Functional Fragrance - A Beginner's Guide
The concept of functional fragrances is fairly new, so few people know exactly what the term means. Luckily, the word itself communicates the basic nature of what a functional fragrance is, namely the combination of two very different things: Functionality in terms of serving a purpose on the one hand and a pleasant scent also called fragrance on the other.
So, what is a fragrance?
Fragrances are among mankind’s oldest cultural products. Their roots lie in ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), Egypt and China, where the art of perfume making was developed around the same time. The methods used in these days already were similar to today’s procedures: Herbs and spices were ground up, bl ended and mixed with oil. Fragrant liquids were heated, and the condensing vapors were gathered in order to get the purified essence of the liquid.
The center of perfumes is Grasse where Nullpunkt's boutique supplier for essential oils is located.
Modern perfumery took off thousands of years later, in the mid-19th century. It was the time when people learned to synthesize the components of fragrances, making them easier to handle and more widely available. The center of the perfume revolution was Grasse, a beautiful little town in the south of France. Incidentally, that is where Nullpunkt's boutique supplier for essential oils is located today.
All perfumes share a three-fold pyramid structure: a top note, a heart note, and a base note. Top notes are the most obvious notes in a fragrance. They evaporate quickly but last long enough to make a first impression. Heart notes last a lot longer than top notes and are the dominant character of a scent. Finally, base notes are the foundation of the fragrance and add depth to the heart while sinking into the skin and lasting for several hours. Together, the three types of notes make up a perfume’s accord.
From the very beginning, perfumes were worn to exude a pleasant smell for the people around. They were meant to say something about the wearer – mainly that they were wealthy enough to afford such luxury. This pleasant impression already is a kind of „function“, of course. An actual functional fragrance, however, goes far beyond aesthetics. Here, the pleasantness of the scent plays a supporting role, while the scent’s functionality takes center stage.
What does „functionality“ mean?
Human beings have lots of smaller and bigger needs. In our history, we have come up with ingenious ways to meet these needs: beds to rest comfortably, cars to drive us around, phones to communicate over long distances. Whenever we make something primarily to fulfill a need, that thing can be called „functional“. It has primarily been designed to serve a certain purpose.
With Nullpunkt we set new priorities when it comes to scents: fragrance follows function. That doesn’t mean that the pleasantness plays no role at all. Functional fragrances still have to smell beautiful. Rather, that beauty is less important than the effect the smell exerts on your mental state. Thus, Nullpunkt is a product that works for you and with you. It’s intended as an essential tool that becomes part of your daily routine.
We can either go into
control mode or we try to
create a feeling of trust.
What is the science behind Nullpunkt's functionality?
In our daily lives we face many challenges. Unexpected things come up, deadlines loom, little time remains for self-care and wellbeing. Naturally, all of us find ourselves out of our comfort zone now and again. When we lose our balance, there are psychological-wise two ways we can go to regain it: We can either go into control-mode or we try to create a feeling of trust.
However, making people feel a sense of trust isn't easy to do, especially when there is hardly any time in their busy schedule to unwind. This is where functional fragrances come in: Each of the four Nullpunkt grades is specifically formulated to give you the feeling of trust that you need to regain your balance and help you to create instant moments of clarity in any situation.
The key to achieving this is the special role that scents play from a neuroscience perspective. Because almost all our senses – from hearing, taste to touch and vision –reach our brain via the thalamus, which sieves through the data before passing it on to the relevant areas of the cortex, where the data is interpreted and translated into emotions, thoughts and actions.
Smells, on the other hand, take the fast lane to our emotions: Unlike all other sense data, olfactory information bypasses the thalamus and are sent directly to the limbic system, where our emotions and memories are processed. That’s why nothing has a stronger and more immediate effect on our psyche than scents. Without us even having to notice them, smells will calm us down or wake us up, lift our mood or bring back memories from our earliest childhood days. That’s why functional fragrances are uniquely qualified to bring us back to balance quickly.
How is Nullpunkt supposed to be used?
With Nullpunkt you can make direct use of this fast lane to our emotions. Whenever you are experiencing moments of anxiety, stress, distraction or fatigue, apply the Grade of your choice to your neck, temples, wrists, behind the ears or on your abdominal area. Breathe in deep several times to feel an immediate effect and then let the subtle scent work for you. Simply take your Grade with you wherever you go.
In the meantime, the people around you will hardly notice the scent. Designed as a minimalistic roll-on stick, Nullpunkt is more subtle and less long-lasting than perfumes: Our grades are made to help you – and only you – in exactly the moment you need them.
Where does this principle come from?
Nullpunkt has the complexity of a handcrafted perfume. In every Grade, several essential oils come together to achieve a complex effect, yet a pleasant and balancing smell. While this complexity is a new and very modern approach, the basic principle of using scents and essential oils to enhance wellbeing has a long and venerable tradition. Today, this tradition is commonly known as aromatherapy.
By combining essential oils into complex fragrances, we strengthen their effect while making them more aesthetically pleasing.
Now, Nullpunkt has taken this principle to the next level. By combining essential oils into complex fragrances, we strengthen their effect while making them more aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, we have designed the Grades in a way so they can seamlessly be integrated into our busy daily lives. In all of this, Nullpunkt has followed a simple principle which is alluded to in the name functional fragrance itself. We call this principle: Fragrance follows function.
Photography: Chihiro Lia Ottsu