Can't smell musk

BonsoirB

New member
Jun 20, 2014
As the thread title suggests, I can't smell musk.

I'm new to all this so after making a few colognes that have been a bit hit and miss I decided to go back to basics and smell my essential oils and synthetics, make notes and try to decide what I think will go with what.

I haven't got a huge selection but I have a couple of musks, Ethylene Brassylate and Galaxolide from Hermitage oils. I can't smell anything at all when I put them on smelling strips. I asked my girlfriend to blind smell them and straight away she identified the 2 musks.

Anyone else have this problem?
Should I just give up now if my nose doesn't work properly?
Can anyone suggest a stronger smelling musk?
 

pkiler

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 5, 2007
Musk anosmia isn't actually too uncommon. There are say 100 musks, maybe more. you could just keep trying, you might be able to smell others.

I don;t actually worry about it too much, and use what seems likely appropriate, and use combinations of musks.

Ask what other people think, they might be able to help you sniff...
Have you see Jeroen's Musk base of several musks?
https://sites.google.com/site/perfumerecipes/perfume-accords/musk-mix

You could try to mix that up, and see if you can smell that...?

Giving up now, is certainly your choice, it IS a LONG path, expensive, etc. Maybe you are better as a fan than a maker...? don't feel bad, just know who you are, and what your strengths and weaknesses are... Weaknesses aren't bad, just not what you're good at.

PK
 

cacio

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Nov 5, 2010
All of us have some problems smelling some musks, and at the same time can be hypersensitive to others. This is true of pretty much everybody, including perfumers. which particular musk one cannot smell varies across people. It just happens that you are anosmic to these patricular two. I cannot smell galaxolide either (I'm not a perfumer, and I've never smelled ethylene in isolation).

Incidentally, it often happens that while one is ansomic to a musk, he or she may actually perceive the effect that a musk has on the rest of the perfume (for instance, fixing other notes, etc.)

So you should use other musks - it's not a matter of stronger, simply of different ones among the hundreds of available musks. And, as pkiler was saying, this is also a reason for mixing many musks in a base, to make sure that everybody is actually able to smell the perfume.

cacio
 
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Nizan

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 15, 2013
You could try Romanolide, Exaltolide, Habanolide or Traseolide.. They're all 'white musks'.. Hopefully you won't be anosmic to all of these.
 

David Ruskin

Basenotes Institution
May 28, 2009
May I suggest you make up a simple mix , a simple accord. Add some Musk to one half, and try to see if you can detect any difference between the two. As has been stated it is often possible to detect the effect of an ingredient without being able to smell it (for e, this is true of Benzyl Salicylate). It is also possible that, in time, you will learn to smell the musks. As your nose becomes more accustomed to smelling analytically so it becomes better at detecting more smells.
 

mumsy

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jan 31, 2010
What concentration are you trying to smell these at? It bothered me when you say 'a stronger smelling musk' because often to smell something better it needs diluting rather than being full strength. Go the other way in dilution at 10% then 1% then even 0.1%. You may find it better at low concentrations and to work up. You may be bombarding your nose with harsh things and closing your smelling receptors.
 

BonsoirB

New member
Jun 20, 2014
What concentration are you trying to smell these at? It bothered me when you say 'a stronger smelling musk' because often to smell something better it needs diluting rather than being full strength. Go the other way in dilution at 10% then 1% then even 0.1%. You may find it better at low concentrations and to work up. You may be bombarding your nose with harsh things and closing your smelling receptors.

I was smelling them undiluted. Thanks for the reply. I'll give them another sniff after diluting them.
 

LeighAnne

Basenotes Member
Jan 25, 2016
May I suggest you make up a simple mix , a simple accord. Add some Musk to one half, and try to see if you can detect any difference between the two. As has been stated it is often possible to detect the effect of an ingredient without being able to smell it (for e, this is true of Benzyl Salicylate). It is also possible that, in time, you will learn to smell the musks. As your nose becomes more accustomed to smelling analytically so it becomes better at detecting more smells.

I too cannot smell musk! I was sniffing away at all the musk bottles when my lecturer came over and said "cant smell any of them huh?" he assured me its actually quite common and suggested what Dave suggested here, its a very interesting experiment as I was able to detect the changes that musk did to accords even though I cannot smell it as a raw material.
 

Serg Ixygon

Basenotes Junkie
May 2, 2015
I can feel EB in distance like from other room. Galaxolide is OK for me. But all the rest White Musks I do not feel at all. I made a mixture of WM and tested it on a few common people. Nobody can detected it. After that I decided- If nobody can feel it why I should bother myself with anosmia to Musks? Just use what you feel and do not use what you don't feel. Another side of the problem - if you do something for a market you should produce it for all customers but not for 5% .
Benzyl Salicilate for my nose has a clear and direct aroma. I feel it in dry out , it's very long.
 

Filipsson

Super Member
Dec 28, 2015
I learned from frustrating experience that I am anosmic to some materials. Unfortunately some that I was recommended to use for my goals and visions. Ambermax, Boisambrene and Norlimbanol. Also I smell almost nothing from Benzyl salicylate. I tried these in different concentrations, and I tried them in blends to find their effect on other materials. But I realize that I will have trouble controlling them, when I cant smell them. So a perfume with any of these materials will have the risk of overdoses, or strange effects that I cant percieve. So I simply moved away from these actual materials, and tried other ones. There are so many wonderful materials, and I can create beautiful and interesting perfumes without the chemicals I cant smell myself. So for me, I simply use all the ones I can handle and control, and leave to others the ones I cant.

/Pelle
 

David Ruskin

Basenotes Institution
May 28, 2009
Be careful that in discarding certain ingredients because you cannot smell them alone, you are not throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Firstly there are some ingredients that it takes time to learn to smell; when I first smelled Hydroxycitronellal on a smelling strip I could not smell anything. After much trying I suddenly "got`" it.

Secondly there are some ingredients that are too strong to smell as a concentrate. I know this sounds daft but believe me it is true. When I was first shown Karanal I could not smell anything whilst several around me were recoiling at the strength of it. The first time I smelled it, it was on a piece of cloth that had been soaked in a fabric softener containing 0.2% of a 10.0% solution of Karanal, and then left to dry. Out of the jar of fabric softener I could smell nothing. On the wet cloth, I could smell nothing. A day later, it was as strong as anything else. Gradually over time, I learned how to smell Karanal at stronger solutions.

Thirdly, there are some ingredients that many cannot smell, but can detect the effect that ingredient has in a fragrance. The best example I have of this is with Benzyl Salicylate. On a smelling strip this, to me, is odourless. However I can tell if it being used in a fragrance, have used it myself, and know that there is nothing else that can give the same effect. I think that this effect may be seen when using the various musk chemicals available.

On a different thread I suggested making up a simple fragrance and adding various "problem" chemicals to it, to see if the effect can be detected. Add a single chemical to each batch of the fragrance, and compare then with each other, and with a sample containing none of them. If you still cannot see the point of using the "problem" then by all means don't use it. However I think it would be a shame not to use something that cannot be replaced by anything else, simple because at one time you cannot smell it on its own.
 

bshell

Super Member
Jan 23, 2011
One tip for smelling musks that works for me is this. Try smelling in your usual way. Then go outside. I am amazed sometimes after a smelling session, when I cannot smell a particular aroma molecule, and then I go outside and suddenly, there it is. I'm not sure why this works, but give it a try.
 

Dorje123

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 15, 2011
As David said, it's definitely possible to learn to smell things you're currently unable to smell.

5 years ago I could not smell many musks, now I can. I have no idea exactly how this happens but it does!
 

Serg Ixygon

Basenotes Junkie
May 2, 2015
Dear David, of course after years of training and experiments with different mixtures we can improve the perception of invisible AC. But does it worth it? We create aromas for untrained people. You could not force them to choose what they don't feel at first glance.
 

I.D.Adam

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 14, 2014
Dear David, of course after years of training and experiments with different mixtures we can improve the perception of invisible AC. But does it worth it? We create aromas for untrained people. You could not force them to choose what they don't feel at first glance.

But you don't know what they can smell or not smell.
 

David Ruskin

Basenotes Institution
May 28, 2009
So chuck out everything that you cannot smell. From the above, there would be no L'Air du Temps, no Le Male, no Body Shop White Musk, no Timbuktu, and a hell of a lot more. Do what you like, I know what I know. No point in putting my point of view because minds are made up; why bother with this thread at all? You do just what you want. Deliberately reduce your ingredients; have fun.
 

Filipsson

Super Member
Dec 28, 2015
I absolutely agree with your tips, David Ruskin, even though I got a bit disappointed when I found it to be impossible to smell these materials, that are regardes so elegant and powerful in the trade. A nose can be trained, so it comes down to ambition. I express my opinions about only using materials I can percieve, because its the easier way to go (and because I'm an inexperienced amateur). But if I want to be better than that, I need to train my nose. It would be interesting to learn how to smell in different ways, finding hints around corners, noticing smells differently than what I notice at first glance, or in the "linear" way, if that is a useful metaphore.

So if its about having fun and play, its probably not worth the effort to work with the anosmic scents. If the ambitions are moderate, it could also be hard and expensive to explore. But if I have high ambitions with my perfumery, your tips are excellent. I havent thrown anything away, mostly for the vain idea that perhaps one day my receptors will have matured.

/Pelle
 

Renegade

Basenotes Junkie
Jul 30, 2011
By the way, just as you can "learn" to smell something, it seems that you can "forget" how to smell it too. It happened to me recently with Peomosa and Z-11. I "learned" to smell them after a few weeks of being anosmic, then didn't work with them for a while and now can't smell them at all. But I bet if I try often enough I can learn to smell them again.
 

Serg Ixygon

Basenotes Junkie
May 2, 2015
Which WM mixture do you speak of? And do you mean they can't smell it at all?

WM mix from PA. Yes, not at all.
David, my point is better to spend time to learn what I feel and understand instead of waisting my life to persue Fata Morgana, hidden and invisible . I bought more than hundred AC to learn and hundreds are waiting for buy and explore.
 
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nicok

Super Member
Aug 7, 2012
I have written before about a way to learn to smell musks and other difficult materials.
I can't smell galaxolide , musk T as easy as I can smell habanolide or musk ketone for example.
Although I have noticed that I'm not equally anosmic to the materials throughout the day.
What I do with such materials is that I spray myself with a solution 10% to 20% of the material, and of course that day I don't wear perfume.

You will notice that there will be moments during the day, lets say in the cold evening air after work where you will smell the materials, and actually very very well.

Now I know that exaltolide is more elegant than galaxolide or habanolide is more fresh.

Musks are very important materials in perfumery. I have made perfume with little musk, but no perfume without musk, so it is very important to learn to smell them.
At least the major ones.
 

jfrater

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jun 2, 2005
I have written before about a way to learn to smell musks and other difficult materials.
I can't smell galaxolide , musk T as easy as I can smell habanolide or musk ketone for example.
Although I have noticed that I'm not equally anosmic to the materials throughout the day.
What I do with such materials is that I spray myself with a solution 10% to 20% of the material, and of course that day I don't wear perfume.

You will notice that there will be moments during the day, lets say in the cold evening air after work where you will smell the materials, and actually very very well.

Now I know that exaltolide is more elegant than galaxolide or habanolide is more fresh.

Musks are very important materials in perfumery. I have made perfume with little musk, but no perfume without musk, so it is very important to learn to smell them.
At least the major ones.

You can also boost habanolide by mixing it with helvetolide which is a musk with a top note quality to it.
 

Serg Ixygon

Basenotes Junkie
May 2, 2015
I use 10% dilution working samples, so in the mix every musk has much less than 10% strength.
Yes, I should explore very diluted mixture.
 

Hirondelle d'hiver

Basenotes Member
Feb 3, 2016
This all has to do with the size of the aromatic molecules. Usually (and there are exceptions), the larger molecules from musk or sandalwood are the ones that people are likely to be anosmic to. Karen Gilbert is one of them. It hasn't stopped her.

Think of it as a spectrum of light. We can see millions of colours, but not UV or infra red. That doesn't mean that UV and infra red have no effect on us.

Make a blend with something you can smell well (smaller molecules- usually citrus), and see if it changes the smell of the citrus on its own. If it does, you can smell its effect, and that's what matters. Make sense?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

David Ruskin

Basenotes Institution
May 28, 2009
This all has to do with the size of the aromatic molecules. Usually (and there are exceptions), the larger molecules from musk or sandalwood are the ones that people are likely to be anosmic to. Karen Gilbert is one of them. It hasn't stopped her.

Think of it as a spectrum of light. We can see millions of colours, but not UV or infra red. That doesn't mean that UV and infra red have no effect on us.

Make a blend with something you can smell well (smaller molecules- usually citrus), and see if it changes the smell of the citrus on its own. If it does, you can smell its effect, and that's what matters. Make sense?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thanks for echoing my suggestion.
 

Hirondelle d'hiver

Basenotes Member
Feb 3, 2016
I get the impression that I've caused offence. None was intended, apologies if there has been any.

Perhaps I should have prefaced my suggestion with "following on from David's original suggestion..."


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

LeighAnne

Basenotes Member
Jan 25, 2016
I have written before about a way to learn to smell musks and other difficult materials.
I can't smell galaxolide , musk T as easy as I can smell habanolide or musk ketone for example.
Although I have noticed that I'm not equally anosmic to the materials throughout the day.
What I do with such materials is that I spray myself with a solution 10% to 20% of the material, and of course that day I don't wear perfume.

You will notice that there will be moments during the day, lets say in the cold evening air after work where you will smell the materials, and actually very very well.

Now I know that exaltolide is more elegant than galaxolide or habanolide is more fresh.

Musks are very important materials in perfumery. I have made perfume with little musk, but no perfume without musk, so it is very important to learn to smell them.
At least the major ones.

This is a really interesting observation Nicok! I'm definitely going to try it. Thanks for sharing
 

Filipsson

Super Member
Dec 28, 2015
A small update: After going through this thread, I got inspired to try some experiments again. Just as the failed tests earlier, I diluted some materials that I cant smell, in a very low concentration. I also tried mixing with some other material to see if I noticed an effect on them. So far I learned to smell Norlimbanol. It came through intensly and dark. I think the decriptions I have read also helped my brain on the way, as if it needed guidance in finding what to look for. So I associate the scent with a kind of woody sawdusty darkness. However, no success yet on the ambermax or boisambrene.

I also agree with many others, that the nos have its good and bad days. Musks are usually no problem for me, but some days I cant pick up one or two of them. Sometimes in the mornings the nose is not ready either. Its like if the eyes were gravelly for a couple of hours after waking up, or you could only hear up to 8000 Hz before lunch.


/Pelle
 

Serg Ixygon

Basenotes Junkie
May 2, 2015
I moved from the flat in crazy Moscow city to the country house in a village and after couple of week among clean air I found out that my nose feels more and more AC than before. Benzyl Benzoate- galbanum, Benzyl SAlicylate - powerful like Hedion, also I hear musks. I could not say that I'm definetely happy of that. Because it means that the risque to create invisible perfume for me is getting higher. How many women feel BS- 20%, 50%, 80%? or musks? or sandals? I think it's not good to feel invisible AC while your customers do not feel it. Last fall I tested perfume of one well trained perfumer and felt nothing. Now I understand that may he creates a masterpiece but invisible for ordinary people. What a problem....
 

Serg Ixygon

Basenotes Junkie
May 2, 2015
I'm possessed by BS now. Drinking Chinese green tea with jasmine I suddenly understand that it's flavoured by BS. I will not buy that tea anymore.
 

kellybelly26

Basenotes Member
May 6, 2016
I just started and I know I have weak nose. But it doesn't matter I'm just going to make what I can smell and what I like!

If you can't smell Musk, then don't use it! Try Amber:)) Mmmm...Ambber

My two cents..
 

kellybelly26

Basenotes Member
May 6, 2016
I just started and I know I have weak nose. But it doesn't matter I'm just going to make what I can smell and what I like!

If you can't smell Musk, then don't use it! Try Amber) Mmmm...Ambber

My two cents..
 

naivemelody

New member
Jul 3, 2016
I'm not a perfumer but was hoping someone on his site could help me figure out what's going on. I have been wearing sandalwood oil inconsistently for years and have always been able to smell it just fine. Then I sampled a friend's Amber oil from Nemat international and wanted a bottle of it for myself because it smelled so amazing. It's not a typical Amber and I think it's proper name is Amber white. It's like a clean musk I would say. Anyway I was initially doing to purchase it off of amazon but noticed a ton of negative reviews for it stating it must've been diluted because after the first few uses the customers were no longer able to smell it. I thought well maybe the middle man on Amazon is diluting it so I'll just buy it from a local store. I did that and was able to smell the scent from taking a whiff from the bottle and also when I dabbed some of the oil on my wrists. Then a couple hours later I couldn't smell it on my wrists anymore so I went to dab more on. But was unable to smell it at all - from inside the bottle or when reapplying to my skin. I returned the bottle and asked the sales rep to tell me if he could smell it from the bottle and he said he could not. I took this as confirmation there was something wrong with the product. I was convinced the bottle was filled almost completely with scentless carrier oil then topped off with just a little fragrance. Spoke to a rep at Nemat who insisted they aren't diluting it and haven't changed their process. Also offered to send me another bottle in the mail and promised to check it for scent beforehand. Got the bottle in the mail and the same thing happened all over again except faster this time. Mind you, the bottle I had bought from a store and then returned was over 2 weeks ago. And I don't have a history of wearing this oil at all. I sometimes wear sandalwood oil but even that isn't often. So I can't understand why I'm having this reaction. It's almost like a cross between olfactory fatigue and anosmia. Because it's not as if I can't smell it at all. I can initially but then very quickly it's like my nose becomes immune to it. I'm just wondering if it's happened to anyone else or if there is anything I can do about it. Also, I'm guessing this Amber oil from Nemat is musk based and that probably has something to do with it.
 

naivemelody

New member
Jul 3, 2016
Not at all? With me there is an oil from Nemat international called Amber but I'm betting it's actually a musk because I cannot smell it for more than a few minutes. So I guess I have just partial anosmia? I don't wear this all the time either. Just tried to buy it and start wearing it but after the very first application was no longer able to smell it. I guess if I only wear it every few weeks I'll be able to detect it but even then only for a few minutes apparently. It's so sooo weird. Am trying to find someone who is able to smell it initially like me. Wish I wasn't able to smell it at all so I didn't know what I was missing!!
 

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