In 18th-century France, the proclivity for wearing large, elaborate wigs at court prompted a new vogue for scented powders and pomades. Infused with orris root, lavender and orange flower, these products served to maintain the colour of the wig – usually white or violet – but also to disguise any unpleasantries that you might expect from an era characterised by minimal bathing. But by the end of the French Revolution, powered perruques had (thankfully) lost their edge, leaving the scalp to rest with soap and other homemade remedies until the launch of the first commercial shampoo in 1914.
Now, scented hair products have made a comeback in the form of mists, which can be worn alone or as a means to enhance your regular perfume. “People are more experimental today,” says Byredo founder Ben Gorham, who has been pairing the brand’s classic fragrances with corresponding hair mists since 2015. “Our focus has been on the smells, and now we want to create innovative ways to apply them.” Byredo’s 13 scented sprays – which don’t pose any damage to hair and can safely be worn in direct sunlight – range from cyclamen-studded Bal d’Afrique to the sultry Bibliothèque (£50).
What can a mist do that a regular perfume can’t? The answer lies in absorbency. Hair can retain scent for much longer than skin, allowing you to leave a five o’clock vapour trail without needing a top-up. And it’s not just contemporary brands that are cottoning on; fashion houses are also adding to the mix, with thatch-friendly versions of classic scents from the likes of Chanel (N°5 The Hair Mist, £40), Gucci (Bloom Hair Mist, £38) and Givenchy (L’Interdit Eau De Parfum Hair Mist, £35, from johnlewis.com). Luxury perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, meanwhile, recommends his Aqua Universalis mist for a summer-ready spritz of bergamot, citron and orange blossom (€55).
Latest to join the pack is Dior’s newly launched J’Adore Hair Mist, a gentle take on the brand’s iconic floral fragrance that has been designed to provide the finishing touch in a perfuming ritual (£41). “The concentration is lighter, which makes you want to wear more while staying subtle and evoking the bouquet of the fragrance faithfully,” says Carl Groenewald, Parfums Christian Dior’s UK fragrance ambassador, who also adds that inclusion of active ingredients in the formula helps to protect the hair from dryness and the effects of pollution.
Like Dior’s offering, many mists serve to benefit the hair as much as the senses. Diptyque has enriched its selection – available in Do Son, Eau Rose and Eau des Sens – with nourishing camellia oil (£42 each), while Jo Malone’s English Pear & Freesia blend employs argan oil and Pro Vitamin B (£38, selfridges.com). But perhaps the best option of all is Sachajuan’s multipurpose Protective Hair Perfume, which releases a garden-fresh burst of green apple, cedarwood and rose along with the promise of keeping the wearer’s hair moisturised, free from static and protected from the sun’s rays (£43).
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