Revealed – the 12 mood-boosting fragrances experts say can positively affect your emotions  

If you’re feeling low this January you’re not alone – more than two million people in the UK are said to experience the ‘winter blues’1. This figure rises further on the day dubbed as the most depressing day of the year – Blue Monday that’s happening on 16th January 2023.  

But according to science, a well-chosen fragrance could give you a powerful pick me-up. 

Research by Mood Media has found that 75% of all emotions generated every day are due to smell, and there are many fragrance notes long proven by biology experts to help boost your mood. 

Jonny Webber from explains the science of scent and our emotions 

“Your sense of smell is very closely linked to the part of the brain, the limbic system, that is responsible for emotion and memory. 

“When certain aromas enter your body through the smell receptors, they momentarily find their way to the brain and commence using their soothing characteristics to affect your emotions. The limbic system also connects to glands that release hormones which in turn affect our nervous system and stress levels. 

“Certain smells, such as citrus and musk have been shown to arouse the central nervous system, sharpening alertness and concentration, while other scents, such as lavender, nutmeg and bergamot, have a relaxing effect.

“In mood mapping tests, scents of grapefruit, orange and lemon were rated as happy and stimulating. Some citrus smells can reduce stress, such as the clean, fresh scent of lemon. “Citrus scents are incredibly popular in the world of fragrance, and they lend themselves to both masculine and feminine fragrances.

“Some scents are universally attractive, such as vanilla, where its main benefit is ‘evoking feelings of warmth and happiness’. Vanilla has been found to ‘quieten’ the mind and relieve tension, aiding sleep. Whilst floral notes, such as Jasmine, are known for ‘relieving depression and improving mood’.”  

Jonny also highlights a clear correlation between rising sales of these fragrance types and the nation’s mood:

Jonny says: “The lipstick index was coined by Estée Lauder’s Leonard Lauder and relates to the idea that sales of affordable luxuries (such as lipstick, mascaras, chocolate and coffee) rise in economic downturns. Whilst according to beauty retailers this trend seems to be the case as we head into 2023, we have also seen a similar effect in the fragrance sector, specifically every January for the past few years.

“Overall sales of perfume have rocketed since 2019 as people turned to scent to uplift their spirits and bring a bit of positivity into their day-to-day lives. This is evidenced by the boom in the luxury fragrance market – in the first half of 2022, sales of women’s perfume rose 137 per cent3

“But delving deeper we have noted that sales of what we like to call ‘happy fragrances’ are a third higher in January than other fragrance types. Whilst searches on our site for fragrances containing mood-boosting notes have gone up by around a quarter every January for the past five years.”

In need of a January pick me up – try these scents:

Fragrances with YLANG-YLANG 

Ylang-ylang is made from the flowers of the herb Cananaga odorata genuina. This popular, tropical floral scent has been found in research1 to aid relaxation, reduce depression and alleviate anxiety when applied to skin or inhaled; it is also said to be an aphrodisiac. 

We recommend:

Prada La Femme – a feminine floral scent with a blend of magnolia, bergamot, frangipani flower and ylang-ylang enriched with spices. Gucci Bamboo – a floral-woody fragrance that opens with accords of bergamot, leading to an exotic floral heart of ylang-ylang and casablanca lily, with a base of sandalwood, Tahitian vanilla and white musk. Cerruti 1881 Pour Homme – a refined and fresh aftershave, reminiscent of days on the Mediterranean. The heart of the fragrance combines ylang-ylang and patchouli for depth, along with lily-of-the-valley and cassia. 

Fragrances with JASMINE 

Jasmine is also a flower frequently found in tropical climates. While best known as an aphrodisiac, there is evidence that its aroma can effectively reduce depressive symptoms. Encouraging people to feel more alert is another key finding from studies into the beneficial effects of this scent. Researchers concluded that this optimistic scent could be useful for improving mood and as an anti-depressant. 

We recommend:

YSL Black Opium – this glam rock fragrance is full of energy, a gourmand floral scent with a unique combination of orange blossom, pear, coffee, jasmine, liquorice, cedar, patchouli and cashmere wood. Gucci Bloom – a scent characterised by notes of jasmine, tuberose, and rangoon creeper, with the salty and sparkling florals of a sweet neroli accord. Hugo Boss Bottled Night – with base notes of Cardamom, Jasmine, African Violet, this is intense and spicy masculine fragrance. 

Fragrances with CITRUS 

Citrus scents can be incredibly invigorating, perfect for helping you feel more alert and energised, according to experts. The scent of lemon promotes concentration and has calming and clarifying properties that are helpful when you’re feeling angry, anxious or run down, according to Beverley Hawkins, owner of the Vancouver-based West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy.

We recommend:

Moschino Fresh Couture – with top notes of Bergamot, Mandarin Orange and Ylang-Ylang, this fruity floral fragrance is a modern take on a citrus inspired scent. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue – This fresh, floral-fruit scent is a tribute to Mediterranean life. With top notes of Sicilian Citron, Bluebell and Granny Smith Apple, it’s the perfect escapism. Armani Code – a timeless, sophisticated, sexy scent with a citron cocktail of bergamot and lemon with soft notes of olive tree blossom, warmed with guaiac wood and tonka bean.

Fragrances with ROSEMARY 

Herbs, like flowers, can also have a positive effect on your mood. Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean. Research supports the use of rosemary as a cognitive stimulant, with data showing memory improvements, boosted alertness, and enhanced focus. Some studies have even found it can improve brain function in some cases. 

We recommend:

Davidoff Cool Water – inspired by the ocean, this clean and refreshing scent features top notes or Bergamot, fresh peppermint, lavender, rosemary, green galbanum, pineapple, violet, jasmine, honeysuckle and orange blossom.

Fragrances with VANILLA

A member of the orchid family, did you know that vanilla is a ‘happy’ scent? Studies have shown it creates positive associations and evokes feelings of warmth and happiness. It can also promote relaxation, calm feelings of anxiety and alleviate claustrophobia. Vanilla has been found to ‘quieten’ the mind and relieve tension, aiding sleep. It has a warming, sweet smell that is often used in oriental fragrances. Vanilla Is one of the most used scents in fragrances for both men and women; it makes for a perfect base note. 

We recommend:

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess – Alluring and sexy this fragrance showcases the velvety texture of tiare flower with creamy coconut, warm amber, sandalwood and vanilla. Narciso Rodriguez For Her – a sensual and provocative fragrance with base notes of Vetiver, Vanilla and Patchouli. Armani Stronger With You – this masculine fragrance contains spicy hits of pink pepper,  fresh apple, violet leaves, aromatic lavender and base notes of cinnamon, glazed chestnut, amber and vanilla.

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