Imagine a world where the scent of a forest, a fruit market, or the touch of a snoozing baby could be captured and recreated in a fragrance. Picture a perfume that could trigger precious memories, evoke specific moods, and even have the power to affect our physical and psychological well-being. This fantasy is no longer confined to the realm of imagination; it is becoming a commercial reality. The fragrance industry is undergoing a revolution with the emergence of a new generation of perfumes known as "functional fragrances." These fragrances are designed not only to make us smell good but also to make us feel good. By harnessing the power of neuroscience and technical innovation, brands are exploring the potential of perfumes to influence our mood, body temperature, blood pressure, and overall well-being.

The Concept of Functional Fragrances

Functional fragrances are a growing trend in the perfume industry. Fiona Harkin, foresight editor at The Future Laboratory, explains that these fragrances are based on the idea that perfume can have psychological and physical effects. Brands now look beyond fragrance alone, exploring how perfumes can impact body temperature, blood pressure, and mood. Luxury fragrance entrepreneur Audrey Semeraro has taken this concept to new heights with her brand, Edeniste. Semeraro collaborated with top neuroscientists to identify olfactive molecules and accords that stimulate specific brain areas associated with happiness, energy, relaxation, and seduction. This scientific approach to fragrance creation has resulted in a collection of perfumes that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also have a profound impact on the wearer's well-being.

The Science Behind Functional Fragrances

At the heart of functional fragrances lies the collaboration between fragrance creators and neuroscientists. By using advanced technologies such as EEG brain scanning, fMRI, biosensors, and saliva tests, these experts can pinpoint the specific olfactive molecules that have the potential to stimulate desired emotional and physical responses. Edeniste's collection, for example, includes seven eau de parfums with a patented mood-stabilizing accord. Each fragrance is designed to be layered with Lifeboost Active Essences, which contain scientifically proven molecules that stimulate relaxation, energy, and other desired effects. The Nue Co, another brand embracing functional fragrances, has developed a popular perfume that promises to instantly impact the wearer's emotional state and soothe the mind. By incorporating ingredients such as green cardamom, bergamot, and coriander, The Nue Co's Functional Fragrance has gained a loyal following.

The Impact of Functional Fragrances

The success of functional fragrances in the market is undeniable. Retailers are struggling to keep up with the demand for these innovative perfumes. The ability of these fragrances to not only smell good but also improve our well-being has struck a chord with consumers. Brands like Edeniste and The Nue Co are paving the way for a new era in perfumery, where fragrances can do more than make us smell pleasant. They can elevate our mood, reduce stress, and enhance our overall quality of life. The incorporation of scientific research into fragrance creation has opened up a world of possibilities with the potential to revolutionize the way we experience and interact with perfumes.

The Role of Technology in Perfumery

Technology plays a crucial role in the development of functional fragrances. Givaudan, the world's largest creator of fragrances, has an entire department dedicated to futuristic technology. Led by computer scientist Geovana Rey, this department utilizes neuroscientific data to help brands understand consumer preferences and develop fragrances that resonate with a global audience. By analyzing brain functionality, olfactive responses, and feedback on colors, moods, and emotions, Givaudan's artificial intelligence can identify commonalities and suggest ingredients and notes that appeal to a wider audience. This technology also enables perfumers to capture any aroma globally and recreate it molecule by molecule, offering a level of precision never before seen in the industry.

Exploring New Possibilities

Using technology in perfumery not only enhances the creative process but also allows for the exploration of new and whimsical possibilities. For instance, Jo Malone London collaborated with Michelin-starred chef Jean François Piège to capture the aroma of fragrant steamed rice at its peak fluffiness. By installing technology in Piège's kitchen, every molecule of this aromatic moment was captured, allowing Jo Malone London to create a unique candle fragrance. The possibilities are limitless; perfumers can now use notes that didn't exist in perfumery before, such as fruits, plants, and even whole forests. Technology has become a tool for perfumers to bring their fantasies to life and evoke any mood or emotion they desire.

The Integration of Neuroscience and Technology

While neuroscience and technology have primarily been utilized in the creative process of fragrance development, they are beginning to make their way into the forefront of the consumer experience. L'Oréal, in partnership with neurotech company Emotiv, has introduced YSL Beauty's Scent-Sation, an in-store experience that tracks the emotional responses of customers to different scent families and individual notes. Using an algorithm, the experience recommends specific YSL fragrances that are likely to please the customer. This integration of technology and neuroscience creates a fun and interactive exploration of fragrances, although past preferences may not always indicate future infatuations. Consumers may limit themselves by sticking to a particular olfactory "type," missing out on surprising and new fragrance experiences.

Embracing the Art of Perfumery

While technology and data-driven approaches have their place in the fragrance industry, some perfumers remain skeptical about the complete reliance on algorithms and scientific research. Olivier Polge, master perfumer at Chanel, believes there must always be a place for subjectivity and artistic expression in perfume creation. While he embraces state-of-the-art technologies for operational aspects of fragrance development, Polge believes that the creation of perfume is ultimately about style, impression, and feelings. The magic of perfume lies in its ability to evoke emotions and transport us to different worlds. Celebrated perfumer Lyn Harris shares this sentiment, emphasizing that perfumery is an art that algorithms cannot replace. She believes computers lack the style, taste, and flair necessary to create captivating fragrances.

The Future of Functional Fragrances

Despite differences in opinion, there is a consensus that functional fragrances are here to stay. The advancements in neuroscience and technology offer endless possibilities for the fragrance industry. In addition to improving our mood, functional fragrances may also potentially improve our health. Brands are exploring the creation of skin-nourishing fragrances for chemotherapy patients, fragrances that can evoke forgotten memories in individuals with Alzheimer's, and even fragrances that can impact our body temperature and cortisol levels. As technology advances, the future of functional fragrances looks promising, with the potential to enhance our well-being in ways we never thought possible.


The rise of functional fragrances represents a new era in perfumery. By incorporating neuroscience and technology into fragrance creation, brands are revolutionizing how perfumes are composed, sold, and experienced. Functional fragrances not only make us smell good but also have the power to make us feel good. They can lift our mood, reduce stress, and improve our overall well-being. While technology plays a crucial role in this evolution, it is important to remember that perfumery is an art form that should not solely rely on algorithms. The magic of perfume lies in its ability to evoke emotions and transport us to different worlds. As functional fragrances continue to evolve, the future holds endless possibilities for fragrances that can enhance not only our sense of smell but also our quality of life.