Why does the same fragrance smell different on different people?
Some of the most frequent asked questions about perfumes, are why fragrances smells different on different people, and why the longevity varies on each individual. The answers to these questions are actually a combination of different facts. Let´s explain more in depth.
The body chemistry
One thing you should always keep in mind, is that there is no perfume in this world that will smell exactly the same on you and on someone else. Since each person has its own unique body chemistry, perfumes will react differently. Everything from diet, hormones, medication and stress are affecting on how the fragrance will react, evolve and smell on your skin.
The pH-levels (the amount of acidity in the skin) also varies slightly from person to person. A healthy skin is slightly acidic at pH 4.2 - 5.6. In other words, our individual pH-levels determines how each ingredient in a fragrance smells on our skin. So, while a fragrance remains the same overall, certain notes in the fragrance may be hightened on some people, and other notes may be muted. Don´t be surprised when someone says that he/she cannot pick up a note you did.
The longevity of a fragrance does not only depend on the different types of fragrances, but also on our skins natural moisture. People with dry skin usually find their fragrance to last shorter time than those of oily skin. The higher the level of natural moisture is, the longer lasting the fragrance will be. As mentioned on Perfume Heaven´s Fragrance Guide, layering a fragrance will help prolong the longevity of the scent.
When sharing your opinion about a fragrance to others, please consider this: just becuase a fragrance didn´t match well with your body´s chemistry, it doesn´t mean it will smell the same on others too. Or vice versa. The bottom line is that fragrances smells differently on each person, and the best way to know for sure if you like a perfume or not, is to try it before you buy it.
Our body´s biggest organ is the skin. Looking closely on the skin, you will see the pores. Pores allow odour and moisture to escape from our body. Odour that comes out of our body is related to what we eat on a regular basis. For example, high fat or spicy diet can intensify your fragrance. Alternatively, someone who changes a diet dramatically, can alter the skin chemistry causing the fragrance to smell differently. If you are vegetarian, the scent will smell differently than if you consumed a high fat or spicy diet. This doesn´t mean a fragrance will smell worse or better on anyone, only different.
Smokers need to consider two things: not only will the odour from the pores affect the scent, but smoking can also dull the olfactory sense. This may cause a smoker to believe a fragrance doesn´t smell as intense as non-smokers will perceive it, or will not be able pick up a note as easily as a non-smoker. However, according to some smokers, there are fragrances that "blends" well with the aroma of tobacco. As usual, the best way to find out, is to try on yourself.
One thing to consider when it comes to perfumes, is the climate. Warm or cold climate affects the intensity of a fragrance and could be the key to what fragrance to wear. Warm weather increases the intensity of a scent which makes it perfect to wear lighter fragrances, while cold weather will reduce the intensity and therefore will require a stronger fragrance.
In other words, the higher the temperature is, the lighter the fragrance needs to be, and the lower the temperature is, the stronger the fragrance needs to be.
High altitudes also decreases the longevity and strenght a of a fragrance, which will make you reapply a fragrance more often. So if you are living or traveling to higher altitudes, choose a stronger fragrance.
Just like our eyesight, our sense of smell weakens as we age. The same fragrance you once used to like, will not smell the same in your later years. You may not pick up notes like you did and think you need a stronger fragrance, while in fact, it is your sense of smell that has changed.
Today, there is no medicine to treat our sense of smell as we age, but there are things you can do yourself to train and keep it "young". Studies have shown that elderly people in good mental and health condition, generally have a sense of smell that is comparable to that of young individuals.
So what can you do to keep your sense of smell young? Start smelling and memorizing. Time and places are connected in our memory to our olfactory senses. Most scents are perceived in our brain on an unconcious level, which is why you know how the morning air or the breeze of ocean smells like, how Jasmines smell on a hot summer night, or how the dewy smell right after the rain smells like. Practise by imagining the smells a few times a week. This way you will train your olfactory senses and enjoy the scents until your later days.
Another important thing to do in order to keep your sense of smell sharp, is to alternate the scents. It´s important that you vary your fragrances throughout the day. For example, use one in the morning to give you a fresh feeling of a new day, another during the day to lift you up and make you more energetic. A more sensual fragrance for a night out or a calming and relaxing scent after a day at work for evening. Changing fragrances is more important that you know, both for your sense of smell and your mood.
Start paying attention to the smells around you. Take your time to experience different scents, like the smell of different spices, flowers, the new cut green grass... there are hundreds of scents around us every day. Each season has its own unique smell. The cool air in winter smells different than the one in summer, and so does spring and autumn.
So keep in mind, that sense of smell as we age, is another fact to why fragrances smells different from now and then, and from person to person.
The testers in the shop
When you visit a perfumery or a beauty store, you will most likely end up spraying fragrance on your wrist from a tester that is standing on the shelf. You like the fragrance, you buy it. Later on, you discover that the fragrance you tested on your wrist from the tester, doesn´t smell excactly like the one you just purchased.
So what made the fragrance smell different? Most likely spotlights and exposure. As already explained in the Fragrance Guide, perfumes are sensitive to heat and sunlight. A beauty store has many and strong spotlights to make the products stand out more. Spotlights, are lit all day long, giving both heat and direct light on the fragrance causing the components to break down slowly. Unfortunately, since testers are not protected at all, they will smell different than the ordinary fragrance.
Other beauty stores, may have big windows where fragrances are exposed to direct sunlight. That will cause the fragrance to change completely. If you see a fragrance by a window that it is not protected by the sunlight, don´t even bother testing it. Or buying it.
Another thing that causes a fragrance to smell different on your skin, is the age of the fragrance. Have you ever wondered how long time your perfume was in the beauty store before you purchased it? Fragrances have an expiring date and don´t last for ever. If a beauty store had a perfume for many years, and didn´t store it properly, then don´t be surprised if the fragrance smells completely different.
So keep in mind, testers should be considered as an indication of what the original fragrance smells like.
The bath and body products
Another fact that may cause a fragrance to smell different from person to person, is bath and body products. If you layer the fragrance by using products from the same range as the fragrance, then the scent will be more intense and the notes will be more noticeable.
Bath and body products from the same range are made to work fully together, which will enhance the scent on your skin. Using other scented bath and body products, may cause the fragrance to smell different.
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