Here's how to use scents to boost your wellbeing at home

Can the aroma of your living space really make you feel happier? Eve Kelliher consults Cork perfumer Lucy Hagerty to find out
Here's how to use scents to boost your wellbeing at home

Lucy Hagerty, La Bougie, Kinsale, Co Cork.

THE wellness industry has in recent years been linked to a “smellness” industry and I’m keen to discover whether our abode’s aroma can enhance our wellbeing.

Perfumer Lucy Hagerty has long been the go-to for noses in the know. The Cork-born fragrance guru has custom-made scents for luxurious properties across the globe, including the residences of Hollywood stars.

The La Bougie Mission Fig scent was inspired by Tuscany. 
The La Bougie Mission Fig scent was inspired by Tuscany. 

Lucy owns Kinsale-based company La Bougie, where she creates candles and perfumes, including the iconic scent Mission Fig.

These artisan products are hand-poured and have a cult following among candle connoisseurs and perfume lovers.

But can scent really ensure our living space makes us feel positive? “Fragrance is used in so many clever ways,” says Lucy. “Have you ever noticed the aisle of a supermarket that is selling suntan lotion always smells of beach holidays? This is rarely a coincidence! Smart marketing uses scent to conjure up memories — from the smell of a new car to beach holidays — so with this in mind, you too can turn an atmosphere on and off in your home with fragrance. How about an airy musk in a small poky hallway to give the feeling of space?” 

What is key to transforming our homes into havens in these uncertain times? “Isn’t it a shame that the word cocoon has been used to death during the Covid-19 pandemic?” says Lucy. “But turning your home into a sanctuary is easy with the help of fragrance — whether it is turning your bathroom into a spa or your bedroom into a boudoir. I love our Lemongrass & Ginger candle in either a bathroom or bedroom.” 

Lucy was led by instinct rather than direct guidance to embark on her professional route. As a secondary school student, she dreamed of becoming a perfumer but was advised that “it was impossible as you had to be fluent in French”, she says. “So, I went with Plan B and trained as a chef which is not too dissimilar. Taste and smell are so connected,” she says.

Lucy loved life a chef and worked for the British royal family before she paused to raise her own family. “We lived in Switzerland for six years and it was here that I decided to retrain and pursue my love of perfumery. My French was passable at this stage but I discovered it unnecessary,” she adds.

Lucy started La Bougie in 2012 at her kitchen table. “We launched with just three fragrances, two of which are still here today,” she says.

Fast-forward to the present and seven people are employed at the 3000sq ft HQ in the centre of Kinsale, and the fragrances and candles are stocked in Brown Thomas and independent retailers across Ireland.

Honeysuckle & Sea Salt diffuser by La Bougie. This fragrance is Lucy's homage to Cork. 
Honeysuckle & Sea Salt diffuser by La Bougie. This fragrance is Lucy's homage to Cork. 

Lucy has found the scents of Cork inspire her. “I live in one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, Kinsale. The wild honeysuckle and the sea breeze inspired me to create my first fragrance, Honeysuckle & Sea Salt,” she says. 

“I guess it is my homage to County Cork which has been my home for 10 years now.” Her passion for Italy is also evident in many of Lucy’s fragrances. “I think my favourite would have to be Mission Fig which reminds me of my home in Tuscany. It is the first year in 30 that I haven’t been able to visit and I miss it,” she adds.

“I am always smelling things — whether it is something unpleasant like sour milk or the night-blooming jasmine at my family home in Tuscany, I always want to know how something smells.

“I would love to meet the first man or woman who picked up a piece of floating ambergris and put it up to their nose. This is vomit from a sperm whale and one of the most expensive and beautiful aromatics used in perfumery. He or she was a very brave person!” 

La Bougie'a Tuberose & Black Pepper candle. 
La Bougie'a Tuberose & Black Pepper candle. 

And (whisper it!) what about selecting scents for the festive season? “We have always had our cosy fragrance, Tuberose & Black Pepper, burning at home in the run-up to Christmas. My children know no different. To them it is Christmas as I created the fragrance in November 2011,” says Lucy.

“It is still one of my favourites but then I have a thing about tuberose! Find your fragrance for Christmas and turn it into a tradition and then each year when you light it, Christmas will naturally appear!” 


Uplifting: Molton Brown's Orange and Bergamot fragrance.
Uplifting: Molton Brown's Orange and Bergamot fragrance.

Joy in a bottle 

Since we’re spending so much time at home rather than going out, try infusing your rooms with an uplifting scent.

The Orange & Bergamot Aroma Reed Diffuser by Molton Brown, €49, is a bestseller for a reason.

Like the award-winning Orange & Bergamot eau de toilette, €100 for 100ml (just a spritz and you can imagine you’re on a Mediterranean holiday), the diffuser and scented candle in the range will give your home a vacation feel.

With top notes of bergamot, lemon and mandarin, heart notes of orange, ginger and cinnamon, and base notes of neroli and musk, it’s a sophisticated take on the clean citrus aroma.

And the collection also includes a handwash and hand lotion with the same scent, ideal for the times we live in, handwash, €22, and hand lotion, €25. The pump dispensers alone bring a luxury spa feel to your home and bathroom. See 

Dr Bronner citrus soap.
Dr Bronner citrus soap.

Year-round sunshine

Fresh and bright-smelling with an invigorating blend of organic orange, lemon and lime oils, The Dr Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Pure-Castile Citrus Liquid Soap, from €3.95, is concentrated, biodegradable and, best of all, versatile and effective.

Made with organic and certified fair-trade ingredients, it’s a multi-tasking must-have that can be used for almost any cleaning task, plus it’s packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle that is also recyclable. The range is stocked in health stores and selected pharmacies or see

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