There’s no denying that scent does a certain something to your hunger cravings. A whiff of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven can beckon even the fullest of stomachs to take a bite. Likewise, something rather foul can quickly turn off even the most prominent of hunger pangs.
And now there’s a perfume that’s claiming to work in a similar way. Velds’ Prends Moi, a blend of light, fruity and floral notes, is coining itself the “first fragrance to boost your well-being and compensate for bad eating habits,” and promises that sniffing it will actually help slim you down.
According to the Parisian manufacturer, it works via aromatherapy and “neurocosmetics,” a mix that triggers the release of endorphins—those hormones that make you happy—in turn, curbing emotional eating. “[Prends-Moi] sends pleasure messages through the neurotransmitters to the hippocampus, the ‘odor brain,’ which triggers the immediate sensation of well-being, a reduction in stress and an increase in contentment, reducing the need to overeat and the scent’s slimming action is activated,” explains its creator, ex-model Joyce Musy.
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“Not all of their claims are wrong,” says aromatherapist Hope Gillerman. “When you inhale essential oils deeply, they instantly affect the nervous system via the olfactory bulb and it affects our mood instantly.”
“And yes, essential oils travel into our brains and our blood stream, moving through the body and affecting our hormones and lowering our cortisol level, which means less fat around the middle,” she adds. “They also lift our mood, calm our nerves and relax muscles—in other words, adjust our response to stress. And with less stress, we have fewer triggers to eat.”
But, Gillerman says she also has some concerns with Velds’ claims. “They are saying it is the topical application of the product that will affect mood—yet, our mood isn’t affected by the chemical change on our skin, it is affected by changes in the brain. And absorbing through the skin would take up to 12 hours to travel through the body to finally reach the brain, so spraying this perfume would not be the way to get an instant mood shift. Finally, how are you going to get people to deeply inhale essential oils and into their sinuses and their lungs if they are in a base of ethyl alcohol?”
Adds celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson, “This is a cool concept and there is research around olfactory (smell) sense and emotional or dysfunctional eating. Although I am not sure how effective the product is, the stimulatory effect to improve serotonin levels may help to minimize those ‘mid-afternoon cravings,’ especially when blood sugar levels are low. Appetite is regulated by a number of mechanisms, and this really discusses one potential trigger to cravings.”
So is the worst-case scenario that you’ve spent your hard-earned money on a product that doesn’t give you results? “This perfume could actually contain harmful ingredients like phthalates, which act as endocrine disruptors and can actually make you gain weight!” says celebrity nutritionist Cynthia Pasquella. “Often this harmful chemical is hidden behind the ingredient fragrance because companies aren’t required to list all of their secret ingredients on the label.”
The bottom line: “Don’t fall for this newest lose-weight-fast scheme,” says Pasquella. “Save your time, money and sanity and put those things toward eating a healthy diet and doing the things that bring you happiness and fulfillment.”