The power of smell

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Since I wrote this post about my addiction to fancy bath stuff and perfume, I have had it in my head to write something about the smells I prefer and why. Obviously, since I make my own essential oil scented products, as well as spending an embarrassing amount of time picking out the smells I want from other people's stuff, I have preferences. There are a set of smells I love and a set of smells I can't stand, and some of it is probably just random taste, but a lot of it does have to do with the feelings that those smells invoke in me. I don't know if I really believe in aromatherapy or not, but it seems undeniable to me that smells do have bearing on your feelings. Bad or overpowering smells are distracting and irritating, while subtle and pleasant smells are calming. Smells can make you nostalgic, obviously, but also tense and troubled. Smells can help you to relax or energize you. But not all smells work the same way for all people, so please don't think of this as instruction or advice. This is just what works for me.

Smells I Love
Lavender: For me, lavender is probably the most overall useful and pleasant scenting agent. I use it everything from bath stuff to cleaning supplies, combine it with nearly everything, and it is almost never wrong. My laundry soap is lavender lemongrass, with a lavender dryer sachet; there is a lavender and sweet orange spray near my cat boxes; and if I am making bath products for myself, they are more likely to contain lavender than any other single smell. Lavender makes me feel calm and relaxed, and it also gives me the sensation of being clean and fresh (which is why I love it so much for laundry and cleaning).

My favorite lavender products: There are a ton to choose from, but the first two that come to mind are Aveda's Balancing Infusion for Sensitive Skin (which contains lavender, patchouli, geranium, and rose oils) and EO's Lavender and Sweet Orange Room Spray, which I believe is found at Whole Foods.

Orange: Like lavender, I find orange to be a versatile and almost univerally pleasant smell. It has to be a natural orange smell, though--the kind that smells like an actual orange, not like orange candy. Many people find citrus smells invigorating and energizing, but I don't particularly (probably in large part due to the blends I choose). For me, orange, like lavender, invokes feelings of calm and cleanliness.

My favorite orange products: My own orange and clove bath stuff has to be up there, but I like other people's orange products as well. One I've been enjoying lately is the Orange Sherbet Bubble Bath Dough from Red Leaf. It's a nice warm orange scent with a little bit of vanilla in it that smells very natural and I find both cheerful and soothing.

Fig: Though it is slightly more esoteric than the first two scents I mentioned, I'm nuts about fig scented products. I love fig because it's a natural, fruity smell that has some earthiness to it and isn't too sweet. For me, it's a very grounding, centered smell. In particular, I love bath products with a fig element.

My favorite fig products: The product that introduced me to my love of fig was Lush's Figs & Leaves soap, which is made with actual figs as well as orange and ylang ylang and is my hands-down favorite thing from Lush. More recently, I have been crazy about Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's Carnal scent, which pairs fig with mandarin.

Rose: It took me a long time to warm up to rose, mostly because there is so much badly done rose stuff out there. Nicely scented rose products should smell like an actual rose, not your grandmother's underwear drawer. There is a weird underlying power or talculm scent in some rose stuff that I just cannot get behind. Real rose, though, is a pure, beautiful scent, and not just a floral but also an earthy, almost spicy note. I like to wear it because it makes me feel not only feminine, but somehow more mature and confident.

My favorite rose products: Once again, BPAL does an amazing job with rose. Their The Rose perfume is probably the perfect pure rose scent. I love the blends with rose even more, though, particularly Catherine, which is rose, rosemary, and orange blossom; and Mata Hari, which is a five rose blend with jasmine, vanilla, fig, tonka bean, mahogany, and coffee.

Clove: The more I experiment with scents, the more I realize that I strongly prefer "warm" scents to "cool" ones. I like spicy, rich scents. And nothing adds spicy and rich to a combination faster than clove. I mix clove with nearly as many things as I do lavender (though I do not mix them together!). I love orange and clove, rose and clove, vanilla and clove...I could go on. The smell of clove makes me feel warm and safe and at home.

My favorite clove products: Once again, I am awfully fond of my own clove blends, but nothing I've made can hold a candle to Villainess' Embargo. Embargo is a complicated scent, "Indonesian Patchouli spiked with imported spices - cloves, sandalwood, and cedarwood, and a drop of perfume - Tunisian jasmine, tuberose, lily of the valley, grape and Tahitian vanilla," but mostly, to me, it smells like a warm library. BPAL's Madrid is another great clove scent, mixing clove with red wine and mimosa.

So tell me, what smells do you love? Why? How do they make you feel? Do they invoke specific memories, or just general feelings? How important do you think they are in your life?

4 Comments

What laundry soap is lavender and lemongrass?

I love lavender, lemongrass, licorice, cinnamon, ginger, cedar, grapefruit. Spicy or citrusy is good

I HATE all musk, patchouli sort of stuff. And I hate vanilla with a passion. As well as iris, which is the main baby powder component. It's IN EVERYTHING and I have always always hated it. It's all orris root.

When I got allergy tested, it turned out I am really allergic to that stuff! So now it makes sense. I once borrowed Simon's deodorant and he uses something with it in there and I got hives. Blech.

Lavender is so disgusting to me. It is not a preference thing. It is something genetic and innate. My sis and I both had the gag reflex go off when we smelled lavender. I know 99.9% of the population loves it. I wish I did.

Smells I love: jasmine. The real deal. Either flowers or the oil that costs about $25/ml. Mmmmmmm.

Black pepper makes me weak in the knees. LOVE.

A nice light licorice smell. Like fennel.

Ylang ylang. It has a nice feminine mystery to it.

I really love peppermint, eucalyptus and pine. I think because it smells fresh. Doesn't matter whether it's for the bath or shower or to make the room smell nice.
I agree with the fig, a while back we bought Oyin funk butter and it had a fig smell I really loved. Never realized it could smell so good! I should check out the Lush you mention too.
Lavender can be really nice, but a lot of times I think it smells kind of chemical. Rose and orange are nice when I smell a bottle but I wouldn't buy it. Actually washing myself with it would be too much.
For laundry, we definitely prefer no smell to the detergent.

Christine

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