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Fear of Fragrance: On Wearing and Embracing Scented Products

As a cautious curator of his personal brand, our correspondent always eschewed scented products—until he discovered the power of subtlety.

I’m a play-it-safe guy, careful not to brand myself with anything too extreme. I’ve been told that “sitting on the fence” is a characteristic of my astrological sign (Cancer), but I’m also careful not to brand myself as the kind of guy who believes in astrology. I once bought a red pea coat, but rarely wear it for fear that it screams “look at my bold fashion choice!” A part of me would like to get a tattoo, but my curiosity about ink is always quashed by my instinct to blend in.

This logic also extends to my choice of deodorant, soap, shampoo, and moisturizer. Because the sense of smell elicits the strongest memories, I’ve always aimed for unscented neutral products across the board. Not smelling like anything in particular has always seemed like the safest choice.

Taking H.I.M-istry’s Vitamin C Moisturizing Balm for a test run, however, has taught me a valuable lesson: Some scented products are subtle enough for my taste. This viscous moisturizer has a warm citrus undertone that doesn’t linger more than a moment but positively attaches itself to the ritual of the application. Since incorporating it into my routine, I’ve actually found myself moisturizing more regularly, the quick splash of orange zestiness acting as a reminder that my skin was getting some valuable Vitamin C (and subsequent boosts in collagen and elastin production). I find it’s an especially great counter to my nightly Retin-A routine, which delivers antiaging benefits of Vitamin A but also makes skin more susceptible to sun damage.

I’m even applying it to dried elbows and knuckles with great results. The comforting scent doesn’t define my presence for others, so I can continue my day without any outward olfactory branding, but still get a great personal pick-me-up. It seems fitting—a moisturizer designed to help my skin play it safe while I do the same.

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