Philip Birkholz

Scent yourself

A hint of cinnamon hangs in the air – and my thoughts take me on a journey back in time to granny’s kitchen. The taste of my favourite cinnamon cookies lies on my tongue and transports me into that snug Christmassy atmosphere of my childhood.

Scents awaken feelings and evoke memories; they form images in our minds of past love affairs, unforgettable holidays and forgotten days. Everyone has them – the fragrances that surround us and immediately influence the mood. As soon as the salty sea air hits my nose, a feeling of relaxation immediately flows through my body. But are there also scents that can influence the mood in general?

Smells are closely connected with the emotions. Scent compositions travel directly through the nose and into the emotional centre of the human brain – the limbic system. It is here that emotions are processed and controlled. The nervous system is stimulated, hormones released and a person’s own mood can be influenced within a fraction of a second. Scents can thus evoke emotions in us unconsciously; inversely, however, scents can also be used specifically to arouse a certain feeling or mood.

FLORAL

Lavender

the soul of Provence

The bittersweet scent of the violet-blue blossoms is a classic amongst fragrances. The fresh and aromatically scented plants were used in ancient times by the Greeks and Romans as an additive for daily bathing rituals. The flowers of the lavender bush smell of freshly picked herbs and flowers at the same time. Lavender is also said to have a healing effect. The plant’s fragrance has a calming, soothing, relaxing effect, is said to promote sleep and relieve cramping, and also works as a mood enhancer.

Jasmine

the royal blossom

Jasmin belongs to the olive tree family. There are two types: European jasmine and Indian jasmine. Together with rose, jasmine is the most popular flower scent. It is extracted from the fine white petals of the flower. Huge quantities of the flowers are needed to produce just a litre of oil, making the oil one of the most precious worldwide. The scent of the white jasmine flower is strong, honey-like, intensively sweet and flowery, with fruity, herb-like undertones, and is said to reduce stress, exhilarate and soothe at the same time. The plant is also purported to have an aphrodisiac effect.

Geranium

the under-appreciated scent

In Europe, the geranium is particularly prized as a garden and balcony plant. But it can do more! The essential oil of the geranium is distilled from the leaves and exudes a pleasant woody-green, rose-like fragrance with minty-fruity undertones. The scent of the geranium is mild and sweet and has a relaxing effect on the body.

Linden blossoms

the herald of the summer

It’s plain to see on Berlin’s „Unter den Linden“ boulevard: when the seasons change from spring to summer, Berlin’s grand boulevard changes too. The summer-green trees with their gently rustling leaves develop the enchanting fragrance of their blossoms in June and July. The scent of the linden blossom is floral, pleasantly sweet, honey-like and heady. Green accents provide the scent with a refreshing note, however. The effects are harmonising and levelling.

Apple blossom

the fresh spring

In the springtime, the apple trees are adorned with a blaze of white, pink or red. The flowers have a similarity to roses, since the apple tree belongs to the rose family of plants. In mythology, the fruit is a symbol of love, sexuality and fertility. The apple tree is the symbol of eternal life. The apple blossoms themselves exude a fresh and very flowery scent, comparable with the fragrance of violets and lily of the valley.

Cassis blossom

fruity clarity

Cassis is the French name for blackcurrant. The blackcurrant bush thrives in particular in the cool regions of Europe and North America. The blossom has an intensely fruity and modern fragrance. The sweetness of the blackcurrant has an exotic element and is at the same time fresh and clear. The cassis blossom thus has a pleasantly refreshing effect and clears the head.

Lily of the valley

the magic of spring

Lily of the valley is a herbaceous plant whose white, bell-shaped flowers bloom between May and June. The flowers exude a sweet, intense fragrance. In bygone days, it was said that the scent of the lily of the valley was a spring-time sign for the nightingale to look for a partner. The classic white flower has a fresh, floral scent. Its graceful character is delicate and light. This note gives every perfume a touch of spring-like magic.

Orange blossom

the sun of Sicily

The oil of the orange blossom is produced from the flowers of the bitter orange tree. According to legend, the oil gets its name from the Sicilian princess Nerola, who loved this scent so very much – and it is also known today as neroli oil. The elegant scent of the orange blossom is fresh, lightly floral and, like the orange itself, very fruity. It reminds of sun and warmth and is perfect for fresh perfumes. The scent of the orange blossom helps relieve internal tension and has an enlivening, slightly aphrodisiac effect.

Orchid

elegant grandeur

With its rich variety of colours and flower forms, the orchid is one of the most opulent plant families. This flower has more than 1000 classes – its elegance and grace is displayed not only in its beauty but also in the particularly feminine and delicate yet intense aroma of its blossoms. The first traditions of the plant come from the philosopher Confucius, who wrote about the scent and the beauty of the flower, using a Chinese character that means grace, love, purity, elegance and beauty. The orchid is said to have an aphrodisiac effect.

Rose

the queen of flowers

The rose, the queen of all flowers, is the symbol of love and adoration, and exudes an exquisite fragrance which is considered to be the embodiment of femininity. The production of rose oil has its roots in Persia. The oil is extracted by means of steam distillation and is one of the most expensive oils there are. The rose can thank the Greek poet Sappho, who mentioned the flower in a poem, for the name „queen of flowers“:

„Like a maidenly blush,
it peeks through the bowers:
Oh the rose! – The rose
is the queen of all the flowers“
(Sappho of Lesbos)

The warm, soft fragrance of the rose has a sensual, seductive effect. The aroma lifts the spirits and relaxes at the same time.

FRUITY

Tropical pineapple

the sun of the tropics

Fresh and tart, it exudes the feeling of summer, sun and holiday – the pineapple. Discovered in the 16th century by Spanish and Portuguese sailors, the plant first spread throughout all exotic countries.

The scent of the pineapple is intensively fresh and fruity with a pleasant, summery aroma. It has a mood-brightening effect, is especially invigorating and enlivening. This scent allows the sun of the tropics to shine.

Raspberry

the modern fruit

The raspberry grows in Europe, northern Asia and North America. The soft, red berries develop out of the wonderful white-pink blossoms. But this fruit isn’t only good as jam on the Sunday bread rolls. In many modern and feminine perfumes, raspberry is present as a clear and fruity accent. The raspberry note has a refreshing, invigorating effect.

Mandarin

the fruity, sweet one

The mandarin has its roots in China. There, the fruits were offered to the mandarins, honorary officials in imperial China, on special occasions. It is these ceremonies from which the fruit also gets its name. The essential oil is, just as it is in the case of an orange, extracted from the peel by means of cold pressing. The typical mandarin scent gives a perfume a delicate, fresh and mildly fruity sweetness. It harmonises particularly well with spicy and oriental compositions. The scent of mandarin encourages imagination and creativity, helps counteract tension and nervousness, and has an uplifting effect and increases initiative.

Mango

the exotic temptation

This sunny yellow fruit originally comes from the tropical rain forests of Asia. In India, the mango is venerated as the „divine fruit“ and is thus considered there to be the queen of all fruits. In the meantime, the fruit has conquered just about every corner of the globe. From the outside, the mango entices with a blaze of colour, from green to yellow to red. The flesh of the sun-yellow mango smells exotic and seductive. Its aromatic sweetness is particularly characteristic. Mango can be combined with both fruity and flowery fragrance notes, since its unobtrusive note harmonises well. The fragrance of the mango has an invigorating effect and encourages energy. This exotic temptation expresses a pure joie de vivre.

Orange

the lucky fruit

The orange originally comes from China, is a cross between a mandarin and a grapefruit, and was already considered to be a symbol of luck and wealth 2000 years before Christ. The essential oil is pressed from the peel. A distinction is made between bitter and sweet, whereby only the bitter orange oil is used in the manufacture of fragrances.

The orange has a fruity, sweet but also dry-aromatic citrus scent that is warm and bright, and harmonises with just about all other scents, especially jasmine and neroli. It is especially suitable for oriental and aromatic perfumes.

The scent of the orange has an invigorating, soothing, harmonising, mood-lightening and exhilarating effect. The scent exudes a warm aura and is one of the most popular fragrances of the Christmas period.

Bergamot

the Calabrian citrus fruit

The bergamot is an Italian cross between the lemon and the bitter orange. The fruit is named after the Piedmont city of Bergamo, and has the shape of a lemon and the size of an orange. The fruit is grown primarily for its fragrance and can be found only in southern Italy. The oil of the bergamot is extracted from the peel by means of cold pressing. Its scent is tangy and green. It can be used for both masculine and feminine perfumes and gives every fragrance a fresh, green note. The refreshing aroma invigorates body and soul, exhilarates, soothes and harmonises.

Lemon

the sour vivacity

The lemon comes originally from the Far East and was introduced to the Mediterranean area by the crusaders. The fruit was cultivated first in Sicily and Spain in particular. The popular lemon oil is cold pressed from the ripe peel. The character of lemon is sweet, light, clear and, in particular, refreshing. It is used in countless perfumes as a top note to give the fragrance a lightness. The lemon has an invigorating, exhilarating, refreshing effect and promotes concentration.

ORIENTAL

Ambergris

the stuff of the Orient

Natural ambergris, also known as amber (from the Arabic), is a material produced by the sperm whale when it eats – and is expelled together with indigestible bits of food. In the past, the material had to be stored for several years in an airy environment in order to develop the highly appreciated and typical fragrance. It was fishermen, in particular, who discovered the valuable lumps of ambergris in the sea. As late as the 16th century, ambergris was traded on the markets for more money than gold or precious stones. Today, the material is produced synthetically. Its scent is a little woody, dry and at the same time balsam-sweet, and smells a little like tobacco. The scent note is described as warm and earthy, and exudes an oriental flair. Ambergris is said to have an aphrodisiac effect.

Vanilla

the queen of the spices

A type of orchid, this climbing plant wraps itself around trees – the fruit of the vanilla plant is the vanilla bean. Vanilla comes originally from Mexico and Central America. Even the Aztecs prized its flavour and fragrance. One of the over 110 varieties has a particular depth of aroma, however – the bourbon vanilla from Madagascar. Its beans are harvested and develop their unmistakable aroma first after being exposed to the air and sun. The darker the beans of this queen of the spices are, the more intensive the scent will be: profound, sweet and warm with a light woody, tobacco-like, balsamic note. The scent gives every perfume a certain depth. The effect of the scent of vanilla is calming, balancing, mood-lifting and warming. It is also purported to have an aphrodisiac effect.

Cinnamon

the magic of winter

We know the rolled-up bark of the Ceylon cinnamon tree as cinnamon sticks. In wintertime particularly, this spice exudes a magic that gets us in the mood for Christmas. But its sweet, spicy aroma isn’t only reserved for cookies and mulled wine. In order to extract the oil for perfumes, the cinnamon bark undergoes a steam distillation process. This spice with its strong character is found particularly in oriental fragrance compositions. Cinnamon has a stimulating, balancing and nervine effect.

Anise

 the healing plant

For many people, anise is only known in the form of a tea. Actually, anise is a very old medicinal plant, whose small fruits have an aromatic, sweet-spicy and herbal fragrance. Anise has a relaxing, warming and stabilising effect on the body, and can help relieve headaches. The anise aroma is very mild and unobtrusive.

Patchouli

the leaf of seduction

Patchouli is a semi-shrub that comes originally from Malaysia. The oil of the same name is extracted from the broad, velvety leaves by means of steam distillation. The aroma of the oil develops over time. The scent dissipates very slowly and propagates a mysterious, erotic mood. For this reason, patchouli was already very popular amongst the French high society of the 19th century, and celebrated its revival in the 60s and 70s, especially as a favourite scent of the hippies. Today, patchouli is considered to be one of the most elegant scent notes in perfumes, with its sweet, earthy, woody and very slightly smoky aroma. It exudes an exotic, oriental note with a mysterious and seductive effect. In particular, patchouli is known for its aphrodisiac, stimulating and sensual qualities, both for men and women; it can also reduce stress, however.

Almond

a hint of marzipan

The almond tree is a member of the rose family. The fruit of the almond tree, with its elongated and egg-shaped stone fruit was already mentioned in the Old Testament. Today, Italy, Spain and California in the US are the most important areas of cultivation. The precious almond oil or bitter almond oil is extracted primarily from the bitter almond. The oil is used in many cosmetic products because of its soothing and skin-nurturing qualities. With its mild and warm aroma, the concentrated scent of almonds reminds of marzipan and is a particularly good match for oriental perfumes. It harmonises with all floral scents. The scent of almonds exudes a feeling of warmth and comfort.

WOODY

Sandalwood

the sensual wood

Sandalwood is cultivated primarily on Timor and other islands of the East Indian Ocean. Laws there stipulate that the tree can only be felled when it is at least 30 years old, since the precious sandalwood oil is first developed in the tree after it is 25 years old. To extract the precious oil, the heartwood is shredded, soaked in water and then distilled using steam. 25kg of wood is needed to produce one litre of oil. The scent of sandalwood is warm and velvety, but it also has a sweet, milky, sensual note. Sandalwood purportedly has various effects. It is said to promote creativity, give strength, stimulate the imagination and also to exude calm and contentment thanks to its soothing and relaxing qualities. It is offered to the gods as a holy fragrance in the form of incense sticks in India and other Asian cultures, and is also used in Indian Ayurveda medicine.

Rosewood

the sweet, aromatic scent of comfort

The rosewood tree belongs to the laurel family. The essential rosewood oil is extracted using a distillation process. The scent is flowery, slightly rose-like, almost like lily of the valley and with a sweet, aromatic note. It imparts comfort and lifts the mood.

FRESH

Melissa

the sacred herb

Melissa (or „balm“) comes originally from the eastern Mediterranean region and the Middle East, but is widespread throughout Europe these days. Monks are said to have brought melissa over the Alps and into the German monasteries, and to have cultivated it as a medicinal herb. Charlemagne is purported to have been such a huge fan of melissa that he ordered large-scale cultivation in the year 810. Melissa has to be harvested before it blooms, and the leaves are first dried. Then, the oil, which smells fresh and lemony, can be extracted by means of steam distillation. Melissa has a harmonising, strengthening, protective and invigorating effect.

Rosemary

the dew of the sea

Rosemary thrives particularly well on the sunny slopes around the Mediterranean. The evergreen shrub, which originally comes from the Mediterranean area, is intensely and aromatically scented, and is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs, having been valued as a sacred plant in ancient times. The goddess Aphrodite was sanctified in Greece with rosemary; in ancient Rome, it was the custom to decorate the house shrine with sprigs of the bush. Its name comes from the Latin „ros marinus“, which means „dew of the sea“. The oil is produced from its leaves and pale blue flowers. The scent is aromatic, fiery, invigorating and intensely herbal. Rosemary has an invigorating effect – like a fresh morning full of the dew of the sea.

DRY

Suede

sensually animalistic

Leather is one of the oldest raw materials used in the perfume industry. It should be considered as a note rather than a perfume substance, however. Smoky, sweet and animalistic in the note, leather exudes a comforting, sensual warmth. In a scent composition, leather provides a depth and smoothness. The unmistakable scent of leather is particularly suitable for distinctive men’s perfumes.

White musk

Musk was originally produced from the male musk deer but the perfume substance has been produced synthetically since 1888. Musk became well known through the crusaders, who used musk as an aphrodisiac on their crusades, since the structure of the scent is similar to pheromones. But even Marco Polo recognised the value of musk and used it as a means of payment on his travels. Musk has an animalistic note, with fine woody, sweet and powdery nuances. The scent has the ability to enliven every perfume and round it off with its natural warmth and sweetness.

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