Fragrance News This Week in Fragrance: Sniffa-Picasso, Hair Spray & Lush Art

This Week in Fragrance: Sniffa-Picasso, Hair Spray & Lush Art

04/27/16 14:34:07 (7 comments)

by: Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

"What does a Picasso painting smell like?" asks Nathaniel Scharping of, reporting on new technology-assisted synesthesia:

Zachary Howard, an aerospace engineer completing a fellowship at Autodesk, created a mask that mimics the effects of synesthesia using a color sensor, microprocessor and essential oils. By linking a sensor worn on the finger to an Intel Edison chip on the armband, Howard’s device breaks any object’s color scheme down into the three primary colors that correspond to three scent reservoirs. This information is transmitted to a system of fans and servo motors that controls how much of each of each scent to release. The smells flow up to the mask, and the wearer gets a constantly-changing odor portfolio that represents the colors of the world around them.

There's even a great video in the article showing us the technology in action! Considering that Howard only used a limited range of essential oils, imagine what a perfumer could do with such an experience! What visual scene would you most like to experience as an aroma?

Howard and his mask from via Instructables

Milena Veselinovic reports for that sales of celebrity scents have been on the decline:

More stars have jumped on the perfume bandwagon, but companies in the $46 billion industry have reported a sharp fall in sales in this segment. Euromonitor estimates celebrity fragrances now account for just 4% of the U.S. market, down from 12% in 2012. "Most companies say their [celebrity fragrance] sales have been declining year on year," said Nicholas Micallef, a beauty and personal care analyst at Euromonitor.

The article goes on to speculate why this downturn is happening. Be sure to check out the great comment at the bottom of the article from my friend Marian Bendeth. What are your thoughts on the trend?

Although sales of celebrity scents may be decreasing, Sheila McClear of the discusses the strong rise in popularity of hair fragrance:

Upscale fragrance brands are creating hair “perfumes” and “mists” based on their signature scents — and they’re quickly gaining a cult following with boldfacers such as Kylie Jenner. There’s something for everyone, whether you like light, floral notes or prefer earthy, musky scents. Viktor & Rolf’s popular scent Flowerbomb is now available as a hair perfume, for example, and its companion, BonBon, is so popular it’s out of stock on Sephora.

So if fragrance for hair is the current trend for women, why is there no hair fragrance for men as well? Or should we expect beard scents?



Meanwhile, in London, cosmetics brand Lush is presenting a new immersive fragrance exhibit, as reported by Kasia Maynard, of

Visitors to the exhibition, which is located on the basement level of Lush's Oxford Street store, are being encouraged to try the perfumes while immersing themselves in the individual stories behind each fragrance. The activity aims convey the idea that perfume is art. Mark Constantine, co-founder of Lush and head buyer and perfumer at the brand, hopes to see perfume used as an art form, and as a form of expression. The free exhibition will be open to the public on weekdays from 10am- 9pm, and Sundays from 11:30am to 6pm until June.

Marketing ploy or sincere celebration of fragrance as art? If you're in the London area, why not check it out and let us know!?!

Image from EventMagazine

Finally this week, Tyler Flaherty and Juyun Lim of Oregon State University report on the correlation of odor perception via the mouth (vs nose) and age in the journal Chemosensory Perception as posted at

Generally, large individual differences in odor responsiveness become even greater when aging is considered as a factor," says Flaherty. "The current study offers insights on why people who are relatively insensitive to food odors alone may not notice a potential deficit during actual food consumption," adds Lim. These findings are in line with previous research findings that people's ability to smell declines as we age. This might be, among other reasons, because of the prolonged use of medication or physical and mental changes associated with older age. One's ability to pick up smells through the mouth could also be influenced by for instance the use of dentures.

Along with culture and personal associations, how might this contribute to our understanding of why different aromas appeal to people of different ages?

Have interesting fragrance news for us to share?
Leave a comment in the new Fragrance News thread HERE.



Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Managing Editor & Columnist

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison’s journalism in the fragrance industry has appeared in international print and online publications such as PlayboyMen’s JournalMen’s Health and the New York Times. Marlen also works as a graduate professor, thesis advisor and faculty supervisor for MA programs in TESOL, Education, Writing and Literature. Learn more about Marlen by visiting



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There are no hair scents sold for men because men's hair is typically too short; a hair perfume is appealing to women because it promises to give the user gentle wafts of scent throughout the day as their hair passes near their faces. I suppose beard oils are the male equivalent, but I don't really care for these, as I feel like they would mess with my moisturizer and serums.


President's hat cafe looks like something from Twin Peaks. I would definitely check it out! LUSH is a fun company with some truly unique, good quality fragrances. About hair mist- not for me, since I use styling products that work for my hair type and they already have their own fragrance, so I wouldn't want anything else to clash with that. And to be honest, it feels kind of unnecessary to add more product buildup into the hair.


I would love to smell the world around me according to colors that sounds so fun.
I think celebrity scents are on a decline because consumers are tired of buying these perfumes just to find out its made with cheap ingredients, there watered down, fade to quickly, and alot of them found boring. There's all this hype made and interviews proclaiming how unique and special a celebrity scent is and it ends up a big disappointment. There are a few that are really good like madonna truth or Dare.
Now speaking about hair perfume. I had one before, it came with my Ralph Lauren romance purchase, it was oily and hardly any scent, i would rather continue to put straight up perfume in my hair than waste money on hair perfume.

drugstore classics
drugstore classics

I admire your thinking, NebraskaLovesScent! That's pretty much how I roll too... ;)

As for celeb scents? Personally, I believe people are reacting to the obvious lack of unique releases as exemplified in so many flankers. They will recognize a good celeb scent and buy it, but now not as many are interested in having yet another passion fruit floral that closely resembles the 20 others they were promised were the latest and greatest! You've got to hand it consumers. They aren't as gullible as Coty thinks. :D

That said, I love a good celeb scent, for being totally accessible, 'cheap and cheerful' fragrance. Sometimes they're even memorably wonderful, as in the case of Jessica Simpson's Fancy Nights. Now that's a celeb-scent-flanker I hope to always have in my wardrobe. <3


So I already spritz my perfumes in my hair, they last a long time and waft nicely that way. What is the difference between a regular perfume and a hair scent for heaven sakes? Other than another bottle to clutter up my counter top?


Beard scents/beard oil are totally a thing! (If you have a beard to scent/oil, of course. I'm all for it if you have one--many of them smell fantastic.)

Perfume=Hair Scent

Hair Scent=Perfume

(and while we're at it:

bath oil=perfume oil

perfume oil=bath oil)

That's how I roll! :-)


I don't think sense of smell decreases as we age--it is so linked to memory, that as we have more life experience and more memories, our "smell library" becomes more complicated and cross-indexed in our brains. As long as the brain is healthy, I think we become more perceptive and discerning of smell as we age. Children may have more immediate gut reactions about smells and tastes, but that doesn't mean older people's sense of smell is degrading. There is certainly farther to go in this field of study!


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