International Fragrance Day: An Olfactory Celebration

2024 . 03 . 21 | written by Karen Marin

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Fragrance lovers

Fragrance lovers unite – March 21st is International Fragrance Day, a day to celebrate the wonderful fragrant world we live in. Inaugurated several years ago by the Fragrance Foundation in collaboration with brands and retailers, it is more than a “selling event” but also a time to pay tribute to the creativity, the science, the technology, the diversity and the beauty within the fragrance industry. International Fragrance Day is also a time to rejoice and revere our amazing sense of smell, without which many of life’s pleasures elude us, as so many learned during the pandemic.

Could it be that COVID was actually a springboard for the fragrance industry? I reflect back to my days as Sephora’s Fragrance buyer in the US in the early 2000’s. At the time, Fragrance had the least amount of real estate in the stores, compared to Makeup and Skincare. Fragrance had the slowest growth. Fragrance wasn’t deemed a category that needed training – a simple sniff and the client would know if they liked the scent they were smelling. Fragrance was treated like a “second class citizen” until December when this “hero category” could generate one month’s worth of sales in one week.

Fast forward to now where the fragrance category has been experiencing double digit growth worldwide according to numerous consumer data sources such as Mintel, Circana and Euromonitor. For so long considered the invisible accessory, the final touch, the weapon of seduction, it is now lauded for aromatherapeutic properties that impart a sense of well being. It is now recognized as a means for self-expression, an accomplice in creating a unique identity. Fragrance has always had power but now it’s a soft power that doesn’t have to enter the room first.

In honor of International Fragrance Day, let’s raise our bottles and spray away. How else can you observe this day? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Stop…and Smell the Roses

In our daily life as we rush from one place to the next, as we juggle email and text messages while going to appointments, it’s crucial to take a moment, inhale and just breathe. Be in the moment: smell your coffee while you drink it, enjoy the scent of your shower gel, notice the olfactory cues around you on your way to work. If possible, bring scent into your workspace. Even a whiff from a rollerball tucked into a drawer can give a shot of energy when needed. Fragrance can help us reflect on experiences, memories, places, people and our inner self. It can help us to slow down, to take a well-being break to reconnect with ourself.

Smell the Roses

Select Your Scent of the Day

If you stand in front of your closet taking time to select your outfit for the day, be sure your fragrance is also a conscious decision. Ask yourself, How do I want to feel today? Do I need to be powerful and assertive in meetings? Do I need to surround myself in calm and comfort? Do I want to be somewhere else? We all know fragrance has the power to boost our moods and that transport us to another place and time. Make it work for you to do what you want it to do. And of course, the same goes for the evening and the night. It’s become quite the trend to wear fragrance to bed to help us drift off to slumberland. If these are new habits for you, why not start on International Fragrance Day to make them daily rituals?

Go on a Fragrance Scavenger Hunt

As much as we love the written word and scrolling through our social feed, there’s nothing like smelling a fragrance IRL (in real life) and wearing it on skin. Why not make it fun by creating your own fragrance scavenger hunt? Visit several local stores to try a few fragrances you’re curious about or let your nose be tempted by a fragrance family you rarely wear. Explore, test, have fun and enjoy because fragrance doesn’t have to be serious. In addition, fragrance brands often host special events and promotions to commemorate International Fragrance Day, allowing enthusiasts to discover new olfactory delights while connecting with like-minded individuals.

Samples, courtesy of 4160 Tuesdays

Seek out an Olfactory Experience

Here at Essencional, we’ve noticed that adding an olfactory element to exhibits and events is becoming more and more prevalent. * Museums and galleries are incorporating scent into the viewer experience which results in more memorable visits. Cafes and cocktail bars are creating multisensorial events to consciously combine smell and taste. Have you ever had Lebanese tea infused with orange flower? Or hibiscus juice with rosewater? Wouldn’t your dessert taste more scrumptious with a side of gourmand fragrances? See what’s happening in your community or create your own concoctions at home using your favorite fragrances as inspiration.

From Fleeting – Scents in Colour at the Mauritshuis, The Hague

Learn something!

There is so much to learn about fragrance, and when it’s a passion, learning is a pleasure. Want to know more about how fragrances are created? Do certain ingredients intrigue you? Do you wonder about the use of fragrance in different cultures going back to Ancient times? Are you looking for more stories behind a favorite brand? Content creators often host programs where they interview key industry players. Organizations such as the Fragrance Foundation, the Osmothèque, the Accademia del Profumo, the Institute for Art and Olfaction and others around the world are on a mission to spread knowledge to professionals and fragrance lovers alike. Check out their websites (see below) for a list of lectures and special events, some of which can be attended remotely. Podcasts are a terrific source for knowledge and entertainment.** And of course there is a wealth of books on a variety of topics from fragrance history to perfume guides, and you can even escape in novels where perfume and perfumers are central to the story. I just started reading Base Notes by Lara Elena Donnelly…

The Perfume Companion

Speaking of organizations, here’s a look at how a few will celebrate International Fragrance day. Let them inspire you!

Fragrance Foundation UK

The UK always impresses with a stellar program of “scent-sational” activities that take place from 18 – 24 March. As indicated on their site, The week is designed to help bring the magic back to an industry filled with history, artistry and passion. Consumers can look forward to masterclasses, workshops, special offers and experiences that educate while they entertain. The driving mission is to help everyone to appreciate the power of smell while recognizing the joy fragrance can bring. They’ll also shine a light on career opportunities while clarifying the skill sets that are must sought out.

NATIONAL FRAGRANCE WEEK — The Fragrance Foundation UK | The Artistry of Fragrance

The Perfume Society UK

Once again, this organization is launching their annual “SMELFIE” campaign with the emphasis this year on feeling good. Anyone can participate and all you need to do is post a picture of yourself with a fragrance then write one, two or three words that explain how the fragrance makes you feel. Simply add #Smellfie and tag @ThePerfumeSociety.

Paris Pefume Week

At long last, the French capital will be the site of a special 4-day celebration of olfactory culture in a hybrid festival/trade show open to professionals and the public which just happens to take place during International Fragrance Day. Placing the emphasis on how smells play a major role in our life, the event celebrates scent in multiple mediums such as film, fashion and music. The event rests on four “pillars”: exhibition space for more than 50 international niche fragrance brands, “smell talks” addressing a wide range of topics, an exhibition featuring Parfum d’Empire, and an off-site program of activities in Parisian locations to further promote olfactory experiences. What’s more, since the people behind by Nez, in collaboration with a slew of partners such as the Fragrance Foundation France, are involved, you can rest assured this is an event not to miss.

Paris Perfume Week, by Nez - 21-24 mars (

The Fragrance Foundation USA

The program was still being defined at press time, so check out their site for updates.

Fragrance Day — The Fragrance Foundation

Don’t forget to tell us what you did to honor your nose and celebrate our fragrant world! Tell us what fragrance – or fragrances – you wore on this special day. Happy International Fragrance Day to all!


*See article Immersive Exhibits and Experiences: Scent Comes to Life

** See article; Fragrance Podcasts: Smelling with your Ears

Organizations & Institutions

The Fragrance Foundation

The Fragrance Foundation France | Promouvoir et valoriser les talents de la parfumerie

The Fragrance Foundation UK | The Artistry of Fragrance

about - Osmotheque

Accademia del Profumo ~ associazione di aziende cosmetiche

The Institute for Art and Olfaction – Perfume Education and Experimentation