Manic Monday: Scents that help curb/calm the chaos

Oh boy, now that we’re smack in the midst of the holiday madness, I find myself longing for a calm oasis, as I’m sure are many of you. And on a particularly crazy day that involves work deadlines, school activities and a shopping trip smack in the middle of horrific traffic, about the only way I can detour around the chaos and get to that oasis is through fragrance.

For me, the very unaptly named Donna Karan Chaos would be one of the ones that first comes to mind. Its gorgeous tapestry of notes, from saffron and coriander to sage, cinnamon, sandalwood and more, create a very calming atmosphere. And I find the original and the re-issue to work equally well. A beautiful chaos-buster, indeed, that one.

I’m also finding that the contrasts of Chanel No. 22: light (uplifting aldehydes) and dark (soothing incense) work well. Speaking of incense, Armani Prive’s Bois d’Encens has a lovely transporting effect on me; chaos 3I can close my eyes and feel myself seated in a quiet church sanctuary, softly lighted by candle glow, immune to the world rushing by outside the stone walls and heavy oak doors.

And Le Labo’s Gaiac 10 has a very centering, peaceful aura about it as well. Some might dismiss it as simplistic or dislike it because of the high cost/city exclusive business, but it really does the trick for me. I found a partially used bottle on eBay, bit the bullet and never looked back. I’ve even thought about taking a blotter of this with me when I have to go to the mall and must deal with the craziness of sitting through three traffic lights and the can’t-find-a-parking-spot blues.

To remind me of the sweetness of life, the vanilla goodness of Indult’s Tihota helps bring back a bit of the childhood wonder and innocence that’s welcome and much-needed at this time of year.

The pine-y, balsam-y, resin-y vibe of Annick Goutal’s Encens Flamboyante or even Serge Lutens’ Fille en Anguilles also do their part to help settle me down and put me in a more festive frame of mind.

Thymes’ Frasier Fir and Agraria’s Balsam diffusers do the same thing for my home when I want that beloved Christmas tree vibe. Especially needed this year as our tree does not have a ton of fragrance. 🙁 And for out-and-out cozy, vanilla-based warmth, Henri Bendel Vanilla Bean diffuser and Antica Farmacista’s Vanille, Bourbon & Mandarin one get pulled into heavy rotation at my house to help keep the chaos at bay.

So share with us, what scents do you use to help calm the holiday chaos?

  • shylotus says:

    I was just thinking that tonight – I need a serenity scent. Bois Des Iles parfum. It never fails to center me, probably because it reminds me of my mother!

    • Ann says:

      Wow, I just had a bit o’ that on yesterday — great minds do think alike, don’t they? That one is such a gem, so comforting yet still with an elegant, vintage vibe about it. And that nice scent association for you is just icing on the cake.

  • Cara says:

    Ginestret Botrytis comes into rotation for me during the season. It makes makes me happy and seems to fit well.

    • Ann says:

      Cara, so glad you mentioned that one. I got a sample in a shipment and I really need to dig it out and try out. And so happy that it makes YOU happy!

  • Farouche says:

    Today I’m wearing Fendi Theorema, a spicy amber oriental that I find very calming and comforting. Every time I put it on I wonder why I don’t think of it more often, as it is perfect for this time of year.

    • Ann says:

      Oooh, oooh, gotta love that Theorema — what a beauty!! And what a crying shame that it’s discontinued; so do enjoy and treasure your treasure 🙂

  • Lynley says:

    Hi Ann! I never find this time of year relaxing- always chaos and over here, always hot.
    I second Lyric as instant calm, I often wear it to bed as I find it so soothing. For crazy days, something predominantly vetiver like the Guerlain or Sel de Vetiver, or Voyage d’Hermes.
    I also second Yvresse. Sunday I was so exhausted I happily did absolutely NOTHING all day, except watch DVDs, wear bright red lipstick, and top up Yvresse 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Lynley, that Lyric is so nice, isn’t it? I have a sample of Yvresse and need to spend a bit more time with it, but I can definitely see how it made your lovely, relaxing Sunday.

  • I find that at this time of year Ambre Sultan provides a sense of balance and calm. At night I’ve been burning Diptique’s Opopanax candle which has a beautifully relaxing scent.

    • Ann says:

      Great choices there, Megan! And especially that candle, as you get to enjoy it throughout the room. I have the Diptyque Ambre one and love it also.

  • Ingeborg says:

    I find I use my SL Five o’clock au gingembre a lot these days, even if most days have mild weather (we risk not having a white Christmas!), not usual with so few sub-zero days. Still, these days with little light outdoors call for warm scents. And this particular one is interesting enough for me, yet can be worn at the office when applied with a light hand.

    • Ann says:

      How nice that you’ve found a scent that works perfectly for this time of year. Here’s hoping you will get a white Christmas (if you want one). BTW, I’ve heard such good things about Five O’Clock and I really do need to try it. My sample list just keeps growing and growing, thanks to all you lovely Posse folks! 🙂

  • Nemo says:

    I am now excited about looking for samples of Black Cashmere and Chaos to try! I love spicy and incense scents this time of year, and my current “calm” scent is SL Chergui. I was actually just thinking about how I should perhaps explore that theme more (incense/spice and orientals in general).

    • Ann says:

      Yes, please do try them and let us know what you think. You’re sure to find something (or many things) to love in that group. Glad you mentioned Chergui — it’s a great one as well; I’m pulling my decant out tonight.

  • Lynne Marie says:

    Hi Ann!

    My seasonal “calm” scent is L’Artisan’s Navegar, somehow the juniper and cedar really come forward on me so I get this wonderful sense of a clean, open, snowy woodland – spacious with plenty of room to breathe, which is perfect for those days when breathing room is a little hard to come by 😉

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, dear! Your description of Navegar sounds so beautiful — can’t believe I have never tried that one, so I will get sampling ASAP. L’Artisan has so many great scents that after I fell down the rabbit hole, I never seemed to be able to try all of them, which is a shame.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    For some odd reason, this time of year I get the wicked craving for A La Nuit and have never gotten a full bottle of it. In times of stress, I always reach for Lyric and Shalimar.

    • Ann says:

      I definitely can see craving that one this time of year — it’s just so lovely. Lyric is grand as well, but alas, I must pass on the Shalimar, but glad it’s great on you!

  • foxbins says:

    Like others here, incense calms me. I’ve found that Heeley’s Cardinal is the perfect incense for crazy days. It’s like walking past a church while a service is occurring rather than being in the church next to the censer (which is why I find Avignon is too much).

    • Ann says:

      Love your take on those two incense scents! I have a sample of each and need to try them side by side to see if I get a similar result. Although my skin does seem to “eat” incense a little bit so I never seem to get quite the full effect. Maybe a hefty spray would do the trick?

  • Portia says:

    Hey there Ann,
    So many of my frags are excellent mood changers but nothing can turn me around quicker than smelling something new. the thrill of the chase, the hunt for a new I LOVE IT. The twists, turns, even the let downs take me out of a grump or out of the freak out zone and give me something to focus on other than the drama. That few minutes of new is enough to derail cyclic negative behaviours.
    Of my FBs Bellodgia or Shalimar vintage parfums will smooth my day in a second.
    Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, Portia! Lucky you, to be able to do that. I like the thrill of the chase but it does tend to stress me a little, so I have to rely on old favorites for smoothing out the bumps, but so glad it works for you. And double-lucky you that Shalimar loves you. She won’t give me the time of day, except for in the variations (Vanille, etc.). 🙂

  • annemariec says:

    EL’s Sensuous. Not exactly highbrow I know, but I find it relaxing. And what is also good is that it is cheap, widely available and comes with no reformulation worries. I can never relax if I think I’m using up some irreplaceable treasure.

    • Ann says:

      Annemarie, never apologize for what you love — it’s all good! You’ve got the best of all worlds there with Sensuous, for all the reasons you mention. And I like it, too; in fact, your post reminds me to go pull out my decant of it and enjoy it this week.

  • Cacomixtle says:

    Lutens’ Fille en Anguilles is one of my calming favorites, and also PdE’s Wazamba. I really love creamy but rich amber scents for manic days, especially Dior’s Mitzah and Arabian Oud’s Kalemat, and when the holidays get downright depressing I wear YSL Yvresse! It never fails to make me smile.

    • Ann says:

      Oooh, I love Mitzah and Yvresse, too, but can’t believe I’ve not tried Wazamba. Must remedy that soon. So glad you found a scent that always prompts a smile.

  • rosarita says:

    Yes, Black Cashmere for me, too, creates a calm oasis and for the ultimate peace, Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande always works. Kyoto is another calming incense… I always wear perfume on my chest so that at rough moments I can stick my nose down my shirt and take a quick whiff of inner peace 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Amen to the BC, dear! After you and Mals mentioned it, I was over here kicking myself for not including it. Your other “calmers” are nice, too, and I love your shirt trick!

  • malsnano86 says:

    Alahine. Always, and of course. Joyful – but centered. (I just saw recently that Teo Cabanel had new packaging. I don’t like the new bottles! gah.)

    If I had more Trayee than this tiny sample I’d wear it. So meditative. And Black Cashmere… there is something about incense that is calming.

    • Ann says:

      Hey, Mals — so glad you mentioned Black Cashmere! I think when I’m grooving on Chaos I tend to forget about it, but it’s so lovely.And the Trayee is a treat as well. Sorry about the TC packaging.

  • Musette says:

    ooh! for home scent I also like Agraria’s Balsam – but I like it best paired with Bitter Orange. xooxoxA

  • Musette says:

    My scent of ‘calm’, during the frigid weather, is the smell of clothes tumbling in the dryer. I think it’s as much the idea of a chore attended to (always very calming) …or maybe it’s that mild vibration – like a colicky baby, perhaps I find solace in the tumble!

    From a scent standpoint….I think I like Jubilation 25 best – especially just out of the shower and into the body creme. It’s a bit of a skin scent and doesn’t ask a lot of me; it’s just a cozy, comfy cloud. xoxoxoA

  • pyramusnb says:

    If I need to feel relaxed and happy and calm, nothing ever works as well as Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille: a smidgen of coconut, a sliver of sandalwood, and buckets of the most perfect vanilla imaginable, exactly as sweet as it needs to be. It’s the smell of pure happiness, bottled.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, and thanks for stopping by! That is a great suggestion — you’ve got me curious now if I still have my sample of that; must go look for it.