Same Perfume, Different Scent

The other day I heard someone say that the scent of sandalwood smells different on everyone. I’ve also bought some perfume because it smelled good on my friend, but when I sprayed some on myself it didn’t smell the same at all. This made me wonder if all perfumes smell different on people or only certain scents. I knew that people have different body chemistries and scents react in various ways, but I had no idea how.

Nuria Estape, a science journalist for The Healthy Skin Blog claims that skin is made of different chemical compounds, which are released into the air through evaporation by the eccrine and apocrine glands, therefore creating a natural scent. sn7_sweat_glandsThe natural scent then blends with the perfume and creates a scent unique to each individual.  According to Karen Kirkpatrick, “The perfume chemicals that stay on your skin longer mix with your own skin’s chemistry, which changes all the time due to things like heat, humidity, sweat, medications, diet — even age.” There are three “notes” or layers to a perfume. The first is released into the air 15 minutes after applying the perfume, the second layer is only noticeable after 2 hours of application because the chemicals evaporate from your skin slower, and the third or base note appears within 5 hours of spritzing the perfume; so instead of body chemistry having an effect on perfume, there could be a third variable involved.

Another possibility could be due to the receptors in your nose which varies from person to person. Dr. Joel Mainland discovered that out of 400 receptors “30 per cent of receptors are different between two individuals at random.” Dr. Joel Mainland conducted an experiment in which he cloned 511 receptors and put them into host cells, then measured how each receptor responded to 73 different scents. His research revealed that “changing one particular receptor meant that some people smell a specific type of steroid as a pleasant sandalwood – while others thought it smells like pee.” This information tells us that other than your natural scent mixing with the perfume, your nose receptors may also be effecting the way you perceive a scent.

So next time you buy a perfume, spritz a bit of the sample on and wait for awhile to ensure that all 3 notes of the perfume mixes well with your natural scent. You may also want to ask for your friends’ opinions on the fragrance because it might smell bad without you even knowing it!


One thought on “Same Perfume, Different Scent

  1. Colleen Byrne

    I’ve definitely experienced this before. My friend put on a perfume that smelled so good, so I quickly grabbed the bottle from her and spritzed it on myself, but it didn’t smell nice at ALL. It made me feel gross, and the worst part is that you can’t really get rid of the scent, you just have to try and mask it which often times just ends up even worse. However, my mom steals my perfume all of the time and it smells the same on here that it does on me, so I wonder if your genes play a role in your natural skin scent as well as what your nose smells.

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