Sunday, September 13, 2009

Common Scents

David Beckham has 11 fragrances.

Well, actually the 11 are colognes that he lends his name to but I have no doubt he smells reeeeeallllly nice.

I’d already begun to think about discussing scents for this blog when I heard that tidbit. I’ve always been aware of the power of smells and their associated meanings but hadn’t “scientifically” given it any thought. So I did a wee bit of Googling and found a succinct explanation that while visual cues might invoke memories, scents invoke EMOTIONS linked to events in our lives.

Makes sense (er, scents?). When I smell chicken baking and especially the broth for making dressing I’m immediately sent back to my childhood when I was carefree, safe, loved. Or the memory of happiness I feel when I smell wax melded with spring breezes through the window. This one happened every year and I STILL can remember coming home from school after my Mom had done her spring cleaning and lying on the couch sighing in contentment. When my Daddy passed the only thing I wanted was his sweater…which smelled of him.

Not all aromas bring such positive memories. Some of you may know this from experience but every nurse knows that cancer has a smell. When I was a fledgling nurse, I had a patient who used a certain body powder along with this smell. To this day, if I catch a whiff of that powder every sad moment in that lady’s last days comes back to me.

Aromatherapy is big and I buy into a lot of it. Lavender DOES make you feel more relaxed and helps you sleep. A spa I go to for massages has a whole aromatherapy program. You close your eyes and decide which scent you want your massage lotion to contain. Supposedly, your body knows which one it needs. I never know what is in most of them but one time I stopped her after the second one. I said “That one, because it smells like Ireland.” (And no…it wasn’t the scent of Guinness).

Then there are the odors associated with such lovely things as garbage or the teenager with gym shorts that haven’t seen a washing machine since freshman year. And don’t forget the summer time wafting of SKUNK so many of us are blessed with.

But every person reacts differently to different scents and that’s what fascinates me! I mean my “Gosh that reminds me of my best friend’s wedding” might be your “Gak! Reminds me of that guy Stinky Toes I used to date”.

Genetics or perception?

Take the scent patchouli. I’ve seen this referenced in some books lately and in MY mind associated it with a paint or thinner smell. (I don’t think I’ve ever smelled it before). Yet it was brought up in a discussion on a talk show the other day and the host said “It’s a smell you either like or think it smells like sweat socks.”

This predilection toward invoking memories explains why we use them to describe physical and emotional reactions of our heroes and heroines to each other. Spice, musk, citrus, sandalwood, jasmine and…for some authors…patchouli….ups the desire, the need and helps the reader connect. Hmmmm…..David….beneath the sweaty shirt I smell musk and spice and man!
And a hint of soccer ball.

So I favor lighter floral scents, citrus and for the fellas in my life musk. What about you? What do you like? What do you favor on your guy?


limecello said...


Lynz Pickles said...

Congrats, lime. Just don't let him mix the drinks and don't leave any valuables lying about :)

limecello said...

Er... patchouli? Really? That's... not something that screams "SEXY" to or at me. But to each his/her own, right?

Personally I favor light, fruity, and sweet scents. I just like them! My sister berates me regularly and tells me I have the taste of a middle school girl. (Nice sister.) But I have a sensitive nose etc, so musks make me sneeze. Incessantly. And then there are some perfumes that end up smelling like baby powder, or "old lady"... and those aren't fun to be around either.
For guys... I don't know. I haven't really bothered to check too many guy colognes. :X
There's a perfume I like just because it's so unique -
yup - a perfume that smells like chocolate. And it really, truly does. It makes you want to eat it.
Foral scents are ok, but can be dangerous - that whole allergies thing again. But I like Ed Hardy's perfume - in the pink bottle. nom nom nom ;)

I had a wonderful friend in college would I'd go shopping with, and she'd let me smell every perfume in sephora. I'd get light headed and slightly nauseous, but she'd patiently wait for however long it took me. What a dear. I love perfumes. (Though I actually rarely wear them.)

jo robertson said...

Great topic, Joan. I'd thought of blogging on it, too! Great minds and all that.

Scents are so evocative. Whenever I smell honeysuckle (or orange blossom because it's a similar smell to me), I think of my childhood and home.

My daughters still snuggle into my neck when they hug me and say, "Hmmm, smells like mom," since I've worn the same scent for thirty years.

I'll tell my granddaughter Annie to sniff my neck and then ask, "What's that?" She smiles and says, "Grammy Jo."

I tried to keep the scent of my mother's linens long after she passed away so I could remember her.

jo robertson said...

!!! Lime !!!

jo robertson said...

Oh, and I've heard that psychologists say men's arousal is tied closely to the sense of sight (duh, no surprise there!), but women's is tied to the sense of smell.

MsHellion said...

The cologne that always takes me back to 1990 and all the boys I crushed on: Drakkar Noir. I don't know what it is about that scent, but I love it.

Of course, the guy I date now doesn't wear it...but he doesn't wear anything. He just wear deoderant (good, or we wouldn't date--I'm definitely not in the au naturale camp of deoderant) and soap. He smells clean but male, but good male. Not stinky male. *LOL*

Oh, and this is weird, but I also like the smell of Old Spice.

In general, I like lavender, LILAC, vanilla, sugar cookie, and rain. And I do love the scent of fresh cut hay in July and the sun is setting--so you can smell night coming, but also the hay.

Weird that women's arousal is built in around smell--and that scent is tied to EMOTION. Huh.

Lynz Pickles said...

I've been thinking about scents since reading this post about scents (so funny!) at Racy Romance Reviews and since watching S1E08 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer the other week. In the Buffy episode, Giles says: "Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower of a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell musty and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is... it has no texture, no context. It's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, then the getting of knowledge should be tangible. It should be smelly." (LOVE that quote!)

I don't know what patchouli smells like, but it doesn't sound sexy AT ALL. Seriously. I'm with limecello about not knowing too many guy colognes, but I do know I like slightly spicy scents on guys, as long as they're not too strong. I also like clean, non-cologne-y scents. Again, it's more about them not being too strong than anything else.

I can't stand any perfume in which I can smell the alcohol, so my choices for myself are pretty limited. I hate to admit it, but the only perfume I actually wear is One by *gulp* Mary-Kate and Ashley. Ugh. Can't stand them, but love the scent. According to that site, it's "jasmine and spice" that I like. Again with the spicy scents! And I used to have this hair oil I LOVED from Avon... it was from some "Middle Eastern Spice" line.

Pissenlit said...

I'm a scent junkie. If there's perfume nearby, I have to sniff it. And if it's raining out? I'm often found near an open window,

Straight up, I like lavender and tend to get toiletries in that scent. I blissed-out at the last hotel I stayed at 'cause all their toiletries were in a lavender & citrus scent.

A classmate once dabbed a bunch of us with peppermint oil before an exam. All I recall about that exam is repetitively sniffing and thinking "HEE HEE HEE! CANDY CANES!!!!!" But I wouldn't want to wear that scent and peppermint tea makes me gag so I both very much like and dislike that one.

Perfume-wise, I'm partial to Chanel No. 19(named for her birthday which I share, I decided I had to find out what it smelled like and I'm glad I did), Diorissimo(mum's scent), Organza Ind├ęcence by Givenchy(only in the winter) and I'm currently liking J'Adore by Dior. Oddly enough, no matter how many times I sniff Deep Red by Hugo Boss, I can't decide if I like it or not.

I've never really paid much attention to guy scents(as in, I can't name them) but I've definitely come across some that I like and some that I don't. Burberry has one with a wood cap that smells nice...

Jane said...

Congrats, Limecello.

I also like light and airy scents. I like musk, lavender and several fruity flavors like strawberry and lemon. For the home I like the clean linen and tropical scents.

Christine Wells said...

Joanie, wonderful blog! Yes, I've heard that scent bypasses the logical brain and goes straight to instinct/emotion.

I was very impressed with my husband a whle back. I'd bought him Davidoff's Cool Water aftershave once and years later, when he smelled a sample, he remembered it was the one I'd given him.

I don't usually have a very sharp sense of smell except during pregnancy and then you just wish you could turn it off!

Great blog, Joanie T!

Suzanne Welsh said...

good morning, Joanie! Or good night, as I'm heading to bed to listen to the rain some more. Oh, wait, rain...mmmmmmmm love the smell of rain.

As a labor nurse I'm very careful about which scent and how much I wear at work. Often a patient has to lean their forehead against my shoulder while they're having their epidural placed. Nothing worse than making them gag while that's happening! So I love the soft scent of Magnolia body spray from Bath & Body Works. It's a light scent, not too cloying or overpowering like say a cinnamon or spicy spray might be.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Ms. Hellion, I too love the smell of Old Spice. My dad was a contstruction plumber and pipe fitter, so he came home from work every day and showered. Then he'd shave a second time and splash on Old Spice. Then and only then would he hug my mom, me and my made me feel secure! (pretty sure he didn't hug my older brother! hehehe)

Emmanuelle said...

I love lavender... it's a very relaxing, soothing scent. I use it in the house and linen mainly.
My favorite parfume these days is Scarlet by Cacharel. It's fresh and light... right for me.
DH uses The one by D&G and I LOVE it. thats' my favorite male scent right now !

Helen said...

Congrats limcello have fun with him

Great post Joanie I love the smell of lavender musk and vanilla, I also love the smell of fresh mowed grass and cakes baking in the oven always remind me of my Mum.
My hubby used to wear Brut and Blue Strass a lot and they always remind me of my younger years way back when LOL.

Have Fun

Joan said...

Morning everyone! {Deep breath} Ahhhh....smells like early fall here in KY.

Lime, congrats on the GR. What scent is he wearing today? I suspect it is one of his faves "Ode de Barnyard"...

Light scents are definately my preference and actually, not so much as perfume but in scented lotions. I have a very light floral lotion from Aveda I like and also the Dream Angel etc. from Victoria's Secret.

As to guys...I couldn't actually name one either but have you ever gotten into an elevator with a guy and caught a whiff? It's kind of embarassing to find yourself leaning toward a stranger.

Joan said...

Ah yes Jo. The scent of Mom.

And as I recall, my own Mom's was more distinct in her neck shoulder too....maybe because as babies that's one place we were cuddled too?

I was sent a reassurance by my Mom after she passed.

She was a devotee of the Blessed Mother and the rosary. It is said that when the Blessed Mother is about you smell roses.

The day after she passed, my brother and I were sitting in my house waiting to go take care of arrangements when the STRONGEST scent of roses wafted through my house.

Odd. I had NO perfumes on, no potpourri out, no FLOWERS out and yet there it was.

It lingered a good 45 min. even following us into my car.

I always took it as a sign from her saying "I'm Ok"

Joan said...

MsHellion I LOVE the scent of rain both incoming and actually falling....

Soap and male is a potent combo.

Several years ago, I invested in a sample of a perfume based on know the essences that attract the opposite sex?

It had a strong vanilla scent (which I don't like aside from cookies or ice cream)and other "secret ingredients"

I'd dab it on and LOATHED the scent ...loathed it. I'm guessing it's because the pherenomes were female and I am not attracted to such.

As to attracting a guy? The only one who seemed to respond was our orderly.....the age of my father..


Joan said...

Lynz, I'm with you about eschewing any scents that are strongly alcohol. Jean Nate sold a lemon scented one YEARS ago that reeked of me.

Joan said...


Peppermint. I think that's suppose to energize. A lot of foot lotions have that but ....I don't like it. Reminds me of having a cold because that's what I use for cough drops.

Joan said...

Hey Jane,

Another light floral/citrus fan.

I love the light scent of lemon for my cleaning supplies.

Freesia is a nice scent too though it almost toes over the line for me between light and medium....

Joan said...

Hey Christine!

Heightened sense of smell during pregnancy. Yeah, poor you.

I get one when I get my migraine. Every...single...scent...I run into is magnified by a thousand.


And big points for your DH equating a scnet with his lady love....BIG points.

Joan said...

Suz...I'll type very quietly so as not to wake you up :-)

Yes, within the hospital you have to be VERY cautious of scents. In fact, I don't wear anything. Post surgical patients are very susceptible to them.

But I can't tell you how many times I'll come into a room to check on my patient...fresh out of surgery...only to find his family/friends chowing down on Taco Tico.

People. Get a clue...

Joan said...


Lavender is soothing. I use lavender scented softners for my laundry.

It's not QUITE as relaxing as linens hung out in fresh air...but it's close.

And I couldn't name a D&G cologne for men but...just the name....spikes my interest. Dolce Galbon

Joan said...

Hey Helen,

Fresh mowed grass...heavenly...even if it makes me sneeze.

What about the scents of baby? I know you've got several snuggling around. And it's not JUST the baby powder...they smell of innocence and sweetness and love.

jo robertson said...

LOL, about Old Spice, MsHellion. I think OS reminds many of us of our fathers, such a popular scent among older men.

My "man" wears a scent called Le Male and it's to die for. It's very expensive so he only wears it on "special" occasions, but I adore it.

Suzanne Welsh said...


At work the other night I had a scene I wanted the nurses to read...actually one nurse, but she kept reading and then everyone else wanted to read, coz she was laughing, and then they got to the scene where I describe the heroine walking into her family's Italian restaurant...

The nurses HAD to order Olive Garden for dinner after reading it!

Such is the power of scent in a scene! hehehe

Louisa Cornell said...

Lime, you got him! What are your plans for him today. And what scent does the discerning GR wear?

Scents do evoke such strong memories, not just to humans, but to animals as well. I lost my wonderful Great Dane - Glory - to bone cancer almost three years ago. She practically raised my cat, Rebecca and my chihuahua, Frodo. Glory's leash and collar still hang on the leash rack by the door. I can't tell you how many times I have caught Rebecca or Frodo rubbing up against it. And Glory had her own pillow on the bed. I didn't wash it after she passed and that is where Rebecca sleeps every night.

I wore White Shoulders and Halston in college and throughout my married life. My DH loved those scents on me. I haven't worn them since he died because they tend to keep the hurt of losing him too near.

My brother gave me L'Air du Temps a few years after Roger died and I have worn that ever since. The funny thing is my brother is this big Southern ex-football player. (They called him Magilla the Gorilla) and he said he was walking by one of those ladies who sprayed perfume and when he smelled L'Air du Temps it made him think of me. He's such a nice guy!

I always think of my maternal grandmother when I smell Sand and Sable. And my Dad's Mom always wore Emeraude.

Here in the house I always have lavender candles and oils burning. Another scent I use in my closets is Clean Linen.

And for me I know it is Christmas and I am home when I smell my Mom's chicken and dumplings cooking just for me. She DOES cook them just for me no matter what my bratty other brother says.

Joan said...

Special occasions, Jo?

LOL, would those involve the 7 kids ya'll have :-)

Joan said...

Well, I'm craving Olive Garden and there isn't one within 15 miles of me...

Garlic and cheese....yum

Joan said...

How sweet, Louisa about Rebecca.

My brother's cat (who I am in charge of this's appropriate)always "marks" me with her tail shimmying.

She's been spayed so I don't believe there is anything there to do it but it's ingrained in her behavior.

And a big awwwww at your brother. How sweet!

And ....add chicken and dumplings to my craving...

~Drew said...

Myself? I wear Elizabeth Arden "Sunflowers" exclusively, nothing else.

Hubby likes to wears scents, and I love to take a deep breath and savor everytime he is near. He still likes Drakkar Noir, Azzaro and now likes some of the Nautica line, he has more scents than I do!

And I like Old Spice, reminds me of my father, he still wears it!

My father-in-law wears Brut...*gag*
drowns himself in it. If Hai Karate was still around, he probably wear that (remember those ads??)
Young guys drench themselves in Axe, too much so in my opinion. Makes my nose hairs want to drop out. A little dab will do you...something young and seemingly some older men, need to learn!

Louisa Cornell said...

Drew, I manage the bakery at our local Wal-Mart and I have to agree that almost everyone who wears Axe drowns themselves in it. Our theory is that a scent should not enter the room 15 minutes before you do nor stay in the room 15 minutes after you leave!

Pat Cochran said...

Hi Joan,

Lighter fragrances (vanillas and
plumeria) for me and the 1960s
version of Old Spice (which was
what Honey was wearing when we
met) for him. The new versions are yucky!

Pat Cochran

Joan said...

Makes my nose hairs want to drop out.

LOL Drew,

I don't know this scent. I remember though my godson when he was SIX wanting to wear cologne and his Mom let him!

I don't know if it was Old Spice or "Sandbox and Crayons" but he went through first grade with three girlfriends :-)

Joan said...

Amen, Louisa!

Not too long ago, we had a mother of a patient who was into essential oils for health.

The nurses were wearing gas masks just to take in his meds.

And then this is always amusing. Patients who rebel at our hospitals no smoking policy, sneak a smoke in the bathroom and then try to "hide" it with copious amounts of perfume. just smells like smoke and perfume. We still KNOW

Tawny said...

Ooooh, scents! I love scent :-) I'm a fan of incense, so patchouli is okay, but I like a little big more floral as a rule.

My mom makes candles so I have a huge box of jar candles and I choose one for each book I write. Then each writing session I sit down and light that candle. The scent, combined with the playlist on my iPod, create a sort of self-hypnotic writing state that puts me back into the story (doesn't necessarily help me write, but it tells me I'm supposed to be writing LOL)

~Drew said...

Good rule Louisa, the '15 minute' rule, LOL! Not just to bash older men, but some older ladies are a little too liberal with the atomizer too, unless I am getting 'scent sensitive' in my older middle years!

Joan, I think 'Hai Karate' was an aftershave out in the '60's and '70's, the ads showed a man having to use karate moves to fight off all the women, actually, the stuff stunk. (at least to me, LOL!)

Seems Axe has copied that, I recently saw and ad where a women were jumping all over a guy wearing 'Axe'. Hmmm.

Ooooo! Candles! Love them, Yankee Candles are my fave!!

Joan said...

Plumeria Pat?

See this is another aspect of scents....what smells lovely on one person, does not on another.

I put plumeria on myself in lotion form one time and the chemical rxn...oh, it was HORRIBLE!

I actually took a shower to get it OFF me!

Joan said...

LOL, Tawny.

I wish I could get all zen with music etc and a candle for each book?

Does your Mom have one called "Ancient Ruins?"

Joan said...

Drew, believe it or not (who's that sniggering out in The Lair?) I am old enough to remember the Hai Karate commercials.

And the Old Spice...wasn't that the one with the dark, sexy sea captain coming home from sea to let his woman sniff him?


Suzanne Welsh said... just smells like smoke and perfume. We still KNOW..

Hehehe...and they don't know we know, they really will look right at your face and say, "No, I wasn't smoking." When my mother gave up smoking...a few months later she was near someone she used to smoke with and realized how badly she smelled. She asked me, "Did I smell like that?" I'm her daughter, so I said, "Yep! Sure did!" She couldn't believe it.

Joan said...

Yeah, sometimes for kicks I play along..

"Oh, my. Really? YOu weren't smoking *cough, cough*" Oh, ok"

Nancy said...

Joan, interesting topic. I've actually been on a rant about scents lately. As in, they're everywhere. Finding unscented liquid detergent for the laundry is like taking the Ring of Power to Mount Doom--the odds aren't in your favor.

I switched from a national brand shampoo to store brand when the national brand put not only conditioner, which left my hair limp, but scent, which had the lining of my nostrils twitching when I opened the bottle, into it.

Now the store has added scent--but at least without conditioner and a less aggravating one than the national brand has. What's wrong with plain old un-freakin-scented cleaning products??

With all these competing scents, how does anybody smell like any one thing? Aack!

Nancy said...

But as to your question--My dad liked Old Spice, so I liked that for guys. Dated a guy who used Brut, and that was fine. I don't especially care if a guy's wearing a scent as long he smells clean.

For me, I share limecello's preference for light and/or fruity. I like lavender. And roses, just not heavy.

Pat Cochran said...


My niece gave me a bath/body set
including bath powder, all with the
plumeria scent. I have lots of
allergies, especially to perfumed products. This particular product
is light, floral and works for me.
No allergic reactions!

Pat Cochran

Pissenlit said...

Drew - Young guys drench themselves in Axe, too much so in my opinion. Makes my nose hairs want to drop out. A little dab will do you...something young and seemingly some older men, need to learn!

*shudder* I was SO glad when my baby brother grew out of that phase. The deodorant body spray wouldn't let you put a bit on, a spritz was a massive nose hair dissolving horror. I used to be able to tell when he put it on in his room and opened the door...from the other side of the house.

Pissenlit said...

Nancy - Finding unscented liquid detergent for the laundry is like taking the Ring of Power to Mount Doom--the odds aren't in your favor.

Ugh, last shopping trip, we had that problem with fabric softener and had to buy the regular scented kind. The scent makes my nose itch nonstop. Each laundry load, I dither between going without and throwing in half a sheet followed by a vigorous hand-washing.

Nancy said...

Pat, I have allergies in general, and my sinuses react to strong scents. I once sat by a woman at a play (assigned seats, so we couldn't move) who had probably drenched herself in perfume, the scent was so strong. I'm sure it was expensive perfume, to judge by her gown and fur, but it was also, at least for me, excessive. My nose itched the whole time and started running about halfway through.

Any really strong scent makes my nose itch. Lighter scents, I'm okay with, usually. And I do like scented soaps and bath gels, which don't tend to be so overpowering.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Joanie and Everyone!

I just came from my In-Person launch party and no doubt smell heavily of... PIZZA! LOL!

I sooo agree that certain scents trigger emotions for me. That's why my favorite scent of all is the ocean. There's something about salt-tinged air that I just LOVE! I too love the smell right after a fall or spring rain. Not so much the winter, since it tends to rain for days, non-stop.

OMG, Drew! My ex wore Hai Karate! UGH! NASTY stuff! And my grandpa wore Aqua Velva. Anyone remember that? I loved that one!

My mom was an Avon lady for 25 years so I had more than my share of every fragrance Avon ever made. Most of them I didn't mind, but "Roses, Roses" used to give me a headache. I LOVE real roses, but not the artificial scent.


Becke Davis said...

I'm really late. I like musky scents as well as citrus -- one of my favorites is called Eau Sauvage.

Keira Soleore said...

I'm later, Becke. :)

Lime, have you and Helen decided who between you has had the GR most of her place?

Joan, this was a fun one. I've realized that over the years, my tastes have changed. When I was younger, I prefered really light fragrances. In my early twenties, I was very much into the fruity/floral ones (think: Victoria's Secret). In my late twenties, complex fragrances were my shtick (think: J'Adore by Christian Dior). My early thirties were characterized by Eau de Baby (yes, Johnson & Johnson). Nowadays, I have a select few and stick with those: Plumeria-vanilla from a small company in Hawaii and a discontinued pina-colada by another boutique-y place called Tropical Sensations.