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  1. #1

    Default How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    How long will it take and what is the best method of "educating" your nose to recognise individual notes.
    Last edited by afraafra; 30th July 2008 at 12:36 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to pick up and identify individual notes


  3. #3

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    The best thing to do would be get a large set of essential oils and familiarize yourself with as many as possible. Once you are familiar with them, you will be able to pick them out amongst other fragrances, and also be able to use them to detect new accords you haven't smelled before.

  4. #4

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    purplebird7 started a thread on the Female Discussion Forum which may be helpful to you: Note Identification Project - Please Join In!
    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, ...... I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. - Robert Frost

  5. #5

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to pick up and identify individual notes

    ....
    Last edited by jenson; 30th July 2008 at 02:01 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    It takes years - no joking
    The most simple way to smell fragrances, try to describe what you smell reffering the fragrances you know and later compare what your impression with fragrance reviews.
    The better way is to smell a lot of raw materials (essential oils and aromachemicals), try to get famliar with them by describing and making associations. Later you can try to identify them back in fragrances. But if you choose for this way you actually begin to study perfumery. Look how far you want to go and how much money you want to spend for (perfumery books, raw materials, etc.)
    Anais Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom"
    Link to my perfumery blog: http://aromax-on-line.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    The blog NowSmellThis recently wrote an article on this - link here: http://nowsmellthis.blogharbor.com/b...1/3801813.html

    Robin makes a good point at the outset of her article that I tend to agree with:

    ''...I should say at the outset that identifying fragrance notes is hardly a particular skill of mine, and while being able to smell an unfamiliar perfume and immediately pick out all the notes would be a fun kind of parlour trick, it isn't something I'm able to do, nor is it something I really aspire to. I'm a perfume geek in some ways, but that isn't one of them. I don't really think you need to be an expert on fragrance notes to enjoy perfume — in fact, speaking for myself, I find too much knowledge has a way of "killing the magic"
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 31st July 2008 at 02:42 AM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    Buy (or share with others) essential oils and aromachemicals. You dilute them (different concentrations) and start smelling them (on skin, on a strip, on materials (cotton & synthetics). The ideal would be to write a comment on each of them with your own images, your own referees. Example : it reminds me the smell in my grandfather's bedroom. Come back to your samples and to your texts from time to time and adapt them regularly, add a few comments. This database is yours (others won't understand a clue). The more you sniff (everything), the more you'll learn.
    Last edited by Night; 31st July 2008 at 06:27 AM.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to pick up and identify individual notes

    Quote Originally Posted by anak View Post


  10. #10

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to pick up and identify individual notes

    Quote Originally Posted by knightowl View Post
    Great help thanks!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    The blog NowSmellThis recently wrote an article on this - link here: http://nowsmellthis.blogharbor.com/b...1/3801813.html

    Robin makes a good point at the outset of her article that I tend to agree with:

    ''...I should say at the outset that identifying fragrance notes is hardly a particular skill of mine, and while being able to smell an unfamiliar perfume and immediately pick out all the notes would be a fun kind of parlour trick, it isn't something I'm able to do, nor is it something I really aspire to. I'm a perfume geek in some ways, but that isn't one of them. I don't really think you need to be an expert on fragrance notes to enjoy perfume — in fact, speaking for myself, I find too much knowledge has a way of "killing the magic"
    Yes, I agree. I think that's one of the great things about fragrances - you don't need to be an expert to enjoy the heck out of it. It's like skiing, or other sports with a low barrier at the entry level, and lots of enjoyment for beginners. That much being said, I respect the "old dogs" who can do this, and I learn an enormous amount from their reviews. We all aspire to improve, but it should be for our own enjoyment. If note identification every got in the way of my love for fragrance, I'd drop it in a heartbeat.

    Another thing I like is what I call (jokingly) "differential aromanalysis" - because in some sense it's like codebreaking. Find fragrances with clearly identical, isolated notes. Then use that to figure out what's causing the note in both of them.
    * * * *

  12. #12
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    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    One of the difficult things about picking out individual notes is that once they are blended into a fragrance, they are part of a larger whole. This makes them lose a bit of their individuality; some are even altered so much in recognizable odor in combination with certain others that they become very hard to isolate in context. Because there are between 2000 and 3000 individual perfume materials being used in contemporary perfumery, it is doubtful that any one nose would be able to discriminate and name them all, even in isolation.

    Avery Gilbert has put out an interesting book recently (What the Nose Knows) in which he discusses the question of discriminating different scents. He mentions different estimates of how many scents the human nose can theoretically recognize, but he also mentions another factor: the question of being able to name different scents. This apparently has more to do with the speech centers in the brain than with the olfactory lobe, and seems to limit rather severely the number of specifically identifiable (i. e., by name) scents that humans can talk about.

    Anyway, Stuffman is right about getting samples of different scents and practicing recognizing and naming them. A very full collection of these is called a "scent organ" (by analogy with the musical instrument), and is what is used to train noses in traditional perfume houses.

    It does take time, but it's worth the effort to recognize and name at least the most common "natural" notes (from nature or synthetics that mimic natural notes), scent classes (how many different "rose" notes are there, for instance), and accords. Keep at it, and good luck.
    Last edited by JaimeB; 31st July 2008 at 07:19 AM.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    Nobody can recognize all the notes in some blends, so I'll focus on the question concerning notes that "trained noses" can recognize easily. In my case, I purchased a bunch of "cheapos" that got good reviews here on BN, and I basically "studied" them. I certainly made some mistakes in the "early days," but now I'm better than anyone I know at note identification. There are still some notes I need to familiarize myself with, but I don't see any rush to do so, since I'm interested in the experience of the actual fragrance. Another thing to do is to smell a fragrance that is very strong in one note, let's say cinnamon, and to also smell actual ground cinnamon.

  14. #14

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    I honestly scourge basenotes for colognes I want to smell, I look over what notes they have, and then I go to smell them and see if I can truly pick out the notes. I did that for a couple of months, and then I started to do more "blind" tests, where I would first sniff the scent and see if I could relate it to any other scent I had smelled before, and then I would begin to assimilate notes as I smelled them. After a couple months I could pick out most notes in most fragrances, but I'm sure this will not work out for everyone. My mother was a bloodhound, so I have a good sense of smell (and humor?)

  15. #15

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    ...
    Last edited by nthny; 1st August 2008 at 08:48 AM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    Stuffman and JaimieB hit the nail on the head. By far the best way to learn individual notes is to.. work with them individually. Just as we learn letters before words before sentences and before proper grammar, so too is it best to learn notes individually, then accords, and then fully dissect a scent. The problem is, it's more like painting than constructing sentences, in that each individual note is a color and once blended, it is impossible to separate the two notes out into their individual parts. Sure, if you blend a heap of red with a dash of white, you'll get a light red, but at some point it becomes pink - neither red nor white but a new color. So too, do oils. A drop of jasmine alongside linden blossom, citrus and magnolia leaves gave the composition a distinctly berry'ish smell - it was nigh unidentifiable as jasmine grandiflorum. Prior to that, the composition had a citric tea quality, and now it was more like blackberry tea. If that particular blend were to be marketed the marketing team may decide on notes of:

    blackberry, tea leaves,

    While neither oil was actually present there, at all. It is best to keep this in mind when reading a fragrance pyramid. You may smell something that is not listed - that doesn't mean it's not present. You may not smell what is listed - just because it is listed doesn't mean it is there. Take note of how those who explain every note in their review of fragrances with an accompanying pyramid often are at a loss for words when reviewing a fragrance with no notes or pyramid listed. It's a case of.. people smell what they think they smell. I'm not going to say someone will mistake patchouli for say, texas cedar - but for someone to think guaiacwood is actually a tea note? Or to mistake jamarosa root oil for geranium? Wouldn't surprise me at all.
    Last edited by SculptureOfSoul; 1st August 2008 at 04:35 AM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    Quote Originally Posted by SculptureOfSoul View Post
    Stuffman and JaimieB hit the nail on the head. By far the best way to learn individual notes is to.. work with them individually. Just as we learn letters before words before sentences and before proper grammar, so too is it best to learn notes individually, then accords, and then fully dissect a scent. The problem is, it's more like painting than constructing sentences, in that each individual note is a color and once blended, it is impossible to separate the two notes out into their individual parts. Sure, if you blend a heap of red with a dash of white, you'll get a light red, but at some point it becomes pink - neither red nor white but a new color. So too, do oils. A drop of jasmine alongside linden blossom, citrus and magnolia leaves gave the composition a distinctly berry'ish smell - it was nigh unidentifiable as jasmine grandiflorum. Prior to that, the composition had a citric tea quality, and now it was more like blackberry tea. If that particular blend were to be marketed the marketing team may decide on notes of:

    blackberry, tea leaves,

    While neither oil was actually present there, at all. It is best to keep this in mind when reading a fragrance pyramid. You may smell something that is not listed - that doesn't mean it's not present. You may not smell what is listed - just because it is listed doesn't mean it is there. Take note of how those who explain every note in their review of fragrances with an accompanying pyramid often are at a loss for words when reviewing a fragrance with no notes or pyramid listed. It's a case of.. people smell what they think they smell. I'm not going to say someone will mistake patchouli for say, texas cedar - but for someone to think guaiacwood is actually a tea note? Or to mistake jamarosa root oil for geranium? Wouldn't surprise me at all.

    Enlightening and a bit discouraging!

  18. #18

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    It's so hard for me to pick certain things out of fragrances. I wish I had a nose like DULLAH or some others on here... I guess for now I'll just pick out the dominant notes and think "yeah, this smells good"... Frustrating.

  19. #19

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    I'm turning 28 this summer and was an (on-and-off) fragrance buff since I was 14, so "training" my (still very amateurish, especially in relation with certain fragrance notes) nose, took me about half of my known lifespan so far, but this is just an individual example and definitely no standard learning curve

  20. #20
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    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    I have always found it extremely difficult to discern different notes in fragrances.

  21. #21

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    I'm terrible, although I can identify vetiver in anything. I seem to be hypersensitive to the smell of Chrysopogon zizanioides.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to pick up and identify individual notes

    There should be a course!
    Last edited by cybermorph; 24th July 2011 at 07:44 PM. Reason: wrong

  23. #23

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    I smell as I go along building a scent and try to notice what each addition does. In theory, I add enough of one ingredient until it becomes barely perceptible and then go onto another. I keep smelling-strips of each stage of the construction of the scent and then go back and smell it as it evolved. I'm not very good at it, but I seem to be getting better.

  24. #24

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    Some notes are so distinct that they are easier to detect and hard to not notice for me, Neroli is such a note. Every time I smell a fragrance and I detect what I think is Neroli I will check the note pyramid and Neroli will be listed.

    I think that it just takes time to develop this skill. For me many times I smell a fragrance and I write down what I think I smell, and then I view a note pyramid to see if my nose won. Most of the time my nose loses.

    I can easily detect: Neroli, citruses, cinnamon, amber and incense(cuz I detest both very much) and most gourmand notes.

  25. #25

    Default Re: How best to "train" your nose to identify individual fragrance notes

    A good way to train your nose to detect certain notes is to go to the Fragranica website to view the breakdown of notes of the scent you are testing and then smell you fragrance to see if you recognize or identify the notes. Eventually you will begin to recognize different notes like bergamont, amber,musk and build up your scent memory.

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