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Perfume in the Human Mind

Psicología del perfume: cómo funciona el olfato
How do aromas influence our brain?

From the moment we are born, smells mark our lives more than we imagine. Have you ever felt like going back to childhood when you notice that smell of hot chocolate that transports you to the cold winters at home? Or that smell that evokes the sea breeze? Even the smell of wet grass after a storm, which generates peace, calm and the desire to breathe deeply until your lungs fill.

Our most prehistoric and guttural sense is also the one we believe we use the least. And then it hits us in the brain just when we least expect it.

It is the most sensitive sense we have, since the brain connection occurs immediately.

This process works due to the brain's own neurochemistry, triggered by perceived odors, it also influences cognitive aspects such as perception, identification or cultural associations. The latter can exert a powerful influence on the subject's emotional reactions, which is why it is of special interest. Smells identify countries, places, people and even religions.

Although unconsciously, people generate value judgments based on the aroma that a person gives off, as simple as starting a conversation with someone whose smell we dislike creates a negative predisposition and vice versa.

What is the psychology of perfume?

The Psychology of perfume is called the ability of certain aromas to evoke different sensations and memories and also modify our behavior based on it.

An odor is made up of small aromatic molecules. When you inhale a scent through your nose, these molecules travel up the tiny olfactory nerves inside your nose and go directly to the brain's limbic system.

The limbic system is a network of structures that controls some behaviors essential to the life of all mammals, such as finding food and staying alive.

Additionally, the amygdala (organ of the limbic system) connects aromas with an emotion and the hippocampus relates aromas with a memory in memory. Hence, the evocative capacity of smells, which take us back to lived moments and generate vegetative responses in our body that are impossible to control.

It has three essential functions: emotions, memories and excitement (stimulus), which it translates from the information it receives from the external environment.

Consequently, the limbic system links memories with emotions and aromas, making smells remind us of certain situations, places or specific people.

Likewise, there are also certain aromas capable of calming us mentally, and/or that keep us away from anxiety and improve our focus on the present.

Why do we like perfumes?

The right choice of a perfume and its constant use causes emotional well-being and therefore, an ability to be more decisive in life, relieving stress and anxiety.

In addition, it is known to improve mood and make people more likely to be more positive and improve relationships with others because it increases self-esteem.

Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that using a perfume makes you more desirable: Some fragrances act like pheromones, causing the wearer to be perceived as a more attractive person to others.

Likewise, the intensity and duration of the fragrances allow us to remain in contact with our closest people, who inevitably associate our fragrance with us.

We often don't give it importance and only value it when we lose it, like when our nose is blocked: then, the food tastes like nothing and the outside world seems very far away.

Once we recover them, we regain our appetite and feel more positive and with renewed energy.

Neuroscience of Smell

Some of the results of research on the neurological responses of smell are the following:

  • Brain waves: the aroma of jasmine increases beta waves that occur more frequently in states of concentration or high emotionality; while the aroma of sandalwood and pine increases the generation of alpha waves, which is the dominant brain frequency in states of relaxation.
  • Lowers blood pressure with the aroma of neroli.
  • Micro vibration is a fine tremor observed in warm-blooded animals influenced by muscle tension. This indicator decreased with orange and lavender aromas. The aromas of jasmine, chamomile and musk increased the micro vibration and with it, muscle tension.
  • Peripheral vasoconstriction, associated with psychological stress. Jasmine and pepper have relaxing effects.
  • Heart rate: the slowing of the heart rate is favored by sweet aromas, especially roses. With the aroma of lemon it slows down due to greater concentration in the face of an alert stimulus, the mind anticipates.
  • Responsiveness: jasmine reduces the reaction time to a decision while lavender increases it.
  • Learning tests: aromas that were pleasant to the participants increased the ability to memorize. They were lemon, eucalyptus and lily. Lavender, rose and orange were also found to increase mental relaxation while jasmine, chamomile and musk stimulate the mind.
  • Other tests showed that the aroma of heliotrope reduces stress and anxiety .

Smell since the beginning of time

Since prehistoric times, smell has accompanied us and helped us identify food, predators and mates.

Just as then, smell remains one of the most important ways the environment communicates with us.

The sense of smell is, without a doubt, our greatest ally in dealing with the world around us. It helps us relate to the environment. Smells alert us, make us flee or attack, connect us with moments from our past and make us relive feelings and emotions. When we are born, the first thing we do is follow the trail of breast milk. And, thanks to him, we are able to relax just by smelling our mother.

Smell is a sense intrinsically related to the survival instinct .

When humans became a little more sophisticated, they began to use smell to manipulate the body and heal themselves. Many ancient civilizations, such as Egypt, China and India, used aromatherapy to treat many types of disorders such as headaches, pain, insomnia, eczema, stress-induced anxiety, depression and digestive problems.


There are many reasons why we love to use fragrances and all of them are related to a powerful reason: Without a doubt, aromas cause us many sensations associated with emotional well-being and happiness.

Furthermore, they make each person unique, since each fragrance is different: They identify us, give us personality and make us stand out wherever we are.

For these reasons, perfumes have become so popular around the world and have become synonymous with elegance, freshness and class.

Once we find our perfect fragrance, we should not be afraid to use it whenever we need to feel more confident about ourselves. Psychology recommends using our favorite smells just before making an important presentation or going on a date.

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  • wilfred

    Sumamente interesante para el conocimiento del origen de las fragancias , ha sido una herramienta para mejorar mi selección de perfumes .Muy buen artículo .

  • Benjamín Jordán Liniers

    No hay una segunda oportunidad de dar una primera impresión, de ahí en parte la importancia del perfume. Aristóteles decía que nada hay en nuestra mente que no haya pasado antes por nuestros sentidos y sin duda la experiencia sensible influye en nuestra percepción de la realidad y el perfume es esencial en este sentido. En conclusión todo comunica, y si queremos evocar una buena primera impresión es clave el aroma. Excelente artículo, los he leído todos. Gracias por el tiempo al escribir ya que al menos para mi han sido de mucha ayuda los artículos publicados para aprender más.

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