A fragrance is more than a scent: it evokes emotion. Among the ways our brains associate memories with feelings, scents can be the strongest.
To me, nothing is sweeter than the mingled scents of honeysuckle and night blooming jasmine wafting on a summer breeze. This sweet fragrance brings back happy memories of my childhood. Fragrances can have positive effects on our moods, reduce stress, enhance sleep, instill self-confidence, and even boost cognitive performance.
To most people, a fragrance is more than a scent, it is a memory. Of the many ways our brains create and associate memories with feelings and events, scents are arguably one of the strongest.
Our olfactory receptors are connected directly to the limbic system, the most primitive and oldest part of our brains. The limbic system is also considered the seat of emotion.
Scents are relayed to the cortex, where they are categorized and recognized. By the time our brains recognize a particular scent, the scent has already triggered an emotional response.
Fragrances That Evoke Emotions
While some scents evoke specific and personal memories, depending on how your brain categorizes them, other scents have a generally universal effect. These scents are known for their ability to evoke calmness, make you feel happier, and even get you in the mood.
Look for perfumes with these notes to evoke emotions in yourself or someone else.
Vanilla for Comfort
Just a whiff of vanilla makes most people feel all warm, fuzzy, and nostalgic. Of all the scents that go into perfumes, vanilla is the most globally liked. Its familiar sweetness gives us a sense of contentment. And since it is so often used in baking, it gives us a sense of home that is both nurturing and comforting.
Lily of the Valley for Stress Relief
This sweet, rare, delicate floral scent evokes a sense of security and comfort and promotes well-being. It also reduces stress and relieves sadness. Whenever you need a little self-care, look for products that contain lily of the valley.
Hibiscus for a Self-Esteem Boost
The scent of this beautiful, flashy, and fragrant flower can instantly refresh your mood. Fragrances with this tropical note can boost your self-esteem.
Grapefruit for a Pick-me-up
If you are looking for sunshine in a bottle, look for fragrances that feature grapefruit notes. It’s really difficult to be sad and blue when you are wearing this zesty scent. It can clear your mind and boost your energy.
Sandalwood for Sensuality
The intensely sultry, woody notes of sandalwood is perfect for a night out with that special someone. Fresh and flirty it is not, as the scent awakens a more sensual part of the brain. Wear sandalwood for smokey, dark, mysterious allure.
Bergamot for a Better Mood
Citrusy, bitter, and tart is an odd description for a scent that is a powerful mood booster. Bergamot has been called happiness in a bottle. No matter how bad your mood, chances are bergamot can lift your spirits. It can even soothe your anger and balance your moods. Instead of counting to 10 the next time you get angry, try inhaling a little bergamot.
Jasmine for Cool, Calm, and Collected
When you need to sit back and relax, turn off your phone and breathe in the scent of jasmine. It’s deeply calming to the central nervous system. It also has a sexy side due to its earthy qualities. This makes it the perfect fragrance for relaxing me-time or a date night out.
Although scent preferences are deeply personal and attached to particular memories and the associations your brain makes, some generalizations can be made about fragrance and emotion, and how you can use them to evoke a specific response in yourself and others.
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