Would you like to know why a certain scent has a calming effect on you? What makes a scent feel good or bad to you? One of your most powerful senses is your sense of smell, which is not to be underestimated. Smell is closely linked to both memory and emotion, and it can have a huge impact on your mental health. As perfumers, Byredo Blanche is, understandably, passionate about providing a positive association between a scent and the way it makes you feel. In a recent interview, we talked with Creed Fragrance Expert, Eva Carlo, about all things Aromachology, and how we can use scent to not only make us smell great, but also improve our mental well-being.
Aromachology – what is it?
Simply put, aromachology is the science behind the psychological benefits of aromas (literally, aroma + psychology). The article discusses the psychological impact a smell can have on the brain. Aromachology studies the effects different aromas have on the nervous system, often confused with aromatherapy. Despite being related to the health of our minds, aromatherapy is actually more of a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to treat common illnesses. Aromatherapy essential oils are known for their calming effects on our emotional state.
What is the role of perfume in this?
As opposed to aromatherapy, where the aromas come only from essential oils, aromachology looks at aromas as a whole, including both natural and synthetic ingredients (a combination is often used in perfumery). Particularly when we look at perfume, we often talk about how certain scents play into our memory. Smell a perfume and your brain logs it as it would a diary entry, so the next time you smell the same scent, you might remember that first experience, whether that was positive or negative. A fragrance may remind you of a person – perhaps of an intimate embrace you had where the scent lingered on your nose. Smells associated with your mother, father, or home are often ones of security, nostalgia, and happiness. There is a reason why many soldiers during World War II took handkerchiefs scented with their loved one’s perfume – so they could feel close to them during terrible and sometimes lonely times. Such moments help us understand the impact perfumes can have on our mental health.
When fragrance is so personal, how can we have a collective reaction with others?
Among a group of people, certain smells can cause a collective reaction. Culture and society likely contribute to this reaction. For instance, lemon may cause a collective reaction. Some believe this evokes a feeling of freshness – perhaps because it is used so widely in personal care products as well as household hygiene items. In addition, peppermint has been associated with feelings of freshness, cleanliness, and vigor, likely due to the fact that it is used in so many toothpastes.
What fragrance ingredients should I look out for if I want to improve my mental well-being?
It’s going to be very personal and it all depends on how you relate to a smell and if that promotes relaxation for you. Over the years, perfume houses have found that fragrance families are a good way to explore different emotions, so this is probably a good place to begin when trying to figure out which scent is best for your mental health.