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With all things taken into consideration, there’s never been a better time to approach fragrance with wellness in mind. Aromatherapy is holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. That means you can opt for a perfume, soap, home diffusers or even candle that smells great but also makes you feel even better.
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Most of the time, aromatherapy is centered around essential oils, but you can also choose fragrances and other products that include some of the same notes to get the beneficial effects of aromatherapy. If using essential oils, there’s two main ways to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy: inhalation or topical application
“Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory system, the part of the brain (amygdala and hippocampus) connected to smell, including the nose and the brain. Molecules that enter the nose or mouth pass to the lungs, and from there, to other parts of the body. As the molecules reach the brain, they affect the limbic system, which is linked to the emotions, the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress, and hormone balance,” explains Jill Griffin-Hughes, Certified Clinical Aromatherapist. Likewise, “massage oils, and bath and skin care products are absorbed through the skin. Massaging the area where the oil is to be applied can boost circulation and increase absorption.”
Here, five different fragrant notes to try to uplift your mood, whether you opt for essential oils or perfumes, candles and bath oils.
“She is the gorgeous, mysterious lady at an evening event,” says Griffin-Hughes. “You smell her before you see her. Calm and balanced, she is happy alone or with an audience.” Ylang ylang is one of the best scents to look for when it comes to aromatherapy. It supports the circulatory and reproductive systems as well as soothing anger, anxiety, and depression. Griffin-Hughes describes a fragrance with ylang ylang as being “euphoric, calming, meditative, contemplative. It eases tension, elevates self-esteem; cultivates gratitude.”
Try Chanel Gabrielle Chanel Essence Eau de Parfum for its floral notes of ylang ylang mixed with jasmine, orange blossom and gasse tuberose, or Ellis Brooklyn’s Salt Eau de Parfum, with notes of ylang ylang, Tahitian tiare, ambergris.
The madarin/tangerine scent is one of the most refreshing options around, but it also naturally uplifts your mood with a single sniff. Griffin-Hughes calls it an antidepressant, and it also combats tension, insomnia, and hormonal imbalances. “It helps you feel relaxed, restored, and uplifted,” she adds. “It’s generally regarded as safe, but may cause photosensitivity if you have sensitive skin. Apply at night or wait 12 hours before going in the sun.”
Go for Jo Malone London Lime Basil & Mandarin Scent Surround Diffuser to enrich your entire home with the bright scent of madarin, or Kneipp’s stress relieving Mandarin & Orange Bath Oil.
A bit of an all-purpose scent for aromatherapy needs, lavender combats anxiety and stress and will leave you feeling relaxed. It’s the perfect scent to use before bed or in a bubble bath when you want to wind down. Lavender aids in “calming of the nervous system to inspire deep relaxation and reassurance,” adds Griffin-Hughes. “She is called the grandmother of all oils, but I like to think of her as Grandma MacGyver. She is always prepared and works on pretty much everything. Never leave home without it.” You can even use a lavender essential oil for bruises, cuts, or to repel insects—some say a drop will diminish a pimple, too.
Not only is frankincense a classically elegant scent, it also is believed to help its wearer feel more meditative and spiritually connected when inhaled. “She is the genius friend who’s both daring and steady,” explains Griffin-Hughes. “She takes risks because she knows she’s protected.”
Try GOOP’s "The Martini" Emotional Detox Bath Soak with Himalayan pink salts, chia seed oil and wildcrafted frankincense, or Acqua Di Parma Colonia Mirra Eau de Cologne Concentré with myrrh, frankincense, and patchouli.
Look for notes of geranium to combat fatigue, anxiety, frustration, and even grief. The scent is also known to aid with relaxation. “She is like your favorite auntie, who is very nurturing,” explains Griffin-Hughes. “She encourages you to sit with her, while making you a cup of tea. Geranium is balancing, protective, and uplifting.”