When wearing face masks in public became a part of our new normal during the current COVID-19 pandemic, people sprung into action to make it more bearable to walk around with a face covering. Brands developed masks that looked more like accessories than medical supplies, and the Internet was ripe with hacks for how to create a comfortable one of your own. But while we’ve managed to check the boxes for “style” and “comfort,” there’s still one problem left to solve: WTF are you supposed to do about how bad it smells under there?
According to Amy Galper, former founder of the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies, it’s actually an easy problem to fix—all you need are a few drops of essential oil. Grab your favorite scent and dab a few drops onto the fabric, et voila—you’ll be sniffing that all day instead of your own hot breath.
What’s more? Giving your mask the essential oil treatment offers many more benefits than simply masking the scent of your bad breath. “A dab of an essential oil on your mask can greatly affect your mood,” says Galper. “Scent can powerfully affect our state of mind, and certainly these wild uncertain days are causing everyone a lot of stress.” Science has widely linked scent to emotions thanks to the way our olfactory systems works biologically (when you sniff something, it has to go through the emotional parts of our brain before the fragrance is processed), which is why essential oils can be so effective as mood boosters or stress relievers.
Plus, she says, many of the molecules that make up essential oils have antibacterial and antiseptic properties, which let’s be clear, shouldn’t be used for disinfecting purposes, but can keep odor-causing bacteria at bay. In addition, be sure you’re still practicing good health habits and washing your mask regularly.
Feel free to choose your favorite essential oil to keep your mask smelling sweet, or look to those that’ll help boost your mood. “A dab of lavender, geranium, or sweet orange can do wonders for keeping us calm and our mood uplifted,” says Galper, who’s also a fan of grapefruit, mandarin, and bergamot for similar reasons. If you want something with calming, clearing properties, try rosemary, white pine, or hemlock spruce.
One thing you can be sure of? No matter what scent you choose, it will definitely smell better than the scent of hot summer breath.
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