scents and sensitivity, the sensitive nose

First of all, my apologies to Jane Austen. 

I have a sensitive nose. My nose is very sensitive to certain smells, namely, cheap and unnatural smells. In short, I like expensive scents. You know, Chanel, Goutal, Balmain, Dior, for perfume. I like Diptyque candles, good recently roasted, freshly ground coffee, flowers that actually have a scent, and the smell of a baby’s neck. Even though some of these things are not expensive, they can be as hard to get these days as sun and line-dried bedsheets, another smell to love.

As we know, scents are closely tied to memory. I know a scent can evoke the very best feelings and memories in me. I’m like a hound, rushing up the street, to follow some well dressed matron because her expensive perfume reminds me of my mother’s friend 30 years ago.

Expensive, though, isn’t the only criteria for my nose and it’s sensitivity. My nose is weirdly pleased by smells that most people would never call pleasant. Like lots of people, I like the smell of the sea, but unlike others, I like the smell that comes through the grates, up onto the street, from the New York City subway. Strange, I know, but I do.

Then there are the smells that make me want to run, literally run. As an ex smoker, (ex smokers are the worst about this) one of those is the smell of cigarettes. When I pass by smokers, huddled in the corners, on the street, I hold my breath until I pass them. But for me, the worst, the absolute worst smell is the smell of cheap industrial cleaners. 

Before becoming a full-time blogger, I worked on the front lines at non-profits. I worked in shelters for the homeless, homes for the severely mentally ill, and the YMCA. In all those places, the maintenance departments can’t afford to buy decent smelling cleaning products, so they are forced to buy huge drums of cheap, foul smelling, viscous stuff. As a matter of fact, to me, the disinfectants they use often smell just as bad as the smells the stuff is meant to dispel. But this is becoming gross.

Years ago I learned that I love the scents they use in Europe, and since then I’ve always looked for those European smells. I don’t know why we continued to believe that Europeans don’t bathe and smell bad for as long as we did. I always found that the perfumes, colognes, shampoos, and deodorants in Europe smelled wonderful, so did the people. 

One of my favorite European products is Vitabath Original Spring Green Gelée. Plainly put, it’s a bath soap, but it is to a grocery store bargain brand as a Hershey bar is to Lake Champlain Chocolate. There’s no comparison. It has a really thick, smooth texture and it’s this beautiful vivid green color. For 58 years it has come in a white plastic container, the sight of which makes me want to immediately jump into the shower.

The smell is definitely “piney” but this is not a Christmas pine. It smells like the woods but the woods in Spring, after you’ve had a swim in the sea and lavender lemonade with lunch. It smells of health, kind of like you would imagine a really fine German health spa might, and it was in fact first made in Germany. It also really does seem to soften your skin, but it’s the smell, I guarantee it, that will get you. 

Here it is, Vitabath.



P.S. I love the chic little independent pharmacies, in New York, the way other people like hardware stores. I especially like the quirky, European and other less well known products they sell. I think I’m going to do reviews of the pharmacies, and the products they sell, a regular thing in the blog.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *