coffee grounds apparently does the trick
Do perfumers have a technique for clearing their "nose palette"? Is there a universal fragrance note that clears the nose so you can smell the next sample "cleanly"? Thanks!
Last edited by Rosehavn; 2nd August 2010 at 04:16 PM.
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coffee grounds apparently does the trick
I'm not a perfumer but I sniff my own sleeve. Works for me.
You can't compare the tongue to the nose. Palette cleansers often do their job by actually cleaning the palette. Sorbets or acidic fruits are common as they work well to remove oils and other flavors off the tongue. Noses have no such luxury.
Coffee is often used under the false premise of a palette cleanser. More likely, in my opinion, their purpose is to "reset" your sense of smell to something universally familiar so the next scent you encounter is easy to isolate. Smelling through your shirt does the same thing. However, repeated and lengthy exposure to multiple scents, including coffee, will result in diminished sensitivity. Your best bet is to go out for some fresh air, let the molecules work their way out of your sinus, then return to sniffing.
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Agree 100% with the fresh air option. Coffee beans actually wears out your olfactory sensitivity even if it does the 'reset' somewhat.
There is a phenomenon I discovered about 2 years ago (though I doubt I'm the first). What you do is to smell two similar frags, one right after the other, and then the notes in the second that are different from the first will smell much stronger than they usually do. The ones in common won't be detectable. So the coffee might be loading up the receptors with molecules that are different from those in most frags, allowing you to smell more frags in a given period of time (once the receptors toss out the molecules from the coffee). However, if it's a coffee frag, I don't think you will smell the coffee note in it. I'll have to try that and see if it's true.
Last edited by Bigsly; 7th August 2010 at 04:36 AM.
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If I'm reading the question right, and judging by the answers provided.. you're wondering if there's a way to get the current smells from whichever fragrance you have decided to wear or sample out of your nostrils?
The best way to get your nasal passages clean is to simply exhale.. hold your breath.. inhale and exhale again. Then move your nose away from your arm (if say you're testing frags on your arm) and get a whiff of the air. This will ensure that there's none of the notes/accords/smells lingering from the other fragrance in your nostrils. Then put on the next fragrance and sniff like hell. Repeat if needed. Always works for me when testing new fragrances.
Or you could just wash your arms off.. But, if say you sprayed your chest and neck, the same breathing exercise will still work. Just try to keep your face and nose as far away from where the smell is coming from as possible. This can be more difficult though during opening top notes of a fragrance, where they project much more.
They take a long break and get some fresh air. This technique was confirmed by people at the Fragonard lab in Grasse when I was there last year.
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The only perfumer I've ever met is Yosh at a Barneys event, and she told me to smell my shirt - that coffee was just some weird thing American department stores made up.
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Not sure if you guys have noticed this, but I find that the more I have sniffed over my years as a BNer, the more I can sniff without needing anything to do a cleanse or taking a breather. I can usually go for quite a while before I need a break - a lot longer than when I started doing this. If I find myself getting punchy in the middle of a session, or the nose seems a bit off, then yeah - I just sniff a blank spot, a shirt, or clean skin. Kind of like zeroing the balance. Then back to work. I almost avoid the coffee anymore, except sometimes right before doing a couple of blank sniffs, too.
I feel like I've learned to take the proper number of blank sniffs to keep things moving along at a good rate. I'll just do inhales and exhales in the right number between one or more sniffs, and then sniff something like the shirt to verify that I'm still sensitive, then return to the frags.
I have theory about that, RP. When I first began my serious adventures in perfume sniffing, I would often hit my "information overload" limit before ever reaching the point of olfactory fatigue. Now that I have more points of reference to make sense of what I'm smelling, I'm less likely to go into "OMG everything smells the same" mode. Olfactory fatigue is the wall I hit; when that happens I deal with it the same way you do -- just breath some clean air -- "blank sniffs," to use your term.
^Interesting idea. I know what you mean. That makes sense, actually. Now that I can sniff a frag and detect multiple points of reference on the first sniff, if one or two of them are missing or still recovering, the others become important and differences are likely to still be immediately apparent. My olfactory blind spot is no longer likely to cover all of my olfactory vision. Very interesting thought.
Step outside for some fresh air - according to Luca Turin. He says sniffing coffee beans in stores is a joke. It doesn't "clear" your sense of smell, it fills it with yet another smell.
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The only thing that works after I've been sniffing a bunch of scents (or essential oils/absolutes) is the fresh air or breathing through a shirt or towel method.
I too, like RP, find I can go very long now without becoming overloaded. I've heard perfumers and perfumers in training say that in this sense "the nose" is like a muscle - the more you use it (in an active manner, not just passively sniffing things) the stronger it gets. I also find my "olfactory focus" has sharpened greatly. I can now sample say, 6 scents, 2 on each wrist, two on the back of the hands, and two on the upper forearm, and keep them all distinct. I can easily zero in on one with almost no interference from the others. This does not always work though, and does tend to work better with scents that I am familiar with, but I think it's another interesting development to observe.
That final bit being said, I would never seriously praise or write off any fragrance that was tested alongside others. I feel the only truly accurate way to sample a scent - in the sense that you want to become familiar with it in a manner you would if you owned it - is to wear it as you normally apply your SotD. Testing something on the wrist greatly changes how we smell things. With wrist testing we tend to take very close sniffs, and only pick up the scent intermittently, while taking those sniffs, whereas one or multiple sprays to the chest will greatly change our experience of the scent as we'd be picking up more of the scent of the sillage (which can vary greatly from the scent on the skin - sniffing close to the skin will shift the balance towards more of the heavier, less diffusive middle and basenotes), as well as always being surrounded by the aura of the scent. I think it a bit silly to write reviews of scents based on wrist-only testing, unless that is how you normally wear your scent.
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I've never seen any perfumer perform any sort of "nose-clearing" ritual. I do the sleeve-sniffing thing, and that's what I recommend for my students, but as many people here have already said, the capacity for smelling different things in a single session builds up in time.
I wholeheartedly agree with SculptureOfSoul about wearing a fragrance in a normal way when you're going to review it. Some perfumers spray the back of their neck so they can get an idea of the sillage -- and use human blotters. Close sniffs on paper or wrists yield only part of the picture.
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Coffee, after that, fresh air
I would like to see some testing done with activated carbon/charcoal impregnated surgical masks.
Activated carbon is no joke when it comes to filtering out nearly ANY odor. This should give your nose a rest even from outdoor smells.