Words: Lauren Carbran
Nothing beats your favourite ever scent. And did you know that the fragrance you pick is subconsciously influenced by our personality, likes, dislikes, memories and life experiences? Mind-blowing, we know. So as smell is one of our most powerful senses, there’s a whole lot we can learn from our perfume preferences…
Naturally, we’re drawn to certain smells. You’ll probably feel a blanket of warmth and comfort from the smell of your grandma’s apple crumble, or maybe you could never get bored of inhale the smell of fresh linen. Of course, our sense of smell is personal and unique – just like our taste buds – so not everyone is going to agree with you when you admit to loving the smell of newly painted walls.
‘We’re drawn to certain smells because they offer us direct information regarding safety or danger, friend or foe,’ says psychologist and TV presenter Emma Kenny. ‘Often, smells act as triggers that bring back memories of, for example, your first boyfriend or the cinnamon and spice burned at Christmas. Smell is defining in many, many ways.’
Another layer to your scent choice is personality. Just as a confident person will opt for a daring, unapologetic outfit, fun, adventurous people will most likely want to try OTT, standout, gourmand scents with notes such as praline (Ariana Grande Cloud for her), matcha tea (Calvin Klein CK One Summer for her and for him) or roasted almonds (Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb Night Vision for him).
If you’d rather avoid the limelight, try a light, subtle eau de toilette with hints of fresh flowers. We’re loving the orange flower petals in Calvin Klein Women Eau de Toilette for her and the iris heart notes in Givenchy Gentleman Givenchy Cologne Eau de Toilette for him.
‘Our personalities are the sum total of our life experiences so far,’ says Roja Dove, fragrance expert and historian. ‘As individual as each personality out there is, so, too, is their scent preference. Everyone reacts to an odour in a slightly different way because of all the factors that go into creating that interaction with it. Forming one’s “olfactory fingerprint” is as individual and complex as one would assume.’
Just like our taste buds can change with age, so, too, can our sense of smell. ‘As youngsters, we opt for strong and overt fragrances, while our hormones also contribute to different tastes at different ages,’ says Emma.
But this can also be triggered by life experiences. We’ve all been there – avoiding that scent like the plague after a break-up. ‘Aversion to any type of fragrance can develop if we smell such a scent in a negative situation, such as at a funeral or during a depressed period,’ says Emma. ‘Equally, if the midwife who delivers your first child is wearing a memorable perfume, you will associate it with a really special experience.’
‘There is so much that can affect the way we experience and log the odours around us,’ adds Roja. ‘And as you age, your feelings about smells can change, as you associate different experiences with them.’
As the most powerful tool of the fragrance industry is marketing, this can also shift our scent preferences. Chances are a Britney Spears fan is going to LOVE her new scent before they even smell it (we admit, her scents are some of our firm favourites – and her bottles are dreamy, too). ‘If you’re a fan of a particular singer, you have automatic positive triggers, which mean you’ll associate their new scent with them,’ says Emma. ‘So your bias means you will believe you like it, even if it’s totally the opposite of what you usually wear!’ Now that’s a fun fact to whip out when you have your next deep and meaningful…