If you’ve ever caught a whiff of floral perfume and been reminded of your grandmother, walked past an Abercrombie store and been transported back to the fragrance of your high school years (giving away our age here!), or smelled a strong cologne and instantly thought of someone you love, you’re not alone.
Our sense of smell has a stronger link to our memories and emotions than any of our other senses.
However, while fragrances can remind us of people or memories that we love, toxic ingredients mean that there’s not always a lot to love about what is in those fragrances. Fortunately, the same emotional attachment and feelings of love can be found in non-toxic scents as well.
Here, we break down why scents and sentiments are so closely linked, what fragrances may be correlated with certain emotions, and what non-toxic options are available to you.
The Science of Scents and Emotions
Smell and memory are closely connected thanks to their literal close connection within the brain.
When you touch, taste, or see something, the sensory information is sent to the brain’s thalamus which then relays that data to other areas of the brain, including the hippocampus and the amygdala, respectively responsible for memory and emotional processing. With smells however, the scents bypass the thalamus and jump straight to the olfactory bulb, which acts as the brain’s smell center and is directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus and your memories and emotions.
In recent years, scientists have discovered that memories may even be saved in part of the olfactory bulb itself, putting them front and center with your sense of smell!
Essential Oils’ Emotional Impact
The problem with many commercial fragrances that can bring back even the best of memories is that they often contain the worst of ingredients. Fortunately, essential oils pose a safe alternative to traditional fragrance oils, allowing you to feel the love and none of the negatives.
The natural occurring scents of essential oils can not only be reminiscent of certain memories, they can trigger specific emotions. Want your home to smell like a place of comfort and relaxation? Give lavender scented products a try. Other essential oil and naturally occurring scents shown to trigger positive emotions include those listed below.
For calm and happiness:
- Cinnamon – Smelling cinnamon not only conjures up thoughts of delicious baked goods or the holiday season, but it can also give you an emotional pick-me-up when you’re feeling down.
- Citrus – Lemon, orange, grapefruit, and other similar citrus scents might first internally transport you to a warm locale or to a freshly cleaned home, but they can also potentially help reduce your feelings of anxiety and irritability. These “liquid sunshine” essential oils evoke feelings of happiness and ease stress.
- Lavender - Lavender is the first scent that always comes to mind when you think of relaxation! Lavender is known for its calming and balancing properties with a clean and pure aroma. A few drops of Lavender on your pillow may help you drift off to sleep.
- Peppermint – Not unlike citrus scents, peppermint conjures up its own sense of calm. It’s been shown to invigorate and sharpen the mind and leave you feeling happy and ready to tackle what comes your way.
For love and romance:
- Geranium - Typically you think of Rose when it comes to love, but Geranium is a close cousin, and much more affordable floral oil. The oils are steam distilled and have a green, rosy-sweet, minty scent to create the perfect romantic aroma.
- Vanilla – Vanilla is considered to be one of the most alluring naturally occurring aromas. Technically not an essential oil, but rather a solvent extracted from a vanilla plant, vanilla’s sweet decadent aroma combines with deep, sultry floral notes to help create soothing, and potentially sensual, emotions.
- Patchouli – If you hope to foster feelings of love and romance in your house, try lighting a patchouli candle. Its smoky, earthy odor is thought to illicit feelings of passion, as well as increased confidence.
Which scent do you hope makes others think of you or your home? Browse all of our Fontana essential oil scents here.