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Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Star-Bulletin illustration
Scents that remind us of foods we enjoy can make
us feel secure -- and smell yummy.

Smellin’ like a melon

Fruity, herbal, even chocolate
fragrances will have your skin
smelling like a supermarket

How much is too much?

By Cynthia Oi

When Leila Bajarin puts on Heaven, the body lotion soothes her dry skin, but it is the scent of the lotion that she likes. "I feel good. It makes me happy," said the 18-year-old University of Hawaii student.

That's exactly the point of the plethora of fragrant lotions, potions, creams, shampoos, deodorants, splashes, body washes, oils, scrubs, soaps, foams, refreshers, colognes and perfumes that jam department stores, specialty shops and make up emporiums these days -- feeling good.

Oh, sure, those ads on TV and in fashion mags suggest perfumes and colognes are all about attracting men -- or women -- whichever the case may be. But when you really get down to it, smelling good is a very self-centered exercise.

"I don't think it's to attract men," said Elise Yates, a Honolulu interior designer. "I do it for myself."

Smelling nice isn't so much about fragrance as it is about the way the person feels while wearing it. said Andrea Pomerantz-Lustig, editor in chief of, the cosmetics company's online magazine.

"For many women, it's almost like an invisible security blanket. A scent can wrap you in confidence," she said.

"Oh, absolutely true," said school teacher Kalei Lima. "It makes me feel like I can do anything."

Yates agrees that scents are good for her mental outlook. "It's a positive feeling; it all kind of comes together for me."

Women should put themselves first when it comes to wearing a fragrance, she said. "You are the most important person here."

When she's feeling low or de-energized, Pomerantz-Lustig said, her favorites recharge her.

"The body wash I use when I shower in the morning has an uplifting scent. It gets me going, kind of like a cup of coffee," she said.

Psychologist Kate Brown sees nothing wrong with getting a boost from fragrances.

"Things that make people feel confident can be very helpful," said Brown, who has been practicing in Honolulu for nine years. "From a self-esteem standpoint, it's like makeup; people use it to feel better about themselves."

Problems would come if a person's self image is based solely on those things, she said. "It can become a crutch if someone feels they have not met a standard."

"If we externally attribute those dimensions (of confidence), we may be more at risk. But if we do things for the internal, to feel good about ourselves, then that's fine."

Brown doesn't wear fragrances on the job because it can offend her clients, but outside of the office she prefers florals.

But it's food-related scents that top the trend these days, say fragrance experts.

Fruit aromas -- citrus, apple, pear, peach, apricot, watermelon -- as well as chocolate, vanilla, nutmeg, cookie, berry and herbal fragrances crowd the market.

They are comforting, Pomerantz-Lustig said. "The fruit and food scents are warm, sensual, delicious and familiar," she said.

Research has shown that humans strongly connect smells to memories, "so a chocolate fragrance can bring to mind chocolate chip cookies, or mom baking cookies."

The familiarity counters the unexpected.

"You don't expect a woman to smell like something delicious so it's a surprise," she said.

Yates wears Angel by Thierry Mugler. "It smells like chocolate. I'm like really hooked on it. I feel delicious, luscious."

Gavin Peralta, 20, and Jessie Dullaga, 21, like women who smell yummy. The two Kapiolani Community College students from Kauai said that when their noses detect a delicious aroma it attracts them.

Peralta, who wears Tommy, said a woman's fragrance will make him turn to look. "If she smells good, guarantee you want to talk with her."

Mana Kobe-Bryant (yes, that's his last name), 19, opined that women have it tough because "as far as attracting men, they have to do so much; the makeup thing, dress up and wear the perfumes and stuff."

His friend Bajarin, however, set him straight.

"You think we're doing it for you," she said to him, "but for me, it's only for myself."

 | | |

How much
is too much?

J essie Dullaga, 21, a Kapiolani Community College student who wears Hugo, doesn't care what kind of fragrance a woman wears.

"Just so long as she smells nice," he says. "But cannot be too much."

Well, just how much is too much? And how do you match a scented bath oil with a body wash, a spray of cologne with hand lotion, a shampoo with a hair gloss?

Andrea Pomerantz-Lustig of has this advice:

Bullet Don't worry about products that wash off, such as body scrubs or soaps; the scents won't linger. Shampoos and conditioners are the exception. Smells cling to hair.

Bullet Stay within the "family" of fragrances. In other words, if you're using a citrus scent, don't mix it with florals. Chocolate and vanilla smells will blend well.

Bullet Instead of mixing, pick one dominant scent and stay with that.

Bullet In warmer environments such as Hawaii, fragrance takes on a heavier feel. Choose something that's a little lighter because a strong scent will get stronger in hot weather.

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