Scents are strongly tied to emotions, which play a big role in self-perception, explains lead researcher Giada Brianza, Ph.D. student at the Sussex Computer-Human Interaction Lab at the University of Sussex in England. Previous research shows lemon is an arousing aroma that triggers positive feelings and a high sense of control, both of which can improve body image.
Brianza notes that other arousing scents, such as peppermint and black pepper, may boost your confidence in the same way. Vanilla—and scents with similar qualities, like lavender and rose—could have the opposite effect.
The bottom line:
To improve your body image in the moment, surround yourself with arousing scents through candles or essential oils, Brianza says. In the study, the benefits were seen after 30 minutes of exposure.