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Making Sense of Scent

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I have always been a sucker for scent. I used to own a beautiful beauty boutique named VERT (the French word for "green," as it housed luxury natural products). There, I created a table where you could hang out and explore and flirt with different fragrances. It was always busy, as most of us are drawn to things that evoke a memory or a feeling of beauty. I always knew when a customer found her signature scent. I equate it to finding the perfect lover -- it just feels "right."

My nose became more sophisticated as I learned and experimented with different oils and notes, and now I have a few favorites that call to me depending on how I am feeling on any given day. Not only do they make me smell like heaven, but they also can elevate my mood, make me feel more seductive, or instill a sense of calm and well-being. As my obsession for scents grew, so did my curiosity, and I fell in love with essential oils.

For those of you who haven't been introduced to these oils, this is the product rendered from distilling flowering plants. To get started on my studies, I called on my friends and experts at Intelligent Nutrients. I am a huge fan of this brand and the founder Horst Rechelbacher, who has been using and studying them for more them 40 years. I also discovered The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, by Valerie Ann Worwood. This is a beauty junkie's bible! Armed with these experts at my side, I trepidatiously decided to further educate myself on the study of this ancient art.

I say trepidatious, for I am initially cautious or even a bit cynical when I research a newfound passion that entails using sensory thoughts and applications that were, until recently, relatively unknown to me. School for me was always a bit of a struggle -- let's just say I was certainly a late bloomer and, back then, far more worried about my hair (no kidding)! I am so glad I dipped my toe into these waters; I have discovered my love of the right perfume can also be applied to aromatherapy. I now use these oils intuitively for a multitude of things -- my clarity, mood, cleaning house and, most excitedly, medicinally. So, along with my Clarisonic, probiotics, and beauty masks, my newest addition to my daily routine and beauty arsenal is my diffuser. Oh, and don't worry-this one is not hippy-dippy; it plugs in, has two speeds, and actually looks like a piece of art.

Here are some facts I found fascinating:

  • Diffusing essential oils in a space may effectively combat some infectious pathogens, while promoting respiratory health.
  • Some oils are believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect through inhalation or by stimulating a person's sense of smell and creating a response within the body. Certain oils may be applied topically, as well.
  • Many nurses in the UK and even the U.S. use essential oil aromatherapy as a method of enhancement for care. This intrigued me, of course, as I spend lots of time with patients in hospitals doing make-up for my charity, Lipstick Angels.

Here are a few of my faves that the brand carries. Some are even blended by the experts, so you can smell a variety of notes. I suggest starting with the blends if you are a beginner so you can experience a varied palette.

  • De-Stress Express -- This is a unique blend of essential oils to immediately de-stress your mind and body (you can even spray it on your pillow).
  • Grapefruit -- In my experience, this is an antidote for irritability, stress, and anger.
  • Tunisian Rosemary -- Great for stimulating brainpower and alertness, stimulates cells and happy thoughts. (I love this oil before or during a meeting and am actually diffusing it now as I am writing!)
  • Mandarin -- Can be calming and sedative, it is ideal for those who are tired of counting sheep and need to sleep.
  • Ylang-ylang -- incredibly soothing, heady, and reportedly an aphrodisiac (an added bonus!).
  • Sandalwood -- Powerful for focusing, an antidepressant, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal.

The best part about this journey for me (besides sharing it with you) has been the continuous voyage. Taking the time to tap in to what my mind and body want and need through scent has been so interesting. My personal insecurities -- many of which are the result of my not being, shall we say, the most stellar student in my youth -- continue to confront me as an adult. Experiencing the art and science of this holistic practice has me once again holding up that mirror of self-reflection. In the grander scheme, I am grateful that I am gently reminded how important the benefits of taking risks, learning something new (at any age), and embracing the art of listening can be. This combo of science and spirituality is truly intoxicating and has added a lovely and positive dimension to my previously olfactory-deprived life!

XO

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