The Odor of Aging

The Odor of Aging

A Shift Towards Essential Oils For Deodorization and Well-being

As an aromatherapist, I had the privilege of teaching a class recently where the topic of body odor was brought up. Specifically, we talked about the differences between the body odor—the sweet smell of a baby—and that of an individual who is aging. The conversation led me to investigate further and learn more about the natural transformation of personal aroma that occurs as we grow older and the potential solutions that lie within the world of essential oils.

Aging is a natural process that we all experience, and with it come changes in our body chemistry. These changes, coupled with the influence of medications, hormonal shifts, and the presence of certain illnesses, can contribute to alterations in our personal scent.




One of the most intriguing discoveries is the existence of a distinct scent known as "nonenal," which is emitted by our bodies as we age. This scent is a result of the breakdown of omega-7 unsaturated fatty acids on the skin's surface. It manifests as a greasy, grassy odor that is unique to the aging process. While it may be unfamiliar, it is an integral part of our natural essence.

Medications and illnesses also have a significant impact on our body's natural scent. Certain drugs are metabolized and excreted through the skin, altering our odor in the process. Similarly, illnesses can disrupt our body's chemistry, affecting the way we smell. It is crucial to consider these factors when seeking ways to manage aging odors.

Traditionally, fragrant products, perfumes, and commercial room deodorizers have been the go-to solutions for masking body odors or room odors. However, they may not always be the ideal choice. Many perfumes contain fixatives, which are designed to prolong the scent. Unfortunately, these fixatives can interact with our natural body odor, resulting in an unpleasant combination. It's a double-edged sword, as the intention to mask the odor may inadvertently create a less desirable effect.

Essential oils can offer a natural alternative that holds promise in managing the complexities of aging odors. With their deodorizing properties, essential oils provide a holistic approach to this challenge. Oils such as lavender, geranium, palmarosa, Rose Otto, and petitgrain have been found to not only provide floral aromas but also evaporate faster than synthetic fragrances, preventing the lingering combination of scents that can occur with perfumes. Additionally, these oils possess antimicrobial properties, which can help reduce odor-causing bacteria on the skin. Which can hold a natural solution that works in harmony with our bodies.

Beyond their deodorizing effects, essential oils have been known to enhance mood and well-being. Aromatherapy, the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes, has shown positive effects on mental health, including reducing anxiety and improving mood. So, not only can these oils help manage aging odors, but they can also contribute to our overall well-being.

In conclusion, the challenge of aging odors is a unique one, influenced by various biological and environmental factors. However, essential oils offer a promising natural alternative to traditional perfumes, especially for older adults and those affected by illness or medication, when used safely and in low concentration rates Their ability to effectively deodorize, coupled with their psychological benefits, positions them as a holistic approach to managing the complexities of body odor in aging.



  • Haze, S., et al. (2001). 2-Nonenal Newly Found in Human Body Odor Tends to Increase with Aging. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 116(4), 520–524.
  • Zuniga, A., & Stevenson, R. J. (2019). The influence of olfaction on human behavior: 4. Illness and odor. Behavioral Sciences, 9(2), 28.
  • Green, B. (2018). Fragrance Chemistry and Fixatives. In Perfumery: Techniques in Evolution [2nd ed.].
  • Orchard, A., & van Vuuren, S. (2017). Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017.
  • Koulivand, P. H., Khaleghi Ghadiri, M., & Gorji, A. (2013). Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.


  • The information contained in this educational service is not intended nor is it implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Healing Fragrances School of Aromatherapy does not accept responsibility for any problematic situations experienced by you or anyone to whom you give treatment.
  • Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in the course is intended to provide a medical diagnosis or offer a treatment.
Back to blog

Leave a comment