A heightened focus on scent is bringing attention to the link between olfaction and wellbeing. Doctors are recommending smell training, or “physical therapy for your nose,” to COVID-19 patients experiencing long-lasting loss of smell. After studying the curious COVID-19 symptom, the New York Times reports that researchers went “from thinking of smell as a ‘bonus sense’ to a dominant one, and ‘from a secondary sense to one of the primary things that influences our life.’” The article, titled “What Can Covid-19 Teach Us About the Mysteries of Smell?,” goes on to explain that “olfaction is also bound up, in ways that we’re only beginning to understand, with our immune systems.”

Brands are tapping into the power of scent, harnessing functional fragrance to lift moods, quell anxiety and boost wellbeing.

WEB Girl Rochas2
Girl by Rochas
WEB Girl Rochas1

Girl by luxury perfume house Rochas, launched in 2021, bills itself as the first 100% feel-good perfume, with the tagline: “Spray Good — Feel Good.” The natural, vegan formula is meant to relax wearers, and was designed for “a new generation conscious and attentive to its wellbeing.”

WEB FOREST LUNGS from The Nue Co photography by Christina Nwabugo 1
Forest Lungs by The Nue Co

The Nue Co’s newest perfume, Forest Lungs, launched at the end of 2020, is meant to replicate the healing effects of nature. Described as a “sensory anti-stress supplement,” the perfume mimics the scent of the forest in order to boost the parasympathetic (rest) nervous system and improve “a wide variety of concerns from mental health and sleep to immunity.”

WEB Miller Lite Bar Smells
Bar Smells by Miller Lite. Image courtesy of CNW Group/Molson Coors Canada

Surprisingly—and perhaps opportunistically, given that sales of scented candles rose 17% in 2020, according to the NPD Group—Miller Light released a line of candles in April 2021 meant to evoke the nostalgia of a night out. The unexpected emotional play from the beer brand was met with success: the ‘Bar Smells’ line sold out within 24 hours. Scents included Dive Bar, a blend of tobacco, pine and yeast; Game Day Bar, a mix of salted peanuts, jalapenos and leather; and Beer Garden, a combination of green moss, warm pretzels and cracked wood.

Scent, which is linked strongly to emotion, is increasingly being examined as a way to improve mental health and overall wellbeing. Expect to see a continued rise of multisensory healing.

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