Perfume Regression: How Throwback Scents Can Affect Your Mental Health

Have you ever smelled something and instantly been transported to another, more positive time and place? This is called perfume regression, and it could be the thing you need to help you feel less overwhelmed, more relaxed, and generally calmer. 

Whether you're a perfume expert or a casual spritzer, perfume regression can affect anybody. Explained simply, perfume regression is when you encounter a scent that has ties to a previous positive memory, usually from when you were younger. This scent can be anything; for example, a vanilla perfume that is linked to the memory of your mom hugging you as a child, or a perfume with cherry blossom notes reminding you of being outdoors surrounded by beautiful scenery. The idea that perfume can affect your mood isn't just a theory, either — studies have shown that scent can have a powerful effect on your mood and well-being. 

We've got all the info you need on how perfume regression works, alongside a few scents that may give you positive nostalgia-associated memories from happier times.

Thinking about your past could make you feel better

In a 2016 study undertaken by neuroscientists at Brown University, it was found that scents associated with positive memories have the "potential to increase positive emotions, decrease negative mood states, disrupt cravings, and reduce physiological indices of stress." That definitely sounds promising, especially in today's world where stress is an all-too-common factor in life. As well as the above connection, the study found that being nostalgic and generally reminiscing "bolsters self-esteem, strengthens the connection between one's past and present, produces feelings of social connectedness, elevates optimism, and infuses life with meaning." Basically, thinking about past positive memories can be very good for us. 

So, how exactly does this fit in with perfume? Much like how you associate certain scents with particular people like, say, your mom or your grandad, your own memories mixed with certain scents create a powerful combination. Interestingly, scent designer Dawn Goldworm revealed in her TED Talk that our sense of smell is fully developed from 12 weeks in the womb. Our strong connection to smell is something we have had since birth, which could be an additional reason why the idea of perfume regression seems so appealing.

Tapping into your past with a scent could be the key to happiness

There are plenty of fragrances created to take you to a different time, and one of the most popular variations of this scent is "Missing Person" by Phlur. Described as "a delicate, yet addictive fragrance that evokes the lingering scent of your lover's skin," the first release batch sold out in five hours, per Grazia Daily UK. It contains top notes of skin musk, jasmine, and bergamot, a heart of cyclamen, neroli blossom, and orange flower, and base notes of blonde wood, white musk, and sandalwood. 

Likewise, Maison Margiela's entire Replica perfume line is based on evoking memories, especially the "Autumn Vibes" perfume, which is designed to bring you back to nature with top notes of pink pepper and coriander, middle notes of carrot, nutmeg, and frankincense, and base notes of cedar wood, oak moss, and balsalm. Another Replica fragrance that will bring back fond memories of playing outside as a child is "When The Rain Stops," which mixes aquatic accord, patchouli, pink pepper, and rose to create the unique smell you only encounter post-rainfall.

Keep a perfume that reminds you of a happy memory close by so you can get an instant positivity boost the next time you feel stressed or down.