Citrus scent doesn’t just smell good, it has some mood-boosting benefits too and for good reason. From the moment we’re born, scent dictates whether we like or dislike something. At one end of the spectrum, it alerts us to danger – smoke/putrid food/gas, while at the other it brings us pleasure, happiness, comfort and joy. It’s simply the way we’re wired. When we smell something the olfactory neurons in the upper part of the nose spark an impulse that’s passed to the brain where it reaches the olfactory bulb. Directly linked to the limbic system which is responsible for memories and play a role in controlling mood, behaviour and emotion, it’s why scents can have such a huge impact on how we feel and unearth memories and feelings we thought we’d long forgotten.
“We each have our own life footprint that’s determined by our past experiences and influenced by our memories and emotions,” explains master perfumer, Ruth Mastenbroek. “Because smell is so closely linked to memories it means it’s extremely personal to our own lives, including our responses, both conscious and unconscious to scent.”
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE SCENTS
However, while we all have our own olfactory blueprints, there are some scents that are appealing to all, in particular, fresh citrus scents. Often used in aromatherapy, research has found that citrus odours normalise neuroendocrine and immune function in depressive individuals and that orange scents can help reduce anxiety. “Citrus essential oils have been shown to have an invigorating and positive effect on your state of mind which is why aromatherapists use them to boost mood because certain components of these oils are known to reduce stress by influencing the areas of the brain responsible for these reactions,” continues Ruth.
It's not just the mind that citrus scents have an impact on either. “Lime, lemon and grapefruit are reputed to be stimulating and antiseptic and thought to help with infections and colds whereas the milder citrus oils of mandarin and orange are reputed to be more refreshing and believed to help with tension, headaches and tiredness,” says fragrance specialist, Julie Marlowe. “Some oils can be calming to the nervous system while being reviving at the same time because the physical effects of essential oils on the body can be different to the effects on our emotions.”
CREATE AN AROMATIC ATMOSPHERE
As for the time of day, because they have such a perky effect on mind and body, experts recommend mornings are the best time to infuse your senses with citrus although Julie does suggest that milder ones such as mandarin and orange are still ok to use at night. This is also where you can really utilise home fragrances as it can set the right mood for how you want to feel without being overpowering in your perfume. “Home fragrance provides a setting to surround you with good feelings and can provide a real sense of comfort or refreshment,” says Ruth. Plus, because they appeal to all genders you don’t have to worry about offending anyone if you live with others.
Just a few spritzes of The Ritual of Mehr Parfum d’Interieur room spray [link to product] will fill the atmosphere and your nasal passages with a zesty aroma of sweet orange to help you start your day off right while the Green Cardamon Incense Sticks combine cardamon with mandarin to create a rich aroma that naturally prompts a positive mental attitude. A Japanese study even found that smelling citrus for just 10 minutes helped to boost participants’ moods for up to 30 minutes so, imagine what you could do if you had a candle burning in the background or your aromatherapy diffuser softly filling the air with a piquant puff every half hour.
Finally, when you’re looking for your citrus boost it’s also worth bearing in mind what your lemons and limes are paired with. Notoriously difficult scents to create because the fragrance isn’t from the juice of the fruit but the rind where it’s extracted into an essential oil, they often need to be blended with other citrus notes or woods and white flowers to ensure those invigorating and juicy aromas stick around and you can reap the mood-enhancing high for longer.