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Psychology of scent

cute baby smelling a flower

Meeting our customers, as we often do at various events, reminds us how much smell is closely linked with memory; probably more so than any of our other senses.

It is fascinating to observe people's different responses to our scents and the memories and stories they evoke. We'll regularly see someone smelling one of our blends for the first time, then witness how they can trigger a long-forgotten memory or experience.

For example, zest often reminds people of travelling. You can actually see somebody's face light up as they're instantly transported back to a summery holiday they once enjoyed.

With our relax blend, many people recall spa breaks with friends and family, or simply a relaxing evening in with a hot bath, candlelight and, of course, a glass of wine.

We are often called upon to help someone choose a scent as a gift for a loved one. It's flattering to be asked and also enjoyable to get a feel for who the gift is for in the process.

In this blog we thought we would give a brief introduction to the psychology of scent, and provide links to more information if, like us, you want to learn more.

"Scents can have positive effects on mood, stress reduction, sleep enhancement, self-confidence, and physical and cognitive performance,"
Theresa Molnar, executive director of the Sense of Smell Institute

Smell is in fact the oldest and most powerful sense that we possess as humans. The human nose has roughly 400 types of scent receptors that allow us to detect millions of distinct scents immediately, and they have a significant impact on us; from how we taste things to our emotions and memories.

By becoming more aware of the way specific scents affect you personally, you may be able to enhance your health and well-being.

So how does smell work? The biology bit:

Our sense of smell begins with the olfactory epithelium, a strip of tissue at the back of the nose which contains millions of sensory neurons. The tips of these cells incorporate proteins called receptors which bind odour molecules together.

The receptors' interactions with the molecules stimulates an impulse which transmits impulses to the brain. This pathway is directly connected to the limbic system (visceral brain), which plays a dominant role in controlling our emotions and memories and arousal.

sense of smell

The IFF was one of the first fragrance organisations to suggest ‘fragrance has the power to influence an individual’s mood and emotional well-being’. They developed a technique called Mood Mapping™, which they say 'reliably measures the mood associations of aromas — from simple, individual ingredients to finished fragrances in consumer products.'

In Chemical Senses 2005 and Oxford Journal concluded: These studies reveal that fragrance is indeed powerful enough to counteract stress in a performance task. This new technology is being applied to products requiring evidence that a fragrance is physically relaxing, or de-stressing. Aromatherapy products represent a substantial and growing area of the marketplace and this type of research can strengthen the basis for making stress-relief claims of essential oils.

At aromas by flo we may not have a huge lab or teams of perfumers, but learning from our experience and knowledge of the powerful links between essential oils, mood and emotions, was one of the reasons we wanted all our products to be completely natural.

Acknowledging the connection between scents and emotions, we developed a range which will would not only illicit personal memories for people, but by using only essential oils we are able to develop fragrances which naturally support your wellbeing and evoke positive memories or carry you to a place of tranquillity.

See all our blog posts here.

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