Perfumer Zerlina Dubois on Herbal Essences’s Iconic Scents

Zerlina Dubois.
Photo: Courtesy of Procter & Gamble

Scientific research affirm that, of all of the senses, odor presents one of the best recall. In “Scent Memories,” the Cut asks individuals concerning the scents they affiliate with totally different occasions of their lives.

Next up is Zerlina Dubois, grasp perfumer at Procter & Gamble. Over the previous 34 years, Dubois has created lots of the bathroom-shelf scents that soften your limbs, freshen your pits, and switch your bathe right into a heavenly smelling escape, just like the fragrances she formulated for the Herbal Essences shampoos and conditioners of the ’90s and early aughts. The botanical-inspired model is celebrating 50 years of aromatic hair flips, so the Cut caught up with the girl behind shiny, scented hairstyles worldwide to speak spices, swimming swimming pools, and a flower that smells like skunk.

My first scent reminiscence is: Smelling Indian spices within the kitchen. My dad and mom are from India, so I’m first technology, and I grew up on the East Coast, exterior of Boston. Growing up with an Indian household, my mother did plenty of Indian cooking; I nonetheless do plenty of Indian cooking, and I nonetheless love the odor of turmeric and cardamon. Those smells actually deliver again nice reminiscences of getting a chai tea with my mom. Spices are huge in my life. The argan oil Herbal Essences merchandise even have a garam masala notice within the perfume, which comes from my Indian heritage and my background.

Happiness smells like: Salty seashore air, suntan lotion, and the breeze. I grew up going to Cape Cod each summer season and I now have a home there, and to me, happiness is once I sit on the seashore with that stunning sundown, and might odor all these scents. That is my completely satisfied place.

Love smells like: When I began courting my husband, which was a very long time in the past, he gave me a bottle of Anais Anais for our first Christmas collectively. I nonetheless connote that odor with love, and I really nonetheless just like the odor of it; it’s a really fairly, floral inexperienced. But I additionally will say love smells like rose. Every girl loves the odor of rose. I used to be taught by a few of the greatest perfumers on the earth in Grasse [France], and I used to be all the time taught that you just all the time put a contact of rose in there, as a result of it reminds you of getting that bouquet, it reminds you of these particular events. Before the pandemic, I used to be capable of journey to Kew Gardens, and so they have this stunning rose backyard of 250 roses that I received to odor and expertise, and there actually is simply one thing about rose.

Heartbreak or loss smells like: A hospital. My youngest son was born with a coronary heart situation, so we did plenty of visits to the youngsters’s hospital. He’s had two open-heart surgical procedures. He’s doing nice now; he’s 25, he performs ice hockey, however the stress of going right into a hospital, sitting with him, and dealing with all that … Whenever I stroll right into a hospital, simply the odor of it nonetheless provides me that stress.

Friendship smells like: Making and mixing enjoyable cocktails, like a French 75, which is gin, lemon, and fizziness, which I like. I additionally actually just like the odor of gin, as a result of it’s a bunch of botanicals that you may actually discover. I used to be capable of go on a visit to Oregon, the place I received to go to some distilleries and see and odor how the totally different gins have been made.

Regret smells like: I don’t suppose there’s one odor of remorse, nevertheless it’s oftentimes these scents I want someone favored, or scents I want went additional. I prefer to be daring and create actually distinctive and enjoyable stuff; I like to overdose issues and push it so far as I can, and remorse is when it stops. As perfumers, we’re artists, creating on a regular basis, and we now have individuals criticizing us all day, telling us, No, we don’t like that, or No, that’s too smelly. I educate my perfumers that you must have huge shoulders, as a result of individuals are going to let you know you suck on a regular basis. Like proper now, I’m working on plenty of cool, creamy banana fragrances, however will it go anyplace? Will Herbal take a banana? I’m attempting. We’ll see!

Success smells like: The perfume that’s within the Herbal Essences White Grapefruit and Mint line. That perfume has completed very well, and it’s one which I really feel actually pleased with, and that I’m very proud of. It’s a very brilliant, citrusy perfume that’s received a bit nuance with that recent mint. I like pure issues; the odor of actual vegetation, actual fruits, actual flowers. That’s what I actually attempt to seize, and that individual one could be very pure smelling.

The worst odor is: Skunk. I’m actually delicate to sulfur smells. There are a few skunks below my deck, so in the course of the pandemic, I’ve gotten much more accustomed to skunk, and it’s … not enjoyable. The odor is so highly effective and it simply lingers. There are individuals who prefer it, although. Have you ever smelled a marigold? The compounds in a marigold odor much like a skunk, consider it or not.

My supreme trip smells like: That coconut odor of sitting on a tropical seashore with a piña colada.

My house smells like: Breakfast each morning. It’s one among my favourite meals, and I like that odor in the home — espresso and a complete breakfast, whether or not it’s pancakes, or eggs, or bacon. I like making my very own candles as nicely, so my house additionally has a really clear odor of jasmine, white tea, aloe, and that watery, cucumber odor. Very clear and crisp.

The very first thing I odor within the morning: Aside from freshly floor espresso, that white grapefruit and mint shampoo. I like getting within the bathe in and utilizing that within the mornings as a result of it’s very energizing; it actually does wake you up.

The very last thing I odor earlier than I am going to mattress: My facial routine. I’ve a giant one as a result of I’m very into magnificence merchandise and I work within the magnificence enterprise. Even although they’re not all our merchandise, as a perfumer, I find yourself shopping for tons of merchandise to odor, so I perceive the market and sustain with what our competitors is doing. There’s this enormous area of interest positive perfume enterprise in skincare, so I’m all the time smelling and attempting. Typically, my favourite merchandise have a lavender undertone although; I like having that gentle little contact of lavender earlier than I am going to mattress.

A scent or odor I like that others normally don’t: The odor of a swimming pool. My daughter was a aggressive swimmer who swam from the age of eight ‘til the age of twenty-two, so I spent plenty of time on the swimming pool. She doesn’t wish to odor it ever once more, however I like that chlorine odor! It jogs my memory of these occasions I spent together with her.

I odor like: I odor clear, I hope! [Laughs]. As a perfumer, we don’t get to put on scent a lot. I can’t put on it to work, so I don’t put on plenty of positive fragrances until it’s a special day, and even then, I’m specific. I don’t like when individuals don’t odor clear, however then I don’t like individuals who put on plenty of cologne, both. It must be someplace within the center, so once I can put on one thing, I like a mild, white floral with a contact of aloe and tea — issues that odor pure, but clear. I in all probability normally odor like all the wonder merchandise I’m sporting, although: the morning shampoo, combined with all the opposite magnificence merchandise, and hairspray, which is all the time the very last thing I put on.

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About the Author: Jessica