Relaxing Fragrances - Perfumes to help you Chill Out

Relaxing Fragrances - Perfumes to help you Chill Out

We can all easily admit it at this point, the last two years have been incredibly weird and stressful. Between an awful pandemic and constant historic global events, these past few years have been very tense. I, like many others, am just trying to find a way to relax, no matter how minor the methods may seem. As I often do, I turn to perfume, in this case, to help me relax and reduce my stress levels.  

But can smells help you relax?

Yes, scents can absolutely affect your feelings of stress and anxiety. It is understood that mood and mental health can alter perceptions, including perceptions of scent. Clinical anxiety has been found to affect each of our five senses in different ways. With smell, the intensity of scents is what is most affected. It can take longer for people with anxiety to notice smells, and they are often weakened. Anxiety can make people more sensitive to bad smells, focusing on them or noticing them more often than pleasant smells. 

Just as anxiety can affect our scent, scents can affect our anxiety. Aromatherapy is a common home remedy for anxiety and general nervousness, and you can often find it used in spa treatments and other professional settings to add a calming and healing atmosphere. Even for those without anxiety, with general stress and uncertainty, scents are a great way to bring calmness and comfort to your day.

Essential Oil Scents

Essential oils capture a plant’s flavour, or ‘essence’, to use for therapeutic purposes. Popular for aromatherapy and massages, these oils can help stimulate areas of your limbic system, the part of your brain that affects emotions, behaviours, and sense of smell.

Bergamot was one such improving scent. Bergamot was found in multiple studies to relieve anxiety and improve mood, including a 2017 study where the scent of Bergamot oils promoted an increase in positive feelings among doctor’s office patients. Other citruses such as lemon can have similar positive effects. A bergamot fragrance with this soothing effect is Carolina Herrera’s 212 for women. Bergamot features in the top notes, as well as gardenia, cactus, and lady of the night flower for an opening that is fresh, feminine, and lightly floral. They are deepened with middle notes of camellia and lily and a base of musk, satinwood, and sandalwood. The bergamot is fresh and calm, while the florals and base notes add a little sparkle to this classic fragrance.

Peppermint is another popular essential oil scent. The scent of peppermint has been shown to reduce stress, as well as help treat pain, colds, and improve mental function. Peppermint features in countless fragrances, including some of the best sellers. Cool Waterby Davidoff has long been popular in the fragrance world for its simple yet effective scent. Embodying the crispness of cold water just the name suggests, Cool Water has peppermint in the top notes for a fresh scent as soon as you spray. The top notes also feature seawater, lavender, rosemary, and coriander, with middle notes of sandalwood, neroli, geranium and jasmine, and a base of musk, tobacco, oakmoss, cedar and amber. Despite the heaviness of some of the notes, they merely diversify without weighing it down, leaving it as a bright and calm fragrance to help relax you.

Some floral fragrances also have a calming effect. Florals such as jasmine, ylang-ylang, and rose are popular examples and are likely to feature in your favourite fragrances. Jasmine has a lovely deep, unsweetened floral scent, also used in some teas, that has been shown to calm the nervous system without causing drowsiness. It is similar to rose scents, which can reduce anxiety and even soothe pain to a minor degree (as per an article from Healthline). Ylang-ylang, another floral, also soothes anxiety and may help lower blood pressure. Luckily, there is a fragrance with all three notes- the classic Ysatis from Givenchy. This delicate amber-wood fragrance has top notes of mandarin, orange blossom, tangerine and ylang-ylang, middle notes of rose and jasmine, and a base of amber, bay rum, patchouli, oakmoss and vanilla. Ysatis is bold and classical, but the florals and warmth also provide comfort and calm to the fragrance.

Tea Notes

Tea’s calming properties don’t just come from your gentle before-bed cup of chamomile; the scent of tea can have sedating and relaxing properties, and the usually clean or herbal scent does wonders in perfumes such as Green Tea from Elizabeth Arden. Green Tea is a gentle and layered fragrance where green tea leaves shine in the heart notes, strengthened with jasmine, orange zest, lemon, bergamot, oakmoss and amber. Along with green tea, this fragrance has a calming citrus aroma, making for a fragrance that is bright, clean, and cheerful.

For a different take on a tea scent, there is the Roberto Cavalli's Signature Fragrance for women. I include Roberto Cavalli on this list for, while it does not have Chai notes, its warmth and amberous notes are often compared to Chai tea. Unlike green tea, Chai tea is spiced and milky, creating a scent that is warm and comforting. Cavalli has a top note of pink pepper and middle notes of jasmine and orange blossom on a base of tonka bean expertly blended to create a floral-oriental scent that is warm and comforting with a touch of wearable freshness.

Herbal Notes

Herbal notes are another common inclusion in aromatherapy, helping to relax the body and calm the mind. Lavender is one of the most popular herbal aromatherapy oils, often used in sleep assistance for its calming and sedative effect. With a gentle floral tone that is lightly woody and herbal, lavender is common in men’s fragrances for creating layered aromatics with a herbal touch. Le Male from Jean Paul Gaultier is one such fragrance. A classic fragrance from an iconic brand, Le Male is a slightly sweet aromatic scent that is layered with both freshness and comforting warmth. It opens with top notes of lavender and mint with cardamom and bergamot, middle notes of cinnamon and orange blossom and a base of vanilla, tonka bean, amber, sandalwood and cedar. Light, bright, and wearable every day, a whiff of Le Male can help relax you when you need it most.

For a feminine side of lavender fragrances, there is French Lavender and Tuberose from Vera Wang’s Embrace collection. This fragrance includes the namesake lavender and tuberose, as well as additional notes of mandarin, vanilla and cocoa for a sweet dessert-like twist. Vera Wang has made an original and unique scent, and I have yet to find anything similar. I often spritz the body spray of this fragrance on my pillows to help me sleep I find it so soothing, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Rosemary is a herb we are probably more familiar with from recipe blogs, but the scent of rosemary can help with anxiety. Simply inhaling the aroma of rosemary can lower your cortisol (stress hormone) levels, allowing you to relax and unwind. Nautica’s Voyage Heritage features rosemary, as well as calming lavender and mint. Voyage Heritage is a summery water fragrance that transports you to a calming beach holiday with top notes of mint and rosemary, middle notes of lavender and ginger, and a base of sandalwood and guaiac wood.

Clary sage, different from the herb used in cooking, has a woody and herbal odour. Systematic medical reviews have shown that clary sage can help ease tension and manage cortisol levels, particularly in women. Versace Pour Homme is a wonderfully calming fragrance that features clary sage. A neutral, clean, and fresh scent, this fragrance features top notes of lemon, bergamot, neroli and rose, middle notes of hyacinth, cedar clary sage and geranium, and a base of tonka bean and musk and amber. Marketed for men, I think of it more as a unisex fragrance, as it is clean and fresh without any overpowering notes. For a home fragrance in calming sage, we have the MOR Wild Sage home range, for which we have a previous blog.

Written by Miranda

Information used in this blog is available on the Healthline website, as well verywellmind.com, intrepidmentalhealth.com and psychcentral.com.