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How to scent your salon or spa

Smell is arguably one of the most sensitive of the five senses, continually working subconsciously, as well as being known for its ability to reduce tension and stress.

While scent is often thought about when it comes to products and treatments, such as aromatherapy massages, it’s important to think about the scent of your space as well.

A strong scent in your spa or salon will be one of the first things clients notice as they enter your premises, so it’s important to ask yourself what you want that scent to say – are you looking for something fresh and energising for your clients, or something that will help them to relax and wind down ahead of their treatment?

Scent scaping

Choosing fragrance to suit a space, or “scent scaping” as its now commonly referred to, allows you to create a journey through scent as clients move through different areas of your salon or spa.

“You need to think about each space individually and what you want your customers’ journey to be,” explains Christina Salcedas, global director of education for Aromatherapy Associates.

“You might want to have an energising fragrance in your reception, and a relaxation or sleep blend in your treatment rooms,” adds Neom founder Nicola Elliott. “But it really depends on the treatments being offered.

“In aromatherapy, inhaling different scents causes your amygdala to react and set off hormonal responses in the body, so it’s important to choose blends with ingredients which react with your desired outcome.”

Salcedas recommends selecting a scent that will help your clients relax from the moment they step foot in your salon, and then tailoring the scent in the treatment room to work in synergy with their treatments – especially when it comes to massage.

“On arrival you want your client to start unwinding, so ensure your aromas are warm, comforting and de-stressing… in the treatment rooms, if you have a diffuser, you can match the scent to the massage oil you will be using.”

If you want to keep it simple with one signature scent throughout your space, you could have it at a different strength in different rooms. Diffusers are a great way to do this because you can customise the strength dependent on the amount of essential oil you use.

“This is such a personal choice,” shares Salcedas. “You may want just one scent that will always remind your guests of your spa. However, this may become a little boring to the team, so in this case maybe allow them to personalise the scent to themselves or their guest in the treatment room.”

Choosing your scent output

With so many options, from candles and incense to essential oil diffusers and reeds, it can be hard to know what to invest in for the best scent pay off.

“There is no hard and fast rule – it depends on the type of room,” explains Salcedas.

“Candles can create a more intimate cosy atmosphere whereas a diffuser gives a more instant, intense and truer fragrance sensation. If choice is limited, I would recommend a diffuser for their versatility.”

Elliott echoes this: “It absolutely depends on preference and space.”

“You might want to have an electric diffuser in your reception because it has the ability to scent larger spaces, and a reed diffuser in your bathrooms because there’s no power sockets and it’s a smaller area.”

As for candles, they may be the right choice for within a more intimate treatment space, as Elliott explains, “Candles are lovely in all spaces but need to be attended and are best in low light, so it might be nice to have them in darker treatment rooms.”

When it comes to alternative options, such as incense, bear in mind the amount of smoke that can sometimes come with these choices, as Elliott adds, “I would typically advise avoiding incense or burning anything because it can get a bit smoky, and a lot of people don’t like that.”

Using products that you also stock in your salon is a great way to get clients interested in your retail offering, as Salcedas explains, “The most important thing is that by using candles and diffusers you can lead by example, showcasing to your clients how using essential oils in this way can quite quickly improve our moods. It’s a great way to improve retail revenue in your business.”

Image from Shutterstock

How to get the strength of your scent right

It can be hard to know when smelling a new scent for the first time if the aromas will keep a strong scent in large spaces.

“Choose your products carefully based on the size of the space, the use of the space and think practically about how they will work when you have customers,” recommends Elliott.

When it comes to looking at formulation, Elliott believes scent is one area where making an investment is worth it.

“A lot of cheaper products have lower levels of fragrance in their products so the scent payoff will be less,” she explains.

“Typically, products don’t list the actual percentage [of essential oils within the formula], but price is a good indicator,” she adds.

“Cheaper products will either be synthetic and lower amounts, and more expensive is better quality fragrance ingredients and often a higher percentage.”

Have your team on board

When picking out a scent, remember it’s not just your clients who will be experiencing the scent you’ve chosen. You and your team are the ones who will be surrounded by the scent, so make sure you’re all on the same page – and don’t be scared to adapt the scent to benefit them as well.

“It’s great to think about your staff, so if there is a high number of sicknesses amongst your team, then using something to clear the air throughout would benefit both guests and staff,” says Salcedas.

“Make sure all the team are aligned to the choice because they are the ones that will be in the space working, so they need to be happy with the scent.”

Elliott adds, “It’s always good to keep in mind that less is often more, you don’t want to over fragrance!”