by guest blogger Maya Rodale, author of smart and sassy romance novels
I used to have a signature scent: It was Chanel No. 22 (the younger, lighter version of Chanel No. 5, whose ads now feature Brad Pitt). My daily spritz of perfume was such a part of moi that on the one day I forgot it, I popped into Sephora on my way to work for a free spritz, lest I feel incomplete.
These days, I only use unscented products, but I still spend a lot of time thinking about scent. Characters in romance novels are always hankering after the hero’s or heroine’s scent, and it’s always said to be “indescribably male” or “essentially her.” It’s really that natural pheromone that is oh, so powerful—studies have shown that it effects our mood and level of arousal, and that we’re drawn to the scent of people with different immune systems, thus encouraging us to mate with those with whom we’re more likely to have healthy babies. I love that science is confirming what romance authors have known for years!
In real life, though, we often cover up that magical, powerful scent with Black Raspberry Vanilla shampoo, Coconut Lime Verbena conditioner, Honey Autumn Apple soap, and Spring Breeze–scented deodorant, none of which is likely to contain actual black raspberry, vanilla, lime, autumn apples, or spring breezes.
Skin moisturized with vanilla-scented lotion doesn’t taste like vanilla; rather, it has a chemical aftertaste that is decidedly not sexy. That’s one thing that got me to go unscented: I don’t want to dissuade my man from kissing my neck because of the toxic taste of my moisturizer or some celebrity fragrance.
Instead, I use actual sugar and actual coconut oil. You could lick it or eat it by the spoonful and you’d be fine, which is a good product test, if you ask me. The other reason I went fragrance free is that a main ingredient in all these potions is “parfum,” or “fragrance,” a catchall term for chemicals that studies are starting to reveal are toxic endocrine disruptors. That’s hardly the happily-ever-after we dream of.
Once I committed to unscented products, I developed—or revealed?—an outrageous oversensitivity to chemical based scents. A scented candle on my desk prompted a 12-hour headache. A ride in an elevator with someone wearing perfume or hair freshly washed with scented shampoo resulted in not being able to breathe.
The best scent I know is my husband’s, and I crave it/him. When I snuggle close and take a deep breath, I feel like I’ve taken a hit of a drug. Tension melts away. Happiness takes over. And for better or for worse, it can’t be bottled and sold. What natural scents do you love?
Maya Rodale is the author of multiple historical romance novels, as well as the nonfiction book Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. She has a master’s degree from New York University and lives in Manhattan with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. Her latest book is Seducing Mr. Knightly. Learn more at mayarodale.com