Similarly to the way you may always seem to gravitate towards the same color when clothes shopping or stock up on one particular item even though you have tons of it already in your closet (hello, t-shirts), we totally become creatures of habit with fragrance. The way your mom smelled of orange blossom as a child might be why you always feel at ease when you smell it. Regardless of whether you have one signature scent or a whole collection of bottles in your boudoir, we tend to sniff out and feel most comfortable with the same notes time and time again.
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"It really comes down to personal preference," says Kerri Nau, Aromatherapy Associates Account Executive & Trainer. "The scents that we ‘like’ are actually linked to what we innately ‘need.’ Inhalation of scents — especially pure essential oils — can alter our emotional and physical state. We are naturally drawn to scents that make us feel a certain way."
Nau explains that when you inhale a scent, the essence of it is drawn up through the nasal canal which stimulates the Olfactory Nerve. That sends a signal to the Limbic System in our brain, the area she describes as "the seed of our memories and emotions." Nau notes that the smell of fresh cut flowers personally reminds her of walking through her parents flower shop as a kid.
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Geza Schoen, founder and perfumer of Escentric Molecules, equates fragrance to a security blanket of sorts.
"Familiarity gives security," says Schoen. "A signature scent adapts your environment to a secure idea and a relative reaction. There is a lot of comfort in having a solid base you can relate to and for some, scent is their aura of comfort."
In other words, you may associate an event or time in your life with a certain smell… and smelling it again will instantly bring you back to that time. Who knew that smelling tuberose would make me travel in time back to college?
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So, basically, don’t be afraid to stick with the same notes time and time again. They tell your story and can speak volumes about your personality.
"Fragrance evokes your personal experiences,” says Christopher Chong, the creative director of Amouage. It stirs your memory bank of different emotions experienced. It’s like a fragmented narrative. The human mind is complicated and unpredictable. Unlike other art forms, such as visual and music, the sense of smell lacks a coherent language to articulate its nature, so we personalize it by drawing from our own memories."
Well, I guess now I know why the smell of my ex-boyfriend's cologne immediately puts me in a bad mood.