The Ultimate Guide on the Benefits of Fragrance

The Connection to Fragrance When I was young, I loved playing with My Little Ponies and each one of them had their unique signature smell like cotton candy or cherry. I saved some of them in a memory box and anytime I open that box and smell them, I’m immediately taken back to my childhood. Our sense of smell is one of the most powerful senses we have and fragrance can be incredibly therapeutic and comforting for many of us. “The fragrance connection runs very deep. There’s some evidence for a genetic preference for scents, so you’re more likely to be drawn to scents that trigger positive memories and emotions based on neurological connections built by life’s experiences.” Maybe you’re drawn to tropical fragrances because they remind you of your favorite vacation or cinnamon because it reminds you of the holidays. Perhaps you’ve used the scent of lavender or bergamot to fall asleep, bringing you a sense of calm and relaxation. “Whether you know it or not, the sense of smell plays an important role in the physiological effects of mood, stress, and working capacity”. Why Do We Have a Connection to Fragrance? Of all our senses, our sense of smell is uniquely linked to memory and emotion, called the Proustian memory effect. “This memory effect shows that memories of fragrance have been shown to be longer-lasting and more detailed than memories created from other senses”. In general, memories created by fragrance are often happy ones we enjoy revisiting. Do you remember the smell of your mother’s perfume? Or the smell of brownies you baked with your sister? Studies have shown that we’re simply wired to connect our memories with scent. “In the center of your brain are the parts that deal in emotion and memory, known as the limbic system. And, at the very front of the limbic system is the olfactory bulb, where scents are quickly and powerfully translated from the cells in your nose to the cells in your brain, triggering emotions, memories, and even the sudden desire for chocolate chip cookies.” Pretty cool, right? General Benefits In this blog, we will only discuss the psychological and physiological benefits of aromatherapy, or using our sense of smell, as opposed to using it topically. Research has shown that scent can affect how we feel and how our brains function. We know that we associate memories with scent, but can it positively affect us in other ways? Absolutely. Fragrance can have a positive impact on: Our sense of overall well-being Nostalgia Stimulating memory Focus Self-Image Sleep Creativity Relaxation Sense of calm and peace Visualization Romance Reducing stress Promoting brain power The power of fragrance cannot be understated. Not to mention that having a scented candle burning in the kitchen or bedroom can provide ambiance and serenity to your space as well! The Power of Aromatherapy According to The National Library of Medicine, fragrances from various natural sources have been used to treat various disorders. The aromatherapy treatment is a natural way of healing a person’s mind, body, and soul. The term ‘aromatherapy’ was first coined in 1920 by Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist who specifically treated injury and disease by using natural fragrance essential oils. In traditional medicine as well as in aromatherapy and herbal medicine, essential oils and fragrance compounds have been used for the treatments of various psychological and physical disorders such as headaches, pain, insomnia, eczema, stress-induced anxiety, depression and digestive problems The National Library of Medicine Did you know that when you inhale fragrance, those fragrance compounds can cross the blood-brain barrier and interact with the central nervous system? That’s right. This means that fragrance highly affects brain function and produces immediate changes in blood pressure, muscle tension, pupil dilation, skin temperature, pulse rate, and brain activity. [1] How fragrance affects our minds and bodies has been studied using EEG (electroencephalograph), contingent negative variation, near-infrared spectroscopy, and functional magnetic resonance imaging. [1]Specific medicinal and aromatic plants that were used to treat a variety of ailments included: Bergamot Rosemary Lemongrass Ylang-Ylang Tea Trea Lemon Eucalyptus … and more! The natural fragrances from plants and animals were predominantly used until the end of the 19th century. Psychological & Physiological Benefits of Aromatherapy and Fragrance Research and studies have shown that there are legitimate reasons we are connected to scent and the general benefits of aromatherapy and fragrance. Let’s now take a deeper dive into how scent can affect our

The Ultimate Guide on the Benefits of Fragrance

The Connection to Fragrance

When I was young, I loved playing with My Little Ponies and each one of them had their unique signature smell like cotton candy or cherry. I saved some of them in a memory box and anytime I open that box and smell them, I’m immediately taken back to my childhood. Our sense of smell is one of the most powerful senses we have and fragrance can be incredibly therapeutic and comforting for many of us.

“The fragrance connection runs very deep. There’s some evidence for a genetic preference for scents, so you’re more likely to be drawn to scents that trigger positive memories and emotions based on neurological connections built by life’s experiences.”

Maybe you’re drawn to tropical fragrances because they remind you of your favorite vacation or cinnamon because it reminds you of the holidays. Perhaps you’ve used the scent of lavender or bergamot to fall asleep, bringing you a sense of calm and relaxation.

“Whether you know it or not, the sense of smell plays an important role in the physiological effects of mood, stress, and working capacity”.

Why Do We Have a Connection to Fragrance?

Of all our senses, our sense of smell is uniquely linked to memory and emotion, called the Proustian memory effect. “This memory effect shows that memories of fragrance have been shown to be longer-lasting and more detailed than memories created from other senses”.

In general, memories created by fragrance are often happy ones we enjoy revisiting.

Do you remember the smell of your mother’s perfume? Or the smell of brownies you baked with your sister? Studies have shown that we’re simply wired to connect our memories with scent.

“In the center of your brain are the parts that deal in emotion and memory, known as the limbic system. And, at the very front of the limbic system is the olfactory bulb, where scents are quickly and powerfully translated from the cells in your nose to the cells in your brain, triggering emotions, memories, and even the sudden desire for chocolate chip cookies.”

Pretty cool, right?

General Benefits

In this blog, we will only discuss the psychological and physiological benefits of aromatherapy, or using our sense of smell, as opposed to using it topically.

Research has shown that scent can affect how we feel and how our brains function. We know that we associate memories with scent, but can it positively affect us in other ways? Absolutely.

Fragrance can have a positive impact on:

  • Our sense of overall well-being
  • Nostalgia
  • Stimulating memory
  • Focus
  • Self-Image
  • Sleep
  • Creativity
  • Relaxation
  • Sense of calm and peace
  • Visualization
  • Romance
  • Reducing stress
  • Promoting brain power

The power of fragrance cannot be understated. Not to mention that having a scented candle burning in the kitchen or bedroom can provide ambiance and serenity to your space as well!

The Power of Aromatherapy

According to The National Library of Medicine, fragrances from various natural sources have been used to treat various disorders. The aromatherapy treatment is a natural way of healing a person’s mind, body, and soul. The term ‘aromatherapy’ was first coined in 1920 by Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist who specifically treated injury and disease by using natural fragrance essential oils.

In traditional medicine as well as in aromatherapy and herbal medicine, essential oils and fragrance compounds have been used for the treatments of various psychological and physical disorders such as headaches, pain, insomnia, eczema, stress-induced anxiety, depression and digestive problems The National Library of Medicine

Did you know that when you inhale fragrance, those fragrance compounds can cross the blood-brain barrier and interact with the central nervous system? That’s right. This means that fragrance highly affects brain function and produces immediate changes in blood pressure, muscle tension, pupil dilation, skin temperature, pulse rate, and brain activity. [1]

How fragrance affects our minds and bodies has been studied using EEG (electroencephalograph), contingent negative variation, near-infrared spectroscopy, and functional magnetic resonance imaging. [1]
Specific medicinal and aromatic plants that were used to treat a variety of ailments included:

  • Bergamot
  • Rosemary
  • Lemongrass
  • Ylang-Ylang
  • Tea Trea
  • Lemon
  • Eucalyptus

… and more! The natural fragrances from plants and animals were predominantly used until the end of the 19th century.

Psychological & Physiological Benefits of Aromatherapy and Fragrance

Research and studies have shown that there are legitimate reasons we are connected to scent and the general benefits of aromatherapy and fragrance. Let’s now take a deeper dive into how scent can affect our mood, behavior, emotions, and state of being.

According to The National Library of Medicine:

Lavender oil may be an effective medicine in the treatment of various psychophysiological disorders

Fragrances affected concentration on work and mentally stabilized them when compared with no fragrance

Magnolia kobus aroma reveals alterations in EEG activity to awaken and enhance the concentration states of the brain

Mentha arvensis (wild mint) is associated with reducing mental stress

The higher alpha wave activity (wakeful relaxation) is highly correlated with a reduced level of stress

Fragrances significantly influence the activities of different brain waves and are responsible for various states of the brain

Jasmine is associated with the increase of positive emotions such as the feeling of well-being or feeling active, fresh, and romantic

Several studies have scientifically supported the beneficial use of various aromatic plants in aromatherapy

The olfactory system (how we process smell) plays a significant role in central nervous system functions.

I. helenium (horse heal) root may increase the alertness state of the brain

Lavender has anxiolytic (a medication or other intervention that reduces anxiety), mood stabilizer, sedative, analgesic and other neuroprotective properties

L. angustifolia (English Lavender) aroma may have a beneficial effect on female adults with sleep disorders

In other words, our brains are wired to respond to scents, which can affect how we feel, our stress levels, our behavior, our focus, and much more.

Fragrances connect us with our food, our homes, with nature, and the world that we live in to enhance our lives in many ways. The Fragrance Conservatory

An Overview of Fragrance Families

Knowing which family of fragrances you’re most drawn to is a benefit in and of itself. Have you ever fallen in love with a scent and then struggled to find others like it? That’s probably because you didn’t know which fragrance family it belonged to! Once I learned about these families, I had clarity and understanding that I never knew before, and it has made a world of difference when I shop for scents and mix them. So, let’s see what they are!

There are four scent families: woody, floral, amber, and fresh. There are a couple of other iterations of this scent wheel, but we’re going to use these four.

I introduce to you, The Fragrance Wheel.

Source: Fragrance Direct

These families each take a respective space on the Fragrance Wheel, a circular diagram that illustrates the four scent families with each of their corresponding subfamilies.

Michael Edwards invented the Fragrance Wheel to help perfumers, candle makers, and fragrance lovers by placing families with common olfactory characteristics next to one another. For each of these four families, they are further broken down into subfamilies that are side-by-side on the wheel.

Blending The Families

As a general guide, mixing fragrances next to each other on the Fragrance Wheel will produce “Kindred” or “Comforting” notes. These fragrance combinations are similar in profile and blend to create familiar, comforting scents.

Mixing fragrances opposite on the wheel produces “Complimentary” notes. Blending two fragrances from opposite sides of the fragrance wheel will produce highly complex and interesting blends. These happen to be my personal favorites because they have such unique characteristics.

The Fragrance Families and Subfamilies

The Fresh Family

Fresh fragrances usually comprise citrus, water, and green notes, which means they have refreshing, zesty, and vibrant smells. They are reminiscent of herbal and leafy scents such as rosemary and mint and produce crisp, zingy, and aromatic notes with underlying woody tones. Fresh fragrances are the most diverse family on the wheel, as they can be oceanic, citrusy, bright, or herbal.

Fresh Subfamilies:

*Aromatic

Aromatics balance sharp and spicy notes with woody mellowness.

Aroma: Clean, Natural, Sharp

Examples: Basil, Black Tea, Camphor, Chamomile, Cypress, Gin, Hemp, Juniper, Mint, Peppermint, Rosemary, Saffron, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Sage, Green Tea

*Citrus

Citrus fragrances are bright, tangy, and zesty.

Aroma: Sharp, Zesty, Bright

Examples: Bergamot, Communelle, Sweet Orange, Orange Bigarade, Mandarin, Clementine, Yuzu, Lime, Lemon, Lemongrass, Citron, Verbena, Grapefruit

*Water

These aromas are light and have an ozonic scent.

Aroma: Light, Airy, Aquatic, Ozonic

Examples: Ozone, Sea Salt, Sea Mist, Ocean

*Green

Green fragrances are reminiscent of freshly cut grass or the lushness of bamboo

Aroma: Lush, Sharp, Grassy, Leafy,

Examples: Grass, Agave, Aloe, Bamboo, Cucumber, Green Leaves, Moss, Palm, Rhubarb

The Floral Family

As the name suggests, this family includes anything with a sweet and flowery scent. It’s one of the broadest families and can range from light and delicate to complex and intense. This family includes florals such as rose, jasmine, orange blossom, and lily of the valley.

Floral Subfamilies:

*Fruity

Fruity fragrances are tropical, fruity, and vibrant

Aroma: Exotic, Fresh, Sweet, Vibrant

Examples: Apple, Berry, Black Cherry, Cranberry, Fig, Guava, Melon, Mango, Peach, Red Currant, Plum

*Soft Floral

Referred to as delicate florals, these are sweet, delicate, and soft

Aroma: Powdery, Smooth, Creamy, Soft

Examples: Rose, Violet, Dafodil, Lilac, Magnolia, Mimosa, Geranium

*Floral

These fragrances are focused on preserving the freshness of flowers

Aroma: Spicy, Bright, Woody

Examples: Cherry Blossom, Chrysanthemum, Freesia, Green Floral, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Orchid

*Floral Oriental (Amber)

This subfamily has the richness of amber and the freshness of florals

Aroma: Sweet Spices, Warm, Powdery

Examples: Blends of oriental and floral fragrances to create warm, deep, exotic scents

The Oriental Family

The Oriental subfamily is synonymous with the Amber subfamily. This group of fragrances is warm, sweet, and luxurious. They’re often considered sensual and exotic since they include notes of cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla and floral notes such as jasmine, orchid, and orange blossom.

Oriental (Amber) Subfamilies:

*Soft Oriental

This subfamily mixes oriental notes with more delicate floral ones to create beautiful, warm fragrances.

Aroma: Intense, Warm, Spicy, Earthy

Examples: Soft floral and intense oriental aromas. Delicate floral notes, warm spices, heady incense, Cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, and musk are typical aromas. Intense, earthy, and spicy sensual notes like agarwood and oud

*Oriental

These have sweet, sharp notes that are rich and warm

Aroma: Intoxicating, Sensual, Elegant

Examples: Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Myrrh, Frankincense, Cinnamon, Resin, Clove, Ginger, Peppercorn, Saffron, Fennel

*Woody Oriental

This subfamily blends woody musk with classic oriental scents.

Aroma: Warm, Earthy, Cosy, Sensual, Musky

Examples: Blends of Sandalwood and Patchouli, Cedar and Vanilla, or Cinnamon and Brown Sugar, Amyris

The Woody Family

The Woody Family is warm, timeless, and captivating, with cedarwood, sandalwood, vetiver, and amber scents. Woody scents are earthy, smoky, or leathery and are described as being opulent and mysterious.

These fragrances bring a sense of grounding and sophistication to any space. The woody aromas evoke images of wandering through a serene forest, enveloping you in a cozy embrace.

Woody Subfamilies:

*Woods

The perfume notes in this fragrance subfamily are dry but aromatic.

Aroma: Dry, Potent, Sensual, Smoky

Examples: Sandalwood, Cedar, Patchouli, Balsam, Oakmoss, Cypress, Pine, Nootka Tree

*Mossy Woods (Chypra – ‘shee-pra’)

These have a deep, earthy aroma and not as dry as the Woods subfamily

Aroma: Mossy, Sweet, Mellow, Smooth, Light

Examples: Blends of Oakmoss and Patchouli, Amber and Citrus, or Sandalwood and Violet

*Dry Woods

These scents have a smoky aroma or that of burnt wood.

Aroma: Leathery, Smoky, Deep

Examples: Cedar, Tobacco, Vetiver, Palo Santo, Oud, Teakwood

When exploring the realm of fragrances, understanding a scent’s family and subfamily can significantly enhance your olfactory journey. By recognizing these classifications, one can navigate the intricate world of aromas with more clarity and confidence. This knowledge becomes particularly advantageous when blending scents to create a unique and harmonious fragrance or when selecting a new addition to your collection. Whether you are drawn to the freshness of citrus notes, the warmth of oriental blends, or the elegance of florals, discerning a fragrance’s family and subfamily equips you with the insight needed to curate a signature scent that resonates with your individual preferences.

The Fragrance Notes

Fragrances have what are called “Top,” “Middle” (or ‘Heart”‘), and “Bottom” notes. These notes determine which scents you smell first, which ones last the longest, and which ones you smell the most!

In the “Fragrance Note Pyramid” above, you will notice that the notes relate to a part of the triangle, how long those notes last, and examples of some well-known fragrances for each category.

Top Notes:

Top Notes are also called the ‘Head’ or ‘Opening’ notes and describe the scent you smell immediately after smelling a candle or perfume.

These notes evaporate very quickly, but this is most likely the smell you will associate with the product. Think of Top Notes as the first impression! These fragrance notes last between 5 and 15 minutes before evaporating entirely.

Middle (Heart) Notes

After the Top Notes have evaporated, the Middle Notes will make their grand entrance. These notes are the body of the fragrance and will last 20 – 60 minutes.

They will also wait until they’re burned off to make way for the Bottom, or Base, Notes. They have an important function: helping the Top and Bottom Notes merge harmoniously!

Bottom (Base) Notes

After the Top and Middle Notes evaporate, the Bottom Notes emerge and last between 5 to 6 hours. This is the fragrance you will remember the most!

Note: Many fragrance products have their own variation of this pyramid with different structures to fit what they need, but this is the most widely used one and is the basis of many fragrances. This is a guide, not a rule.

Benefits of Specific Fragrances

Phew! That’s a lot to take in. I’ve always wondered why our connection to scent was so strong and why I always think of my trip to Hawaii with my family whenever I smell coconut.

Have you ever wondered about the benefits of some of your favorite fragrances? Me too! Discover more on my website

www.ritualcandlecompanytx.com

Written by Erin Larson

Erin is creator and founder of Ritual Candle Co. The company was started in February 2022 and is dedicated to bringing awareness to self-care.