Can you smell your own home?
Let’s say you’ve lived in the same house for 10 years. Can you still smell the carpets? The smell of your dog on the rug? The grass in your garden?
No – because you’ve gone ‘nose blind.’
Being nose blind means you’re experiencing Olfactory Fatigue – or a loss in sensitivity to scents after prolonged exposure.
You’ve probably experienced this when shopping for your next big cologne purchase. After spending an hour in the department store sampling every fragrance in their collection, it becomes impossible to differentiate between scents.
So Why Does Olfactory Fatigue Happen?
It’s all down to your nervous system. The last thing your body needs is to be overwhelmed and overloaded with scent.
Rewind a few million years, and a change in scent could spell danger for our prehistoric ancestors.
To recognize a change in smell, we evolved to ignore familiar scents as they were deemed ‘safe.’ So, if a new smell appeared (for example, the smell of rotting Mammoth meat), our cave-man ancestors could recognize and act upon this unsafe situation.
Today, we don’t have to worry too much about that. However, Olfactory Fatigue still affects us when it comes to the colognes we wear.
When you spray a fragrance in the morning, you’ll experience the full breadth of its notes. The top notes will hit you first; then it’ll mellow out through the heart notes and settle on the base. 4 hours later – you might not even be able to notice your cologne anymore.
But that doesn’t mean others can’t smell it!
I’ve often been tempted to reapply a cologne when I think it’s burnt out. But then someone will compliment me and ask what scent I’m wearing! Since they’re smelling it for the first time, the fragrance smells strong despite the fact I can’t smell it myself.