Find Your Favorite Scent

Keep your skin smooth with a fragrant lotion.
Sara Askew Jones / Photography Van Chaplin / Styling Rose Nguyen

Aromas can nudge memories from forgotten moments. They can spark the imagination and lift a mood. All this power found with a single sniff: No wonder many of us search everywhere for a favorite fragrance.

The Nose Knows
Scent preferences come in many flavors--one person's favorite aroma may be another person's unpleasant odor. Studies show that smell preferences typically depend on the familiar and what we have experienced. By memory association, we attach certain emotions to particular fragrances. As far as perfumes go, scents fall into categories such as Oriental, floral, fruity, woodsy/earthy, and citrusy. For a soft alternative to perfume or cologne, use a scented lotion. The fragrance seems lighter, and your skin will appreciate the attention.

Smooth It On
"Moisturize daily" should be a mantra for anyone with dry skin. Actually, it's best to moisturize twice daily, morning and evening, according to dermatologist Zoe Draelos, a member of the Southern Living Healthy Living Advisory Board. "Evening moisturizing prior to bedtime is most effective due to the fact that the body is at rest," she says. There is no specific age to begin moisturizing. You simply moisturize when your skin becomes dry, and this varies from person to person. "Sebum production decreases with age, and thus the need to moisturize increases with advancing age," explains Zoe. The best substances for moisturizing are petrolatum, mineral oil, dimethicone, and glycerin. These are the basis for most moisturizers on the market. Read the labels on lotions and moisturizers, experiment, and find the right one for you.

Aromatherapy or Not?
Though not scientifically proven, essential oils may affect certain emotions. To feel refreshed or stimulated, try eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, or rosemary. For a relaxed and calm effect, consider chamomile, jasmine, lavender, and rose.

Mix It Up
You can create your own scented lotions at home. Purchase unscented lotion, and then add your choice of essential oils. Look for ones that get their essences from nature. You can use a single note (such as jasmine) or blend several together for a truly different fragrance. Find these oils at full-service spas, specialty shops such as Bath Junkie and Aveda, or by searching online.

"Good Scents" is from the April 2006 issue of Southern Living.

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