The human sense of smell has been, and is always, present. It is an animalistic, primal ability which has evolved and developed through the ages. But have you ever questioned why we like some smells and not others? How do we instinctively recognise smells as good or bad? And most importantly - because this blog is ultimately about attraction - do we consciously choose our partners, or is it our noses that do all the work?
We’ve all heard of pheromones and the part they play in attraction. Animal scent behaviour has been studied by many throughout history, and natural selection was believed for a long time, thanks to Darwin, to have given animals the ability to produce just two types of odours; defensive ones and attracting ones
It’s been concluded over the years, that humans engage in very little scent-driven activity when compared to other animals, but is that actually true? Who’s to say we don’t gravitate towards a potential mate in a nightclub because our subconscious is drawn to the enduring essence of Lynx Africa? Or maybe we should consider that perhaps we avoid someone who’s been a little over-zealous with their perfume, because our animalistic instincts are telling us that person has something less appealing to hide?
The truth is, as we go about our daily lives we’re constantly registering different scents in our brains, and we’re constantly giving off scents to others. It’s the combination of scents that aids in attraction. No longer living in the age of our ancestors, our world requires us to wash regularly with fresh scented shower gels, and to smell a certain way to be considered attractive. It’s more difficult for humans than it is for animals. We don’t rub urine on our feet like monkeys (thank goodness), or have a fan of tail feathers like the peacock for when we’re feeling a bit you know. For us, it’s more of a chemical cocktail, or perhaps more appropriately, a fragrance formula:
48% natural body odour
36% food we eat
16% what we put on our skin
= 100% attraction, or perhaps not*
Even though we don’t live in the time of our ancestors, we still have their primal brain functions and similar, if not the same, olfactory neurons they did. We also have the ability to associate certain smells with memories and physiological functions. This is where the fragrance industry enters the story. Have you noticed that a whiff of rose oil reduces your blood pressure, making you feel calmer? Or that eucalyptus can increase your alertness? Scientists have also found lavender contributes to a pleasant mood, but bizarrely lowers mathematical abilities. We’ve been engineered to connect good smells with good health, and many of us tend to choose perfumes that emulate what we associate with the ingredients in the hope that a sexy scent will therefore make us sexy
But on top of all of this, olfactory receptors are different in everyone. That means if your friend is wearing the same perfume you are, you might think it smells better on her than it does on you. But someone else - let’s call him Dave - might think it smells tremendous on you, but not on your friend. Likewise, if Dave’s wearing a fragrance you usually enjoy, but he went for a run and then ate a spicy tuna salad for lunch, you might not find that perfume as enjoyable
So to draw your attention back to the title of this piece; is love really in the air, or do we just smell? We like to think it’s a little of both
There’s an incredible scientific process happening regularly in a portion of our brains, all without us even realising, but we’ll never find that perfect formula for attraction. It’s the old classic ‘you can’t please everyone’, but it won’t stop us from trying. Our February edit is a collection of fragrances which we’ve selected from amongst the most desirable. They’ve been concocted with emotion-enhancing ingredients to help you express sentiments of love to your partner, or potential partner. Sadly, we can’t claim 100% effectiveness because there’s no such thing as a love potion, but we sure do hope they help
*not a scientifically proven formula