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In Perfumery, what is a Nose?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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A nose is someone who develops new perfume blends, ranging from the blends used in personalized perfumes to scents which will be added to things like soaps and shampoos. At any given time, there are thousands of noses in the world, but only around 50 are truly talented individuals, some of whom are famous in their own right. The best perfume companies employ several noses to work on their scents, with others choosing to work independently, forming their own companies for the production and sale of fragrances.

The technical name for a nose is "perfumer," with "nose" being more like a friendly slang term. In order to become a perfumer, someone has to have a natural aptitude for scent, combined with an extensive period of training. The best noses train in Grasse, France, a region which has been renowned for its perfume production for centuries, and it can take seven or more years to complete perfumery training.

Traditionally, a nose would have trained as an apprentice, working with another perfumer, often a family member, to learn the tricks of the trade. In addition to being able to identify and blend scents, a nose must also think about issues like the cost of production, the stability of a scent after bottling, and how a scent will interact with other substances. Modern noses typically pursue advanced degrees in chemistry in addition to training in the scent industry, and many also study psychology, since psychology is a very important aspect of the perfume industry.

The services of an extremely talented nose can be quite costly. Noses are capable of isolating and identifying thousands of scents, and they use a wide variety of resources to come up with scent blends suitable for a range of individuals. When creating a new fragrance, a nose thinks about who the scent will be marketed to, and where it will be sold, as people of different classes, genders, and nationalities prefer different scents. They are also capable of designing scents for specific individuals; such services are usually only available to extremely wealthy people, and the blend remains the proprietary property of the nose.

Working as a nose might sound romantic, but it's also hard work. A nose must be hyperaware to all of the factors which can influence a scent, ranging from substances in the paper blotters they use to test fragrance oils to ambient odors in the laboratory. Most elite noses are assisted by support staffs and apprentices who hope to learn the trade from a master.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon80450 — On Apr 27, 2010

How do you find out if you have the right nose to work at one of these companies?

By anon78484 — On Apr 19, 2010

Real noses really create innovations by treating /applying a number of chemicals to make a new perfume.

I disagree with author regarding 50 noses across the world. For his further information I want to disclose that there are number of perfumers working on perfumery for centuries on natural perfumes or attars.

Identifying chemicals is countable but less important than identifying natural perfumes.

Thanks and regards.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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