The Goods: Scents that are worn for the benefit of the wearer, not the rest of the room, are what's flying off cosmetics counters these days. Thanks to aromatherapy, consumers are more aware of the relation between aroma and emotions, and, says Annette Green of New York's Fragrance Foundation, are buying fragrances in the hope that they'll provide "a lift, a boost."
The Big Picture: These scents are lighter than the heavy perfumes your grandmother wore -- though some of them might recall your grandmother in unexpected ways. For example, vanilla is a scent that brings back happy memories, and at least one smart manufacturer has picked up on that. The No. 1 mass-market women's fragrance for the last 18 months has been Coty's Vanilla Fields, according to ACNielsen, which tracks fragrance sales in drugstores and supermarkets. But if well-being is one goal, so is inoffensiveness: People are increasingly unwilling to tolerate other people's fragrance cloud, so, Green says, perfumers are also working to ensure that today's scents "go inward; they don't have a lot of diffusion." Calvin Klein's Kelly McNamara notes that those who daub on the minimalist CK One scent never have to worry about walking into a room and driving people toward the door.
The Last Word: "It's not just a matter of bringing out a pretty fragrance anymore," says Green. "Fragrances that appeal to the psyche are . . . going to do the best." Plus, they're a lot cheaper than therapy.