Comfort Scents — Group Blog Post

Today’s post on comfort scents is a group topic addressed on 14 perfume blogs and I’m happy to be included. Natural perfumer Ayala Sender of Ayala Moriel Parfums and Smelly Blog organized the group project. Thanks, Ayala, for organizing this topic — I look forward to reading other people’s responses!

Most people define a comfort scent as something that is easy to wear and that soothes the senses like a soft, comforting wrap. Many scents nominated for this title are a bit on the sweet side and are vanilla based. Comfort scents mean different things to different people though, and I’ll share some scents that are comforting to me but are a bit out of the ordinary for the comfort scent category.

Because I rarely have skin time to wear scents other than my own that I am testing and developing, I enjoy the occasional chance to wear an old favorite just for fun. I’ll focus here on scents outside of my own line since it’s a treat to wear other things in between my testing. My first requirement for a comfort scent is one that I can count on to smell good to me rather than one that is variable on my skin.

I don’t wear many scents that are vanilla-rich or gourmand, but two that are in the vanilla category for me and that I find comforting in winter are POTL’s Luctor et Emergo and Patricia de Nicolai’s Sacrebleu. Both are sweet and luscious, but both have other things to make them much more than vanilla scents. POTL has interesting grassy/hay, woods, and incense notes along with the delicious almond vanilla, and it hits the spot sometimes on a cool winter evening. Sacrebleu has beautiful floral notes with spices and yummy fruity notes. Both are a bit too sweet for me to wear often, but I savor them when I do get them out.

For me, rose is a main comfort note. Rose notes soothe me more than vanilla notes, so for comfort I often reach for something rosy. In spring and summer, Creed’s Fleur de The Rose Bulgare is a comfort scent because it is a happy rose soliflore that I can count on to put a smile on my face.  In winter, Guerlain’s Nahema or Annick Goutal’s Rose Absolue are standbys to give me my rose comfort. I find natural rose absolute to be a wonderful, uplifting, comforting scent.

Another category of comfort scent for me are scents that I can reach for when I want something that feels like me and always works.  Chanel 22 and Parfum Sacre fit that bill.  I’ve only worn it a handful of times so far, but I think the new Francis Kurkdjian Lumière Noire pour femme might be added to that list because it feels so comfortable to me and has the rose note that always hits the spot for me.

In the heat, comfort scents for most of us tend to be green or citrusy for their cooling effects.  Hermes Rose Ikebana works for me, as do Chanel 19 and several vetiver scents. I’d love to find some other refreshing scent favorites for summer, or create one. Although I love these scents and they feel good in summer, I wouldn’t classify them as high on my comfort scent list as the others I’ve listed.

Sandalwood is another note that, like rose, is especially soothing to me. I find combinations of frankincense, sandalwood, and labdanum to be comforting, and that feeling has been reinforced the last few months as I’ve worked on my new incense blend. This fragrance is a comfort scent for me.  (You might want to stop by the blog next week because I hope to have a drawing for free samples of this new incense scent.) The new incense still awaits a final name decision, but I think it is narrowed down to Encens Rêverie or Incense Pure — the former seems prettier but either would fit. I’m not sure if the syntax is right on the reverie name so I need to check that.

Ayala Sender has a scent called Espionage that makes a great comfort scent — it’s soft and close to the skin, just sweet enough to be comforting but not at all a sweet scent, with very pretty but subtle floral notes, a musk/vanilla/woods base, and a touch of leather. However, her Palas Atena is my favorite comfort scent choice from her line because I find the exotic blend of woods, florals, and spices to be soothing as well as interesting. (Her Razala is another beautiful exotic favorite of mine.)

For non-perfume sources of comfort, the garden and the natural environment always soothe me. The hills and oaks work their magic on me and I’m lucky they are a part of my daily life. Family, friends, and pets of course offer comfort, both to share the good things in life and to know they are there when you need some support.

As winter ends and spring emerges, comfort scents will change, but it’s fun to reflect back on the scents that helped get us through another winter. What are your comfort scents and notes? Do some people have other notes besides vanilla that bring comfort, as rose, sandalwood, and incense do for me?

You can visit all the blogs participating in this group post:

Roxana’s Illuminated Journal
BitterGrace Notes
Perfume Shrine
Notes from the Ledge
Scent Hive
The Non Blonde
Perfume in Progress
Katie Puckrik Smells
Rose Beyond the Thames
Smell Therefore I Am
All I Am A Redhead
Savvy Thinker   

Edited to add: Although I used the blog title Comfort Scents, the title most bloggers used for this group post was Comforting Scents for Uncomfortable Times. Ayala suggested that all of us add the following note to acknowledge where that title originated.

“This article’s title is an homage to Michelyn Camen’s original article of this same name on Sniffapalooza Magazine in 2008, in which she interviewed several perfumers to comment on what botanical elements make their perfumes comforting.”

Michelyn Camen is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of and the Editor-at- Large for She was formerly an Editor for Fragrantica, the Fragrance Editor for Uptown Social, a Senior Contributor for Sniffapalooza Magazine, the New in Niche Columnist for Basenotes, the Managing Director for BeautynewsNYC and the former publicist for and Scent Bar, Los Angeles. She has been awarded Brandweek Magazine Marketer of the Year, Ad Age Magazine 100 and is a two time recipient of License Magazine’s 40 under 40 and recipient. She slipped off her corporate power suit to pursue her passion for fragrance.

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  1. For me notes that bring most comfort are labdanum, benzoin and incense (incense not only brings comfort, it also brings clarity to my thoughts).
    My knowledge of Ayala’s scents is really limited but I will now definitely try your suggestions. 🙂

  2. It is fun to reflect back on what scents helped pull one through or define a season. I have to say that the tail end of winter was dominated by a couple of C’s: Chamade, and Coromandel. Chamade, because I lucked into a vintage bottle of parfum and had the happy experience of the combination of immediate smitten and evolving love. Coromandel, because it had been one of those scents that I didn’t “get,” that didn’t “do anything for me.” Then…of a sudden…I got how it struck some as chocoalatey. Which wasn’t why I feel in love, really; I think it just indicated that I found another way in, and THAT was the path for me. Quietly happy and comforting and lush.

    I’m looking forward to what discoveries and re-acquaintances I make this spring. Narcissus and hay are among those notes that bring me a kind of comfort, and those tend to appear more in the scents that come out for longer days/warmer weather.

    There are a number of Ayala’s green scents that I like very much. I don’t know this Palas Athena; will try to make its acquaintance soon.

    And, I must say, I am looking forward to making the acquaintance of your new incense. 🙂

  3. Hi Ines, those are comforting notes to me too. I think frankincense is used in aromatherapy for its soothing properties, and it does work for me that way. Ayala’s fragrances are really well-done naturals — have fun exploring!

    Hi ScentSelf, Chamade is gorgeous! I’ve only tried Coromandel a couple times but should revisit because it is so popular. I love narcissus and hay too — I almost added that to my post because they are comforting notes to me too. PdN Temps d’Une Fete, L’Artisan Fleur de Narcisse, and PdN Vie de Chateau are three great ones; I especially love the L’Artisan but only own a sample. I love Ayalitta too (a mossy scent with a warm ambery base that you may have tried when sampling green ones by Ayala).

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Hi Trish, thanks! I have to go read your post too, after I finish the morning rush of orders… I’ll get you a final sample of the incense soon too. Still deciding on the name, lol.

  5. Laurie, thanks so much for playing along, after all a perfumer can’t bring themselves to devote too much time to others’ perfumes for various reasons, so thanks for being such a good sport!
    It was especially gratifying to read your thoughts in view of the above, therefore. Love several of those you mention and agree that those two are among Ayala’s best.

  6. Hi Elena,

    I love it when I have skin time for other perfumer’s scents. I wish I could do it more often — so many beautiful things to try!

  7. Laurie,
    Thank you so much for contributing to this comforting blog project!
    I’m ever so flattered that you have made time for so many of my perfumes with your limited skin time. So happy that you find comfort with Espionage and Palas Atena. Espionage is like my second skin – it’s always been my signature scent and the one I feel most like myself when I’m wearing (although my personal version contains the forbidden costus!).
    I love Parfum Sacre but to me it’s very luxurious. It feels very extravagant to wear it, like wearing vintage fur (but I never regret when I do!).
    Like several others here, I find comfort in notes such as vanilla, labdanum and amber, and also in musk to a lesser extent (because they have a more dominant/heady character I find). Your Sienna Musk, for example, is a perfect comfort musk because of all the warmth and woods.

  8. Hi Ayala! Some of the scents I love, like Nahema and Parfum Sacre and Coco, are quite rich so I have to just use a little bit to be comfortable in them. Some of them do feel dressier than my usual jeans and polo shirt, lol, but I enjoy them anyway. I have four favorites from your line so far and it’s hard to choose, but I think Palas Atena may be my very favorite. It has that special little addictive quality for me. Glad you enjoyed trying Sienna Musk! Warm spices do make good comfort notes. Thanks for organizing the post! We should do a summer theme group post in a few months. 🙂

  9. Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I can’t wait to smell your finished incense fragrance, Laurie. I’m on board with your rose/incense/sandalwood comfort train, and I’ll add a little orange caboose as another reliable soothing snort.

  10. Hi Katie! Love your videos! I can get you an incense sample. I agree — orangey notes are soothing for me too, especially when combined with some warm spices, yum!

  11. I am a big rose fan too- and it is very calming and restoring. Happy to find a fellow Nahema lover- I think this one getsa bit sidelined and it’s beautiful- especially in the pure parfum, though it’s horribly expensive- it’s like nectar

  12. Hi Rose! Always fun to meet another rose lover! I grew up with home-grown roses in the gardens of my Mom and grandmom, so the good associations started early for me. Nahema is rich and gorgeous! I notice you listed Avignon as a comfort scent too and that’s a great one for me as well. Thanks for stopping by!

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