How Scents Trigger Memories

How Scents Trigger Memories

Have you ever smelled a certain perfume or scent and been immediately transported back to another time or place in your life? A spritz of your first ever perfume may send you whizzing back to your high school days whilst the smell of freshly baked cakes can bring back cherished childhood memories of baking cupcakes with your grandmother as a small child.

Fragrance Memories As Early as Four Years Old

Of all five sense, your sense of smell has the strongest link to your memory. When you smell something, it sends signals to the brain’s smell centre – the olfactory bulb, which is directly linked to areas of the brain that control emotion, memory, mood and behaviour. This explains why smelling something can trigger vivid memories and emotions.

In our recent survey featuring over 3,200 entrants, almost half of respondents (49%) reported that their earliest fragrance memories were formed between the ages of four and eight years old.

Less than 1% of people had a fragrance memory before the age of four and 27% of respondents cited remembering their first fragrances from between the ages of eight to 12 (27%). Meanwhile, the remaining 23% of people said that their earliest fragrance memory only dates back to being 12 years or older.


Evoking Happy Memories with Fragrances

Whether you have vivid scent-related memories from the age of 4 years old or only recall your first fragrance memory from the age of 14 years, there’s no denying the strong association between our sense of smell and memory. That’s why it’s so important to choose fragrances that remind us of happy times. For instance, floral scents may bring back heartwarming memories of a loved one whilst the scent of coconut could remind you of family holidays at the beach.

As predicted, our survey found that the smell of coconut reminded 41% of respondents about Summer and going on holiday. Knowing all of this, you can take control when choosing new fragrances by opting for scents that you know will remind you of your favourite person or place, evoke a happy memory, or lift your mood.

Find Your Favourite Fragrance

When asked about their favourite scents, participants voted for perfumes or body products as their preferred scent (46%) followed by the freshness of the outdoors at 33 percent. Food and cleaning products featured a close third and fourth with 10% and 9% respectively. Surprisingly, the fragrance of loved ones featured bottom of the pile of favourite fragrances with just 2% of the vote!

If you understand what your favourite fragrances are, you’ll never have trouble choosing the perfect scented bath and body products for you. To learn more about different fragrance families such as floral, fresh and oriental, and how to find the perfect one for you, read our guide to Fragrance Families.


I LOVE’s brand story draws inspiration from the essence of favourite memories and experiences. Our sense of smell is one of the most powerful senses we possess. As fragrance specialists, we pride ourselves on conducting research to help us better understand you, our customer, and ensure we launch products that we know you will love.

Find Your Fragrance

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