Are there any scents you can’t smell?

Are there any scents you can’t smell? Share!

There are a lot of scents that I can’t put names to, not because I can’t necessarily smell it, but because I don’t associate that smell with that thing (that it actually is). I’m really trying to learn more about individual notes and scents so I can pick them out within a perfume.

>em>Thanks to Nicole for today’s question! Do you have a question idea? Submit yours here.


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darkeyedfran Avatar

I cannot smell skunk or illegal substances that smell similar to skunk at all, I had a traumatic brain injury and some scents I can’t smell. I am getting better at distinguishing notes from perfumes, but I need to buy really concentrated perfume oils (black phoenix alchemy lab) to be able to smell perfume well. I am a scent snob for sure!

Catherine Avatar

You are not alone in this, trust me! Iso E Super is a BIG molecule, like some musks, so many people are unable to detect it on it’s own, or only able to get one initial whiff before it goes into hiding. I think of the mechanism for anosmia as being that some large molecules (like Nitro and other Musks as well as the Iso E Super) are too big to fit into some of our smell receptors, hence, their odors are not detected. Not everyone experiences this, but more than you might expect. Even perfumers, LOL!

Quinctia Avatar

…quite a few florals I can’t distinguish, because smelling them for too long will make me sick.

All my notes from when I was really into trying out different scents from BPAL are kind of funny, because many of them will notice all these complex note combinations, and then there are ones where the review amounts to “MAKES ME SICK DO NOT WANT.” Which is how I’d rate most commercial perfumes, actually.

zainab Avatar

It’s not that I can’t smell it at all, but I don’t get the appeal, or ‘perfume value’ of geranium. I was reading a review of a perfume that listed geranium as a note, and, since I had no reference for the scent, I went outside and smelled some we have flowering in the garden. It just doesn’t smell much of anything… Other than that I agree with Christine, there are a lot of things I can smell but not name, particularly flowers- spices and other gourmand notes I’m usually okay with.

Catherine Avatar

Actually there many different kinds of geraniums, The kind you have in your garden is probably one of the many varieties of Pelargonium Graveolans, which has little scent. The plants used for the Geranium essential oils and absolutes used in perfumery carry their scent in their leaves, rather than the flowers. The ‘scented geraniums” Pelargonium Asperum (bright, herbal,floral) and Pelargonium Roseum (bright, rosy, herbal) are the two varieties mostly commonly used in perfumery. There are also scented geraniums that smell like lemons, lime, spice, mint and even chocolate! They are very easy and fun to grow, too.

Catherine Avatar

The flowers of Scented Geraniums are not as showy as the typical Garden Geraniums we’re all familar with, but their leaves are as varied in shape and pattern as they are fragrant. Definitely worth growing, IMO! Try adding a sprig or two of leaves to a bouquet of flowers and see how it lends added perfume to the whole room!
You can check out Select Seeds online as one place to get these plants. There are others, I’m sure, but that’s where I got mine, as none of our local garden centers had any. Dave’s Garden Watchdog online is a good place to see Who carries What and which companies have the best customer ratings.
Good luck and happy gardening!

kristina Avatar

i don’t understand this question. lol. If I couldn’t smell something then how would I know it had a scent?

Isn’t this a tree falling in the forest type of question?

Diane Avatar

I have a sensitive nose, and I can smell pretty much everything. I don’t think there are any scents I literally can’t smell. Sometimes, there are scents I’d rather NOT have to smell (especially when someone has bathed in it, and I’m stuck standing next to them in a lineup), does that count? 🙂

Heidi Avatar

I am just lucky if the day I want to shop for scentsy stuff I can actually smell. haha. I suffer from allergies and therefore there are days I can’t smell at all 🙁
If I can smell that day and I go shopping I usually can only handle it for an hour or so before my nose starts reacting so I don’t think I ever have the chance to pay attention to each note in the fragrance. I just go for what smells good!

Karla Avatar

O yes its a victoria secret body lotion, it had pears scent my exboyfriend’s sister wore it every day and she was mean to me and nosy and always criticizing everything i did or say but my ex loved that scent and i would wear it just because of him, but now i cant stand that scent because it remindes me of them

Leslie Avatar

Was in retail for years and we sold a lavender scented hand creme. It was a very strong, but natural lavender scent. It shocked me, the number of people who reported that they literally couldn’t smell the lavender at all. Shocking. It wasn’t that they didn’t like it…they absolutely could not detect it.

Kristen Avatar

The only thing that comes to mind is Porridge fro Lush. Everyone raves about it smelling like brown sugar and milk and just all delicious things. The only thing I smell from that soap is orange juice that has gone bad. I can’t stand it. I wish I smelled what everyone else did but I don’t.

doroffee Avatar

I’m really bad at describing and identifying smells, so… yeah.
Oh, and there is a guano type smell I always smell as strawberry ice-cream for some reason, and it does drive my family crazy :P.

Amy Avatar

I haven’t found any perfume blind spots that I can remember, (and I enjoy BPAL, so I’ve worked a bit on identifying notes). But I work at a printer… everyone who walks in comments on the smell, and since the second week I worked there I can’t smell it at all. I used to really the “printer” smell – ink, paper, a little blanket wash maybe – and now it’s just gone, even if I’m away for over a week the place still smells of nothing when I return. I can smell everyone’s perfume and cologne, the scent of carbonless paper running through the copier, air fresheners, the solvents when they wash up the press, peoples lunches… pretty much everything! But the ambient scent of the place that the customers comment on, I can’t smell that at all.

Irene Avatar

I envy people who can tell notes apart in perfumes! I usually find it hard to smell perfume on me (like my wrists), so I believe my sense of smell must be pretty bad.

Jennifer Avatar

I have a very strong nose. I identify friends by scent (weird, I know!).

However, I have no idea what ammonia smells like. I was near a spill of it when I was little and was exposed to enough to get very sick. Now when I’m exposed to ammonia I start vomiting before I even register the scent.

This fact got me out of several chemistry labs! Thank heavens the professors believed me!

Elle Avatar

I’m quit the opposite actually. I feel like I could smell every persons perfume in a room full of people. I have severe allergy’s and as soon as I get one little sniff I will be in full blown sneeze attack. I have the full Juicy Couture perfume line and there are days I don’t even wear it because my nose feels like there is a feather constantly tickling it haha I love those scents though!

Elle Avatar

I’m actually quit the opposite. I feel like I can smell every perfume in a room full of people. However, I suffer from sever allergy’s and as soon as I get a sniff I go into full blown sneeze attack! I have every scent from the “Juicy Couture” perfume line, yet I can’t even stand to put it on most days =[

Rachel Avatar

I feel like I have a pretty good sense of smell, despite my parents smoking in the house when I grew up. What are your favorite scents, Christine? My mom gets me a perfume every year from Macy’s (one that has a gift set so she can get her money’s worth!) I tend toward “fresh” scents, even in winter, and some of my faves are Marc Jacobs Daisy and Honey, J’adore Dior, Versace Bright Crystal, Dolce and Gabbana The One, Coach Poppy, and Chanel Chance. Any recommendations?

Christine Avatar

Hey Rachel,

I’m not big into perfumes, so what I’ve tried isn’t that expansive. I tend to gravitate towards really high-end/luxury houses or niche/indie ones, but I did like Marni’s scent earlier this year, which doesn’t break the bank as much as other scents I wear (Tom Ford Oud Wood, Bois de Moroccain, Amber Absolute).

Nicole Avatar

I am really bad in recognizing diffent notes in a parfume for example. Or the scent of a rose in out garden.
I easily get a headache from a Lancome parfume with citrus scents my mom sometimes wears.

Anne-Laure Avatar

I can’t stand Patchouli! put a drop of it in any perfume mix, and I hate it! Really makes me want to run away.
I also hate some sort of sweat smell: mostly on mature or old men, bald and oily head skin, it’s a kind of sour smell, I can’t describe it, but I find it absolutely unbearable… It’s not a healthy “sport” body sweat, it’s a sick smell. Yerk!

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