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How We Choose a Signature Scent

Alison Alhamed | July 10, 2011 | 8:38 PM

Our sense of smell is truly incredible. Aroma can trigger such powerful and emotional responses that can be pleasant or unpleasant depending on our own individual experience. For me, the first time I smelled CND’s Lavendar and Jojoba hand and body lotion, I had a startling recognition of the scent.

The fresh floral fragrance sent me right back to when I was about 5 years old, sitting on a piano bench with my piano teacher Marilyn Landis, swinging my feet back and forth as my legs were still too short to reach the piano pedals. Marilyn always wore a perfume that became known as her signature scent—and it had such a calming, soothing effect on me.

I took piano lessons for a few years, and although I never was very good at playing the piano, I loved going to Marilyn’s house to sit next to her on the bench and hear her laugh at my silly jokes and smell her pretty perfume.

After I stopped taking lessons, I would often think of Marilyn at random times, and it was always directly related to that oh-so-familiar scent.

It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I saw Marilyn again. She had been diagnosed with leukemia and had gone through several bouts of chemotherapy that had caused her to lose her hair. When I saw her, she had a scarf tied around her head and a big smile on her face.I got up to hug her, nervous that my strong arms would somehow hurt her as they wrapped around her tiny body. But, as soon as I embraced her, I smelled that same familiar perfume she had worn throughout my childhood, and was at ease.

When I first smelled CND’s Lavendar and Jojoba hand and body lotion, I knew I had to own it because of how much the light floral fragrance reminded me of Marilyn.

“It's interesting to note that olfactory cells are the only place in the human body where the central nervous system is in direct contact with the external environment,” says certified aromatherapist Dee S. Braun. “When we detect the smell of something, there is a direct contact between the molecules of scent and our own receptors. When a fragrance is inhaled, micro-molecules of essential oils travel through the nasal passages to the limbic system of the brain, which is the seat of memory and emotion. Smell takes a direct, physical route to the brain because they employ nerve cells as transmitters and receivers.”

What is your signature scent? What does it remind you of? Why do you wear it?

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