By Shy Hossieni

The Bond Between Perfume & Memories

Why are we so Scentimental?

Like a song, fragrance can transport you back to the time or place you first experienced it and holds one of the strongest connections to our emotions and memories - which is what makes fragrance so personal!

Also known as The Proust Effect, scents and senses can "act as doorways to lost memories"

Your sense of smell may be a better memory trigger than your sense of sight. Whenever I smell cotton candy, I’m sent back in time. Suddenly, I’m back at the beach walking across the sand with my father where I spent many summers growing up. If I catch even a whiff today, I’m instantly whisked away back to that time filled with a deep sense of comfort and security! 


The sense of smell is the first to have evolved in living things. Our eyes only have three different types of colour-sensitive receptors, which allows us to perceive the entire spectrum of colours. Human noses can detect trillions of smells thanks to over 1,000 different types of receptors. 


“When a perfume has the ability to trigger an emotion, it becomes part of the wearer’s life”  Claire Bingham. 




Your olfactory bulb runs from your nose to the base of your brain and has direct connections. Neuroscientists have suggested that this close physical connection between the regions of the brain linked to memory, emotion, and our sense of smell may explain why our brain learns to associate smells with certain emotional memories. So many of these scent driven memories may further be childhood memories because those years are when we experience most smells for the first time!

Whether you have vivid scent-related memories from the age of 6 years old or only recall your first fragrance memory from the age of 13, there’s no denying the strong association between our sense of smell and memory. That’s why it’s so important to choose fragrances that remind us of our happy times. For instance, Gourmand scents may bring back heart-warming memories of your wedding cake from your wedding day whilst the scent of musk might remind you of a loved one. If we have any innate response to scents it is caution. Infants and young children show wariness when exposed to unfamiliar scents regardless of whether the scents are classified as pleasant or unpleasant by the adults around them.



Although olfactory memory tends to be romanticised with positive feelings, it can also evoke unpleasant sensations. In fact, certain smells, such as the smell of spoiled food or certain cleaning products, alert us to avoid them. Your attachment to a scent can be so deep that it becomes part of your identity. If you go through a breakup, the last thing you want to do is smell something that makes you feel sad. Switching your perfume up is easy. It helps you manage your emotions, lets you stay away from old memories, and allows you to create new ones.


Take a long whiff of the paperback books in that used bookstore or the perfume in that old bottle. It’s a positive side effect of how your brain is wired that memories start flooding back to you. Thanks to our olfactory memories, we are able to choose one perfume out of a million, because in a seemingly inexplicable way, it awakens something in us when we smell it.


Written by Beckii Jane