(Photo: iStockPhoto/GettyImages/ AZarubaika)
Unless a person is underage and trying to convince a bartender otherwise, most of us don’t want to look older. The appearance of youth is a valuable commodity, and preserving it is a multi-billion-dollar industry. In addition to makeup and face creams and surgery and special pillowcases, even perfumes are said to have the ability to make us stay young and charming forever. I’m as susceptible to the fear of aging as anybody, but I’m also cheap and kind of lazy, so when I read that a person can reportedly make herself seem younger by applying grapefruit perfume, I thought, “Well that sounds cheaper than dermal fillers!”
According to The Chicago Tribune, the Smell and Taste Research Foundation in Chicago conducted a study about how scent relates to the impression of youth. A number of scents were tested, including broccoli and lavender, and in the end Dr. Alan Hirsch said grapefruit was most strongly associated with younger women. While that is a serious bummer for my dreams of founding a broccoli perfume empire, it’s interesting that women who smelled like grapefruit were perceived of as being younger. That’s also convenient, because there are a lot of grapefruit-scented perfumes out there.
To begin my experiment, I decided to start with Eau de Pamplemousse Rose by Hermes, because I am a shameless label junkie and assume anything with an Hermes label on it is fancy.
Full disclosure: I did not actually buy this perfume. It is beautiful and refreshing and very short-lived, but a 3.3 oz. bottle costs $134. Luckily I live right next door to a big department store that is very liberal with its sampling policy, so I just sprayed a bit on as I walked through in the morning. I did love it, though, especially first thing in the morning. It smells lively and fresh and simple and elegant. I imagine this is what breakfast smells like at Downton Abbey.
I tried the Hermes cologne for a couple days last week, and it did make me feel pretty chipper to put it on every morning. That feeling was probably exacerbated by the fact that I was applying the perfume semi-illicitly, as though I were doing an Oceans 11 caper, even though I was only “stealing” a sample that was being given away for free anyway. Oh well. I’ve always been a goody-two-shoes who likes to think of herself as someone naughty. I don’t know that it made me smell younger, though.
“What do you think of this perfume?” I asked a gentleman of my acquaintance.
“I don’t smell anything,” he said. The cologne is very short-lived on the body. I gave him one of the paper testing strips to smell.
“It is pretty,” he said.
“But does it make me smell young?” I asked.
“I do not understand this question,” he said. “What does ‘young’ smell like? You look young for your age. Is that the right answer?”
Then while I was at the department store I saw a rack of citrus-scented colognes by 4711. 4711 is a traditional cologne that has been producing fragrances in Cologne, Germany, since 1799, which appeals to the old-stuff nerd in me. The flagship “4711” cologne has had the same recipe for 200 years, and Napoleon reportedly kept barrels of the stuff. But what caught my attention was a display of citrus-scented colognes, including a grapefruit and peppercorn variety that smelled very good and at $17 was less than a 10th of the cost of the Hermes.
That one I did buy.
Nobody treated me differently or reacted in a noteworthy way while I was wearing either of these colognes, so I do not know that I magically seemed any younger to dudes. Grapefruit is a very pleasant scent to apply in the morning, however. It’s refreshing and wakes me up a bit and the scent did not mix badly with my morning coffee. Does it make me smell younger? I have no idea. But I like it anyway.