Whether it’s the smell of just-baked ginger biscuits that take you back to your grandmother's kitchen or a whiff of an aftershave that reminds you vividly of a teenage kiss, the time-travelling potential of fragrance can stop you in your tracks – and as we approach the dark days of winter, scent is a powerful force in mentally transporting you back to the happy, sunnier times of summer. Catch a sniff of a tropical flower like hibiscus (the hero scent in Soap & Glory's new Call Of Fruity™ range) and you’ll find yourself miraculously on a faraway tropical island.
Smell and memory are intrinsically linked unlike any of our other senses. Fragrance expert Roja Dove explains that this is because smell is processed in the olfactory organ, which is located in the most primitive part of our brain. "Scent, the oldest sense, was developed for survival – to search for food, escape danger, and to find a mate," Dove says. This means our olfactory organ, essentially millions of nerves, has an impressive ability to recall scents we have previously encountered. "As the olfactory message enters the brain it passes the area where cognitive recognition occurs and a positive or negative association is formed," continues Dove. "When we encounter the same odour again, it will stimulate the most primitive parts of our subconscious, triggering an association which we generally refer to as a memory."
This is why we can often feel floored by these flashback moments. "Odours work like a cat burglar," explains Dove. "They intrude unannounced into our minds and soul, and when revisited, they unlock the floodgates of memories and emotions, leaving a profound imprint in our mind." However, when we use scent to our advantage, it can be positively influential. "Scents themselves have positive associations and make us feel safe, secure, happy and well."
This is where the joy of fragrance comes in. The right choice can dramatically alter your mood; for instance, citrus and fruit aromas are known for their revitalising abilities. "These notes inject life and boost vitality," Dove adds. "Think about the effect of someone peeling an orange in a stuffy train carriage – it instantly recharges the stale, stagnant air."
While you might think fragrance is only for perfume, we can also dial up its power via our body and skincare rituals. As winter draws in and crawling out of bed proves even more problematic, a ritual including scented products can wake you up and instil that summer feeling to set the tone for a brighter day ahead. Zingy bergamot orange is your best bet when looking for an energising scent. "You smell citrus notes further up the nose which means these materials do quite literally lift you up," Dove tells Refinery29. "Bergamot is the most enjoyable citrus note to be energised by as it doesn’t have an acidic or sour edge." When it's combined with tropical notes like melon or hibiscus, in your shower gel for example, it becomes a place that reminds you of your favourite summer memories – from sandy beaches to happy hour cocktails. Try Soap & Glory’s Call Of Fruity Bubble In Paradise Refreshing Shower Gel™, £6.50, to instantly feel like you’re on island time.
Much like our clearer, sunnier outlook on life, our skin tends to fare better in summer too. As the cold and dehydrating winter weather arrives, so do roughness, pesky dry patches and lacklustre skin. In order to emulate that smooth and glowing summer skin, it pays to amp up your body care routine when the temperature cools. Start with an exfoliating scrub like Soap & Glory’s Call Of Fruity Summer Scrubbin’ Cooling Body Scrub™, £8, which buffs away dead skin cells using coconut shell and pink jojoba balls, leaving your skin ready for the next step.
Post-shower and scrub, lock in moisture and that moreish summer fragrance, and cover yourself in a scented moisturiser. Ingredients like coconut oil, cocoa butter and aloe extract will help hydrate and soothe in equal measure, while remedying dry, cracked winter skin in next to no time. Soap & Glory’s Call Of Fruity No Woman No Dry Hydrating Body Butter™, £10, offers all this in one tub.
For those midday moments when you’d give anything for a magic carpet to whisk you from your computer screen to the sunlounger, use fragrance as a form of escapism. Keep an on-the-go hand cream like Soap & Glory's Call Of Fruity Hand Food™, £5.50, in your work locker or handbag for a spot of deskside dreaming.
While our body and skincare routines may alter during summer and winter, the mood-boosting abilities of these self-care rituals shouldn't be underrated. After all, as Dove puts it: "Scent can be likened to a bunch of keys. When revisited, they unlock the floodgates." And as the days get shorter and darker, it’s reassuring to know that the feelgood summer vibe is just a shower away.