What do pumpkin pie and Chanel No5 perfume have in common? According to a recent study comprised of a group of American college students, the aroma/fragrance of those two items are at the top of a list of scents that evoke nostalgia. Also on the list are lavender, roses, baby powder, and apple pie .
Scents really do take us back in time. Anyone possessing a sense of smell likely has his/her own story of a scent that jolts them back to childhood, a first love, a favorite place, or best memory.
My story is the fragrance of fresh lilacs. Until I turned 20, I lived off and on with my grandmother Elizabeth. My bedroom in her home was a wonderfully-filled space of light since it had windows on three sides. The back window overlooked a huge lilac bush. Each spring I looked forward to the scent of the blooms being carried by the air through my open bedroom window.
Even today I can bury my nose in a bouquet of lilacs and vividly recall myself in that bedroom, first playing with dolls and then later playing 45s on a portable record player.
A friend I once worked with is a talented gardener. Until she retired, each spring she brought me a bouquet of her lilacs from her own garden. Those simple bouquets meant more to me than any expensive flower arrangement I’ve ever received. Thank you, Nancy C.
I know that some people suffer terrible reactions to certain fragrances. We DO live in an artificially-smelled-up world! There are a few perfumes and colognes that adversely affect me as well. I’m not sure of the names of the bothersome items, but I think the underlying scent is musk.
And of course, some people wear too darn much fragrance! A former male colleague wore such a heavy dose of strong cologne that I held my breath as we crossed paths in the hall. The scent of him lingered long after he passed by. People joked about it. They’d sniff the air and say something like, “Oh, I guess Todd is in the office today.”
In coaching people about their image regarding jewelry and fragrance, I remind them of an adage I heard once: “If you can be heard or smelled before you’re seen, you have on too much.”
Recent studies show that all these artificial smells can pose a danger to us. From creams for our faces, hands and bodies to dish and laundry detergents and everything in between, we’re smelling a lot! And much of it is not good for our health.
The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. Much of their work deals with the ingredients in products and the effects those ingredients have on our bodies. You can search for products on their site, EWG.org/skindeep.
EWG assigns a hazard score for a product. The Chanel No5 perfume ended up a 6 which is on the high end of the moderate risk. The perfume’s slogan is “the now and forever fragrance.” So maybe its scent is such a long-lasting one that you CAN take it with you to whatever forever you go to!
To my readers: What scent or fragrance evokes a special memory for you?