Let me say, from one who thought I could never do aromatherapy, now that I’ve found the right line for me, it’s a real treat. I’ve had my eye on the Demeter Fragrance Library for a long time. I can’t guess how many years ago I bought a bottle of their Cosmopolitan Cocktail cologne. It smelled exactly like the drink tastes when perfectly balanced, right down to the boozy undertone. I couldn’t get enough of that deliciously weird, sour fruit tang, with its elusive sexy base note. Even when I’d had it for years and the bottle was nearly empty, it smelled as fresh and intoxicating as ever. In the years since, I’ve sniffed a few more of their evocative and startlingly accurate scents in shops. Later I looked them up and discovered the library is a large one indeed.
As of writing, the A-Z list starts with Almond and ends on Yuzu Marmalade, and it’s far too long (for me to want) to count. Classic beautifully rendered single note perfumes are well represented – Amber, Bulgarian Rose, Gardenia, Cedar, Lavender, Neroli. There are also plenty of entries in the conceptual category I associate with fancy candles – Salt Air, Linen, Pure Soap, Moonbeam, Fuzzy Sweater, Clean Skin, Mountain Air. I’m enticed by adventurous eats and drinks – Earl Gray Tea, Mojito, Turmeric, Sweet Cilantro, and Ginseng Root -but my favorite curious obsessions are the olfactory concoctions that represent experiences you would never expect to see bottled: deeply odd entries like Wet Garden, Tomato Seeds, Rye Bread, Play-Doh, Humidor, and Earthworm.
I mostly ignored my raging desire to sample every weird one of them but occasionally the old itch comes back. A few weeks ago I gave in to temptation and ordered a couple sampler collections of the tiny .17 oz purse sprays, and I can’t recall an impulse buy that has given me more unadulterated joy. I chose sampler packs based on the presence of two of my favorite scents: the smell of rain just as it moistens the earth, known as Petrichor, and Sandalwood, which is a tricky one. It can in some forms be a buttery warm woodsy comfort favorite, but when it’s the powdery sharp version that’s more common, I can’t stand it. Petrichor led me to the 2017 Sampler (thirteen fragrances!) and Sandalwood was in the Tranquility Foolproof Blending Sampler Pack (eight scents).
Petrichor fulfilled my dreams – fresh rain and light moist earth with a faint veil of clean background sweetness. Sandalwood was exactly the nostril shriveling dry old man shaving soap I dread. The best part though, was that I could spare no time for Sandalwood grief, because I was busy falling in love with the bright intensity of Nitro Coffee, the deep warm richness of Molasses, the complex Chamomile Tea, with its layers of warm, sweet, honeypowder and creamflower notes. And let’s not forget the surprise hit, Purple Iris, a tasty soft floral with a bright fruity profile that made me glad I bought the sampler packs, because I would never have put this gem in my cart.
It’s hard to depart from the goodness of these unique scents, but this is not a review of Demeter products, excellent though they are. It’s more a note in support of aromatherapy for anyone who might find it useful in the general project of shifting life habits to uplift, energize, motivate, calm, reduce stress, or otherwise improve our mental states. The power of odors to evoke emotion and memory and shift mood is truly astonishing. A squirt of one of these lovely scents around my desk every few hours is a great pick me up.
Mood scents can’t replace therapy, medication or any kind of medical or psychological care, but they can offer significant support to overall wellness efforts at an attractive price point, with incomparable ease of use and virtually no risk. They’re a little something to lighten the mind, to evoke a happy place, to touch base with comforting childhood memories, or just a bit of sensory delight to look forward to when slogging through an unwanted chore. This is especially useful when shifting habits. It’s easier to replace a habit than break one, whether it’s eating junk food at the desk, or smoking, or loading up on coffee instead of having a healthy snack, or whatever. Instead of reaching for the usual, grab a few marvelous smells, take a walk outside, enjoy some deep breaths of heavenly scented air while doing whatever kind of mental exercise helps most – prayers, affirmations, CBT, EFT tapping – whatever. Take a quick brisk walk, drink some water, have that healthy snack.
This is my prescription for myself, and I share it hoping others find it useful as part of a well-balanced self care routine. Everybody’s heard of aromatherapy, but some of us may have overlooked it, or underestimated the variety of scents and products available. For those who have thought “that’s not for me” or chalked it up to the exclusive domain of patchouli hippies, I challenge you to browse the Demeter Fragrance Library. Treat yourself to something peculiar, a smell you associate with a great memory or your favorite place or activity, or just an offering so weird you can’t even imagine what it would smell like – maybe Funeral Home, or Spacewalk. The novelty may refresh your mind and make your synapses tingle and you will most likely not be sorry. We need all the help we can get to be mindful and strong and stay motivated through the onslaught of events in these infinitely interesting times. I’m personally keeping my favorites right out on my desk, so I can take a deep sniff right off the bottles every time I see another headline, like a Victorian with smelling salts always at hand for moments of hysteria.
I’m enchanted with the Demeter scents in particular because I’m very picky about perfume and cologne. I stopped buying it years ago because I can’t stand wearing the same scent every day, so I can’t use a bottle before I get sick of it, and it’s always a bit too strong, even if I truly love it when I pick it out. I love nice smells of course, but I have a sensitive nose and I often find scented candles and home fragrance products smell too strong, chemical, or just overwhelming. I hold my breath in the cleaning products aisle at grocery stores and I can’t go in candle stores for more than a few minutes. I can’t stand plug in air fresheners because even if I like the smell they give me headaches – quickly or slowly, but inevitably. Most essential oils are too strong for me. The concept category of scents in particular tend to be appealing for a few moments in small amounts and then quickly become overpowering.
It came as a delightful surprise that the roughly 20 Demeter scents I’ve tried so far don’t cause headaches or become bothersome to me over time. Even the powerfully sweet and piercingly accurate Jasmine cloud dissipated quickly enough that I didn’t regret (overlong) letting my son spray it in the house. Perhaps some would find the scents too light or fleeting, but for me the evocative yet somehow gentle presence of these colognes are what makes it possible to use and enjoy a variety of mix and match blends in sheer enough layers to bear. My blend changes as the day progresses, and the scents don’t clash. It’s a great match for me – exactly what I never knew I wanted.