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Does my sense of smell change with age?

If somebody today bought me the same perfume I yearned for at age 10, my scent would resemble sticky pink fairy floss. This may be endearing for a young girl, but a 22-year old smelling like fairy floss seems to lose any charm. So. Does our sense of smell change over time?


Our sense of smell begins right at the start of our lives. At just two days old, babies turn to the recognisable scent of their mothers while also showing arousal or aversion to other smells they begin to associate with positive or negative experiences. This continues well into adulthood, where our sense of smell becomes clearer and more acute. As we progress through life, our olfactory system is creates a bank of associations between scents and emotions. This is the basis of our preference towards certain smells.

There is a general agreement that as we age, our olfactory function declines. This affects not only our sense of smell, but it also impairs our ability to discriminate between smells. However, this is not the only way in which our sense of smell changes. As our experiences with smell widen, our knowledge regarding what we like and dislike becomes clearer. Furthermore, the aging process gives us a sense of self-understanding. As we learn more about who we are and the image we want to portray, the family of scents we enjoy are likely to change.

So if you’ve grown out of your sweet Britney Spears, your sticky One Direction or your sugary Paris Hilton, remember, you are not alone.

Filed under: FAQ Tagged: age, attraction, changes, perfume, Perfume Clearance Centre, scent