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Are Aromatherapy Cosmetics Really Uplifting?

Q: I'd like to try aromatherapy makeup, but I'm skeptical about its benefits. Can it actually help make me feel better?

A: First, you need to decide why you want to try aromatherapy makeup: is it because you're looking for a dramatic mood boost or a great-quality makeup that has an added benefit? If it's the former, stick with mood-boosting body washes, fragrances, candles, body oils or even shampoos; these products have larger quantities of the essential oils that can lift your mood (for example, lavender and chamomile are well-known relaxers, while rosemary and peppermint are invigorating). If it's the latter (you're looking for good makeup with a little something extra for your mood), then aromatherapy makeup is for you.

While most experts agree that the amount of essential oils in makeup -- from lipsticks and blushes to mascara and foundation -- is too small to dramatically affect your sense of well-being, scent can make an otherwise routine makeup application process just a bit more pleasant. "I personally feel that the essential oils present in makeup will primarily affect the smell and the taste of the product more than they will affect your mood," says Geraldine Howard, co-founder of the Brentford, England-based company Aromatherapy Associates. Many essential oils commonly found in makeup, such as lavender and rose, also have positive effects on the skin, Howard adds, so some oils can enhance the product in more ways than just scent. (Lavender, for example, is an antiseptic and good for blemishes, while rose can help calm irritated sensitive skin.)

For makeup with an uplifting scent, editor's picks: DuWop Blush Therapy ($22; sephora.com) with a blend of tangerine, lavender and lemon verbena essential oils built into the blush-stick cap; Tony & Tina Mood Balance Lipstick with rose water, rosemary, lavender and bergamot ($15; tonytina.com); Aveda Mascara Plus Rose ($12; aveda.com); and Origins Cocoa Therapy Mood-Boosting Lip Balms ($13.50; origins.com) with delectable chocolate scents.

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