Finding your fragrance—be it a signature scent or just your perfume for the day—is an art form. You may think of it as nothing more than a spritz and an afterthought, but it’s so much more than that, says fragrance expert, reiki healer, and founder of Perfumerie Mindy Yang on a recent episode of Clean Beauty School.
In the newest episode, we chat about all things fragrance, aromatherapy, and the science of smell. Plus, she gave us a few tips on how to match your fragrance to your mood.
1. Smell your skin (not coffee beans!) to neutralize your nose & get to your base.
When you are looking for a new scent—or at least the perfume you want to wear that day—experts recommend you bring your palette to a neutral base. At department stores, you’ll see coffee beans. However, neutralizing your olfactory receptors is much more simple than that.
“Your smell is a safe space,” says Yang. “When we are trying new fragrances, we don’t recommend using coffee beans to kind of refresh their palettes because the coffee bean actually has hundreds of aromas in itself: It actually doesn’t reset your palate. So we always say drink water and smell your own skin—that’s the perfect way to reset your own olfaction; your skin is actually your brain’s baseline for neutral.”
2. Acknowledge your experiences.
You’ve probably heard this factoid: Smell is the sense that is closest to memory. And it’s true, long-term memory, emotions, and scent are processed in the same part of the brain.
“You actually experience the sense of smell: It triggers our emotions and the memories before you’re able to actually process the actual experience,” says Yang. “So here is no immediate processing—the processing actually happens after the fact, right? When then your brain lights up, how you are experiencing it or how you then translate what you’re experiencing and being able to put that into words, it’s actually tied to your cultural experiences.”
And these memories and cultural associations should play a role in how you find your fragrances. Think about it: You are going to, ideally, wear this scent regularly—you want to make sure that it evokes pleasant moods and thoughts.
“Before it’s actually absorbed and translated to a specific mood or memory in your brain, you are already on the train that you can’t get off,” says Yang. “You can be in the middle of a conversation, but you can’t seem to get off this train, you cannot continue the conversation because your entire brain process gets suddenly interrupted because of memory or some kind of emotion has been triggered.”
3. Align with your energy needs.
Fragrance notes—be it lavender, neroli, jasmine, or so on—evoke energies. Yang recommends harnessing this to meet your specific needs. Don’t know what those are? Well, chances are your body does.
“Especially the people that are holistic-minded like me would say, ‘If you’re craving something spicy, go eat spicy foods,’ because your body knows what it needs,” says Yang. “This is actually very related to energy and chakras. If someone is really into neroli and ginger at that moment, it’s because your second chakra is thirsty and you’re looking for that energy.”
While this concept of aligning scents and mood has been practiced for ages in various cultures—Yang notes that it seems that younger generations seem to be embracing it currently, too.
“In the commercial world, the fragrance is viewed as the invisible cloak and it announces your presence before you arrive. So I think that’s also why the older generation really subscribed to having a signature scent,” she says. “I do see that the younger generation millennials and gen Z are into having more fragrance options and being able to layer and create fragrances that are mood oriented for the moment or that time of day.”