Nothing can quite lift your mood as quickly as a fresh new scent. With spring upon us, it might be the perfect time to explore a new fragrance and reboot your point of view. These five notes seem to be capable of doing just that—they’ve not only grabbed our attention this season, but are obviously playing favourites with perfumers across the globe. You may not have heard of them yet, but we’re willing to bet they’ll be making an appearance on your vanity sooner than later.
A highly aromatic resin that is extracted from a weedy-looking plant mostly found in Iran, galbanum brings a raw, green freshness to a perfume, and has become especially popular with the current trend for unisex scents. “Think of the smell of Canadian pines; [like galbanum] it has a particular depth and green earth quality, which is unmistakable,” says Marian Bendeth, a Toronto-based fragrance expert and owner of Sixth Scents consulting. The popularity of these very clean eau de cologne-type fragrances of the past (think of those that might be found in a French papa’s medicine cabinet) can easily be attributed to their versatility and ease of wear. They’re also very practical for their subtlety in the workplace and ability to mix with other scented products you might like to use throughout the day. “For a lot of people, wearing a scent is about feeling clean and fresh, because we have been conditioned to be self-conscious about human smells,” says London-based fragrance expert Nick Gilbert, who says that galbanum is especially well-suited to those who love spring-centric citrusy scents and light, fresh orals.
The root of the iris takes several years to cultivate, and even more to be dried, in order to reach its maximum aromatic potential, says Nick. This labour-itensive process makes it a very expensive ingredient, which was once also quite rare. Now thanks to fragrance houses creating new systems to boost efficiency, iris root, or orris, has become more widely available and is surging in popularity. “The purest form of orris originates from Florence and has a unique scent, almost like chilled wet paint with a oral undertone,” says Marian. “It adds character and nuance to a fragrance and its scent is unmistakable.” A note with a unique duality, expect it to feel quite powdery, soft and romantic when blended with certain oral notes in more traditional fragrances, while also giving a cooler, sensual appeal to more exotic scents that contain earthier notes of wood or even leather.
The smell of salty ocean water is comforting and relaxing for many, since it makes us think of the idyllic feelings we have while being on holiday or having a sunny afternoon at the beach. It’s no wonder it’s popping up in many fragrances as an accord, which refers to the process of combining multiple ingredients to capture one speci c smell (often one that can’t be captured in real life or harvested as an ingredient, like saltwater). “The trend for salty notes is fascinating because it depends on associations in our mind,” says Nick. Salt adds an almost savoury element, which prevents sweetness from overpowering a scent.” After massive popularity in the ‘90s and early ’00s, especially in masculine scents, these aquatic notes are being reintroduced with a more realistic and natural take on the sea, which often adds a muskier, sexier take to any fragrance.
Food-industry trends can be very directional for the fragrance world, which explains the rise of ne tea notes in the latest scents – following in the footsteps of coffee, which had its own surge not too long ago. “Humans are creatures of comfort and we like familiarity. We sometimes see these food trends cross over into perfumery, especially when the odour is associated with comfort,” says Nick, who adds that the quality of tea extracts available to perfumers, as well as their popularity in Asia, have also contributed to their recent demand. The tea note is also very versatile in its ability to complement other notes. Green tea, for example, has a crispness that goes well with fresh citrusy scents; jasmine tea is a natural tea with oral fragrances; and black tea has more depth and richness, which integrates well with warmer notes of wood and spice, as well as sweet gourmand fragrances. “The latest fads are notes of chai, sourced from India, and maté tea, which have a unique spicy green element when mixed with other notes,” says Marian.
While sweet fruity- oral perfumes have dominated the scene for the past several years, the gourmand category has grown at a particularly rapid pace. Notes have progressed from mouth-watering fruits, such as lychee and red berries, to literal sweets, including notes of baked goods and chocolate. “With the introduction of patisserie scents over 20 years ago, these edible notes literally made Gen X salivate,” says Marian. “As the fragrances continued to evolve, the demographic started to drop in age as the fragrances got even sweeter.” Although fragrance lovers continue to fall for these super-sweet juices, Nick predicts their peak in popularity is coming to an end, and we’ll actually start to see gourmands swing into the savoury category (hello, saltier scents). Still, if you love an addictive-feeling scent, you’ll continue to want to scoop up these fragrances that serve up similar good feelings as an actual sugar rush—no afternoon slump included.