Understanding Why Scents Are Nostalgic


Ever wondered why it is that a simple smell can transport you to a memory, a feeling or a specific moment in time? Scents can remind us so vividly of people and places and create an instant moment of nostalgia.

We’re big believers in the power of fragrance and the impact it can have on our happiness, mood and energy, yet sometimes even we’re taken aback by the sudden moment of déjà vu that can wash over us at the trigger of a scent. So, we headed to our lab to quiz the experts on the science behind the nostalgia of fragrance.

wax lyrical lab

If we start by saying that our brains turn smells into feelings, that sets the scene for the how we react to fragrance in the first place. It’s the areas of our brains that process this information that’s even more interesting; of all the human senses, smell is the most connected to memory and emotion.

We’ll get a little bit scientific now, bear with us! When a smell enters the nose it meanders through the olfactory bulb which is part of the limbic system; the emotional center of the brain. It is the olfactory bulb which is closely connected to the amygdala which is linked to our emotional memories, and this is why nostalgia is prompted by fragrance.

scents by memories

As a team of fragrance experts this is hugely interesting to us because it means we can create scents which you will not only enjoy in your home, but which will also whisk you away to fond memories and help you to relive the happiest of days.

Seasonal fragrances in particular can be really powerful for nostalgia; from the fresh scents of spring to the fruity and floral scents of summer, and the magical fragrances of pine and spice at Christmas.

wax lyrical candles

For you personally though, any fragrance could have a very personal memory and will remind you of a specific time in your life that perhaps you haven’t even thought about in a long time. We hear from customers who are reminded of times spent with their grandparents, a summer holiday or their first home. 

Not only does fragrance have an influence over your mood, productivity and relaxation, but it also has a huge power over your happiness. So, next time you’re choosing your home fragrances give a moment to think about which scents will not only suit each room of your home, but which will evoke happiness and nostalgia as they infuse your home too.

Notes from Wax Lyrical 19.12.2019