The Unexpected Way Fragrance Gives You All The Feels

Illustrated by Alex Marino.
Nothing freaks us out quite like passing a rando on the street and smelling the same perfume our mom used to wear. (If this happens, you have to call home ASAP. It’s a rule.) The fact is, fragrance has the power to transport you — and you can blame science for that. Scents can tap into the part of the brain responsible for mood, emotion, and memory, making them the ultimate #throwback.

Even more intriguing? Different scents evoke different feelings. Some smells give you energy and get you ready to take on whatever your boss throws your way. Others may drive you to respond to a text from your ex (our advice — don’t). And a few can even make you feel like you own the place — like the hibiscus notes in the new Jimmy Choo L'Eau fragrance.

So what can you do now that you're armed with this knowledge? We turned to experts Isabel Ryan, fragrance development consultant at Ryan Fragrance Consulting, and Amy Galper, founder of the New York Institute of Aromatherapy, to discover exactly which fragrance notes can de-stress, get you in the mood, and make you happier. Spray, sniff, and be merry!
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Illustrated by Alex Marino.
Lily Of The Valley
Think of this white floral as a self-care hack in scent form. “Lily of the valley tends to be associated with helping with sadness and giving a sense of security,” says Ryan. Many floral notes like this can relieve stress or promote well-being, which is something all of us could use right now.
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Illustrated by Alex Marino.
Vanilla
There’s a reason why even a hint of vanilla makes you feel warm, fuzzy, and nostalgic AF. “There’s a familiar sweetness to it that gives us a sense of contentment,” explains Galper. “It’s both nurturing and comforting.” An unintended side effect: You may end up booking a trip home after a good whiff.
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Illustrated by Alex Marino.
Hibiscus Flower
If you’re not confident enough to walk into a party like you own the place, a fragrance with this tropical floral note could give you that desired vibe. “Hibiscus is known to act as a mood refresher, and some even go so far as to say it's a confidence booster,” says Ryan. We love the note in the new Jimmy Choo L’Eau fragrance because it comes across as soft and delicate, never overpowering.
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Illustrated by Alex Marino.
Grapefruit
If the gloomy season has you feeling down, look for fragrances with grapefruit notes. The zesty scent bumps up your energy and can clear the mind. It also has the power to de-stress, says Ryan. Think of it as the scent version of a long, cathartic run (but better because it doesn’t involve strenuous activity).
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Illustrated by Alex Marino.
Sandalwood
Wearing a smoky eye tonight? You'll need a sultry fragrance to match. Meet sandalwood, a woody note that has an animalistic quality, meaning it can tap into a more sensual part of the brain, says Ryan. But it’s as far as you can get from fresh and flirty. “Sandalwood is smoky and dark,” says Galper. If you’re going for a mysterious vibe, this is for you.
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Illustrated by Alex Marino.
Bergamot
We’ve all been there: You skipped lunch. You missed an important email. The subway was delayed. No matter what put you in a bad mood, bergamot is the answer. This citrus note is basically happiness in a bottle. “Bergamot is one of the most mood-balancing, uplifting aromas,” says Galper. “It can even take the edge off when you’re angry.” Instead of that age-old advice to take a deep breath and count to 10 when you’re pissed, just douse yourself in this. Your roommates will thank you.
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Illustrated by Alex Marino.
Jasmine
It can be tough (if not impossible) to sit back and unwind — and the needy pings from your phone aren’t doing you any favors either. So turn off your phone and breathe in some jasmine. “It’s deeply sedating to the central nervous system,” says Galper. “Jasmine can take you out of that nervous, urban exhaustion.” It also has a sexy side to it, thanks to its earthy qualities, so it’s perfect for a date night out or me-time in.
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