There's something universally calming about the water. It's that instant "you're a tiny part of something bigger" sensation we get when we stand near the ocean, or the introspection we're suddenly overcome with while staring over a quiet lake. Often we don't even have to see actual water to feel its soothing benefits—just the tinkling of a babbling brook or tap, tap, tap of a light drizzle can instantly relax us.
It's not just in our heads—research shows that water is therapeutic for psychological and physiological health. In his book, Blue Mind ($10), marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols theorizes that our brains are put into a mildly meditative state while being on, near, and under the water. Now, that sensation comes bottled in a functional fragrance, allowing you to reap those therapeutic benefits, even when you're nowhere near actual water.
The Nue Co.'s new functional perfume, Water Therapy ($95), is inspired by blue medicine, the belief that water impacts our mind and body. Blended with refreshing notes of seaweed, sea salt, and other aquatic accords, this "fragrance supplement" is formulated to soothe and quiet the mind, boost overall mood, and hit our brains with a burst of hypothetical water.
It's not the first time The Nue Co. has bottled a force of nature. Forest Lungs ($95)—which launched during the pandemic in Oct. 2020—was created to harness the benefits of shinrin yoku, the Japanese practice of forest bathing. This mood-balancing perfume uses notes of cedarwood, pine, and vetiver to deliver real results. In an independent study conducted by the brand, 96 percent of wearers reported feeling less stressed in 30 minutes or less, while 92 percent reported feeling calmer.
Water Therapy swaps traditional terrestrial compounds with aquatic notes to give users a dose of blue medicine. But it wasn't as easy as just switching some ingredients around—the path to launching Water Therapy was a meticulous and heavily-tested one.
"We were able to utilize pioneering technology from our fragrance house which allowed us to create a 'scent signature' of a space, essentially identifying and replicating the fragrance of an environment," explains Flo Glendenning, the brand's vice president of product and sustainability. "We used this technology in six different marine environments to identify the volatile organic compounds present in [each] environment... These act like 'invisible' scent notes at the heart of the formula and trigger primal pathways in the brain, replicating the feeling of calm we have when in or around water."
The Nue Co.'s olfactory technology claims to stimulate the alpa brainwaves and increases blood flow to the brain and heart, triggering that more relaxed, meditative state we get when we're around actual water. And it works—In a consumer trial, 85 percent of respondents felt less tense after wearing Water Therapy for 30 minutes, while 92 percent felt calmer and 94 percent felt less stressed overall.
"There is a growing body of research documenting the impact of blue space on our psychological and physiological wellbeing," Glendenning says. "At The Nue Co., we believe that your health is an ecosystem interconnected to the health of our planet... Every person on Earth is hard-wired with a deep biological connection to water and the benefits of the world’s blue spaces—
our oceans, coastlines, but also our rivers, waterfalls and lakes—has a myriad of benefits impacting our mental and physical health."
And while other aquatic fragrances scream "beach-y" with sunscreen-y notes of coconut or banana, Water Therapy is much more subtle and clean. There's seaweed and salt, but these are blended with fresh clary sage, warm cardamom, and woody sandalwood to evoke something more nuanced and natural to, say, a sea breeze or a walk by the stream.
It's hard to replicate the quiet surrender of standing next to an open ocean, or the tranquility you get from sitting next to a mountain stream, but The Nue Co.'s Water Therapy is a good start. "Sea" for yourself—get the full bottle here, or try Forest Lungs and Water Therapy together in the set below.
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