They say actions speak louder than words, but did you know that your body’s smell might be just as telling? A person’s smell can tell you more than just what cologne they’re using. It can also tell you a lot about their health, and even what emotion they may be feeling.
Our body’s scent consists of 3 layers, which all come from the skin. First is the surface level which we regulate by taking showers and/or using deodorant. Then there is the middle level of our smell which is dictated by more cultural factors like what we eat and our living environment. At the heart of these two scents is what is known as a person’s baseline smell.
Every person has their own unique baseline smell. It’s kind of like a thumbprint which helps people recognize others, through their nose. Baseline smells may be the reason why we associate feelings with certain people whenever we smell a particular scent.
Moms have been recorded to recognize clothing their baby has worn purely based on smell. Babies also have this sniffing superpower, recognizing their mother’s scent among others. One study also found that people who have similar baselines are usually able to become friends faster!
Other than having our own unique scent, scientists have also observed that there may be a general smell that people secrete whenever they are scared or anxious. Research also finds that the same can be true when we are feeling happy. These emotions may overwhelm us so much that it overtakes our natural smell.
Another way our body’s smell outs us is by indirectly letting others know about our health. The way our bodies smell may change depending on the state of our immune system. Some trained professionals (and even highly trained dogs) have the ability to diagnose a sickness based on a person’s scent alone.
Sometimes people may smell a bit unappealing which may cause us to keep our distance—whether you intended to or not. Our avoidance of unpleasant smells (especially those caused by an unhealthy body) helps us avoid risking the safety of our own immune systems.
If our smell has something to do with our emotions, it might be logical to ask if it can tell us anything about love too. Funnily enough, this is closer to the way that smell dictates a person’s immune system rather than how it reveals our fear, anxiety, or happiness.
Scientists have found that straight women were generally more attracted to straight men whose smells were dictated by genes that differ and complement their own. This is due to the remnants of an evolutionary trait. Since people’s genes are a combination of their parents, having two parents whose genes differ from one another and complement each other’s would mean that their children would have stronger immune systems and would be more likely to survive.
Although it may be important to note that our noses aren’t the only things that determine who we end up with. While a person’s scent may tell us one thing, the preferences of our other senses, and various real-life scenarios, may tell us something else completely.
Of course, it is also important to take into account that most people use scented products in their daily routine. While it may still be possible to tell a lot about a person based on their fragrance choices, it also begs the question: does the existence of scent masking products make the meaning making based on smell more difficult or unreliable?
With all the numerous products available to help us mask our body’s natural smell, the secret language of scent may be becoming a tad obsolete. Don’t put all your money on the power of your nose just yet!
How would you describe your signature scent?
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