Have you wondered why the smell of homemade banana bread transports you back to your grandmother’s kitchen circa 1996? Or why the smell of coconut suntan lotion makes you instantly smile because your back on the beach during spring break with your best girlfriends?
As scent connoisseurs, the team at Skylar has been curious about the undeniable connection between scents and the emotions and memories they seem to conjure from thin air.
Is there a proven association between the two that would rationalize what we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives?
As it turns out, there absolutely is.
THE OLFACTORY SYSTEM, AKA THE “EMOTIONAL BRAIN”
On a very basic level, it works something like this:
Scent has been proven to be more directly linked to memory than any of our other senses. It makes sense, then, that it has the capacity to forge strong bonds and intimate associations, both positive and otherwise. This tendency is found in even our most primitive ancestors and is associated with an ancient part of our biology related to survival instincts about what to eat, where to go, and who to trust.
Your "emotional brain," or limbic system, is a harbor for all kinds of sensory information that it uses to influence your mood, memory, behavior, and emotions. When you smell anything, it makes a B-line for this "processing center," which sorts its relationship to existing associations with feelings and thoughts.
Functionally, that means that each time you smell a new scent, your mind subconsciously links that scent to a certain event, person, or circumstance. Every time you smell that scent afterward, your mind is hardwired to bring you back to that place, person, or experience.
HOW SCENT COMPELS US
So smell is, by nature, highly associative. That’s a big part of why we all prefer different scents for reasons that are unique and not easily defined.
Because smell is highly emotional, wearing certain scents can evoke a specific emotion in the people around you. Of course, what emotion it inspires is highly subjective.
It’s no wonder fragrance is such a subtle yet potent part of style. Much like the difference between wearing grey or bright red, or your hair in beachy waves versus a ballerina bun, each scent is creating connections and informing the perception of who you are and what you communicate to the people around you.
FIND WHAT SPEAKS TO YOU
The scents that speak to us feel almost instinctive — an amalgam of our unique biology and experiences. So while it’s tempting to spring for a world-famous fragrance, or the trendy one that's a supposedly an undeniable aphrodisiac, you’re probably better off listening to your heart (and nose) on this one.
After all, your scent is something others subliminally associate with you, so it should feel authentic. Just like any other part of your life, it should reflect you in a true sense.
Plus, it’s kind of fun to know that whoever you attract is almost undoubtedly attracted to that part of you. They have an association, or some deep biological urge, that draws them to you. At least you know that the two of you have that in common!
We’ll leave you this parting thought: Selecting a scent new to the market almost guarantees that you’re breathing some fresh life into your routine. Not to mention, there’s zero chance your mate already associates that fragrance with a past life. Better yet, consider wearing it on a bucket list vacation, so you'll never forget the time you enjoyed together. We’d be lying if we said that wasn’t worth something. ;)