Marine dreams & ‘the blue mind’ – why there’s a new wave of aquatic scents

Marine, aquatic, ozonic, oceanic – all terms applied to the sea-like, beachy scents that were so popular in the 1990s, and which we’re now seeing a huge surge of once again. Having been considered deeply unfashionable for so long, what’s causing this ‘new wave’ right now…?


There was a period in the ’90s when, if you turned on your television or flipped through a glossy magazine, within minutes you’d likely be greeted with the image of oiled, sun-tanned men in tight pants diving from boats, cliffs or helicopters into water. The fragrances they were advertising had an easy, breezy sporty freshness and were, inevitably, drowning in an ingredient called Calone.

If you’ve ever smelled a scent and been reminded of the sea, chances are it contains something called Calone – a synthetic aroma compound developed by Pfizer in 1951. Discovered accidentally, when searching for a food additive to give the taste and aroma of watermelon, chemists had stumbled across a sea breeze, bottled. But it wasn’t until 1988 the popularity for using it in perfumes began – Yves Tanguy adding Calone to Aramis New West, Pierre Bordon to Davidoff Cool Water – and the trickle became a veritable tsunami, sparking a new fragrance family sub-category of ‘Aquatic’ or ‘Ozonic’.

Marine Biologist Wallace J. Nichols is fascinated by the resurgence of this aquatic allure, and says ‘I believe that oceans, lakes, rivers, pools, even fountains can irresistibly affect our minds.’ He devoted a seminal book to the subject – Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do, eschewing the purely philosophical approach and instead, pooling scientific research to discover exactly why this might be. ‘We are inspired by water,’ he explains, ‘hearing it, smelling it in the air, playing in it, walking next to it, painting it, surfing, swimming or fishing in it, writing about it, photographing it, and creating lasting memories along its edge.’

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