The mechanisms of our sense of smell are full of mysteries and often play tricks on us. Sometimes, we can have the impression that we can no longer smell our perfume, or much less than usual. Whose fault is that? A juice that is too old, saturated nostrils or a brain that is too used to it? Don’t be afraid, your fragrance has not changed, but your nose has simply adapted. Discover our tips to find your perfume again, just as you did at the first day.
You can no longer smell your perfume: whose fault is that?
The sentence has just fallen: you can no longer smell your perfume. No matter how hard you sniff, spraying more than you need to, it doesn’t help! What happened to your favorite smell? The first reflex is often to blame the perfume itself, which would be too old, have turned or even worse: have changed! Others will say it is their skin’s fault. An epidermis that is too acidic, a skin that doesn’t “stick” to the perfume… In short, a bad alchemy between you and the fragrance.
So many received ideas that we are talking about in detail here, which take you away from the real culprit. Because in reality, the responsible is right in front of you… It is your nose! Habits, less sensitive olfactory sensors or sense of smell disorders, several factors can explain the fact that you no longer smell your perfume after a few hours or several months wearing it.
The mechanisms of the sense of smell
In public transport, at the office or at home, we are assailed by all kinds of smells, pleasant or not. A few moments later, we have the impression that these smells have finally disappeared, even though the odor molecules are still there. How can this be explained? Once again, it is thanks to our olfactory sense and its almost super-powers! The sense of smell, still controlled by our brain, has well-oiled mechanisms that allow it to filter information.
The path of smells
Before burying our noses in our olfactory habits, let’s recall the path taken by smells. When we breathe in, hundreds of volatile odoriferous molecules travel through the air and land in our nose, tickling the 10 million olfactory receptors in our nasal cavity (equivalent to 10 square centimeter, or one large postage stamp). These neurons will then work hard to transmit this message to the brain via the olfactory nerve. Once the message has arrived, it will be decoded and stored in our large internal library, and the olfactory memory will then be activated.
How can we then “forget” a previously memorized smell? When we wear a fragrance regularly, the brain associates it with our own body odor. The fact that we no longer smell our perfume is part of a physiological process of olfaction. With our own scent, the stimulation of our olfactory sensors is permanent. This is also the case with the smell of our home, or a perfume that we wear very often. Faced with this, our receptors will drop their guard to become familiar with the smell and make it commonplace, because they consider it to be harmless. These totally unconscious mechanisms thus modulate the quality and quantity of olfactory informations reaching our brain. This is called olfactory adaptation, or habituation. Result: we no longer smell.
This is a “vital phenomenon” according to Anne-Marie Mouly, a neuroscientist at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center. Just like animals, our sense of smell is a primitive sense that allows us to detect a possible danger. By concealing every day and habitual scents, our olfactory sensors are better able to quickly identify the slightest change around us, and in particular scents that could be dangerous. So, you may wonder how long it will be before you can no longer smell your own perfume. It is difficult to give an exact estimate because it will depend on the intensity and power of the composition but also on the emotional relationship to the scent.
How can this be remedied?
Don’t panic, you don’t need to throw your favorite bottles in the trash. If you can’t smell your perfume anymore, you should take a break and change your fragrance. That way, your nose will be stimulated again, and your sensors will be as reactive as ever! You can also experiment with other perfuming techniques to play on olfactory perceptions. A few drops in a cloud above you will not be perceived in the same way as a spray behind the ear or an impregnated cloth. So don’t hesitate to vary!
The last trick is simply to train your nose. In this age of the coronavirus, where loss of smell is one of the common symptoms, we are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of this capacity. Smell is a sense to be cultivated and we can all try to train our nose on a daily basis. We share with you some easy and practical exercises here to make your nose a great ally!
Have you ever had the feeling that you can no longer smell your perfume?