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What's Wrong With My Sniffer? (Anybody else experience this?)

Only been into wet shaving maybe 3 yrs. Before that was into fragrances for a couple yrs. Saying that to say, the scent part of shaving soaps and aftershaves are still fairly high on my priority list, moreso than most other factors like slickness, post-shave feel, etc. Which brings me to my dilemma: It seems like on certain scents I either don't smell much or nothing at all. I've narrowed it down to fresh & aquatic scents being the most common, but there's a handful of other soaps and A/S as well, where I'm just not picking up much scent even though other people seemed to be wowed by them.

WSP Barbershop was the first soap I discovered this about; People wowed it, but when I got my tub and used it, couldn't smell a dern thing. So for a few yrs I stayed away from most barbershop scents. Then I got into Stirling quite a bit. They have some really great scented soaps and A/S I love such as MITA, Haverford, Piacenza, Iced Pineapple and EMP. But there were a few (thank God I only got samples of) that other people wowed, but I could hardly smell: Stirling Gentleman, Stirling Noir, Stirling Blu, Ramblin' Man, Mountain Man, which my nose could hardly pick up at all. Mountain Man being the exception, that though still subtle, my nose finally started to pick up and I now appreciate. I thought maybe they had some bad batches. But I've since sampled other brands who also have their share of lightly scented soaps (so it's definitely not just Stirling). And I found aquatic & fresh scents are the biggest culprits, at least for me. Knowing that, I stay away from that group and/or don't blind buy.

Any of you experience this? Or have a good explanation why this happens?
 

Rhody

I'm a Lumberjack.
Wsp aftershaves are one of the top strength I’ve found. Sometimes over time I think aftershave can lose potency but if you are not smelling anything I’d think you might have bigger issues with smell? Have you checked that out.
 
Back in November, I tested positive for COVID 19, even though I had gotten my vaccines. Back then it was probably the Delta variant. One of my symptoms was the loss of smell. I could not smell all the wonderful aromas of my shaving soaps. Fortunately, over the next few weeks my symptoms disappeared and my sense of smell returned to normal. However, I understand that some people never regain their sense of smell.

Many of the scents you are having difficulty smelling are those which are fairly subtle. My wife has a deviated septum that affects her sense of smell. She thinks most of my shaving soaps smell the same. She also has difficulty detecting flavors in foods and beverages. She can tell the difference in the taste of coffee and tea, but to her, all coffee taste the same and a green tea tastes like plain water. WHen cooking, I am the one who has to season the food. This condition has affected her all her life, so she is accustomed to it.

Since it is your brain that interprets the scents, your nose and brain have to both function optimally for the sense of smell to work. Thus, injury to the brain can also affect sense of smell. Depending upon location, a brain tumor can affect various senses.

If you think back to when your sense of smell began to diminish, do you associate it with any specific event such as an illness or injury.

You might want to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist to see if you have a condition that might have affected your sense of smell. It might be treatable. Hopefully, you do not have a brain tumor, but if you do, the sooner it is detected the better the chances for recovery.
 
You are not alone in this regard, at least in the case of soaps.

I too got a sample of Stirling Barbershop and I couldn't discern any specific scent from it in both dry and lathered state.

I get nothing in the aquatic scents of most soaps, so I generally skip them altogether. If I try too hard to find various notes in a soap which has aquatic, sandy, or sea notes then my nose simply declares it as salty air, and that immediately puts me off.

I get a lot of notes from fruity, softer notes soaps like Stirling Evie, Inquity for Her, Tabac, Apricot Pie, etc.
 
I too was right away thinking COVID until you indicated that this started a few years back (with WSP Barbershop), so that's out.
It could be that maybe you're just becoming accustomed to certain scents and don't pick up on them as well. As I get older I notice that certain things don't quite taste the same to me, but I haven't noticed it with smell (yet). I don't know that I would be overly concerned with a brain tumor taking into account that this started a "few" years ago. Speaking as a cancer survivor, I would think that there would be other more telling symptoms by now.
My friendly advice to you is to discuss the matter with your PCP, and ask for a referral to an ENT. Let the experts get to the bottom of it and put any questions/worries to rest.
Best wishes 👍
 
You are not alone in this regard, at least in the case of soaps.

I too got a sample of Stirling Barbershop and I couldn't discern any specific scent from it in both dry and lathered state.

I get nothing in the aquatic scents of most soaps, so I generally skip them altogether. If I try too hard to find various notes in a soap which has aquatic, sandy, or sea notes then my nose simply declares it as salty air, and that immediately puts me off.

I get a lot of notes from fruity, softer notes soaps like Stirling Evie, Inquity for Her, Tabac, Apricot Pie, etc.
Citrus usually pops for me in straight up scents: orange, black cherry, lemon, etc. Except when it's in the background, it might not make any difference.
 
I too was right away thinking COVID until you indicated that this started a few years back (with WSP Barbershop), so that's out.
It could be that maybe you're just becoming accustomed to certain scents and don't pick up on them as well. As I get older I notice that certain things don't quite taste the same to me, but I haven't noticed it with smell (yet). I don't know that I would be overly concerned with a brain tumor taking into account that this started a "few" years ago. Speaking as a cancer survivor, I would think that there would be other more telling symptoms by now.
My friendly advice to you is to discuss the matter with your PCP, and ask for a referral to an ENT. Let the experts get to the bottom of it and put any questions/worries to rest.
Best wishes 👍
I will second the age thing. My sense of smell and taste have changed dramatically. Once I quite smoking it became much more sensitive, then my preferences changed too.
 
Wsp aftershaves are one of the top strength I’ve found. Sometimes over time I think aftershave can lose potency but if you are not smelling anything I’d think you might have bigger issues with smell? Have you checked that out.
A few of their scents were perfect for me, Tobacco, Tobacco & Vanilla, and Olympus. A few were even too strong or strong but not to my taste, so it's not across the board that I'm losing a sense of smell.
 
Hmm, sorry to hear about this issue, and with Stirling soaps too! If I'm not mistaken they're known for their vibrant scents.

I wonder if there is anything that you can do to "reset" your sense of smell? Years ago I Remember visiting a the retail shop of big New England candle manufacturer. In the section where they had bins upon bins (literally scores) of scented votives, they placed glass shakers (like the ones used for parmesan/pepper flakes in pizza restaurants) full of coffee beans. When you became "nose-blind" from spelling the votives, you just took a whiff of the coffee beans and voila, you could once again smell the candle scents.
 
I know my sense of smell is different from most folk, cause I've learned over the years that when folk go on and on about how bad cat pee smells, apparently they aren't making it up. I wont ever know, however as I straight up cannot smell it.
 
The other thing that might come into play is the blending of the scent. I have sensitive skin and many simple scents irritate my face. Thus, I look for complex, well-blended cologne type scents that do not have any single scent that dominates the aroma. An recent addition to my den is Grooming Dept Pasio'n with scent notes of: Pear, Ginger, Tuberose, Narcissus, Hay, Honey, Amber, Leather, Patchouli, and Musks. I love the overall impression of the aroma, but there is no way I could identify any of the specific scent notes. They just all blend together.
 
I believe that I may have developed "scent blindness" with regard to sandalwood. When I apply Ethos products with real Mysore sandalwood essential oil (the acknowledged gold standard for sandalwood), I don't sense the sandalwood, certainly not the way I smelled sandalwood when I was growing up. OTOH, these products drive my wife to distraction when I use them. I suspect that I may be overapplying the products because I simply don't sense a main scent component--the sandalwood.
 
Citrus usually pops for me in straight up scents: orange, black cherry, lemon, etc. Except when it's in the background, it might not make any difference.
This sounds a lot like me when I was recovering from my COVID loss of smell/taste. I used a puck of Williams during that time because I was glad to be able to smell anything, even citronella. I also knew an old guy who lost his sense of smell/taste almost completely for the rest of his life after a bad cold and he liked to eat key lime and lemon meringue pie for dessert. He said citrus was the only thing he could taste. So that symptom at least sounds familiar to me.
 
Loss of smell can be an early warning of Parkinson's disease.
Another possibility is sensory overload. When you are standing at a bus stop and a girl walks by ponging of perfume, you might think she is being unsubtle and using far too much. Yes, she is, but not knowing it. Her brain has switched off to it, so she has to keep using more. Our brains are good at filtering out constant sensations that would drive you mad.
On the other hand, the other suggestions given are just as likely.
 
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