Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Recalibrating The Nose And Advice For Marathon Sniffing

It occurred to me lately that my tolerance for marathon sniffage has grown exponentially in the years since starting the blog. Once upon a time I'd go to a store, smell a few blotters, spray both wrists, an inner elbow and be done, at least for several hours. Nowadays I test on every available inch of skin, sometimes clean up and continue. I'll also spray the husband and any scent twin that may be in the vicinity. And then I'm ready for more. The husband had an extremely low tolerance: a couple of fragrances, a blotter and he'd be begging for mercy. Hard to believe it's the same men who stuck his nose into most Serge Lutens bell jars, sniffed my wrists and then declared he was ready for more.

Don't get me wrong; I still get the occasional case of nose fatigue and all the perfumes I just tried get mixed and smell the same. Or I get caught in something that feels like the best thing ever at the moment, even though I have a hard time explaining why. This is when the nose needs to be recalibrated and reminded of some absolute truths. A few years ago I used to take a break by smelling applying a little Eau d'Hadrien. It's freshness and zest helped clear up the olfactory confusion. I moved on since then, as I'm hoarding my old formula Hadrien and the new ones at the stores don't do it for me. But there are other "sure things" that redirect and point me in the right direction after smelling too many new things.

First is Bandit (Robert Piguet). It's a dear favorite, a true masterpiece that puts just about anything else in its rightful (and often inferior) place. A drop of vintage Shalimar does the same thing, as is unleashing one of my modern holy grails: anything by Tauer, MKK, several Malle fragrances, Miel de Bois or Philosykos. They all act as an olfactory compass.

Other tips I can think about to make a perfume smelling trip a little easier include taking quick brakes outside of the store, drinking water as often as possible to ward off headaches, and thanks to Lucy from Indie Perfumes I learned to pack alcohol towelettes/wipes so you can do an emergency scrubbing and/or clear up some skin real estate for more testing.

Do you have a strategy for marathon sniffing? Can you offer more tips?

Photo: Getty Images.


  1. Sniffing coffee beans! Some of my favourite perfume stores have them handy, it really helps restarting the nose.

  2. I was going to mention the coffee beans too. Seems to work.

  3. They say breathing through a wool challis scarf or sweater works too.

  4. I also use alcohol towelettes too for scrubbing off any scents that aren't for me or if I sniff something that my skin is known to be sensitive to (no more bergamot for me, not even in sweets). I tend to "recalibrate" my nose by going outside or sniffing something with green tea.

  5. Ladies, it's not about "cleaning" our nostrils from previous odours, but "recalibrating" the nose, as Gaia points out.

    That's very interesting! I never thought to compare the new perfumes I smell in conjuction to my standards. I just feel the quality and probably compare it to my previous experiences, recalling them from memory. I' ll do that sequential testing next time.


I love comments and appreciate the time you take to connect with me, but please do not insert links to your blog or store. Those will be deleted. The comment feature is not intended to provide an advertising venue for your blog or your commercial site.

Related Posts Widget