What to Do If You’re Anosmic to Perfume

Why some scents play hide and seek with you—and what to do when it happens.

Published Categorized as Fragrance
Woman smelling perfumeRaliada /Depositphotos

So you love that one perfume so much, you’ve been wearing it almost all of the time for a while now? There’s a good chance that you can get used to the scent—to the extent that it starts to play hide and seek with you. 

When this happens, telling how much of it you have on can become Mission: Impossible. It can even become difficult for you to know if you’ve put the perfume on in the first place!

People in the fragrance community will often refer to this as being “anosmic” to a scent, though the correct term is actually developing “olfactory fatigue.” Anosmia is kind of something else; it refers to the total loss of your sense of smell (temporary or permanent).

Olfactory fatigue is undoubtedly annoying, and you may even start to get worried about whether there’s something wrong with your nose.

Don’t worry; it’s something completely normal, and there are a few things you can do to prevent it.

Read on to learn more about what they are.

What It Means to Be “Anosmic” to a Perfume

If you are anosmic to a particular perfume, it’s essentially a sign that you’ve overwhelmed your nose with its specific scent.

This causes your nose to become desensitized to it. You should still be able to smell everything else just fine. Which is a shame because the one thing you do want to smell (and the smell of which you may love) is evading you.

If you find yourself needing to put on more and more perfume so that you can detect its scent, that’s a sure sign that you’re stepping into olfactory fatigue territory for that particular scent.

It’s Probably Not Anosmia, But Olfactory Fatigue

Anosmia and olfactory fatigue are two related—and often confused—terms.

Anosmia, as explained by WebMD, is the complete loss of your sense of smell. It can be temporary or permanent.

Olfactory fatigue, on the other hand, is the entirely normal “smell-blindness” that occurs after your nose has been overloaded with a particular scent, especially if it’s exposed to it for a prolonged period of time.

When in doubt, it’s crucial to figure out whether you’re having anosmia or good ol’ garden-variety olfactory fatigue. Once you’ve determined this, figuring out what to do next becomes easier.

If you can still smell scents other than the fragrance that you’ve been using, you have olfactory fatigue. However, if your sense of smell as a whole is affected, it’s best to consult with a medical practitioner.

How to Tell When You’ve Put On (Enough) Perfume

All too often, we take our sense of smell for granted. So one of the problems that fragheads report having when they experience olfactory fatigue is telling whether they’ve put enough perfume on.

Think about the intensity of the perfume in question, and try to remember how much of it you normally put on. While it can be tempting to spray more and more of it until you can actually smell it on you, don’t. In perfumery, you can get too much of a good thing.

It’s more common to have trouble telling how much perfume they’ve put on as opposed to not being able to know if they have put on a fragrance at all.

Still, if you’re the forgetful kind, like a few of the members of the Sterlish editorial team, we think it’s a good idea to jot down when you put on perfume somewhere on a note, so that you can remember.

Of course, if you’re having this much olfactory fatigue (and you do want to be able to smell it again), you should probably take a break from this scent.

What to Do When You Turn Anosmic to a Specific Scent

Mild olfactory fatigue is a common (and annoying) problem for perfumistas.

Thankfully, there are one or two countermeasures that you can take if you are having this issue. These range from trying a new fragrance to limiting where you spray your perfume.

For detailed descriptions of what you can do to beat olfactory fatigue, see below.

Spray It on Your Wrists

One of the best ways to combat olfactory fatigue is to spray your perfume only on your wrists. Many women who want to have a more subtle scent already do this, so you may not have to change anything.

If you’re just starting to have a case of olfactory fatigue, this may be the only measure you may need to take in order to stop it from getting worse. 

You may even want to limit your perfume to your wrists as a preventative measure, even though you can still sense most of it.

Walk Away From the Spray Cloud Immediately

It can be tempting to linger in the same place once you’ve sprayed your perfume. After all, there’s a captivating scent in the air!

As pleasant as it may be, breathing it in is also raising your nose’s tolerance to it. If you often succumb to the temptation to hang out in the spray cloud, you will find yourself dealing with olfactory blindness quite often.

The best thing to do is to spray your perfume on, then immediately get out of dodge.

Skip Wearing That Fragrance for a Week

This tip may be difficult to follow if you’re really in love with a specific scent, we know. But it’s the thing you need to do if you have really bad olfactory blindness to it.

A week is usually long enough for your nose to recover—and for the olfactory blindness to fade away. However, it may be best to only put a small amount of the scent on your wrists, even after you’ve taken a week-long break.

It goes without saying that not wearing a specific fragrance for a week does not mean that you have to stop wearing perfume entirely for that week. Feel free to try another scent—with different notes, preferably—in the meantime.

Switch Fragrances Regularly

One of the best tips you can follow if you are having olfactory blindness is switching fragrances regularly. This will keep you from developing olfactory fatigue for any one scent. Also, this has the added benefit of allowing you to spice things up.

Try Fragrances With Natural Ingredients

Some like mixed-media fragrances, while others prefer natural scents.

A mixed-media fragrance, for readers who are coming across the term for the first time, is one that gets its notes from a mix of natural (essential oils, absolutes) and synthetic sources (molecules).

Mixed-media scents often have an intense and longer-lasting scent. Natural fragrances, however, can be “better” in several ways. For example, there’s broad consensus in the fragrance community that your nose will not develop olfactory blindness as quickly when you use a natural fragrance.

By Editorial Team

The Sterlish editorial team works tirelessly to bring you the best content on beauty, cosmetics, and fragrances on the Internet.

3 comments

    1. Hi, Karmi,

      Yes, it is possible to become partially anosmic within hours—sometimes minutes—after trying a fragrance. It depends on the fragrance and the person wearing it, with certain perfumes like BR540 reportedly more so than others.

      Dim

  1. Dim-
    This is literally my dilemma. I smelled BR540 on a woman I worked with and I instantly fell in love with it.

    I sprayed it on myself and I can’t smell it. Is there a way besides spraying it on the wrists that can change that? Is there a way to train my nose not to be overwhelmed by it when I wear it? It’s such a beautiful scent!

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