Why Can't I Smell My Perfume?

We’ve all been there: we’ve all left the house, headed into a meeting, or have been about to start a lengthy shift at work when we spritzed our perfume onto ourselves, only to be hit by a 37-second hit of stunning aroma—before it disappeared. We could no longer smell the delightful scents of our beloved perfume, almost as if we were experiencing some sort of nose blindness. In today’s blog, The Essence Vault will look at how scents change due to different environments and circumstances to finally answer the question: why can't I smell my perfume?


The Sense of Smell

Your sense of smell is entirely your own due to your genetics and how different people smell different odours. The sense of smell is part of the human chemosensory system, similar to your sense of taste. 

The human ability to smell comes from olfactory sensory neurons, which are types of specialised cells found in a small patch of tissue high inside the nose. These cells will then connect directly to the brain. They are known as odorant receptor genes, which comprise one of the most prominent gene families in the human body. These are the cells responsible for detecting particular scents and odours. 


Why Can't I Smell My Perfume?

There are a few reasons why your perfume evaporates after a couple of spritzes. We've researched some of the most common reasons below. 


The Great Outdoors

The weather can affect how long a fragrance lasts on your skin and clothing. You may also notice that your perfume smells differently when you experience a different temperature or climate as the seasons change. 

When brands test perfumes, some use aromabooths to test them in different weather conditions to understand how the scents can change. This will help them tailor and improve a scent to smell fantastic in hot or cold climates, depending on the country where the perfume will be sold. 

Research has shown that humidity can amplify or mute a fragrance, as higher humidity levels can cause the notes in a perfume to blossom. On the other hand, dryer climates can emphasie the base notes of a fragrance. 


Incorrect Application

In most cases, you can't smell your perfume because you haven’t applied it correctly. You should apply your perfume on clean, moisturised skin, focusing the scent on your pulse points. These areas produce heat, which diffuses the perfume, helping to amplify the scent and cause it to last longer on your skin.

Discover your pulse points and more about how to apply women's perfume in our recent blog.


Image of a woman smelling her wrist and holding a perfume from the essence vault to smell it, for the blog why can't I smell my perfume?

Olfactory Adaptation

Olfaction (your sense of smell) is the chemical sensation humans experience when we detect airborne odourous substances within our environment. 

When you have a favourite perfume in your fragrance wardrobe that you often reach for, your brain can get used to it and, after some time, associate it with your personal body odour.No longer being able to smell a perfume that you once could is a product of the olfactory sense system and the psychological process our brains use to recognise scents. 

Have you ever heard someone say that every household has a particular scent? You can’t smell it in your own home, but visitors can, and that’s the result of olfactory adaptation. When exposed to scents regularly, our receptors become familiar with them, and as a result, our brain considers them familiar and harmless. This means that the quality of the scent and how it is received in our brains are regulated. In simple terms, we no longer smell it as poignantly. 


Your PH

Similarly to products like skincare, depending on your skin type, products can react differently. For example, your body's pH balance can cause your skin to respond differently to fragrances. 

This is because your skin's acidity can change how the perfume smells. A higher pH balance on the skin can cause dryness and irritation, while a lower pH balance means the skin feels much more hydrated. Research has shown that perfume molecules will not “cling” to dry skin as successfully as they would oiler skin.

If you want to know the secret to making a perfume last longer, see our recent blog, ‘The Perfect Mist: How To Make Perfume Last Longer’.

Image of a woman holding a perfume from the essence vault, for the blog why can't I smell my perfume?

Incorrect Storage 

Your perfume needs to be well looked after to continue smelling as good as it did when you purchased it. The average perfume has a shelf life of around 3-5 years; however, incorrect storage can shorten its lifespan dramatically.

This is because warm or humid environments can cause the molecules in the fragrance to break down, weakening the concentration of perfume oils and, therefore, weakening your fragrance. 

You should always store your perfume in dark, dry places such as cupboards or drawers and try to keep it in its original packaging. Boxes can protect the scent and ensure it lasts as long as possible. 


Our Final Thoughts

When it comes to the question, 'Why can't I smell my perfume?' it isn't that much of a mystery! From your body's pH balance to the weather, application techniques, and incorrect perfume storage, various factors can affect how your fragrance smells. 

Your sense of smell is unique; what works for one fragrance enthusiast may not work for another. When wearing your perfume, consider the above techniques and factors to ensure a correct, long-lasting application. 

So, the next time you wonder why your perfume seems to have vanished, consider the science behind it and remember, happy spritzing!

The Essence Vault creates long-lasting perfumes inspired by designer fragrances at an affordable price; see our luxury range of women's perfumes and find your perfect match today.
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