The art of perfumery takes us on paths that we sometimes discover for the first time. And like all the first times, it can be difficult to fully appreciate them. But you don’t need to be perfumer to perfect your sense of smell and learn how to identify the different notes and ingredients of a fragrance. A word a scents is just waiting for you to open your nostrils…
Cultivate your sense of smell to keep your mind open
We find it increasingly difficult to perceive the perfumes that surround us every day. Too present and well-known, smells are everywhere and we do not necessarily pay attention to all of them. However, throughout our days, our sense of smell is constantly solicited by all the ambient scents and it is not that hard to improve our olfactory sensitivity if we try to.
Some cultures are already working on the olfactory culture. In particular in Japan where the “Kôdô”, a thousand-year-old fragrance art, is now enjoying a new enthusiasm. This ancestral and unique art in the world consists of creating aromatic compositions mainly based on scented woods. They are then given to smell to an audience of experts during a ceremony called Kôkai. Kôdô is based on the ability to recognize and memorize odors, and to discern the different shades. This art of smelling and appreciating fragrances involves a strong nose education still not widespread in Western culture.
However, sense of smell is a prodigious sense that adds to our perception of the world an infinite palette. This is a very personal and intimate sense as we smell all the scents in a different way. Describing a perfume is one of the most difficult exercises, because our perception is related to our emotions. Which is quite funny finally, since physiologically speaking we all have the same ability to smell! Our perfume stimulates our emotions and revives our dearest memories thanks to the power of olfactory memory. But when we wear it, it makes our feelings deeper and reveals our moods. It is therefore essential to get to know it better…
Take the plunge
If you want to improve your sense of smell, you do not have to follow a perfumer training. You can build and perfect your own olfactory sensibility by yourself, with time and motivation. But where should you start? If you are reading these few lines, it means that your nose is at the right place, because our scented notebook is here to help you! The Internet is full of content dedicated to perfume that will teach you a lot of things you may not know yet. It is also the best place to discuss with enthusiasts, neophytes and professionals to forge your own olfactory culture. Fascinating sites such as Auparfum or Fragrantica, to mention just a few, are made by passionates going through perfumes and exploring the backstages of perfumery. If you prefer to put your nose in the books, the great magazine NEZ is a must have!
Once informed, your nose can take action! And to train it, nothing better than visiting stores to discover the perfumes which contain the ingredients you are looking for. Feel free to smell all kinds of fragrances to discover the 7 olfactory families, to understand what is an oriental, how are structured floral perfumes or in which fragrances we find aromatic notes. Identify the ingredients that catch your attention and find the perfumes that highlight them. Feel the interaction between raw materials used under different facets. Based on the fragrance pyramid, try to find its top, middle and base notes… Be led around by the nose to discover, little by little, this endless olfactory culture.
Ready, steady… smell!
Beyond the culture, it is important to train your nose as an athlete would prepare a competition. There are many exercises that will help you improve your sense of smell. You can already begin your olfactory training by guessing the smells of some very distinct raw materials such as vanilla, rose and mint for example. Smell them individually with your eyes closed, breathe calmly and retain their scents. To help you memorize their perfumes, associate them with a specific memories.
This gymnastic requires diligence but it is accessible to everyone. Every occasion can be a pretext to exercise your nose! A meal and its appetizing smells is the perfect time to train your olfactory receptors. The next time you will order a cup of hot chocolate, take the time to smell it before drinking it. In this way, you will be able to create an olfactory image of these different scents and to remind them mentally as you naturally do when you think of the smell of cut grass, or the unforgettable one of your childhood candies…
Would you like to perfect your sense of smell? If you have other exercises to train your nose, share them with us in the comments, we are curious to know your tips!