The sweet spot of perfumery
Even if you've come a long way to reach your favorite perfume store, it is important to keep in mind the nose’s limit.
Visiting a perfume store can be a pleasant experience when a beautiful collection is accompanied by good advice, but it can quickly turn into a nightmare when the haze of multiple perfumes sprayed in the air makes the atmosphere unbreathable.
Under good conditions, it is recommended not to smell more than 5 scents consecutively. Any more and your olfactory receptors will likely be saturated. Furthermore, the small bowls of coffeebeans, traditionally placed at arm’s length around the perfumery, do not regenerate these receptors as effectively as we think.
That said, it all depends on the environment you find yourself in. In a selective perfumery (Sephora, Marionnaud, etc.), the air, usually filled with odors, will saturate your olfactory receptors even before you have had time to test perfume. In contrast, niche shops or department stores, often less confined spatially, are suitable for testing perfumes without fear of overwhelming the senses.
Professional training can also prolong a person’s test sessions in perfumery. If 5 scents are generally recommended per visit, a more experienced perfumer will still be in full control of their olfactory capacities after ten or even twenty tests!
Note to self: Coffee is great for waking up in the morning, but its power to prolong testing sessions isn’t as guaranteed!