How does neuroscience explain the effects of fragrance on mood?

There are no indications that the wellness sector will slow down. It has a current worldwide market value of $1.5 trillion and an average annual growth rate of between 5 and 10 percent, according to a McKinsey analysis. The epidemic, which has emphasized the importance of mental and physical balance even for products that up until recently were solely committed to externals like make-up, has provided an additional push. Customers are starting to inquire about product ingredients, sustainability, effectiveness, and whether the company selling them is consistent with its principles. In essence, we place increasing demands on cosmetics and creams. So a new generation of beauty products is emerging, but scents are even more significant because they offer a more holistic experience that focuses more on feeling good than on looking good. Simply described, functional fragrances are odors developed to support a specific type of sensation.

The persuasive power of scent is stronger than that of words, appearance, feeling, and will. According to a recent study, smell is responsible for up to 75% of our daily moods. However, Patrick Suskind wrote about this in his classic book The Perfume many years ago. Today, the perfume industry may be close to developing the perfect blend of scents that can evoke emotions, evoke memories, recall experiences, and even cause mood and emotional changes.

Soon, we might be able to discover scents in our favorite cosmetic store that not only smell wonderful or make us feel good, but also provide us with tangible advantages like promoting restful sleep, relaxing us, lowering our anxiety levels, or elevating our mood. A deeper understanding of our brain chemistry is being sought by perfumers and researchers with expertise in neuroscience in order to identify the combinations of particular notes that are best suited to giving us, for instance, an increase in energy or happiness. This research builds on decades of research that has established the relationship between scents, emotions, and memory. The Future Laboratory, a well-known trend predicting organization, as Fiona Harkin, its foresight editor, explains, “A emerging trend is functional perfumes, which are founded on the notion that scent can have both psychological and physiological impacts. Brands are examining plants not only for their scent but also to see if they might influence things like mood, blood pressure, and body temperature.” They will soon be able to do more than just affect well-being, according to Harkin’s prediction. even strengthen our health For instance, they will be able to control cortisol levels, increase body temperature, or offer Alzheimer’s patients access to memories and emotions that the illness has made forgotten.

As we wait for this to become a reality, an increasing number of businesses, from specialized start-ups to well-known Maisons, are turning to aromachology, neurology, and technological advancements to provide us with the ideal scent for our wellness. One of the pioneers in this field is The Nue Co., which in 2019 released its well-known Functional Fragrance, a concoction of palo santo, green cardamom, bergamot, and coriander that claims to “immediately affect the wearer’s emotional state and calm the mind,” followed by Forest Lungs in 2020, Mind Energy in 2021, and Water Therapy in 2022 that seek to, respectively, produce the same health advantages of forest bathing. According to Flo Glendenning, vice president of product at Nue Co., there are brain regions that react to particular sensations and can be “activated” by various families of fragrances. For instance, woody aromas are frequently very calming, whilst zesty scents are sometimes invigorating and give us a surge of energy. Therefore, utilizing one of these products can significantly aid in facilitating a change in our mood, depending on our demands. What this can mean for beauty companies in terms of marketing, engagement, and revenue is obvious.

In order to better understand how each scent affects the wearer’s emotions, Estée Lauder commissioned a neurosensory study for the Luxury Collection line of eight fragrances. In June 2022, L’Oréal unveiled YSL Beauty’s Scent-Sation, which uses an earpiece to monitor consumers’ emotional reactions to various fragrance families and individual notes. While the largest fragrance manufacturer in the world, Givaudan, has a whole division devoted to futuristic technology where a ton of neuroscientific data is analyzed to understand what consumers want, the company has been using Scent Trek technology for the past few years to capture any aroma and break it down, molecule by molecule, giving perfumers a precise timeline on how to recreate it. Vyrao, which debuted in May 2021 and aims to evoke particular moods and emotions with the addition of healing properties; Heretic, which introduced Dirty Hinoki, a “rooting” fragrance inspired by the potential ability of hinoki essential oil to relieve depression; Edenist, which developed its Tomorrow’s World collection based on the principle of “active well-being,” identifying through EEG brain activity; and others are leading the way in the wellness fragrance market.

Although some could argue that perfumery is an art and as such cannot be replaced by an algorithm without losing its essence, there is no doubt that a new generation of functional perfumes is poised to fundamentally alter how fragrances are created, distributed, and enjoyed. Fragrances have always offered a fiction, but today they are a real instrument for well-being because of how sensory fulfillment, wellbeing, and mental stimulation interact.

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