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  1. #1
    taint it sweet's Avatar
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    Default How do I get the "nose" for fragrance?

    This may be stupid...I'm new to this obsession and I'm wondering how everybody on here has such a knack for picking out specific scents and layers in each fragrance. When I smell something, I think that it smells good or it smells bad...is there any way I can hone my skills of picking out specific aspects of the fragrance? Do I need to start smelling all these ingredients on their own? i.e. going to smell sandalwood,etc... just to familiarize myself with these smells?

  2. #2

    Default Re: How do I get the "nose" for fragrance?

    I'd say, sniff and sniff and sniff, and for every perfume that you sniff, read the notes list. At first you'll say, "Yeah, galbanum, whatever", but at some point you'll have smelled and read "galbanum" enough times that you'll suddenly be able to pick it out. And the same for the other notes.

    I don't think that you need to seek out single-note scents, but if you send off for samples rather than sniffing what you can find at the department store, you could get sets of samples around a theme - five sandalwood-focused scents this month, five "green" scents next month, and so on. You could also focus on scents that have at least one major note that you already know - rose, citrus, coffee, vanilla and so on. That could give you a base for picking out the other notes.

    You can also go out of your way to sniff things in your daily life. For example, when you're at a grocery that sells fresh herbs, you could smell each kind. And then when you're home you could smell any jars of dried herbs that you have. Sniff the peel of a lemon compared to the flesh, and the same for an orange. If you eat a salad of mixed greens, try eating the different leaves individually, to get the different tastes, which are at least partly different smells. Sniff the eraser of a new pencil, the cellophane around a new CD, a new book, an old book, a fresh newspaper. Sniff everything.

  3. #3
    adonis's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I get the "nose" for fragrance?

    Great advice, ChickenFreak. Reading about fragrances and notes is like a book about how to play tennis - doesn't help your game unless you're on the court.

    Give yourself time to learn. I'm 2 years into this hobby and I still feel like a complete neophyte.

  4. #4

    Default Re: How do I get the "nose" for fragrance?

    I also think ChickenFreak gives great advice. I have learned about certain notes by smelling fragrances with for example tuberose and I'm ceartainly a much better nose now than when I started wearing perfume in 2007. But I think that I will never get as good a nose as some others. We are all different and a perfume that you think smells lovely although you can't pic out all the notes is also very satisfying. So the most important is that you enjoy your fragrances. The first thing I noticed when I started this was that fragrances cold smell so different. I was really a true novice when I started.

  5. #5
    coopmom's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I get the "nose" for fragrance?

    Quote Originally Posted by taint it sweet View Post
    This may be stupid...I'm new to this obsession and I'm wondering how everybody on here has such a knack for picking out specific scents and layers in each fragrance. When I smell something, I think that it smells good or it smells bad...is there any way I can hone my skills of picking out specific aspects of the fragrance? Do I need to start smelling all these ingredients on their own? i.e. going to smell sandalwood,etc... just to familiarize myself with these smells?
    No question in pursuit of learning is stupid....Like you, I am longing to be able to pick out all the notes in the perfumes that BNers mention in their reviews. I think it is a matter of taking the time to educate your nose, and the suggestions Chickenfreak has given you sound like ones I should take also. It's pretty easy to identify a smell you don't like. (That's tuberose for me - I can pick it out now a mile away.) It might be helpful to focus on the notes of a scent you love - learn those notes by sampling them in other scents and then branch out from there. On the other hand, I've sampled some things that were totally off my radar at first, and found some that were incredibly luscious to me.

    I'm pretty impatient in general, and I want to know everything right now, but this is a hobby - or pastime or obsession - that many people on this forum have been pursuing for years. With regards to being knowledgeable about fragrance, I'm still in pre-school, but I plan to graduate from middle school some day - I don't know that I'll ever get to grad school, but I'm going to try! Good luck on your journey, and have fun.
    Last edited by coopmom; 18th September 2010 at 10:38 PM.
    If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

  6. #6

    Default Re: How do I get the "nose" for fragrance?

    I'm new & also not very experienced. I've found it's been useful to me to read the reviews here for fragrances that I already own, or am familiar with. From reading some of the reviews written by some experienced & knowledgeable members, it has enabled me to identify notes in some scents that I hadn't previously noticed or recognised. You read & sniff & suddenly think "oh yes - they're right, I get that now !"

  7. #7

    Default Re: How do I get the "nose" for fragrance?

    Here are few tips:

    1. When you go to try fragrances, try a few (2-6), keep sniffing them for the whole day on the test paper or skin to know how you develop. As your sense of smell develops, you can try more. Don't overwhelm it though if you're new.

    2. Get essential oils of single notes, nothing fancy, just something to give you an idea. You can always use them for other purposes as well so it wouldn't be a waste.

    3. Read, of course, that helps, sometimes you won't notice something about a fragrance until you read about it.

    4. Smell things blindly, and see if you can guess them. For example I always try to guess which fragrance my girlfriend has on, and she has about 20+ (half of which I bought for her xD). I find it to be a good exercise.

    5. Sniff, sniff, sniff. That's the most important thing, train your nose, smell everything, go through your collection once a day. Our sense of smell is something sometimes we go for days without really using. At least that's what it was for me a few years ago.

  8. #8

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    Default Re: How do I get the "nose" for fragrance?

    Smell is a EMOTIONAL sense. I was homeward bound across the pacific on a combat weary ship. It smelled of sweat, fuel oil,rust, burned cordite,burned coffee, burned food and cigarettes.rust and mildewed swabs-mops. One night; the fans going and every porthole and hatch open for ventilation; I'm on the helm and a new smell of great delight came from nowhere. the skipper smiled, looked over our navigational chart and named a small island out of a Gaugain painting. He told us it was a major producer of-VANILLA. I reconnected with the freezerburned icecream in the galley nobody wanted. We smelled this heavenly scent for 3 days and nights until we passed far off and into winds that carried it away.
    THAT vanilla is in my psyche, a mental template for all the cooking extracts, icecreams, flavoured cokes and a few colognes. I KNOW vanilla.
    Have fun.

  9. #9

    Default Re: How do I get the "nose" for fragrance?

    You can buy kits of essential oils that will help to familiarize you with some common scents. I saw a good set at the Le Labo counter at Barney's in NYC. The young, good-looking sales associate suggested this to me with one of the all-time-great sales come-ons: "Wanna have a party with your nose?"

    Mmmm. . . there was a time in my life when that might have had a different meaning. . .

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