Body Heat: Perfumes under Extreme Temperatures

There are people who love running, playing tennis or swimming. I heard they can experience a withdrawal if they have to skip several training sessions. It’s not my story. I hate exercising as long as I can remember myself. I do engage in different activities but do it out of the necessity only: if I could get Kathleen Turner’s body and don’t worry about my health without exercising I wouldn’t (I wonder which perfume bottle she’s holding in that scene).

Kathleen Turner in Body HeatWell, since a lean gene wasn’t one of those passed to me from my parents I do my part in at least keeping myself healthy.

At least as much as physical activity, if not more, I dislike heat. I don’t like cold either.  My comfortable zone is somewhere around 24°C (75°F).

All that makes it hard to explain why out of all available types of physical activities I chose Bikram yoga – a system of yoga practiced in a room heated to 40°C (105°F). I’ve been practicing Bikram yoga (with some breaks) for 18 months. I still hate every minute of a 90 minutes class. But I plan to keep doing it.

For me yoga is just an exercise. I do not subscribe to the philosophy. If I follow the breathing instructions I do it only if it helps to maintain the posture. I do not try to clear my mind and concentrate on what I’m doing. I’m not pushing myself too hard. I’m just trying to survive. One of the things that help me through the class is thinking about perfumes – about which I read or plan to write or which I want to try.

For a long time I tried not to wear any perfumes to my classes thinking they wouldn’t perform well in high heat or would bother me or my neighbors. And then one day I didn’t think about the class I had scheduled in the evening. I wore a perfume to the office and even re-applied it mid-day. By the time I started the first breathing exercise I forgot about it. And when my body heated up enough suddenly the perfume started blooming on my skin. It was magical. It was much more interesting than what I experienced earlier that day with the same perfume. It was Serge LutensBoxeuses.

Since then I started experimenting with different perfumes. I apply just a little bit of a perfume in the décolleté area and on my wrists an hour before I go to the class and then during JanuShirasana or Pavanamuktasana I inhale wafts of the hot air mixed with moisture and perfume particles. It makes my classes go by faster and gives them some additional purpose.

Perfumes that performed the best under such strange conditions: another Serge Lutens’ creation – Ambre Sultan, Ubar by Amouage and Alahine by Teo Cabanel.

Tom Ford’s Arabian Wood, Chergui by Serge Lutens and Mitzah by Dior were very nice but didn’t survive Garudasana (approx. 15 minutes into the class). All three were applied from a dab vial so maybe a more generous spray application would produce a better effect – I’ll re-try them when I get those into my collection.

No 19 Poudre by Chanel didn’t work at all. Not possessing a remarkable staying power as is, it disappeared from my skin by the time I unfolded my yoga mat. It was a strange experiment but I thought that maybe it had some hidden powers. It didn’t.

I remember reading on one of the blogs that I always read a topic about a “treadmill scents” (or something to that effect) but now I can’t find that post. If an owner recognizes it from the description or if you covered this topic in your blog, please post a link.

What is your torture of choice and what perfumes (if any) make it more enjoyable?

Image: Kathleen Turner in Body Heat by



33 thoughts on “Body Heat: Perfumes under Extreme Temperatures

  1. My torture of choice would be jogging but I don’t do it. :)
    Although, there is a nice running school in Zagreb my colleague goes to which teaches you how to run and gets you prepared for a half-marathon (I’d skip that though).
    I definitely need more (any actually) aerobic exercise so I believe this spring we’ll find me training to run.
    As to my regular pilates, I don’t actually apply perfume before so I never waft anything.


  2. Ha! Torture of choice, you’ve got that right. I do admire your self-discipline to endure something you hate for the sake of your health. I’ve only ever done the lying-down lazy yoga (Kundalini) but gave it up. I’d like to try pilates one day, like Ines. Zumba is very big in the UK at the moment which I think is a more dance based form of aeorbics.

    Anyway back to perfume. I think it’s great that you are now wearing perfume to your classes. It must make a nice distraction. Before I read about you wearing Ubar I immediately thought Amouage would be good. I think a high quality perfume with a good base would be the best choice because the rest of it is going to evapourate pretty quick in the heat.

    Luckily I remember dee talking about treadmill scents because it was in a comment on my review of 31 Rue Cambon for Olfactoria’s Travels! Here’s the link –


    • Thank you! I thought it was Dee but couldn’t find it on her blog :)

      In addition to yoga I try to exercise at home (with TV) but it’s so much easier to find reasons not to do it… I should try 31RC with these programs (thank you again for it!) to see if it motivates me.

      Perfumes introduce a nice distraction, so I plan to take more of my favorites through that yoga class.


      • What! You practice yoga? sending pix to you now (at 5am yes have been up since three…bad sleep night!)
        and may I add that I am having a wonderful time reading some of your old posts :D!!!


        • Thank you, Brie! I love when people read my older posts: I put a lot of things that were/are important to me into many of those posts that I published long before I got readers so they are still relevant and I want people I’m friends with to read at least some of those. You are my perfect reader! :)


  3. Great topic for a post, Undina. I can see how Boxeuses and Ubar would smell great as your body heats up: I find that heavy orientals actually smell amazing in the heat and humidity of summer, so the same concept would work with exercise too.

    After many years of being away from running, I got back into it this year and I’m one of those who obsessed kinds of people who do go through withdrawal if I can’t get out. I wore Calyx a lot to run in over the summer but lately I’ve been wearing Tabac Blond and L’Air de Rien (Christos of Memory of Scent sent me a decant of the latter) and both of those waft well in the cold air of winter (plus they complement sweat well, too). :) When I do pilates, I prefer lighter, more uplifting scents like Kai and Le Labo Gaiac 10.


  4. I love that still of Kathleen Turner, from “The Man With Two Brains”! a hilarious movie, if you ask me, though I don’t remember which perfume she’s wearing in the scene :(

    Treadmill scents are a sub-category in my closet! And they’re not always the scents I would have expected them to be. Like Tara said, 31 Rue Cambon is one of my favorites, Prada Candy is very good, and Hillary Duff With Love works too. While I’m running, I want to smell them, but not get choked by them, which is easy to do! :)

    This is such a fun post Undina, thank you for sharing!! And keep up the good health!


    • Dee, you are right! Allposters and I were wrong – it’s a different movie! Thank you for the correction.

      I will try RC31 and Candy for my home-based aerobic exercises – thank you for ideas. But I have to confess: running is probably one of the activities that I hate the most. 10 minutes on a treadmill is maximum what I can do. But I admire those people who love running and do that.


  5. I used to run 6 miles daily, and swim one mile every other day, love yoga, but wearing fragrance is frowned upon at our studio. I’ve actually gotten the look, and the sigh and they they pick up and move! It doesn’t help that left-coasters aren’t really into fragrance in general. Many stores, most hospitals and public spaces openly post ‘no fragrance’ signs. Makes it very tough for a perfumista like me to enjoy her habit!
    Have you tried carnal flower? It blooms nicely in the heat.


    • I wouldn’t actually wear a perfume to yoga (or any other place where I excercise with other people). I apply a very little amount of a perfume to my skin so I don’t think it’s noticeable to anybody around me taking into the account that tea tree, peppermint and lemongrass oil/water combination is used to clean up in between classes.

      I have a difficult relationship with Carnal Flower. Still working on it though.


  6. I’m just like you and Winston Churchill -No Sports! ;)
    I admire your discipline enormously, and I know that I need to do something sooner rather than later. I am blessed with the “lean gene”, but being thin does not mean being healthy. I probably only have bones and fat, no muscles to speak of. ;)
    Yoga sounds great, and Bikram even greater, and I will take you as an example and start soon, Boxeuses and all…


    • Do it! You might like it after all. Or find at least tolerable :) If you ask me, it beats running any day!

      The other day I was actually looking forward to going to yoga class because I wanted to smell Boxeuses in heat again. I’m an addict :)


  7. A Bikram yoga studio just opened up around the corner from me. Is this a sign that I need to attend? :) I would’ve thought the same as you – no scent for exercise. But now I shall try it. I practice yoga and pilates, but not as frequently as I would like. Bikram is intense – good job and great post.


    • Thank you, Julie. I’d say – go! They must have some initial promotion for you to try and see if you like… smelling your favorite perfumes under these conditions.

      I was thinking about trying another type of yoga. And pilates. I’m such an optimist! I still hope to find something that I wouldn’t want to live without… I’m talking about exercising, not perfumes ;)


  8. Another unnatural exerciser here, though I do walk a lot when I am away on my trips. Otherwise, I drag myself to a weekly pilates class – or did do until the teacher emigrated the other week – and enjoyed wearing soft scents like Bois Naufrage and SSS Opal. They don’t offend anyone and they don’t change character because I am not working up a sweat, obviously. I need to find myself another class in the New Year or get that DVD out, maybe…

    : – )


    • I can recommend Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred DVD. It’s a 20-minute exercise with a choice of 3 levels and modifications for beginners on each level. It’s really hard to explain to yourself why you can’t find 20 minutes to exercise. And it’ll definitely help on a “working up a sweat” front – just in case you want to test something under those conditions ;-)


  9. I usually just lurk but I have to jump in on this one. Prada Candy was not really a favorite until I wore it to a dance class. I usually don’t wear fragrance to class but we are practicing a choreography where we link arms and I had just hennaed my hair so I didn’t want to stink anyone out. It was absolutely lovely and not at all bothersome to the other girls and convinced me that it wasn’t just another icky-sticky mess.


    • Hi Liz! I’m glad you decide to de-lurk :)

      I used henna a lot at some point but I can’t get over the smell. And I do not like any more how my hear look after using it: I realize it doesn’t have the silicone coating that we get from artificial hair coloring products but henna was making my hair to look even more dull then it was naturally.

      I tried Candy on the skin just once. I didn’t like it much and was a little annoyed by everybody else loving it. I have a couple of samples so I’ll try it again in a while.


  10. I agree, this is a great topic. I do love to do (some) exercises, but lately have not been getting enough and it shows! I like grounded smelling things for exercise, although I agree that heavy orientals and tobaccos are surprisingly nice under some conditions. Some favorites are OJ Woman, SSS Champagne de Bois, Vetiver Tonka. I’m sure there are more, but those must be the ones I wear most because they are what I remember.


    • I do not have Vetiver Tonka, but I will try the other two – you’re right, those should smell nice during exercising, at least for the regular-temperatured ones. Also I plan to try other SSS’s perfumes: those bases have a lot of potential (Bikram yoga-wise).


  11. Like you I don’t really enjoy exercise. Well at least not exercise for it’s own sake. I will run with my spouse on the weekends. But since he is nearly a foot taller and all legs I have a hard time keeping up. So we start out with a brisk warm up walk together where we end up talking about our week, our child, our friends. Then before we split off for our respective runs we agree upon a meeting spot based on how long, short, quick or slow we plan our runs to be. If he plans a long run, I get him to agree to meet me at the local mall. That way I can stop in at Sephora, Neiman’s or L’Occitane to sniff while I wait.
    But my all time favorite non exercise activity is horse riding.
    I generally don’t apply scent before I ride because I’m aware that my horses have very acute senses of smell. Not sure how they’d react to perfumes with lots of musk in them. One of my barn mates says that every time she wears Marc Jacobs Lola her horse sneezes all over her.


    • Just theoretically… Horses might not mind some gourmand scents – Jeux de Peau, Sublime Balkiss or Praline de Santal. But I know almost nothing about horses so it was just me thinking.

      I do not mind walking especially when I have a company. But for it to be considered an exercise I need to be walking for hours – which doesn’t happen too often.


  12. lol- enjoyed your post..I’ve found that the only exercise that I’m able to sustain is also Yoga (not Bikram though). I tried going to the gym but never feel motivated enough to continue. and I LOVE wearing perfume to Yoga..The first time I tried my vintage chanel no. 5 parfum was during yoga class- I received the package just before class so I applied some and then went to class. I could not stop discreetly sniffing my arm during down dog and that is probably when I fell in love with the scent too..:D. In the beginning, I’d apply incensey perfumes like Rien during yoga but now I just wear whatever i feel like (as long as I feel that it isn’t very strong that everybody else can smell it). I really like wearing Heure Exquise to yoga too..:)


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