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What’s Old is New Again

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: October 14, 2008, from the June 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Bath & Body Works offers Breathe, a collection of six fragrance groupings designed to breathe life into skin and senses. This collection, too, is designed beyond fragrance, offering skin benefits infused with vitamins. The collection includes a body scrub, a high-lather moisture wash, foaming bath, multivitamin hand cream and a body cream that contains Niacyl™, a patented complex to rebuild the skin’s moisture barrier and stimulate cell turnover.

Fruits & Passion launched its new Aromachology collection. Another science-based aromatherapy line, the collection consists of moisturizing bath oils, foaming bath, massage oils and an essential oil roll-on. Again considering the skin to be as important a vehicle as the nose, the 10 plant extracts used in the oils are designed to both penetrate the skin through massage and enter the lungs through inhalation or vaporizing. Logically, perfumes are an excellent vehicle for aromatherapy. Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum is an aromatherapeutic fragrance designed to impart a wellness benefit. A body lotion, body cream and perfumed shower gel are also available, and allow moisturizing ingredients to complement the aromatherapy.

Scientific Inspiration

Scientists, cosmetic companies and suppliers are hard at work putting aroma to the test—and the results are positive. In addition to supporting the ancient claims of aromatherapy, new benefits for both marketers and consumers have been substantiated. Research conducted by the University of Manchester, in England, showed that essential oils exhibit a powerful antibacterial action, demonstrating that the oils used in aromatherapy killed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infections in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The complex mixture of chemical compounds found in essential oils was shown to kill bacteria strains and fungi after two minutes of contact.

Shiseido conducted scent research that is sure to make marketers happy. Based on research in cognitive psychology and social psychology that study how people show preferences toward repeated visual or auditory stimuli, Shiseido demonstrated that certain types of scents have a characteristic effect of heightening a preference by repeated exposures—regardless if that scent is remembered or not.

This is not Shiseido’s first endeavor to scientifically demonstrate the effects of scent. Previously, the company discovered and studied the sedative and stimulant effects of scents, their activating effects on the sympathetic nervous system, and applied findings to developing skin care, cosmetics and fragrances.