Here's how to choose the right one.
At Humble Brands, we're big on Nothing Bad—every single one of our ingredients is simple and true, right down to the essential oils and plant extracts that scent our products. Our product development team literally lives and breathes the scents they create. They’re inspired by the power of aromatherapy and the aromatics that make us feel and smell our best.
Our handcrafted process and holistic perspective set our scents apart. There’s more to making a good scent for the body than just stumbling upon something that smells good on the first whiff. To learn more about how Humble Brands scent blends are crafted, and what factors influence how a scent behaves on the body, we chatted with the noses behind scent creation at Humble Brands, Audra Rodgers and Kristen Moore.
So, what are essential oils?
Essential oils are aromatic compounds that come from plants. There are a variety of processes used to extract the oil, or the plant’s “essence”. Essential oils are highly concentrated, and many people use them for their aromatherapeutic qualities. They can also have antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. That’s why we love essential oils for our products, especially our deodorant. They’re natural and provide wonderful benefits to the user, beyond smelling incredible. Working with essential oils is not an easy or straightforward process, but the result is worth the investment.
How do you test new scents?
Once we’ve settled on the new scent, we test it on humans. This is such an important part of the process because we don’t really know how a scent will fully express itself until it’s on the human skin. In the past, it’s always been a very organic process. Audra would make a few dozen samples and we’d ask our Humble family and friends to try the new scent blend for a week or two, then give feedback about how they liked it and how it worked for them.
Now, we’re a little more intentional about the data we’re gathering. Lemongrass was the first in this new process. We had 20 participants try it out for a week and follow a set of protocols, like applying to clean armpits every morning. We’re also specific about how they apply it. This allows us to collect feedback about whether it lasted all day and if they needed to reapply. We also asked what products they’re currently using, if any of the our products don’t work for them or don’t smell good on them, which formula do they use, and what scents they like. Everything goes into a spreadsheet. We’ve gotten so good that we can actually predict who is going to like the newest scent based on their reported preferences.
In the future, we’d like to grow our sample pool, tapping into our community. It’s so important to gather feedback from a mix of people. Even the best perfume in the world won’t appeal to everyone or smell good on everyone. It’s truly subjective.
What is sillage and why is it important?
While you may not be familiar with this term, it’s something we’ve all experienced. Sillage is the French word for wake, and refers to the “trail” left in the air by a fragrance. A scent’s sillage is important because this is what others may or may not notice about the scent you’re wearing. Some of us want to leave an aromatic calling card when we walk through a room, while the rest of us may prefer to keep our scent to ourselves.
In general, Humble Brands scents are crafted to be subtle (You may not smell your deodorant until you lift your arms to hug someone or until you’re in a downward dog in yoga class.), but we do try to create our scents on a spectrum, as different people have different preferences. Bolder scents often project more boldly. Star Anise, for example, stays intact all day. Lemongrass & Sage, on the other hand, is prominent for a couple of hours, then it gently fades. You continue to smell great, but you may no longer recognize the distinct aromatics.
The other factor that influences a scent’s sillage is the application. A scent can smell quite different in the deodorant container versus on your body. Our goal is to close that gap, so that what you smell in the package is what you experience on your skin.
What is the science behind how we experience scents?
Your olfactory system is responsible for your sense of smell. When you’re experiencing a fragrance, receptors in the nasal cavity are sending that information to your brain. Your sense of smell is one of the oldest and most amazing. It plays an important role in how we perceive flavors of the food we eat and is closely tied to memory. A particular smell can quickly trigger a distant or long forgotten memory.
The anatomy of a scent
When we talk about experiencing a fragrance, we talk about it in three parts: the top, heart, and base. It’s a lot like wine in this way. It’s a layered experience. Aromas at the top make the first impression, but they may fade quickly. The middle or heart notes follow and may last a little longer. The middle will lead into the base notes, which are the ones that linger and often leave a scent trail.
Why we craft scent blends
When we create our scents, we strive for harmony and balance. This is why so many of our scents are blends. Blending gives us the opportunity to create an integrated and complete set of aromatics that seamlessly transitions from one note to the next. We may love a certain essential oil, but perhaps its aromatics dissipate quickly. By bringing in additional essential oils or plant extracts, we can create a well-rounded, full-bodied scent.
Different scents for different folks
Perhaps you discovered your signature scent years ago and have stuck with the tried and true ever since. Maybe you love mixing it up with a different scent to match your mood. Or are you in the camp that’s unsure what scents you prefer? No matter what your experience and preference are, there’s more to choosing a scent than meets the nose.
What influences can affect the scent you’re wearing?
You may love the way a scent smells in the package or even on a friend, but on you, it may not smell so great. Why? We all have our own individual chemistry– from the varying pH of our skin to fluctuating hormones, depending on our cycle (this goes for men too), and pheromones that we release. Factors such as heat and moisture on the skin can actually turn up the volume on a scent– which is good news when it comes to products like deodorant that were made for warm, sweaty environments.
Essentially, when you apply a scented product to your skin, it’s going to interact in a way that’s completely unique to you. For us, here at Humble Brands, we think of it as the final component to our scent blend and the piece that gives you your very own signature scent.
Take a scent journey
We encourage people to go on a scent journey because this lets you learn about your preferences and your chemistry. The best (and only true) way of finding the right scents for you is to try them on– do all the activities you love to do in a day and take note of how you feel mentally and physically while wearing each one. Start your scent journey with our Discovery Kits.
At Humble Brands, we’re proud to do things a little differently. We’re one part personal care product makers, one part natural perfumery. Our scents are created with intention and with humans in mind. It’s not about marketing the coolest name or following trends. We’re about creating scents that will resonate with our customers and will perform beautifully time after time.