Vanilla is Vanilla, Right?

By: snlash
When purchasing scented items online, such as candles, incense, or bath and body products, it is hard to know what to expect from the fragrance you choose. Especially when computer screens are unfortunately not scratch and sniff (wonderful idea though, isn't it?). This is especially true when it comes to the fragrance of vanilla.

The first reason there is such a varied amount of vanilla scents available (and this is true of lavender as well), is because each fragrance oil manufacturing company is different, and has a different way of making each fragrance. While you might order Vanilla fragrance oil from one company, you could order plain Vanilla from another company and get a completely different smell. This is simply due to the difference in manufacturers.

Another thing that makes a huge difference is what you expect the vanilla to smell like. Vanilla on it's own is not a very descriptive term. When I say vanilla, do you think of the scent of vanilla extract? Or vanilla ice cream? Or possibly even real vanilla beans?

Vanilla can be very sugary smelling, or have a faint alcoholic-type scent that is more reminiscent of vanilla extract. It is also used as a base for a ton of other completely different scents, such as Lavender Vanilla, Jasmine Vanilla, Sandalwood Vanilla, Vanilla Musk, French Vanilla, and many others. If the company does not have a fragrance descriptions page that gives a clear idea of what their vanilla smells like, I would recommend writing to the company and asking what their vanilla does smell like before purchasing.

So why so many variations on such a simple fragrance? Psychologists and medical researchers were aware of our positive reactions to the scent of vanilla long before perfume makers recognized it's potential. In experiments where an odor universally regarded as pleasant is required, vanilla has been a standard choice for decades.

Medical experiments have shown that vanilla fragrance reduces stress and anxiety. Cancer patients undergoing Magnetic Resonance Imaging - a diagnostic procedure known to be stressful - reported a massive 63% less anxiety when heliotropin (a vanilla fragrance) was administered during the procedure.

Vanilla fragrance also makes you calmer. A study at Tubingen University in Germany showed that vanilla fragrance reduced the startle-reflex in both humans and animals. The animal results indicate that the calming effects of vanilla may be due to some more essential property of the fragrance than the positive childhood associations usually invoked to explain its universal popularity with humans.

So not only are there dozens of types of vanilla fragrance, it is also one of the most calming fragrances as well as being a highly popular fragrance among many people. So when looking for that right vanilla fragrance, keep these tips in mind, and make sure that you are looking for what vanilla makes you happy.
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