It’s the missing element to your beauty sleep.

By Hana Hong
February 10, 2021
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Advertisement

I've always been enamored with all things beauty, but my favorite beauty product is undoubtedly perfume. I'm a fragrance diehard. If my steadily growing perfume shelves (note the plural form) isn't proof enough, the fact that I wear perfume 24/7—yes, even to bed—surely is. 

That's not to say I was always this way. My mom, being the intelligent but frugal woman she is, taught me that perfume was something to be reserved for special occasions. And I still think she has a point—we should all have that one particular fragrance that we keep tucked away for certain moments. 

But my fragrance philosophy changed when I was in college, when I was gifted a bottle of Dior Miss Dior. Those sweet, floral notes immediately became my signature scent. It smelled so absolutely incredible that I wanted to smell like it all of the time—so that night, after my shower, I spritzed on another dose and went to bed. 

But what started as an extra eight hours to spend with my favorite fragrance turned into unintentional aromatherapy. Despite the growing stress of finals, I could feel the stressful thoughts melt away—notes of bergamot and rosewood soothing and coddling me into the deepest sleep I'd had in weeks. 

When I woke up, it was the first thing I smelled. The scent had faded from my skin, but it was lingered on my sheets in the most pleasant, subtle way. Waking up like that made me feel like an elegant lady—think glamorous, Old-Hollywood Marilyn Monroe slinking out of bed in a silk nightgown and perfectly done-up hair. (True story: Marilyn Monroe famously declared that she wore nothing to bed except for a few drops of Chanel no. 5). Ever since then, I've made it a point to bring a favorite scent to bed with me. 

And it's not just me. Studies show that fragrance has the power to significantly affect your mood, reduce stress, and relax your muscles, all things that you want before hitting the sheets. It's the same reason why hotels and Airbnb hosts use bedroom-specific scents to help guests achieve a better night of sleep. 

So what kind of fragrances should you wear to bed? I largely depend on sweet gourmands and warm ambers for my beauty sleep, but it really depends on your bedtime needs. Some switch to a sexy perfume that their partner also loves, while others spritz on coconut scents that call to mind a tropical vacation.

"In order to sleep peacefully and wake up completely rested, my advice is to wrap yourself with vanilla-based scents," says Paolo Terenzi, perfumer and president of Tiziana Terenzi. "Different notes can be more appealing at nighttime, especially white flowers, such as magnolia, jasmine, and ylang ylang."

If you have trouble falling asleep, Rachel Beider, certified aromatherapist from Cinquieme Sens via Pratt in New York City, recommends a combination of clary sage, roman chamomile, and bergamot. "Roman chamomile is deeply soothing and calming when applied at bedtime. Clary sage is actually an anti-spasmodic, so it's helpful for reducing restlessness, and bergamot is known to lower blood pressure and slow down the heart rate, which can calm feelings of anxiety."

Essential oils are another viable option. "If your perfume contains essential oils, you may experience headache relief, which can contribute greatly to your sleep quality," adds Laura Bates, a certified sleep science coach and co-founder of Comfybeddy.com.ua. "In this case, your perfume can work as an aromatherapy tool. The essential oils will send signals to the brain, creating a sense of relaxation that is needed for improved sleep quality."

If you do opt for essential oils, aromatherapists highly recommend lavender, which when worn as a perfume has been shown to improve insomnia symptoms. "It does this by altering the electrical waves in the brain during key phases of the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep cycle, the cycle considered responsible for renewing the mind-body connection, consolidating memory, and repairing damaged tissue," says Brittany Hogan, aromatherapist and founder of Nefertem Holistic Skincare. "Studies have shown that inhalation of lavender before and during sleep can decrease the time it takes to fall asleep, reduce wakeup times during the night, and improve a sense of vitality the following day."

Another tip? "Use essences that are created with natural molecules, because they are able to develop aromatherapy effects that will reconcile your sleep; whereas synthetic notes unfortunately do not have these beneficial properties," says Terenzi. And whatever you choose, keep it reserved to a bedtime scent. While the powers of scent association can help you fall asleep faster, it can also have the same effect if worn in the middle of the day. 

Looking to upgrade your beauty sleep? Below, some of my favorite fragrances that also double as olfactory nightcaps.

1

$195, sephora.com

Asking me to choose my favorite Jo Malone scent is like asking a mother to choose her favorite child. However, this classic is a bedtime favorite (it also just so happens to be the brand’s best-selling olfactory concoction of all time). The highly inviting jasmine and ylang-ylang steal the scent show here, but you can also gather notes of amber and vanilla, among others.

2

$105, nordstrom.com

This velvety sandalwood concoction combined with my bedsheets is addictive, to say the least. The woody nuances are highlighted with a hint of Asian spices that transport you to a peaceful forest escape.

3

$300, saksfifthavenue.com

If I had to imagine what a Disney princess smells like, it would be this: feminine floral with an underlying sweetness. The cedar notes don’t sit heavily on my skin, so it’s subtle enough to wear to bed and strong enough to last until the morning. 

4

$142, sephora.com

In the middle of the night, I'd love to be transported to a remote island, and that's exactly what this fragrance does for me. It contains notes of salty jasmine from India, warm vanilla from Madagascar, and green lemon from Rodrique (an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean) that all satisfy my tropical vacation itch.

RELATED: 7 Different Fragrances That Let You Travel Without Actually Going Anywhere

5

$90, ulta.com

If you’re looking to feel a little sexier after-hours, try the newest from Jimmy Choo. This floral-oriental fragrance is infused with velvet peach and vanilla notes for a scent that's equal parts sensual and sophisticated. 

6

$350, sephora.com

Another seductive pick? The brand’s inspiration behind Tom Ford’s Tubéreuse Nue is “the deep sensuality under the veil of night,” which is the phrase that I now want embedded into my bedframe. The primary note comes from the nocturnal tuberose flower, which is best described as narcotically sweet and intoxicating. To the Victorians, the plant was so distressingly seductive that young women were warned not to get too close to the night-blooming blossoms lest an accidental whiff awaken dangerously illicit desire.

7

$81, sephora.com

As a working woman in New York City, my loud thoughts can feel impossible to escape sometimes. A quick spritz of this bottle makes falling asleep feel almost instant, thanks to soothing notes of blackcurrant and vanilla.

8

$105, sephora.com

And of course, I can’t not call out Miss Dior, the baby pink bottle that started it all. This feminine fragrance is perfect to unwind with—its floral notes are light and airy, yet it contains just enough spice and bergamot to distract my mind from a chaotic day.