French women have a very specific hack for better sleep that has to do with perfume. It’s no wonder, as the French have a long history with perfumes and traditions, such as perfuming gloves or handkerchiefs as Hubert de Givenchy recommended and some contemporary French women continue to do. Now it’s time to talk about the benefits of using perfume for better sleep.
As French makeup artist Violette told Into the Gloss in 2016, using perfume before bed is a tradition for the women in her family and her nightstand never lacks El Nabil, a white musk she buys in Morocco and keeps everywhere.
“I also use Lipstick Rose by Frederic Malle, but at night I always use musk,” she said. Mathilde Thomas, founder of the Caudalie skin care brand, also says in her book, The French Beauty Solution, that she sprays a scent of chamomile, basil, lavender, and mint on her pillow to relax.
Wearing perfume helps separate day and night.
I talked about this habit at length with Sylvie Durcudoy, director of communications for Dior Beauty. She confessed to me that while she uses a rather strong patchouli perfume during the day, at night she opts for a fresher scent (specifically Eden-Roc by Dior) to carry out this very French habit of applying perfume before going to bed.
For her this habit is based on the evocative power that aromas have and their ability to provoke sensations. Smell is the only one of the senses that goes directly to the emotional part of the brain connecting with the limbic system, so using different perfumes depending on the sensations we want to have is a great idea.
“Especially if it’s a pattern that repeats every night with the same scent,” Durcudoy says. “After the hustle and bustle of the day, this pre-bedtime ritual sends the signal to the brain to go into airplane mode. For some, the ritual will be drinking an infusion, for others it will be reading in bed, listening to a podcast in the dark.”
She added that perfume has a power over our emotions and mood. “Our brain associates each scent with an experience, a memory, a situation,” she says. “That’s why certain scents put us in a safe and happy place that induces a state of serenity essential to fall asleep. For me, it is a comforting ritual. After a very hot shower and a full facial beauty ritual, spraying fragrance is like taking melatonin. Sometimes I wonder if it’s not a throwback to childhood when, as babies, our mothers would bathe us and apply eau de cologne before putting on clean pajamas and tucking us into our cribs.”
The right fragrance to wear to bed
It all depends on your tastes and emotions, because scents provoke different emotions in each person depending on the memories they are associated with. For Durcudoy, the choice of this scent has to do with memories.