Scents & the Psyche

Have you ever come home from a holiday, only to re-discover your ‘home smell’? Why exactly does your nose adjust to its surroundings? In order to understand why, we need to look at the journey of scent and how exactly our brain processes it.


 Don’t underestimate the power of scent…

Our ability to smell is the oldest1, yet least understood of all the senses, more so than touch, sight and sound. Scent is powerful and evocative, providing a backdrop to our lives by binding specific smells to memories, both good and bad. It can remind us of forgotten faces, help change our mind-set, or even warn us of any potential dangers around us which could be something as trivial as expired milk, or something more life threatening such as the smoke from a raging fire.

How does your sense of smell work?

As you breathe in your nose sucks up a cloud of scent molecules and in an instant can identify complex, individual smells. Scent molecules are all around us, things like flowers and coffee emit tiny scent molecules that enter our nasal passage and land on the olfactory epithelium. This small area of tissue (about the size of a postage stamp) is covered in mucus, and contains over 40 million receptor cells that are capable of binding to specific odour molecules like a lock and key2. For example in order to smell coffee in the morning, a collection of unique scent molecules needs to bind to specific receptors in order for the brain to identify the fragrance of coffee.

Once the olfactory receptors bind with specific odour molecules, they send electrical impulses to a region of the brain called the olfactory bulb. This part of the brain interprets patterns in electrical activity as specific odours and olfactory sensation becomes perception – something we recognise as smell3. This is where the power of smell comes into its own as the olfactory bulb is linked to the amygdala, which processes memory and emotion, as well as the hippocampus, known for its crucial role in learning – no wonder 75% of the emotions we experience daily are impacted by smell4.

Becoming nose blind

But why is it that our brain can get used to certain smells? Your home for example, walking through the front door at the end of the day your nose may be hit with a burst of fragrance, but soon enough this can become less and less noticeable.      

There are over 10,000 unique scents that the human brain can identify5. Becoming ‘nose blind’ is natural and can be considered a ‘sensory adaptation’ – reduced sensitivity to things we repeatedly see, hear and smell6.  An adult can have 18,000-20,000 litres of air pass through their nose each day7, which can get tiring on the brain if it is having to process every odour repeatedly. In order to reduce the amount sensory stimuli, the odour receptors stop sending messages to the brain about lingering scents, instead focusing on unique smells that are ‘out of the ordinary’.

What makes Air Wick Life Scents different?

Unlike ordinary home fragrances, the Air Wick® Life Scents collection has been carefully crafted to mimic real life experiences. Life Scents fragrances deliver a constantly changing fragrance experience. Each Life Scents fragrance contains three distinct fragrance accords that are easily experienced on their own. However the notes also work together to provide one harmonious, multi-layered fragrance experience that evokes unique, personal memories.

Life Scents® is the first constantly changing fragrance from Air Wick that acts like real life. It uses breakthrough technology that fundamentally changes how perfumers develop and think about fragrances. Life Scents uses a blend of ingredients that constantly change to deliver a truly multi-layered experience so that at any moment you might smell something different, for example, maybe baked pears or vanilla.

Air Wick Life Scents is available for the Freshmatic® and plug-in devices, with re-fills so you can always have a consistent, long-lasting fragrance for your home. Just set the air freshener to your preferred fragrance intensity setting and enjoy while the changing scent fragrances your home.   

Life Scents™ is now available in the following fragrances:

Say 'Welcome Home' with Mum's Baking. Vanilla, Pie Crust, Baked Pear. Enjoy the aroma of caramelised pears with a hint of spice, baked inside a crumbly, buttery pie crust topped with cool vanilla cream. The fragrance creates a sense of cosiness and could inspire warm childhood memories at home.

Say 'Stay a While' with Summer Delights. White Flowers, Melon, Vanilla. Use this scent to help transform your home into a garden on a beautiful, breezy summer evening with its cool, fruity, floral combination of fresh melon slices, white flowers, and vanilla ice cream.

Say 'Relax' with Sweet Lavender Days. Red Currant, Lavender Petals, Spun Sugar. Let the intoxicating aroma of endless lavender fields, layered with dewy summer berries and warm sugar cane, help create a sense of comfort, freshness and relaxation in your home.

Say 'Cool Down' with Lush Hideaway. Wild Berry, Coconut Water, Fresh Mint. Let the invigorating aroma of wild berries, fresh garden mint and splashes of refreshing coconut water help create a cooling effect within your home, transforming it into a lush rainforest.

Say 'Summer is Near' with Turquoise Oasis. Driftwood, Sea Spray, Warm Breeze. Help turn your home into a seaside retreat as a warm breeze carrying salty sea spray washes over you, bringing with it the invigorating aroma of weathered driftwood.

Say 'Drift Away' with Linen in the Air. Juicy green apple, crisp linen and airy breeze. Capture the scent of fresh, air-dried linen in your home with the vibrant scents with this bright cheerful medley of fresh laundry, apple and fresh air.