Magical Invisible Perfumes…and Us
Perfume has been a very important part of fashion for centuries – if you don’t believe it, just take a look at how many major fashion brands have their own fragrance, and the millions spent every year on perfume and fragrance…
Wearing a fragrance adds another dimension to an outfit, appeals to yet another sense: the sense of smell. Whereas color and shape appeal to our visual sense, texture appeals to our sense of touch, and the soft rustle of taffeta or click of heels appeals to our sense of hearing, perfume brings an unseen, but memorable note to an outfit…
Smells are almost magical – you can’t see them, but a smell can travel through your nose and enter the cognitive part of the brain, where it becomes associated with memories and emotions.
Our memories of odors and smells have strong emotional qualities and are often associated with good or bad experiences when they were present. The sense of smell is handled by the same part of the brain (the limbic system) that handles memories and emotions. For this reason, we immediately recognize and respond to smells from childhood such as fresh-baked cookies, the smell of new books, or a favorite flower in Grandma’s garden. Very often, we cannot put a name to these odors, but their emotive association is very strong.
And the memories of odors do have a lasting power: people recall smells with a 65% accuracy after a year, while the visual recall of photos sinks to about 50% after only three months.
Here’s a few more interesting facts about our sense of smell:
- Everyone has their own unique odor-identity or ‘smell fingerprint’, which is determined by many factors, including genes, skin type, diet, medicine, emotional state and mood, and even the weather.
- The average human being is able to recognize approximately 10,000 different odors.
- Our sense of smell is so powerful that when you smell skunk, you are smelling 0.000,000,000,000,071 of an ounce of scent. Dogs have about 200 million olfactory receptors. That is about 20 times the number of receptors that humans have.
- No two people smell the same odor the same way. In other words, a rose may smell sweeter to some people than to others.
- The sense of smell plays a vital role in our sense of well-being and quality of life.
- A woman’s sense of smell is keener than a man’s.
- Your nose can smell directionally, telling you where an odor originates.
- It is important to understand that throughout every day and night of our lives we smell a wide variety of odors without being aware of them at all.
- Your sense of smell is least acute in the morning; our ability to perceive odors increases as the day wears on.
A lot of research has been done over the last two decades in this area. A newly-minted science, “aromachology”, is focused solely on the study of the psychological effects achieved through the use of ambient odors and the olfactory pathways to the brain they stimulate. Aromatherapy, a centuries-old practice, focuses on treating physical and psychological conditions through the use of smells and aromas.
And here are the Latest Top 10 Scent Trends, as compiled by the Scent Marketing Institute:
- Feel safe, secure and nostalgic: Talcum powder
- Be more alert: Peppermint, citrus
- Relax: Lavender, vanilla, chamomile
- Perceive a room as smaller: Barbecue smoke
- Perceive a room as bigger: Apple, cucumber
- Selling expensive furniture: Leather, cedar
- Buying a home: Fresh baked goods
- Good shopping atmosphere: Tailored floral/citrus scents
- Develop road rage: Unpleasant smells (rotting rubbish, air pollution)
- Become sexually aroused: for men – pumpkin pie/lavender; for women – the sweat of nursing mothers…
Hmmm, not sure about the sweat of nursing mothers – how do you bottle that?…
But just in case, here’s how to make some more ‘common’ odors work for you, based on their effects: (assuming that we have no negative experiences involving any of these odors):
Invigoration: peppermint, thyme, rosemary
Romance: Ginger, cardamom, licorice, chocolate
Stay tuned for fragrance do’s and don’t's…