The ultimate comfort scent

This post is a difficult one for me, and I debated for some time before deciding to write it. Ultimately, I figured that if there was even the tiniest chance it could help someone else, it was worth it.

My message to everyone who will listen, this summer and in previous summers, has been: Don’t let your kids play the “hold your breath” game in the pool (and discourage teens from horsing around in the water and holding each other under). Sure, kids have done it for ages and come to no harm, but there’s always that one time when it goes horribly, horribly wrong.

As some of you may know, my son nearly died in just such an accident, and today marks the two-year anniversary. He has made a full recovery with no ill effects, thanks be to God, and all our family and friends’ prayers, support and good thoughts.

During those dark days, going from hospital to hospital (he was in a total of four), not knowing if he would survive, you’d think fragrance would be the farthest thing from my mind, and it was. But I just happened to have a little bottle of Kai in my purse, and I wound up using every bit of it that frightening summer.

Somehow, its beautiful simplicity calmed and soothed me greatly during that traumatic time. Maybe it’s the “hope springs eternal” aura that lovely florals have, or perhaps, in some subliminal way, it helped strengthen my faith.

Looking back on it, if it could help get me through that awful, but ultimately joyous, summer, that is high praise indeed! What more could you ask of a fragrance? (Now if it could only get rid of the gray hair I got during that year!)
Surprisingly enough, it carries no bad memories for me and I still enjoy wearing it.

So share with me, if you will: Is there one scent that has seen you through difficult days? One perfume that’s your go-to when times get tough?

  • marsha says:

    Ann – I’m so sorry you had to go through such a horrendous experience! I’m also glad that your son pulled through.

    Kai is a wonderful fragrance! I have some myself but forgot about it and your post reminded me. I have just put some on and am reminding myself of its wonderful refreshing scent and won’t forget it again!

    Bless you and your family.

    • Ann says:

      Thank you, Marsha, for your kind words. Something like that really is a life-changing experience. And I’m so glad you love Kai, too, and are enjoying it again. I’m wearing it a lot lately as well. BTW, I saw on the beauty habit dot com site that they now have Kai shampoo and conditioner, but at $34 a pop, it’s a bit too spendy for me, as wonderful as it sounds. Sending blessings to you and yours as well. Enjoy the rest of your summer …

  • mim says:

    So sorry you and your family had to go through this, so glad it ended well. My youngest relatives are learning how to swim this summer; I will definitely keep this in mind especially on our August vacation.

    When my grandmother was in the hospital, I brought in the bottle of Joy parfum from her vanity to help keep her spirits up. I think i helped ūüôā

    My own comfort scents are usually cuddly vanilla/heliotrope/amber/spice like POTL, Ecco Bella Vanilla Lotion, PG L’Ombre Fauve, L’artisan Tea for Two and Safran Troublant.

    For focusing and/or having “armor” as Musette commented above, I like OJ Woman, Caron Pour Homme (balances the vanilla and lavender), SL Vetiver Oriental, Dior Eau Noir. They make me feel bold and competent.

    • Ann says:

      Sorry for the late reply here, Mim. Thank you for stopping by, and I’m glad you’ll be keeping our experience in mind when you head out next month. You never know how much of a difference you might make. BTW, you’ve named several of my comfort scents: T-4-2 and the Safran, and I like OJ Woman and the Dior for feeling “bold and competent” as you said.

  • Shari says:

    I am so sorry to hear about that. When I was 10, I almost drowned in a lake. I went underneath the water, my cousin clambered onto my shoulders but she was too heavy for me to get up. It was frightening and the last thing I ever want to do is scuba drive (fear of getting trapped down there).

    On to more pleasant topics, my comfort scents are L’Air du Temps and Joy. The first two I’ve known since I was a child and my wonderful grandmother wore them. They instantly make everything all right in my world.

    • Ann says:

      Shari, I apologize for the late reply, but thank you for sharing your experience and so sorry it happened to you. It really does make you think long and hard about going into and under the water. But I’m glad the L’Air du Temps and the Joy are such a comfort for you — they’re beautiful!

  • OhLily says:

    Anne, it’s heartbreaking to hear what your son and family went through, so thankful to hear that he is doing well now!! It’s a very timely reminder for water safety, especially now that so many parts of the country are simply sweltering and kids naturally want to gravitate to water!

    The last few years have been rather challenging with medical issues, so I espouse Churchill’s sentiment of ” When you’re going through hell, keep going.” Big steps. little steps, half a step – It doesn’t matter as long as you keep it in a forward direction! The perfume I pick when I need some reminding is vintage Diorissimo, because it’s comforting to be assured so gloriously that, yes, Spring always does come!

    • Ann says:

      I love that quote and your philosophy. You really do have to keep moving forward, even a baby step at a time. Hope things are now looking up for you and yours health-wise. And I wholeheartedly agree, Diorissimo is full of that beautiful promise that things will get better. Thanks!

  • Musette says:

    I’m glad you finally feel comfortable enough about this experience to share it with the Posse family! That was some ROUGH time there – whenever I think about my own pissy little issues I remember the really important things – like your experience – and am grateful that my experiences are just..aggravating. Occasionally I do have to deal with some higher-level problems (my father is 90 and in indifferent health) and those times call for Mitsouko. Nothing says “ER personnel, please do NOT work my Very Last Nerve with foolishness” like a healthy blast of pre-reform Mitsouko. It’s got that gasoline punch that is the iron mace in the velvet-gloved hand.

    For actual comfort – I dunno. I never think of comfort. Only armor. And weaponry. hmm….perhaps should investigate ‘comfort’.

    xo :Devil:

    • Ann says:

      Thanks so much for all your encouragement, sweetie. It really does tend to put things into perspective. Glad you have the mighty Ms. M to wield during battle when you need her, but I think a little comforting TLC now and again is good for the soul. Let someone else be tough for a bit, while you take a break. I like that old quote: “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing is so gentle as real strength.”

  • Barbara says:

    Thank you for sharing your ordeal with us. So glad your son is doing well.

    My best friend’s cousins lived next door to her and we used to go in their pool constantly. The boys (older and much larger than us) were constantly “dunking” each other and us. One day I thought I was going to drown. I have never learned how to swim. I’ll go in the water but won’t go under without holding my nose. Am constantly warning my 16 year old son not to do this or let his friends do it to him.

    My favorite comfort scent is L’Eau d’Hiver . Even though it’s supposedly a winter scent I wear it year round. I need a full bottle because I keep buying decants and using them up!
    Another one I like is Sensuous. Not sensuous on me, just a nice skin scent.

    • Ann says:

      Barbara, thank YOU for sharing your frightening ordeal. And so glad you’re reminding your son about it. You see it happening way too often, just an accident waiting to happen. I, too, nearly drowned once in the ocean (got caught in a killer undertow, pulled way out into deep water and started to panic. Thankfully my companion was a strong swimmer and pulled me back in). As for comfort scents, if you keep using up decants, you ought to treat yourself to a bottle of the Malle — you deserve it!

  • Cybele says:

    Hi, I am sorry to hear this, at the moment I am recovering from an accident myself and I enjoy to have my small bottle of Lime Basil Mandarin around. At first I found it almost too zingy but in this situation it’s suddenly perfect, so clean, simple and uplifting. For pillow soft comfort I am craving Coromandel and thinking about getting a bottle.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, no, so sorry to hear this. Hope you’re doing improving day by day. I’m so glad you mentioned Coromandel; it’s a lovely, lovely scent and just as you said “pillow soft.” Hang in there!

  • Julie says:

    Oh Ann, I’m so sorry to hear of your experience, but am happy that it ended up well. I love swimming and was even a pool lifeguard for a summer, but being out of breath just freaks me out so much I get highly upset when I see kids being held under water. I had to yell at some friends last weekend – they were tossing one of their kids back and forth and it was all fun, but he wasn’t getting a chance to catch his breath. He was fine, but makes me so nervous.

    I do enjoy many gourmands and vanillas that would be called comfort scents. I’d probably reach for LMDV Vanille Noire de Mexique as it’s not too heavy, very simple and one of the first perfumes I bought as I started getting “into” perfume, so it’s one that I’ve known for awhile.

    • Ann says:

      Good for you, Julie! I’m proud of you for speaking up. I’ve done it several times, even with people that I don’t know, and maybe they think I’m nosy or weird, but I don’t care, as long as it makes them stop and think. That Mexique vanilla is so nice; thanks for the reminder — I’m going right now to get my sample of it.

  • Lisa D says:


    What happy news, that your son is well and recovered! I can’t even imagine what that experience must have been like for you and your family, but I’m thrilled that he’s okay.

    I don’t have a single scent that serves to get me through hard times, really. What I do find is that scent almost always lifts my spirits and shifts my mood (unless I’ve spritzed on a scrubber, and then it’s just a bunch of jumping around scrunchy-faced, muttering “Icky icky icky icky icky!”). I have noticed, though, that I feel a deeper sense of comfort from gourmand scents than most others, which I’m sure has something to do with my rather close relationship with food…..

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, Lisa. And I agree; gourmands do tend to be more comforting to me as well. Better to sniff the goodies than to eat them, I say (but I don’t practice what I preach half the time, ha!). BTW, the mental image of you hopping around screaming “Icky icky icky” is too funny! Thanks for the smile …

  • nozknoz says:

    Ann, I’m so sorry that this happened but so glad to hear it has turned out OK. I think you’ve done the right thing with this post. This is the time of year for all sorts of water-related accidents that could usually have been avoided.

    I also love Kai and find other florals soothing, too, especially jasmines. All last week, this region has been reeling from the aftermath of that very destructive derecho storm coinciding with a record heat wave. I alternated Habanita and SL Iris Silver Mist. In cooler weather, I find SSS Tabac Aurea and Via del Profumo Mecca Balsam comforting and delicious. I also have VdP’s Lake Blossom, which is designed as a reinforcing scent for women (although it seems perfectly unisex). It smells like fresh ginger to me, a curious olfactory illusion, since there’s no ginger in the notes. I pull it out whenever I’m feeling exhausted or unwell.

    Stay safe, everyone!

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, Nozknoz, you are so right. Hope things are starting to turn around in your area. I really like your comfort choices but need to try the Lake Blossom; it’s good to have something like that in your fragrance medicine cabinet.

  • Eldarwen 22 says:

    Sorry to hear about the scarey summer that you had. I probably reach for Havana Vanille or Sycomore when I am going through tough times.

    • Ann says:

      Mmmm, I like the Havana as well, very soothing. But alas, Sycomore smells a bit like an illegal substance on me and after sampling it, I was afraid to even go outside wearing it. But happy it works for you!

  • maggiecat says:

    I’m so sorry you and your family had to endure such a difficult time! I agree that scents can be comforting during stress – I like light musk scents for this, or SJP’s Lovely body lotion. Or one of Philosophy’s Grace scents – those work as well. It’s a blessing to have any sort of reliable stress relief during difficult times – what do non-perfumistas do?

    • Ann says:

      Those are great stress-relieving choices, Maggiecat. Not sure what non-perfumistas do, but I think we’re all glad to have fragrance to ease the rough spots — we could do a lot worse!. Thanks for your good thoughts.

  • Sam says:

    Oh, Ann, I’m so sorry you and your family went through such a painful ordeal. It’s wonderful that your son is doing just fine now; but going through something like that must subtly (or not-so subtly) change your outlook on life. In good ways, perhaps, as well as challenging ones. I haven’t gone through anything like you described, mercifully, but my own brushes with unexpected loss have left me altered, for better or worse.

    As for Kai–I used to have a little bottle of it, but I didn’t love it and eventually gave it away (as I am too wont to do). You’ve made me want to seek out another sniff! In terms of comfort scents, I get different kinds of comfort from different fragrances, so what comforts me depends on the given situation. But there are two perfumes that invariably make me feel calm, serene, and ready to face what life brings: FM Iris Poudre and Parfums Delrae Mythique. Each is gorgeous, tho not in a loud way. I tend not to wear them at home, but rather to use them as glorious armor to face the world when I’m feeling a bit shaky.

    • Ann says:

      Hi Sam, thanks for your kind words. Something like this does change you, but for the better, I hope. If anything, I hope I’m a more loving, compassionate person because of it. And if our cautionary tale keeps this from happening to someone else, it’s been worth it. Do re-try the Kai if you get the chance, but I know that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. And I love your glorious armor scents!

  • Karin says:

    Ann, I’m so glad your son is OK. What a traumatic experience. As my HG, Attrape Coeur is my go-to comfort scent – a stress reliever! Love how fragrance can provide comfort when facing trials.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Karin, thanks! Amen to the AC, it’s a great one. I get a touch aggravated with, and then feel a little sorry for folks who pooh-pooh perfume: They’ve never experienced its amazing power. In some ways, it really is the best medicine.

  • rosarita says:

    Ann, thank you so much for sharing your story. What a horrific time it surely was for you and all of your family; I’m so glad the story has a happy ending.

    A very bleak period in my life, in 2007, was helped by PdN Vanille Tonka. It grounded me and helped me to feel like myself during difficult circumstances, and when I wear it now I feel nothing but gratitude for the sustaining power it has for me. Your comment to Sherri about having a medicine cabinet filled with different scents rings a bell; didn’t the apothecaries create and dispense oils for different ailments, once upon a time? Anyway, thanks for another thought provoking post and comments.

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, Rosarita, and yes, hooray for happy endings! I think you’re right about apothecaries from years past; they were definitely onto something, and now we’re sort of continuing the tradition in our own way. So glad the PdN got you through, and happy you can still wear and appreciate it.

  • HemlockSillage says:

    Oh, Ann, this sounds like a horrible thing for your family to experience. I’m sorry to hear about it, and so glad that your son came through okay!

    I’ve had far too much time in hospitals with family this year, so I understand the comfort scent idea. Has to be close to the body, so as not to bother others. Usually when I’m camping out at the hospital, I reach for Amazing Grace, or Chanel No. 5’s body cream. Both have a bright, clean feminine scent that never fails to make me feel better. A tiny bit of the body cream goes a long way.

    Here’s hoping we won’t need these comforting/buttressing fragrances for a long while to come. Be well!

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, dear. Sorry you’ve had to camp out at hospitals as well, but hopefully everyone is OK now. Whenever I pass a hospital, or see an ambulance roar by, I say a silent prayer because I know all too well that frightened and hopeless feeling.
      Great comfort scents, and body cream is always a good idea because you get yummy double benefits from it.

  • pam says:

    After hearing about your son’s accident a while back, I think of you and your family when there is yet another story in the news of a child in a pool accident. Thank God he is doing well.
    I haven’t tried Kai, but my comfort scent is Tocade. Can’t really explain why. But when I wear it (especially at night), it comforts and calms me.

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, sweet Pam! It is so sad that every year there’s always a couple. Just breaks my heart. One of the good things to come from this is that last year at church camp, a boy came up to us and said, “We used to play the ‘hold your breath game’ here at the pool, but we don’t anymore.” Hooray!
      I haven’t worn Tocade in ages, but I can see how its rosy goodness would be majorly comforting.

  • Suzanne says:

    Dear Ann, I remember the day you wrote me of this accident — how shocking it was to hear that something like this had happened to a friend, and how worried I was for C. It was a very rough year, but thank God for how everything turned out. I can understand exactly how Kai’s simple but joyful declaration of beauty pulled you through, as you were the one who introduced me to it, and I still cherish my bottle. I’ll wear it today with you and yours in mind (a celebration!).

    I almost hate to name my comfort scent, because it makes me sound like a scent weirdo, but it’s Muscs Koublai Khan. And the Calyx you introduced me to, though not a comfort scent, helped lift me out of the doldrums last year. Thanks, and much love to you! oxxo

    • Ann says:

      Thanks for your sweet words, Suzanne, and love and good wishes right back to you and your family. I’m so glad you love Kai too, as well as Calyx. I don’t wear the MKK so well myself, but I can see it having a warm and fuzzy vibe about it, so I’m happy it works for you. These days we need all the comfort we can get!

  • How terrifying that must have been and so, so thankful your son has come through with no long term effects ! There is nothing harder than to see your child suffer!

    I can see Kai being an excellent comfort scent. Kai has that simple beauty of a flower in the midst of a storm that would remind me God is there and still in control, come what may.

    It depends what kind of duress which perfume helps. For anxiety and stress, something like, say, a teenager out past curfew (driving!) or a letter from the IRS, I need something really complex like a MdO or an Amouage that changes a lot and periodically gives me that needed distraction. (I saw an article on Amouage’s newest, Interlude, and it said Interlude was in fact inspired by this type of thinking).

    I also consistently look to Lady Primrose bath products in times of physical illness–Royal Extract (honey & orange blossom scent) especially is more gentle than even baby products. Speaking of: I just tried Humiecki and Graef Clemency. Honestly, that one gives me that blissful feeling of holding a newborn! Now for cheering up, I think something like La Tulipe, which positively sings to me from the moment I put it on, is perfect.

    • Ann says:

      Sherri, your comment about a flower in the storm is beautiful and spot-on! And I love all your specific scent soothers — maybe we should all have medicine cabinets and fill them with certain perfumes labeled for what they do: “In case of stress, wear this,” “Feeling poorly, apply this,” etc. Mmmm, that Clemency sounds divine — must try. Thanks for sharing.

  • You are so lucky your son survived. I’m glad for you. I have eschewed Kai but now will give it a whirl.
    Whenever I feel down I long for YSL Jazz. There’s always a bottle around for those times where even doing something as simple as putting an old favourite fragrance on will lift my mood. It has seen me through schools, births, deaths, relationships, houses, countries, almost all the highs and lows.
    Thanks for sharing
    Portia x

    • Ann says:

      Portia, we really do feel so blessed. Kai sometimes get dismissed as a sort of celeb scent, but it really is lovely in its beautiful simplicity, so do try it and let us know what you think. I’ve not tried the Jazz, but wow! If it’s gotten you through all that, it must be pretty wonderful. On my sampling list it goes!

  • Ari says:

    Ann, I am so sorry that you, your son, and your family had to go through such a terrible experience, and so relieved that he has made a full recovery. I know that this is an extreme view, especially since I started swimming within a few months of being born, but I am firmly anti-pools. Too many accidents, for people of all ages. (Anyone remember William Shatner’s poor wife?)

    Pretty much all of my perfumes are comfort scents. I need a lot of comfort, I guess. L de Lolita Lempicka is a go-to.

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, Ari. There are so many pool accidents that I know where you’re coming from. And not only pools, but rivers and lakes, too. At least one or two every summer, if not more. Way too many deaths. I think people tend to think “vacation,” and they relax a bit too much and don’t take precautions that they ought to. Glad to see another L fan; I enjoy it, too!