Pick the perfect scent: can’t find a scent that suits you? Follow this advice from a top expert – Beauty Rx
Among the thousands of odors our noses can recognize, why — and how — do some scents appeal to us more than others? We asked Theresa White, Ph.D., an olfactory (sense of smell) researcher in Syracuse, N.Y.
THE BASIC FACTS
Scent molecules are drawn from a fragrance into the nasal cavity, where they bind with olfactory receptors. These receptors send signals to the olfactory bulb. It’s here that the scent information is organized for analysis, first by the limbic system (the part of the brain that affects emotions and memory), and then by the cortex (where thought processes occur). That’s why a certain scent may conjure up a memory or feeling.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
There are reasons why we choose the fragrances we do:
* Personality Because smells are processed through the emotional control centers in our brains, scent preferences are unique to each of us.
* Others’ reactions A compliment, for example, can be associated with a scent, swaying our perceptions of it.
* Memories The feelings we get from a scent are usually learned from past experiences.
* Admiration of others Wearing a scent that we associate with someone helps us feel closer to him/her.
You can find your perfect fragrance. Beauty Rx:
1. Experience different fragrance families. Each note falls into one or more categories: floral, oriental (spicy), fruity, citrus, green or woody. Ask a sales representative to bring you an example of each and let your likes/ dislikes lead you from there.
2. Complement your personality. Do you tend toward the exotic? Spicy notes like clove and patchouli found in Black Cashmere Donna Karan ($52; at department stores) may suit you. Feeling flirtatious? Sample floral/fruity scents like Avon Pink Suede ($19.50; avon.com). Drawn to classic styles? Vanilla is a favorite. It’s found in Bond No. 9 Broadway Nite ($45 per ounce; 877-CREEDNY).
3. Create your own scent associations. Relax with a scented candle, for example. After a few times, just taking a whiff of the scent will help re-create the feelings linked to that moment — no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
RELATED ARTICLE: WHAT WORKS
“The right scent truly enhances an experience,” says Theresa White, Ph.D., who researches both the physiological and psychological effects of scent. (She’s an assistant professor of neuroscience and physiology at State University of New York Upstate Medical University and of psychology at Le Moyne College, both in Syracuse, N.Y.) “People who can’t smell explain how their world is cut down to black, white and gray,” white says. No wonder; the more senses you enlist to experience something, the more vivid it becomes, and smell is one of the most important, she explains. Her advice: Use the scents around you to enhance your experiences. Inhale deeply after a spring rainstorm to appreciate the change of seasons, or spritz on a rich perfume to accompany the high you get from wearing that favorite dress.
SENSE OF SMELL
2. limbic system
3. olfactory bulb
4. olfactory receptors
5. nasal cavity
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