Learn to Train Your Nose
Part 2 of our What the Nose Knows Series - An awakening to a world of fragrance with our top tips to train your nose
You don’t need to be able to recognise the ingredients in a candle fragrance to enjoy it - in fact many people relish the mystery of unidentifiable accords. Sometimes the not knowing what makes up a scent can add well to the magic of things. However, natural curiosity can step in when we want to know which scent is tickling our nose, is it jasmine, vetiver, musk? And we want to know this and memorise this so in future when we’re picking up candle jars, breathing in the scents we know to make the right choice.
Our noses and sense of smell is trainable, our nose is the tool, it’s our brains we connect with and that is where lies the training! Any scent and odour has a profound effect on our worlds and how we perceive the world, we associate memories or even dangers with smell, we are also very quick to make a judgement just by using our noses. There are many scents we have little control over such as walking down the street and you inhale the uninviting smell of rubbish or we walk into the cinema are greeted with the smell of freshly popped buttery popcorn. But what if we could train our noses to pick out scents on purpose? What if we could tell and pick out the fragrance notes that embodies our next glass of wine (an impressive conversation piece for your next dinner party) or pick out the notes while shopping our home fragrance collection or even a new perfume just with the power of the nostrils?
Us humans, love routine and familiarity. When we find something we like that makes us feel happy, we tend to stick to it and sometimes fear the change of the new and say to ourselves what if this new candle I choose for Christmas this year doesn’t bring me the same joy as the candle I’ve been buying for Christmas every single year for the past ten years? If you train your nose, you open up to a whole new world of scents and fragrance and you will be more confident in trying out new fragrances because your nose will know to pick out the fragrance notes you prefer!
Before we dive in, lets talk about the Smell Cycle which will give you a better understanding of just how busy your nose and brain is every second of every day. From an initial whiff, odours enter our nose and trigger chemical receptors there, electrical signals travel to the olfactory bulbs of our brains, where clusters of nerves called glomeruli process the smell’s signal. Odours then take a direct route to the limbic system, including the amygdala and the hippocampus, the regions related to emotion and memory, that is why there is a strong tie between fragrance, memory and our emotions.
Once informed, your nose can take action! And to train it, pop into stores, be adventurous and whiff the various scents on offer and discover the fragrances which contain the ingredients you are looking for. Dive in and discover the 7 ollfactory families (the citruses, the aromatics, the florals, the woods, the chypres, the orientals and also the leather family which we will delve into further down the line in our What the Nose Knows email series) to understand what is an oriental, the floral notes or in what fragrances will we discover aromatic notes.
Learn to Identify the ingredients that catch your attention, take mental note of how you feel, get creative! Based on the Fragrance Pyramid, attempt to discover the fragrance your smelling top, middle and base notes. Follow your nose to find, little by little, this endless olfactory culture that you are opening yourself up to!
Ready Steady Smell…
Our Top Tips For Training Your Nose
- Utilise the idea of training your nose as an athlete would train for a race. There are a multitude of nose training exercises that will help you improve your sense of smell. You can begin your olfactory training by guessing the smells of some raw materials such as vanilla, rose and fruits. Smell them as single items, close your eyes. Breathe and retain their scents. TOP TIP: To help you memorise these fragrances, associate them with a specific memories and feelings.
- Use every occasion to train that snout! At your next meal, use the appetising smells and put those olfactory receptors into action. Take time to smell your food before chomping down, breathe in the smells of your hot chocolate before taking a sip. As your walking through a garden centre, take those moments to sniff individual florals. When you’re tending to your herb garden, take a moment to see if you can identify the individual scents of each of your herbs.
- There is no wrong answer when it comes to guessing fragrance notes! Everyone perceives and may take preference over scents differently that’s what makes us all unique! One person may adore the smell of cinnamon, another may feel nauseous at the thought. The workings of our noses are like our fingerprints: individual and unique. Whatever you smell in a scent is there for you: this is another reason not to get too fixated the on the precise breakdown of fragrance recipes. Base it on your own tastes.
- TOP TIP: Many of our customers may understand this. Imagine, you’re walking into a candle store, a beautiful aroma of fragrances hits you as you walk in the door, you get excited with the array of scents you’re about to indulge your nose in. You’re looking for a candle for Autumn with scents that encapsulate the season. You’re searching for “the one”, the one that gives you all the Autumn feels. You’ve already smelled half a dozen Pumpkin Pie candles and now everything starts to smell like Pumpkin Pie, which makes the journey frustrating and arduous.When you’re testing out scents, you should always remember to “reset” your nose after sniffing each candle— “cleansing the palate.” Try smelling your elbow, perfumers will sniffer the end of their elbow to reset their senses. You can perform this olfactory habituation from your own personal scent.
- Last but not least, be adventurous, playful but also be patient with fragrance. Patience is key. Wait the fragrance out through all its twists and turns. It may take a few hours of burn time for a new scent to unfold from its fragrance notes and to reveal all its many facets!
You certainly don’t need to be perfumer to perfect your sense of smell and learn how to identify the variations of notes and ingredients of a fragrance. A whole world a scent is just waiting for you if you just open your nostrils…