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The Paradoxical Stink

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When I studied learning and cognition in school we studied sensation and perception. One of the things that we learned about was paradoxical hot and cold. This is when you touch something hot and it feels cold or vice versa. So occasionally I feel this applies to my sense of smell. There are some smells that I love so much that if I linger too long with them, begin to turn bad to me...almost skunked. This is not just with happens a lot with my favorite lily.

The reason I say this is that it happened with the fragrance I was wearing today. I would not notice it for a while and them all of the sudden "ah...that's nice" alternating with "oh...I wreak!"

Does this happen to anyone else...lie to me if you have to, but please say yes.


  1. ECaruthers's Avatar
    Yes, of course this happens to all of us. (Hey, there's no penalty for lying on-line.)

    Actually the closest I come is the concentration effect. In reviewing Miel de Bois, Tania Sanchez says that, “Phenylacetic acid smells like honey in dilution, like urine at concentration.” And there are indoles that smell fecal. In good perfumes they're usually used in small concentrations. Maybe when heat, humidity and air flow are just right (or just wrong) the concentration of your scent builds up around you and you suddenly smell the minor note that's been there all the time.

    There's also the effect of getting used to a note and then not smelling it any more. Maybe your nose gets used to the "nice" notes and suddenly only smells the indole or phenylacetic acid. Then it gets used to them and you don't smell anything for a little while.

    What fragrances do this to you, laral?
  2. laral28's Avatar
    Well the one I had in mind when I wrote this was Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia from Estee Lauder. I can't remember a reaction quite as strong with another perfume, but with the Lily that I mentioned (the flower itself) it happens all the time. I know that adaptation occurs with the nose and that's why you stop noticing a scent after a few minutes, so I do like your ideas about smelling the minor notes and perhaps the temp changes are occurring too.

    One additional observation is that I did notice the scent (good and bad) much more frequently than other fragrances I wear. Perhaps there is a note in that fragrance that I am particularly sensitive to.

    All said, I'm a little sad because it is a very nice fragrance and I was considering buying it, but I am not sure I can stand the "see-saw" it puts my nose through..
    Updated 28th August 2009 at 12:19 AM by laral28 (Lily is one of the middle notes...this may be the connection)
  3. Aiona's Avatar
    Yes, it happens to me too. And it's what makes the 4 stars versus 5 stars for me.


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