February 14, 2012

perfumery lesson #1: what is the best time to practice smelling?

I'd like to start a new section on this blog here dedicated to teaching a bit about perfumery. When I was first becoming interested in the subject I found it so hard to learn about, and it's important to me that it not be such a privately held art and craft. Having gone down the path myself, I truly believe perfumery can be learned, and like painting or cooking, a little bit of talent and a lot of practice can go a long way.

When is the best time of day to smell?

Your nose is most responsive in the mornings, so if you can, try and practice smelling in the a.m.  What does it mean to "practice" smelling?  Your nose can be developed and trained, and when you smell something again and again, you can start to catch inflections and nuances. Be sure to use words to describe what you're smelling - is there a sensation of hot or cold, is it slightly metallic or flat, or is the smell bright and yellow?  Another benefit to just sitting and smelling is that you'll begin to memorize the ingredients. When you begin blending, you'll be able to conjure in your mind the scents of ingredients, and you can reach for them automatically to incorporate into your mixture, rather than pulling out all of the ingredients and choosing (though you should do this too).

Hope this is helpful. If you have questions of your own you'd like answered, please email me at anne@mcmcfragrances.com.

Photo of Anne smelling freshly picked pink peppercorn in Mexico by Jose Serrano-McClain.