Mid summer check-in

sweet100sm2.jpg
I’ve been enjoying our warm summer weather, harvesting lots of tomatoes (sweet 100 and early girl) and strawberries, and also working on the floral scent that’s been in development for quite a while. The tomatoes are providing too much harvest to eat, so I’m freezing the extra.

The new scent features a beautiful mimosa oil in the heart, along with jasmine and orange blossom. It’s easy to create various pretty floral accords for the heart, but it has been hard to design a base that provides enough staying power without getting in the way of the floral and without going either too sweet or too woodsy. The mimosa is not long lasting, but I’d like to keep that yellow flower goodness going. I’ve used lots of beeswax and a touch of honey. I’m still playing with this one.

oakyitmouse_sm2I’ve added some mini sprayers to the garden drip system this year, and the side benefit is that they bring birds to the garden to bathe in the spray each morning. It’s been fun to watch them from the kitchen window while I do my morning cooking. We have goldfinches, robins, oak titmice, and others. The oak titmice seem to love to bathe, sometimes enthusiastically splashing water all over the deck from the small birdbath. Very cute.

We have lots of woodpeckers too, but they don’t seem to be drawn to the garden water. A flock of large crows spent several weeks here feasting on my plum tree (they are loud!). When they left, a group of seven female turkeys (adults and “teens”) moved in.

Summer always goes too fast for me!

(oak titmouse photo credit wiki)

Presentation: Art History in Perfume Advertising

Tickets are on sale for Jessica Murphy’s presentation titled Pleasures, Taboos, Magic: Art History in Perfume Advertising held in NYC at 7 p.m. on July 19. You might know Jessica through her writing for Now Smell This, but she also has a Ph.D. in art history and has worked in the museum field for many years. She also authors a blog, Perfume Professor. I have loved her blog posts on perfume art and bet this will be a fun presentation!

Review of Aera Home Scenting System

Recently I was asked if I wanted to test an Aera home scenting device with fragrances that were created by top perfumers such as Christophe Laudamiel, Annie Buzantian, Sabine de Tscharner, Raymond Matts, and Brian Wilcheck. Some of my readers might be interested in this unit and my testing results, so I’m posting a review.

The Aera system is made by Prolitec, which is a company that creates scent systems for commercial use (stores, hotels, etc.).  With Aera, they are entering the home market.

The Aera unit arrives with impressive packaging; the box design is handsome and functional, and all the parts inside are neatly organized. The unit comes with a power cord, an instruction booklet, and a scent capsule. You can buy multiple extra scent capsules and swap them out whenever you wish. The photo below shows the Aera presentation box as well as the boxes for two capsules, Poetry and Moondance.

aera_collage_sm.jpg

Using Aera

To use the unit, you just plug it in, press the on button, insert a capsule with a gentle push to activate the automatic lowering mechanism, and set your desired scent intensity from 1 to 10. I found that level 5 or 6 was about right for me when I wanted the scent to be stronger, and 3 or 4 was great for a soft background. The unit hums periodically, so you probably would not want it located where you sleep. It also needs to be near a power outlet.

aera4sm.jpg

The scent takes a little time to drift throughout your space, but it does disperse very well. Personally, I prefer room scent to be contained to one or two rooms rather than through my whole house, and you can set the intensity to achieve a more limited distribution. The site says that fragrance capsules last up to 1,400 hours (about 60 days if used 24/7).

Aera does not use heat to disperse scent, but relies instead on proprietary technology that runs cool. The Aera site says, “Aera converts liquid fragrance compounds into tiny droplets which in turn explode into billions of fragrance molecules to blend with ambient air. This process forces the release of all fragrance ingredients at once so the whole fragrance can be experienced.” Unlike a scent on your skin that changes over time as more volatile top notes and mid notes evaporate, Aera scents remain consistent.

You can also control the unit from your smartphone via a downloadable app. I tried the app and it is easy to set up and is intuitive to use. You can create a schedule if desired, for example to have the unit running when you arrive home from work.

Scents

So, how are the scents? I tried five and found two that I like very much.

Poetry, composed by Sabine de Tscharner, is described on the site this way: “With an earthy and mysterious backdrop of saffron, woods, and smoke, Poetry is accented with the uplift of lemon and the coolness of cypress and eucalyptus. As smooth and sensual as suede, Poetry will put you in a sylvan reverie of time’s past and promises of what is yet to come.

Poetry’s key notes are stated to be eucalyptus, vetiver, and guaiac wood. This is a great type of ambient scent because it has some fresh notes without being clean and generic, and it is woodsy without being heavy or sweet. It is indeed very smooth with uplifting top notes. I don’t think I would tire of this scent easily, which is saying something; I’d look forward to it at the end of a day.

The other scent that I really liked is Moondance, also composed by Sabine. This one is warmer and sweeter, but not too sweet. It has a powdery amber/woods base with some iris and soft florals. The three key notes given are bergamot, iris, and amber. The site says it has some melon, but I do not get a noticeable melon note, thankfully. It’s a very pretty scent but is still unisex enough for men to enjoy (Poetry leans a little more masculine than Moondance).

The site describes Moondance this way: “Moondance is at once playful and sophisticated – its floral notes of iris and red honeysuckle are accented by bergamot and melon. With a trace of smoke, woods and vanilla to round out its effect, Moondance will entrance you with its ancient powers of relaxation.”

aera_capsule_sm.jpg

I also sniffed Vibrance; the floral notes were very pretty, but it was too much of a fresh green floral for me (the green florals that I typically like have mossy bases and are not fresh). I sniffed Mosaic and got a fruity note that did not appeal to me, and I sniffed Indigo but did not like an ozonic note in it. I must say that I am very sensitive to ozone/melon/clean notes, so I am not representative of the general population. All three of these were nicely done and will find plenty of fans. Vibrance would be an especially cheery scent when you long for spring.

I have not been using ambient scent very often in recent years because I try to keep my nose fresh when I’m not working on new formulas or testing new perfumes, but I would look forward to using Poetry and Moondance as a treat. I found both to be soothing and enjoyable, and I liked them equally. It would be fun to alternate for variety. My assistant is currently trying the unit at her house (with cats) and might add her review too.

Some Thoughts For Future Aera Features

I do have a couple of wishes or suggestions for Aera. First, I found that the base of the unit was not as stable as it could be, and if you have pets or young children you will need to put it in a place where it won’t get knocked over. Second, I think a rechargeable battery would be awesome so that the unit did not need to be located near an outlet (assuming that the battery could be small enough not to significantly increase the unit size). And third, it would be great to see some all-natural scent offerings in the future, if they could be made compatible with the device; I think there would be a strong market for upscale all-natural room scents, even if the capsules cost more for the all-natural offerings.

Bottom Line

The Aera unit is fun, easy to use, and offers fragrances that are better composed than many room scents. It’s pricey, but so are upscale candles that don’t last as many hours as an Aera capsule. Aera can be considered in the company of other upscale home scent offerings. An Aera unit with one scent capsule is $250 (extra capsules are available for $50 each). Keep an eye out for Aera’s occasional sales, like the recent 20% off sale for July 4th.

For fragrance enthusiasts who find some Aera scents they love, this programmable system offers the treat of sophisticated high-end fragrance compositions that enhance a home’s atmosphere via fine-tuned dispersion without the worry of a candle flame.

Genetics and environment both play a role in the sense of smell

I saw this article a while back and haven’t had time to post a link until now, but I wanted to include it in our series of posts on the genetic variance in the sense of smell (to find the other posts, search for the tag “genetics” on Perfume in Progress).

I’ve posted links to other research demonstrating that genetics helps determine our sensitivity to various aroma molecules, giving each of us a unique sense of smell. New research indicates that the environment we live in may actually change the structure of the olfactory neurons and therefore change our ability to smell, meaning that both environment and genetics play a role. The research was conducted with mice, but presumably researchers will confirm that it applies to humans as well. Here’s a link to the interesting ScienceDaily article titled “Genetics, environment combine to give everyone a unique sense of smell.”

From the ScienceDaily article:
Dr Darren Logan, the lead author on the study from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: “The neurons in the olfactory system are highly connected to the neurons in the brain and studying these can help us understand neuronal development. We have shown that each individual has a very different combination of possible olfactory neurons, driven by genetics. In this study we also show that, with experience of different smells, these combinations of neurons change, so both genetics and environment interplay to give every individual a unique sense of smell.”