Possible Musk Anosmia Experiment

I’ve found a great deal of variation in how well people smell different musk ingredients that I use, and I thought it might be interesting to try to see if there are any patterns to the musks that each individual can and can’t smell.  I could make samples of ten or so musk ingredients diluted to a very low skin safe level in perfumer’s alcohol and then send them out to someone to sniff and post here which seemed strongest/easiest to detect and which seemed lightest.  Then that person could send the package to someone else, who could sniff and report back.

I’m wondering if someone can’t smell one musk if that makes them less likely to smell others that are similar in odor or similar chemically.  For example, ethylene brassylate and Arova smell similar to me, but not identical.  Habanolide and Helvetolide are similar to me.  If you can’t smell one of these, are you less likely to detect others that are similar?

This would be a small sampling of people so it may not be statistically significant, but it might still be fun and interesting.  Some data must already exist on this topic; I bet companies like IFF and Givaudan have studied this.  I’ll look into it and see if I can find anything.

I don’t know if enough people would be interested in a musk anosmia traveling package, but it might be fun for people as long as they are willing to send the package along either to someone they know who is interested or to someone who requests it on the blog.  People would need to mail the package out within a week of receiving it so it didn’t take forever to circulate.  It’s something we can consider doing if there’s interest in it. 

Meantime, I need to remember when I use musks in formulations that people will smell the fragrance very differently depending on their perception of musks.  Custom scent work is fun because I can have people smell the ingredients first and use the ones they perceive the best, but for scents on the website that contain musks there will always be variation in how they work for each individual.

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  1. I’ve always wondered if I couldn’t smell certain musks. That would be interesting and I would love to help. In addition, I already know who I’d send the package to when I was done!

  2. I suppose we could start and if it gets stuck somewhere with someone not knowing who to send it to they could email me and I could give a suggestion after getting permission from a volunteer. Main thing is to tabulate the results to see if there are some musks that are more common culprits and if some seem to correlate with others. I still think there must be some research on this beyond the basic stuff I’ve seen.

    Glad you’re interested! I’ll try to put this in motion.

    Still working on the new scents, between orders. Trying a new tactic on Ambre Noir today.

    It is over 100 here today! Must be very hot where you are!

  3. I’d love to take part in this! I’ve sent you an e-mail 🙂 I don’t know that I have anosmia with any musks, but there’s definitely some that I like more than others, so it would be interesting to have a name to put with them.

  4. Sure, Gail! Glad you want to try it. I’m thinking if people are shy to post they could email me their results and I could put up a summary tabulation a few times as we collect data so it would be anonymous. I’m trying to figure out how to get it around to anyone who wants a sniff. Thanks for letting me know you’d be interested!

  5. Actually, it’d also be fun if people gave a few words to describe some of them in addition to how strong/weak they seem. For example traesolide has a funny musty nuance to me; the mustiness goes beyond earthiness (I like earthiness) into true musty territory. It’d be fun to see if anyone else gets that too.

  6. I would love to be involved in this. I’ve been curious, especially after trying very hard to smell the musk in a specific perfume and just not getting it. I know who I would send it to as well.

  7. Hi Tessa! Yes, it’s a fascinating subject! Thanks for stopping by. Your input would be great so I’ll note you as interested in this project.

    I plan to start putting the package together this weekend. I’m not sure how we’ll coordinate the mailing sequence, but I think we have plenty of interest. If the package makes good progress on its rounds and we have lots of people I could possibly get a second package going around too.

  8. Laurie, you’ve made me want to try more musk-based fragrances. Have you tried Montale’s White Musk? It’s wonderful. The notes (from Luckyscent.com) are “white musk”, violet leaves, ylang ylang, geranium. I don’t smell the ylang ylang, which is good for me because I only like it very small amounts.

  9. I tried a Montale musk that I liked but I’m not sure if it was the White Musk; the early names changed around a bit and became confusing. It was a nice one though. I’ll have to try the recent version.

    I do better with ylang in small amounts too. I’ve not been able to use the EO yet in blends; I always end up going for the absolute, which has less of that medicinal thing going on and seems smoother to me. I’ve tried the “extra” as well as all three fractions, but I still prefer the absolute from what I’ve sampled so far. Ylang seems good at rounding out floral accords if used at a really tiny percent.

    I like geranium if it is spicy, green, and rosey but not soapy. Many geranium EOs have a soapy nuance I don’t like. But I do like the other aspects of geranium. It’s another one better in small amounts for me.

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