The Science of Scent: How The Right Scent Improves Your Mood

Do some scents remind you of a place and all of a sudden you're swept away in memory? Scents are THE MOST POWERFUL MEMORY TRIGGER. More powerful than hearing your old favorite song or seeing a photo of the street you grew up on. More powerful than touching your old blanket from when you lived back at home.

If you smell your grandpa's old pipe, or the vinyl of your first car, or even the dusty paths at camp, you're suddenly back there in that beautiful moment.

It's powerful stuff.

Scents trigger an involuntary reaction of memory... and most of the time, these memories are pleasant. Those scents I described above? They're what scent researchers call "autobiographical scents." That means if your life was written in a book of scents, we'd rip out a page and read it back to you.

Recently, I've been working with the researcher responsible for this paper, Rachel Herz. I read her paper many times since it had been published (though most of it is admittedly over my head), since it validated so much of what we built this business on: When People Add Evocative Scents to their Lives, They Feel Better.

That's why we did the campfire soap and the soap that smells like a tack room.

We knew if we could capture people's favorite memories in scent, we could really build something special.

Scent As Therapy

As it turns out, scent can be used for all sorts of therapeutic purposes, too. That's people who suffer from PTSD love our soap. Every time they use our real-life inspired scents, they get to re-write those neural pathways. The scent of gunpowder isn't an anxiety-inducing experience anymore, it's a way to connect a real-life experience with a pleasurable experience.

Beautiful, right?

Late last year, I talked with the founder of a company who is working on OVR -- that is, Olfactory Virtual Reality. This combines the memory triggers of scent with virtual experiences, literally creating different scent/experience combinations.

The brain's amazing, isn't it?

That's why I'm so excited about our new Life on the Mountain experiment. We've been working with Rachel on this new idea of a scent that changes with the seasons. She says it hasn't ever been done before... pretty cool, right?

How About Aromatherapy?

Lavender is calming.
Orange is invigorating.
Rose inspires emotion.
Pumpkin Spice inspires suede slouch boots.

You've undoubtedly heard about aromatherapy. This is one of those chicken-and-egg situations... if you smell lavender in enough calming situations, you'll associate it with calmness. You'll be writing those calming neural pathways.

If you feel calmed by riding a horse and working with leather, you'll be calmed by the scent of leather.

If it works for you, hey, it works for you. But I'm here to tell you that these scents don't include any inherently calming properties.

What's your favorite scent? What scent calms you? What scent invigorates you?

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