Datamonitor Comment

How personal care can soothe minds: the future of scents for stress relief

By Michelle Yeomans contact

- Last updated on GMT

How personal care can soothe minds: the future of scents for stress relief

Related tags: Cosmetics, Essential oil, Researcher

According to Datamonitor Consumer, the global economic downturn has resulted in a world of stress-overloaded consumers which is opening up areas for cosmetic manufacturers thanks to a well-established connection between personal care and stress relief.

The market researcher’s 2014 Consumer Survey highlights that it is the second biggest health issue around the world and sensory scientists are now more than ever looking to infuse stress busters into personal care products.

The cosmetics industry is taking inspiration from aromatherapy to identify relaxing scents such as jasmine which is found in more than 83% of all female fragrances and labelled as


'calming as Valium'.

But in a crowded and competitive personal care marketplace, how can companies continually innovate to attract or retain consumers who are looking for an emotional sanctuary through scents.

Datamonitor Consumer​ researcher Irene Bi outlines some promising concepts for Cosmetics Design.

Sweet food scents – the “comfort scents” for women

Research has provided scientific evidence to show that sweet foods such as desserts, chocolate, candy are women’s choice of “comfort food” when stress kicks in, suggesting a positive effect of sweet food on stress relief for this gender group.

Companies seem to have understood the importance of sweetness to women, with the most interesting launches including crème brulee perfume (Taiwan), mint chocolate toothpaste (USA), white chocolate nail polish remover (France, UK).

Discovering new scents with relaxing properties

Lavender, lily of the valley, vanilla, pine needles, spiced apple, rose, sage and sandalwood scents are all linked with relaxation.

Companies can dedicate further research to find other options, focusing on non-artificial scents with naturally relaxing properties.

For example, a new hair oil mist was found in Japan featuring yuzu – a citrus fruit used for traditional Japanese hot baths, claiming that it produced a relaxing scent.

Exotic scents help 'get me out of here'

These novel scents represent a virtual channel for consumers to temporarily escape from the stressful reality. There are three types that fall into this category:

  • Scents associated with a relaxation-related metaphor, e.g. “harmony” anti-perspirant & deodorant, containing “a calming and sophisticated fragrance with a masculine mix of citrus, pepper and ginger”​ (USA).
  • Uncommon fruits, flowers or spices, preferably with a foreign origin, e.g. caju (the fruit of the cashew tree) & lime body wash (UK).
  • Scents inspired by a far-distant holiday destination and/or a foreign culture, e.g. shower oil with Indian rose & sweet almond oil, with reference to “Ayurveda” treatment (Hindu philosophy based on restoring inner harmony cleaning body and soul) on the packaging (Spain).

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