A “how to” guide to enhance your sense of smell
You don’t need to be a perfumer to distinguish scents. What differentiates a perfumer from the general public is the amount of hours they dedicate to smelling. “‘Take care of your nose and use it more often,’ is the main advice I give in my perfumery classes,” said Victoria in How To Guides, Perfume 101, Perfume Articles. Research has shown that the human nose can differentiate between close to a trillion smells.
Training your nose will without a doubt sharpen your sense of smell. In this article, Victoria shares with us a few exercises and techniques she learned at perfumery school.
There are different stages in nose training, and you move from one stage to the next as you master the art of the stage you’re on.
Starting out, you will use your nose in as many daily situations as possible. Consciously attempt to smell scents and aromas around you. Examples include coffee, fruit at the grocery store, chocolate, herbs, tea and olive oil. Smelling will create a lot of work for your nose and brain, and don’t lose heart if you can’t remember a scent, or confuse different smells. At this stage you’re just consciously choosing to smell. Once you’re taking deep breaths of smells and aromas, without having to remind yourself, you’re ready to move on to the next stage.
The Intermediate stage is based on differentiating scents. According to neurobiologist Dr. Alan Hirsch who used this treatment on people with severe loss of smell, training the brain to discern differences in scents can spark different receptors in the nose to work and cause nerve connections to “turn on” again.
You will start this stage by choosing three different types of smells such as wood, floral and fruity. Examples of these are coffee beans, rose petals and orange peel. Crush the coffee beans and grate the orange peel to release more of its scent. This stage will sharpen your sense of smell, and the results will be obvious after a few weeks of exercise.
Moving on to the Advanced stage. The advice given at the perfumery school was that the students have to smell 3 to 5 different aromatics first thing when waking up in the morning. The early hours of the morning are apparently the time that our sense of smell is sharpest. You can use spices such as cinnamon, vanilla, etc. Crush the spices slightly, and keep them in a sealed container. Inhale a deep breath and take time to think of what it is you’re smelling. Is the scent toasty, citrusy or sweet? Does the odor feel warm or rather cool? Don’t rush this stage, and give each aroma time to register in your brain. Smell these 3 to 5 aromas every day for at least a few consecutive days. Remember that your goal is to sharpen your sense of smell, and please don’t get discouraged if you don’t recognize the scents. Some perfumery students take at least a year to remember scents. Allow the different scents to evoke memories. Does the cinnamon take you back to when you made pancakes with your grandmother when you were little?
Now all you need is to practice. Train your brain and your nose. There is a world of smells out there waiting to be explored.
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