Holiday memories that get up your nose
It’s holiday time and you’re off on that well-earned vacation. In amongst the sexy lingerie and designer bikinis, most women include their favourite perfume in their toiletry bag, when they are packing for the much-anticipated trip. But did you know that climate affects the fragrance of that much-beloved scent that you are so keen to dab on your neck and wrists?
There are specific ‘notes’ that are best for different temperatures and, wearing the inappropriate perfume can sometimes backfire on the wearer, and instead of creating harmonic notes, can become olfactory cacophony!
Here are some interesting facts and background to one of the most primitive rituals practised by animals and the human species alike — making our presence known through leaving our smell behind on surfaces or in the air.
A brief history of perfume
I’ve always understood that perfume made its entrance onto the world stage sometime around the Middle Ages, as a means of camouflaging the odiferous stench emanating from the populace, whose annual bath ceremony was cause for celebration.
History says otherwise. In fact, the art of Perfumery goes back to Ancient Times and cannot be accredited to one area of the planet, having roots in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilization and possibly Ancient China. It was further refined by the Romans and the Arabs as new ingredients and methodologies were discovered.
Almost predictably, a woman is recognised as the world’s first-recorded perfumery chemist, named Tapputi, a perfume maker mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. Her skills centred around distilling flowers, oil and calamus with other aromatics, then filtering them and returning them to the still, several times.
While on the Indian subcontinent, perfume and perfumery existed in the Indus civilization (3300 BC – 1300 BC), in 2003, what is claimed to be the world’s oldest surviving perfumes, were uncovered by archaeologists in Pyrgos, Cyprus, dating back more than 4,000 years.
Well, the sense of smell is our most primitive sense, the one sense that immediately triggers memories, good or bad. It is smell that alerts us to danger like a gas leak, fire or rotten food. But it also messages parts of the brain that process emotion and memory. It’s smell that brings a smile to our face when a pleasant fragrance fills the air, or our favourite meal is being prepared.
A 2014 study showed that we can distinguish at least 1 trillion different odours — up from previous estimates of a mere 10,000, while, according to a 2015 study by researchers in Israel, usually within 30 seconds of the interaction, sniffing palms after a handshake would probably help people learn about someone’s health and genetic compatibility!
While skin chemistry is unique for everyone, women incline towards having more acidic skin than men. So, a woman who finds a fragrance ‘manly’ on her boyfriend might be amazed to find it smells ‘womanly’ when she wears it. This is because compounds in a perfume or cologne respond in a different way on each person’s skin. And this leads onto the fact that preference for certain fragrances between the genders is not based in biology, it’s a cultural contrivance of Western society.
“As anecdotal evidence, one survey found that some of the most popular scents for Britons were the cozy smells of suburban home life, including cut grass and Sunday roast. Another poll showed that on the island of New Zealand, favourite aromas included salt air and hangi cooking, a native cuisine.” (https://lifestyle.howstuffworks.com/)
Wearing perfume helps to keep unwanted body odour supressed and, wearing a fragrance, ensures that you smell good throughout the day. Perfumes are rich in pheromones and make you attractive, to the extent that sometimes, you can simply get attracted to someone because of the way they smell!
Many people choose to wear one fragrance that ultimately becomes their signature, and they are forever associated with that specific scent. While it’s perfectly fine to wear one scent year-round, be aware of how your perfume reacts with the season. If it’s cooler, you’ll want to layer it on in many forms so it’s noticeable. In warmer weather, you may want to steer away from the more concentrated perfume option, so that you’re not competing with so many other scents. Some manufacturers even make variations of signature scents to match the season.
One of the main benefits of wearing perfume is its mood enhancing qualities and, from the immense variety available, you can also wear a perfume that reflects your mood, whether it be playful, mischievous, timid or even reserved; perfumes can project your emotional state to those around you.
Picking a fragrance for the climate
Each climate and weather conditions brings its own different combination of scents and with it, its own set of emotions. Warmer climates bring flamboyant displays of flower blossoms and warm light, green plants and verdant meadows. As you move into cooler climes, scents of musk and patchouli are more prevalent, with overtones of sandalwood and cinnamon. It’s best to regulate the amount of scent you wear based on the temperature outside. Because heat intensifies a scent, it’s a good idea to go lighter on your application of perfume and choose a lighter scent.
For warm but not tropical climates, florals are the best such as those that include notes of lily of the valley, peonies and violets. Even faint overtones of lemon grass in a spritzer are wonderful for lifting the mood.
Being in the Tropics lends itself to brown skins, sunshine and sweeter florals, such as roses and orange blossoms, mixed with fresh fruit scents like raspberry and peach. Colognes are perfect as they are light and non-cloying. In addition, honeysuckle, island flowers, and even sea salt can trigger memories of sun-soaked days on a tropical vacation.
Heading into cooler latitudes, deep seductive fragrances containing spicy and musky notes come into play. This is where hints of sandalwood, musk, amber, and jasmine shine, but would be overpowering in a warmer climate.
Really cold climates are best for scents of citrus, vanilla and spice as well as pomegranate and vanilla bean, lemon, or orange. When it’s cold outside, rich and spicy exotic scents create a feeling of warmth. Scent with notes of spicy cinnamon or cardamom are wonderful for gathering around log-fires and snow falling outside.
Also, perfume has countless calming and healing benefits. Citrus fruit, floral and winter spice perfumes help calm the mind and soothe the body, reducing stress, while some perfumes that contain essential oils, such as lavender, can help you relax and enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep.
Perfume also comes in different intensities.
Perfume is the strongest scent available and, owing to price, normally comes in tiny bottles, as its high concentration makes it more valuable. Apply perfume to your pulse points, sparingly.
Eau de parfum isn’t as concentrated as perfume so you can spray it all over your body before adding perfume or wear it on its own. Eau de toilette is a little lighter than eau de parfum, and you can use it as a base before putting on perfume.
Cologne is a light, refreshing fragrance that you can splash all over your body, and, because it’s so light it doesn’t linger for any length of time. It’s great for having in an atomiser for spritzing yourself when the mood strikes.
Body spray is the most affordable and used all over to add just a touch of fragrance. It also doesn’t last as long as perfume or eau de parfum.
Whatever your destination, be sure to evoke the sensations and memories of your vacation and choose a fragrance that will bring those memories rushing back!
TIP: Try a new perfume for every destination you travel to. This will act as a trigger to remember the places you visited.