By: Sherika Tenaya
When it comes to sensory pleasures, our sense of smell is often overlooked in favor of the more “flashy” sensory inputs: our deceiving, yet compelling, sense of sight; our practical and informative sense of touch that lacks nothing except imagination; our gluttony of pleasurable tastes, misleading us all too often to trade in long lasting health for flavor.
And yet, odor can deliver directly to the brain in a way that none of the other senses can. In each of the upper air passages of the nose, there is a dime-size patch of olfactory membrane that contains more than 10 million olfactory nerve cells, each of which comes equipped with about a dozen hairs, or cilia, upon the exposed end that are equipped with receptors. Fragrance, which can be imagined as a diffusion of gaseous molecules, caresses these receptors until they fire, sending their signal right to the brain. Our sense of smell is actually quite sensitive, as well: we can detect up to one part of fragrant material in 10,000 billion parts or more.
This olfactory membrane is the only place in the entire human body where the central nervous system comes into direct contact with the environment. All other sensory information initially comes in through the thalamus. So by the time we are aware of a smell, our bodies have long since received and reacted to it. Perhaps this is why in the French language, the same verb, sentir, means both “to smell” and “to feel”.
Because of this direct effect on our brains and our psyches, scents have been used not only therapeutically to enhance mood and recall memories, but also to invite sexual intimacy between partners, and even in religious ceremony.
Unfortunately, because scent speaks to us in a language, not of words, but of abstract images and associations, the scientific method has a hard time verifying the uses attributed to certain scents, since different people have markedly different reactions to the same scent based on their life experiences.
However, it is widely known that mammals release sexual olfactory signals called pheromones - from the Greek pherin, “to transfer”, and hormon, “to excite” - pheromones are volatile chemical substances that are produced in the body to evoke a response, usually sexual, in members of the same species. Therefore, it is no surprise that most high end perfumes and scented products contain ingredients that mimic them. Sandalwood, for example, like that used in our Oriental Spice fragrance line, is remarkably similar to androsterol, a human male pheromone.
Interestingly enough, some scents are deemed to be aphrodisiac in nature because they replicate the smells of our erogenous zones, areas of sweat and hair and the natural smells that abound there. This is due to an earthy scent component called indol which is found in many of the most beautiful flower absolutes, such as jasmine and orange flower. It is said scents that contain indol enhance our body’s natural scent profile, rather than covering it up.
Enjoy the enlivening and enhancing effects of indol-containing orange flower, infused beautifully with another known aphrodisiac - blood-heating cinnamon - in our lovely collection of bath soaks, the perfect gift to inspire intimacy on Valentine’s Day. You will find our sample set of bath soaks also includes lavender, one of the most potent scents we carry for inducing relaxation, lifting mood, and fomenting deeper intimacy with our loved ones.
When it comes to romance, perhaps there is no greater love laden scent than rose. One need only to read the impassioned depiction of roses written by chemist and perfume writer, Paul Jellinek, to understand the sway roses hold over our sensual imagination, “The opulently rounded shapes of the petals of a rose in full bloom are suggestive of the mature female body and their rich red color evokes thoughts of lips and kisses. The austere form of the bud before blooming, which only subtly hints at the rounded abundance and fragrance of full maturity, and its opening to amorous life, exhuming a ravishing scent, are external manifestations of the flower’s life processes which man sees and senses and which stimulate his erotic fantasies.”
Perhaps it is this reason our glycerine rose water line is our top seller, not only as a gift given to a well-loved woman, but also as a reminder to that same woman to love herself and recognize her own sensual nature.
Eroticism aside, rose is considered a heart note in perfumery, with far-reaching effects that are oftentimes unexpected. In the words of famed perfumer Mandy Aftel, “Heart notes give body to blends, imparting warmth and fullness. In their boldness, sexiness, sincerity, and dearness, they are the perfect metaphor for - no, embodiment of - passion. When you put them into a blend, you’re literally putting the heart into it; they are the tie that bonds.”
Partners can spend this Valentine’s Day rekindling the ties and bonds of intimacy by exchanging a sensual massage using our rose-scented silky body cream, using a combination of both scent and touch to allow for relaxation, induce trust, and invite ease into the day.
For those who may not be so enamored with the scent of rose, simply substitute our delectable French Vanilla, a scent worn well by members of both sexes. With its aroma, rich and sweet, combined with a woody, tobacco-like, balsamic body note, this scent engenders feelings of warmth, comfort and safety.
Whatever your plans this upcoming Valentine's Day, find the time to cherish and spoil those you love, but most of all, yourself. Only by being deeply rooted to your own sensual nature, can you be a fun and curious playmate in helping others discover theirs with you.