A new aromatherapy take on ‘smelling salts’
These will clear your nose and your brain, and give you an energy boost
Even if you don’t believe in aromatherapy, you believe in Michelle Roques-O’Neil, who is the grande dame of the genre. It goes much deeper than mere aromatherapy, actually, but we haven’t got all day — do look her up, she is a remarkable woman with, I think, fairly remarkable powers. If you’re rich and in London you can also go and see her in person, in a mews house just off Portobello Road, in Notting Hill. The details are on her website: roquesoneil.com. For the rest of us there are her products, sold under the brand name Therapie.
Now these are many and varied, and they are wondrous. The bath range is nothing short of sublime — the sorts of products that make you want to soak for two hours and leave you feeling almost like you’ve had a light medical intervention or spent the entire day at a very good spa, when all you’ve really done is lie there and turned into a prune. I recommend the range most highly, but what I want to write about are her Crystal Clear Smelling Salts (£32; roquesoneil.com), or rather smelling crystals, because they’re just such a wonderful idea.
If you were a swooning Victorian lady, the smelling salts used to revive you would stink of ammonia, which was effective but must have made people want to retch. The basic idea, though, is so excellent — “I need urgent reviving” — that I was delighted to come across this modern interpretation. They would be very nice to come round to if you did swoon (do people still swoon?), but they are fantastically useful and pleasurable to use in real life. Slight brain fog sitting at your desk? Smelling crystals. Low-level, insistent gross smell: dead mouse, burger on train, revolting dangly air freshener in a cab? Smelling crystals. The feeling that you need a short, sharp, energising boost? Smelling crystals. And so on. I first sniffed these out of amused delight and was soon sniffing them several times a day. They sort of unblock your nose and also your brain, and make you feel all brisk and clear-headed. If you are the sort of person, and I very much am, who loves nothing more than sniffing a bracing, resinous and piney scent that is borderline medicinal (we’re talking the Olbas oil, Olverum, eucalyptusy neck of the woods), then you will love these. They don’t actually smell piney at all — the scent is absolutely delicious and includes a ton of nice things, from rosewood to citrus to herbs — but the zingy effect is the same, except better.
The crystals are multicoloured and look beautiful in the heavy glass jar, and once the scent starts fading (about two weeks) you can top it up with a drop of the concentrated essence that comes with them. They would make a brilliant present, though buy some for yourself too.
Organise I leave a paper trail everywhere I go and it suddenly occurred to me that what I really need is a Filofax. I know, old school and then some (although, weirdly, if you do a search on Instagram you discover that young people have taken the Filofax to their hearts). Anyway, I love it as much now as I did in the late 1980s. It’s all chubby and squat and friendly-looking, nothing gets lost, you can draw in it, and if you chuck it in your bag the leather very quickly develops a lovely patina. filofax.com