Do people like to smell like hockey

Fragrance expert: "The loss of the sense of smell is a catastrophe"

Rotten eggs, worn sports socks or the subway on a hot summer's day - one would like to ignore so many odor. But enduring a little smell is better than not smelling anything. The sense of smell influences interpersonal relationships, concentration or relaxation and can protect against danger and poor nutrition. However, many do not notice the loss of the sense of smell, because it often slowly disappears. This is different in the case of accidents or corona infections, where this happens all of a sudden. A kind of physiotherapy for the nose can be done to restore the olfactory ability as quickly and completely as possible. Perfumer Marie Le Febvre and Alexander Urban from Urban Scents in Berlin explain how this works and what the pandemic means for the sense of smell.

DEFAULT: What is it like to be a fragrance expert with an FFP2 mask?

Alexander Urban: For example, when I want to buy fruit or vegetables, I smell them. I am a bit restricted there right now.

Marie Le Febvre: I also perceive smells with the mask. This morning I walked past the bakery and smelled the freshly baked croissants. Of course, I can't wear the mask all the time at work. After all, it's my job to smell.

DEFAULT: Is it still possible with a mask and a distance to say whether you can "smell good"?

Urban: The anti-corona measures are important, but something interpersonal is definitely lost. Biochemical reactions in the body are what determine a person's true smell. With a mask and at a distance, however, you can only perceive a certain part of the odorous substances. When you can get close again without restrictions, some will be surprised that they can't actually smell each other at all.

DEFAULT: If people smell less in everyday life because of the mask, do they spray more perfume or ask for stronger fragrances?

Urban: It may well be that more is applied now. We hope that a countertrend will emerge after the pandemic and that people will be careful with smells.

DEFAULT: Why do you even use perfume when you're just sitting at home?

Le Febvre: There are two types of perfume audience. For the "loyal", perfume is part of the care routine. They always wear the same scent. Even at home in lockdown. Then there are the "fashionistas" who wear the perfumes that are currently in vogue. The fragrance acts as an accessory. In the event of a lockdown, these customers are less likely to buy perfumes. Personally, I wear the fragrances that I'm working on right now. It's a kind of "market research". I watch how my environment reacts to it.

DEFAULT: During the lockdowns, many companies opted for online shops. Is this channel, through which no odors can be conveyed, also suitable for the sale of perfumes?

Urban: If the description texts for the fragrances are well done, they will lead to purchases. Sampling kits are also a great way to make up for the shortcomings of online retailing. In any case, it is good to try a scent at home for a day or two and not on a strip of paper in the shop. The mess of fragrances in large perfumeries can also be overwhelming. In addition, there is supermarket psychology. The placement of the fragrances also plays a role. Some customers do not even come to the product that would be right for them because they are killed beforehand.

DEFAULT: You offer an olfactory training kit on your website. What is it about?

Le Febvre: An olfactory training is a simple therapy method for loss of smell. We developed the odor training set in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Hummel developed by the interdisciplinary center "Smell and Taste" at the University ENT Clinic in Dresden.

Urban: Prof. Dr. Hummel has been dealing with the issue of odor loss for over ten years. It is based on the Henning prism (Assignment of the basic smells fruity, flowery, spicy, resinous and burnt along the corners of a prism, note) Tests made with ingredients to identify and treat odor loss.

DEFAULT: Why is your set needed if it already exists?

Urban: Prof. Dr. Hummel had done his tests with four smells that cover the fragrance spectrum: lemon, rose, clove and eucalyptus, which also has the trigeminal sense (Stimuli of the trigeminal nerve are perceived as sharp, tingling, biting or cooling, note.) appeals to. We got him to add birch pitch. It smells burnt, smoked. Without a sense of smell, it is easier to let food burn or to notice a fire too late. So it's also a security issue. It is interesting that people sometimes perceive the lemon or the rose, but not the birch pitch, although it is the strongest substance.

Le Febvre: For these tests, the smells are usually "recreated" with a few chemicals. A rose scent mixed together in the laboratory is like a caricature. It only activates specific places in the brain. The scent of a real rose is more complex, stimulates a whole spectrum in the brain. That is why we only used high-quality, natural ingredients for our set.

DEFAULT: In your profession, are you particularly afraid of getting infected with corona and thereby possibly losing your sense of smell?

Urban: Loss of smell is generally a disaster, and for perfumers an even greater one. It would be like chopping off a pianist's finger. We are very careful. We knew fairly early on that the coronavirus could affect the sense of smell, and we were quickly personally affected. Two of our best friends, independent perfumers in Paris, don't smell everything, despite having survived Covid-19 infection. That is what inspired us to create the odor training kit. It is a good therapy tool, but it takes patience and perseverance. Many people lack it, they stop after a few days. However, it can take four to five months for the sense of smell to be restored.

DEFAULT: Should people who do not suffer from acute loss of smell also exercise their nose?

Urban: Older people in particular can use the set to stay olfactory fit. Half of people over 70 smell little or nothing, but are not aware of it. This is because it is usually a gradual process. Anyone who does not smell properly, salt or sweeten food excessively, is therefore eating poorly. This can lead to conditions like type 2 diabetes.

DEFAULT: Can you also use fragrances in a targeted manner? For better concentration or relaxation, for example?

Urban: Citrus fruits or mint are suitable for concentration, lavender, sweet orange or sandalwood for calming. But everything used very delicately. If you put the oils in an aroma lamp, i.e. burn them, this can have the opposite effect. Essential oils are sensitive, and if possible you shouldn't heat them, but rather apply them to a neutral scent carrier, for example wooden balls, on which they can evaporate well.

DEFAULT: What's your favorite fragrance?

Le Febvre: As a perfumer, it is difficult to name a favorite fragrance. I love the smell of my son. It's still little so it smells nice (laughs). There are also smells that are connected with my personal story, with my life and that bring back memories. Vetiver and vanilla, for example, both raw materials from La RĂ©union. I have family ties with the island and grew up with smells. (Michael Steingruber, RONDO, March 18, 2021)