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What's In Creating A Signature Scent?

Updated: Jul 4, 2021

While others were baking their 200th loaf of banana bread, I was wrist-deep in combining fragrances during the final months of 2020.

Let's Start Mixing

Around May 2020 I started diving into that box of old journals I found during the first weeks of Quarantine and found The 1988 Bucket List. I was all of 16 and had listed the countries I wanted to visit, the places I wanted to live, and the life and career goals I wanted to accomplish. I was whisked back to those angsty years and became committed to the need to create my own signature scent. Now, I no longer thought I deserved the acclaim of Coco Chanel, but I did realize how influential fragrances had been my whole life and thought, why not? I mean, we were months into The Quarantine Life and I needed a break from baking, organizing, and reality TV. At first, I researched a ton on the alchemy and origins of scents plus the art of mixing fragrances. After a few weeks, I ordered a bunch of my favorite base scents from a few online sources along with a bunch of mixing supplies: vials, test tubes, double-boilers, thermometers. I mixed, cooked, cooled and sniffed so many combos then realized I was working blind. Sure, there were scents I loved, but they didn't always work together. The blends I thought would work 'on paper' would not work in real life...yeah, it was like a return to the joys of online dating. What I did notice during those early days of mixing fragrances was that certain base scents had different effects on my mood and decided to research much more.

Scents and Psychology

I learned a lot but here are the most interesting points that I found:

  • When you smell an aroma, the scent signals the limbic system which is the sector of the brain that controls memory and emotions.

  • Memories are embedded with the scents and the experiences you've had - or will have. Memories and scents are subconsciously linked and can be rewired depending on our associations.

  • Because of the progressive learning our brain does, memories can be triggered through scents. The more actively we participate in learning scent associated memories, the easier it becomes to subconsciously feel that emotion as soon as the scent is recognized.

  • Fragrance travels to your brain through your nose releasing hormones and chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine.

The Nose Knows

As I delved further into the experiment, I found that certain scents met the nose quicker than others. I learned there were top, middle, and bottom scents that the nose would discover right away, after a few moments, or after it's been around awhile. I thought this was fascinating as the science of olfactory fragrances was similar to the taste regions on a tongue. Also, there is no way to create "new" scents as our brain has categorized fragrances and different combos already, but I could be sure to feature certain scents to highlight the emotional states that I would like to manage.

Key Scents for Emotional Wealth

By the start of the New Year, I knew I wanted my Signature Scent to help guide my life. I had figured out that it was more than just finding scents I preferred, but also those that would trigger certain brain chemicals that could bring forth subconscious emotions. I had a few perfumes of choice that I loved wearing every day, but could I create a scent that made me smile whenever I smelled it--heck, even at the thought of smelling it. I knew there were a few emotions I wanted to tackle.....but what scents should I target? More are the highlights of what I found about some of the scents I used:

  • Lemongrass promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety

  • Cardamom improves concentration and fortifies mental function

  • Cypress reduces anxiety and depression while soothing the mind

  • Plum - especially black plum - decreases depression and promotes happiness

  • Palo Santo purifies the mind, reduces anxiety and strengthens the mind

  • Coconut relieves stress and promotes relaxation

  • Sandalwood helps balance emotions promoting release of stress

  • Violet lifts the mood while settling the mind and nerves

  • Eucalyptus stimulates the brain, promotes creativity, and improves energy

  • Saffron elevates mood, reduces depression, and promotes dopamine levels without disrupting serotonin levels

  • Cedar soothes the mind and releases anxiety

  • Musk clears the mind and promotes focus, creativity, and positivity

  • Vetiver improves concentration and memory while soothing anxiety and stress

  • Cinnamon promotes relaxation while decreasing irritability

Well.....there were so many....and so many great combinations. By early-April, I had 7 Signature Scents. If you look at the fragrances included in each, you'll find many of the scents listed above. I'm still fascinated by this process and millions of combos of fragrances - I'm sure there will be more Signature Scents coming soon.

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