spend up to 15 minutes longer in places that smell good.
Some international boutique hotels now offer guests a scent menu to personalise the aroma of their room. Or you can take your favourite tropical island’s aroma home with you, in the form of a candle, oil or skincare product that transports you back to that blissful experience.
In the cosmetics industry there has been an impact as well: The longer women can smell their hair products, the more likely they are to stay loyal to the brand. Some hairdryers have even been designed to infuse the scent of jasmine or rose into the hot air!
The future smells like rosemary
Researchers can already use smells to improve the performance of your brain and body (known as biohacking – to ‘hack’ the body’s biology with the goal of living longer and better). The smell of coffee apparently helps with performing analytical tasks; a rosemary scent sharpens the brain and makes us feel more positive and cheerful. In Japan it’s been discovered that lavender and jasmine soothe workers, while lemon improves their productivity by up to 54%.
It seems that people solve problems more creatively if they work in a place that smells good.
Combine this knowledge with the latest technology in diffusers and you can release the perfect smell for sleep, to alleviate stress or get an energy boost in a fine mist into the room on a 10-minute on-off cycle. If the smell is released constantly, the brain switches off and ignores it. The Japanese now set their electronic diffusers digitally with their cellphones to lull themselves to sleep at night with a certain scent and to wake themselves up, energised, with a different one.
It seems that the day is not far off when you will be able to test various perfumes via your laptop or desktop computer, to find the perfect one for you. In Israel an app is being developed that can identify and analyse scents, and match them to your preferences. If you like floral notes, it won’t send you in the direction of a perfume that smells like marshmallows or pineapple. It can even double as a matchmaker by identifying mates whose scent is a good match for you… all thanks to technology that was originally developed to diagnose breast cancer through changes in the smell of breast tissue.
The modern accessory on the arm of every fitness fan, the Fitbit, and similar tech wearables can also release perfume during rest periods. According to the founder of wearable scent technology eScent, Dr Jenny Tillotson, we underuse our sense of smell because it is replaced by the dominant visual and audio senses. People in prehistoric times relied greatly on smell to detect danger, and determine what foods were safe to eat, what diseases they had or when females were ovulating, says her website: www.escent.ai. We have grown to rely on data for all these things. If we can reinvent this sense, it could have advantages for anything from allergies to sleep and mental health.
The scent of you
People usually choose fragrances that complement their individual body odour and pheromones, researchers say. When you are healthy and happy, your natural scent attracts a mate at an instinctual level. When you are unwell, you smell completely different.
Your natural scent is also the reason for the growing trend in androgynous or unisex perfumes in this time of fluid and multiple gender types. ‘Stealth’ scents, like the flower extract Areaumat perpetua, which you can’t consciously smell, are linked to the release of feel-good endorphins, and are combined with notes such as neroli, Earl Grey tea, vanilla and wood to soothe and calm.
Bear in mind, if you have a nostalgic soft spot for your bottle of Chanel No. 5 (in 2021 a century old!), that the future of perfume, scent and our feelings of wellbeing are approaching new horizons at the speed of light – or smell. The neuroscience of scent is taking us along untrodden paths, in both our personal and our public living spaces. It is without doubt the next step in improving our quality of life and our health.
Breaths comes in pairs except for two times in our lives – the beginning and the end.