The Psychology Of Scent

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You know the feeling.

There you are. Minding your own business, focusing on powering through those last 15 minutes of your work out and then, it hits you. Completely out of the blue.

His cologne.

His dreaded, overpowering, frustratingly familiar cologne that in the months following your breakup you grew to hate. The same cologne you thought you’d left behind with all of the other unpleasant, cringe-worthy memories associated with past relationships.

It’s not just the cologne of past lovers that catches us off guard like this and it’s not always a negative experience. Maybe it’s the hint of your grandmother’s perfume or that candle your mum used to burn at home. Maybe it’s that comforting smell that newborns have or the crisp, smokey air of autumn evenings. Whatever it is, scent has a power like no other. It triggers memories and emotions that you hadn’t even been aware of. It soothes us as quickly as it energises us and sometimes, has enough influence to send us off to sleep.

The power of scent shouldn’t be underestimated. It can exist in a fleeting moment, a perfume worn once for a special occasion and never to be repeated, or it can become an integral part of your identity, brought to life years later with bracing clarity.

It’s the reason that personalised perfumes have become so popular. No longer is it about saving for that magic bottle of Chanel No.5. The focus now lies in trying to find a scent that encapsulates your personality at its finest and therefore is completely exclusive to you.

But where does the power of perfume come from and why does it hold such power over our senses?

Our sense of smell is the most evocative of the senses but when placed alongside sight and hearing, it can often be overlooked. It brings an immediate memory to mind in a way that’s much quicker than our other senses. Scientifically speaking, it comes down to the fact that the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system which is closely associated with memory. In basic terms, despite appearing to possess a magic touch with its influence over our mind and emotions and in the case of essential oils, our physical health, it really comes down to brain chemistry. While we cannot control the memories sparked by specific scents, we can control their influence over our emotions.

So which scents do what?

Rose and Soft Florals
The most predictable of the lot, we’re likely to associate these scents with romance. An addition of softer, more oriental notes will take things up a notch with seductive connotations.

Think Miss Dior’s Blooming Bouquet or Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb.

Oriental and Spicy Fragrance Families
If it were possible to bottle up confidence these fragrance families would find themselves desperately in demand. The powerful notes of these fragrances project confidence and power to the wearer.

One spritz of scents like Black Orchid by Tom Ford and you’ll soon be strutting your stuff and oozing confidence.

Citrus Scents
Turns out, this is where the power lies when it comes to fragrances with influence. Citrus based scents can trigger a massive transformation in our mood and emotions. They help revive and uplift our spirits while orange in particular has been used for centuries to calm and reduce anxieties.

Now that we’ve discovered and learned to appreciate the psychology of scent by recognising the individuality it offers us, will you think twice about your scent of choice?

 

 

Niamh Crawford-Walker

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