In our earlier years together, my husband often teased me for wearing perfume (or doing my nails) when I had no plans to leave the house, no special occasion to dress up for. Before the pandemic kept most of us indoors, I was probably one of the few “odd” ones who wore my best perfumes on a lazy Saturday morning–or even to bed! But with many of us spending significantly more time in isolation, even those with more normal fragrance-wearing habits have realized that applying fragrance for staying at home isn’t so bizarre after all. It’s lovely.
If you’re anything like me and you’re spending most of your time at home, your days may be running together and your weeks may feel like a monotonous blur. Of course, to be able to stay inside and stay safe is a great privilege these days, but the experience of self-isolating has taught me that it’s especially important to be intentional about creating one’s own meaningful moments, sense of variety, and as Jonathan Van Ness would say, pockets of joy.
Choosing a beloved fragrance to infuse your day with a special, personal atmosphere is a simple yet powerful ritual that can break up that monotony while returning to us, in some small way, a connection to the sensualities of the outside world. At the same time, a thoughtfully chosen perfume can mirror the most enchanting parts of our inner world—if to no one but ourselves—reminding us of our own sacred essence that hasn’t, as it turns out, dissolved into the realm of online meetings, devastating headlines, and the aching distance between us and the arms of a friend.
From artsy gourmands to haunting antique florals, the following far-from-average perfumes are here to be your olfactory companions to enjoy at home, and one day, beyond the walls of your living room.
Stunning, Unique Perfumes that Want to Be Worn at Home
A desert temple in a bottle, this unisex blend is perfectly suited for incense and spice addicts. Coriander, cumin, petitgrain, rock rose, jasmine, frankincense, and dry cedar come together to both ground and refresh the wearer. L’Air du Désert is a personal favorite of perfume critic Luca Turin. He says, “One hale breath of Désert’s vast spaces clears the head of all the world’s nonsense. There is something about the ancient smell of these resins (styrax, frankincense) that on first inhalation strikes even this suburban American Protestant with no memories of mass as entirely holy, beautiful, purifying, lit without shadow from all sides.”
This gorgeous, grown-up-yet-girly perfume combines red candied apple, sparkling violet, marshmallow accord, and creamy sandalwood to evoke a lush, romantic vibe that’s both comforting and seductive. Kimberly New York fragrances are safe for sensitive skin, contain 20% organic essential oils and natural solvents, and last up to eight hours.
Inspired by a favorite Sunday morning ritual (matcha horchata), niche perfume boutique owner Arielle Shoshana teamed up with perfumer Cécile Hua to create Sunday, a cozy scent described as sweet, green, and undefinable. Sunday combines matcha, cinnamon, rice milk, coconut, amber, sandalwood, and vanilla to recreate the blissful feeling of settling down with one’s favorite little comforts.
For lovers of vintage-style perfumes (read: not afraid of powdery florals and melancholy feels), this perfume oil is a must. Featuring antiqued violet, antique wooden staircase accord, aged dark vanilla, and a whisper of vetiver, this haunting blend wears like a hazy, purple-hued dream replete with time-worn love letters and slowly falling petals. I’ve been wearing it while I complete an online class about online teaching resources for a fully online teaching environment. I relish the juxtaposition.
Cloaked in soft vanilla with a touch of peach blossom and rose, this fragrance is beautifully anchored by oakmoss and trailing ivy. It’s subtle, slightly dry, and just a bit nonconventional. Paper Moon’s green notes lend it a gorgeous, garden-like quality, so even if you haven’t started a sprawling plant family (like everyone else on your Instagram feed), you can still enjoy a breath of nature—or something like that.
An At-Home Perfume Ritual to Start Your Day
As you select which perfume you’d like to wear, consider a single, simple intention for the day. What kind of energy do you want to invite into your waking hours? Hold your chosen perfume in your hands, feel the weight of the bottle, and notice the details of the labeling and glass design. Take a few deep breaths. Open the bottle and inhale the scent as you solidify your intention. Say your intention aloud if desired, and apply your perfume.
Do you wear fragrance while self-isolating?
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Photo: Ava Sol on Unsplash, Respective brands