Perfume and Deodorant

Ah, body odor, modern humanity’s odorous enemy. No matter what the virtues of body odor used to be–smelling bad is now a faux pas and people often equate smelling like BO to having bad hygiene. Now, some of us can’t help how we smell. Some of us sweat more than others, some of us exercise a lot and thus sweat more, some of us just have more odor. Enter deodorant, soap, perfume, and other deodorizing, smell good agents.

I’m shocked constantly by how many times people ask if they should use deodorant if they use perfume and vice versa. The answer is, sure, if you want to. I suppose the real question here is, how do you use deodorant and perfume without one overpowering the other or without creating a miasma of convoluted scent? The answer to that is simple too.

If you’re going to wear a perfume and need to wear deodorant as well, you should go for an unscented deodorant. The reason why you should avoid scented deodorants if you’re going to rock some perfume is because deodorant scents are strong, hardy things. Many of them project well, and have excellent longevity. Deodorants need to be robust because the purpose behind them is to both control odor and mask it. So chances are, a scented deodorant will overpower or mingle with perfume you choose to use.

There are a ton of unscented deodorants out there and if you don’t like the unscented stuff, using a deodorant with a light smell is good too. Some companies even brand men and women’s unscented deodorant–which is just asinine if you ask me.

Some of my picks for unscented deodorants include:

  • Mitchum Unscented Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant (Gel)
  • Dove Antiperspirant & Deodorant, Unscented for Sensitive Skin (Solid)
  • Crystal Stick Body Deodorant (Rock)

Just a forewarning, this is not a deodorant review site and I am not a deodorant expert. I will warn, however, that deodorants containing aluminum can cause a yellow, cakey build-up on clothing for some people. The result is a ruined shirt. And, let’s admit it, it’s kinda gross to look at too and probably not very comfortable to feel.

If you don’t sweat a lot, I highly recommend using deodorants without aluminum like the rock-type deodorants. If you’re okay with a lightly scented deodorant, I can recommend The Body Shop’s DeoDry deodorants as an aluminum-free option with scent. If you do sweat a lot and worry about odor these options may not work as well for you.

Which leads me to the next  question that gets asked rather often, “Can’t I just spray my perfume under my armpits?” Well, you certainly could on a strictly scented-view (I’m not a dermatologist either and can’t say whether spraying perfume on your armpits is a good idea or bad idea on a medical standpoint) but keep in mind that perfumes weren’t formulated to be deodorants.

They’re more delicate for one, won’t last as long for another, and weren’t developed to suppress odor and mask it at the same time. The most a perfume would do on your pits is mask the scent until you start sweating and giving off odor.

Remember, one of the ways perfumes give off their scent is through heat. They give more scent if it is hot and they don’t last as long when it is hot. So when you’re sweating and your body  temperature is elevated your perfume will be projecting a ton at first but its lifespan is probably going to be pretty dismal. That’s not to mention your natural body odor will mix with the perfume’s scent and what you end up with might be a concoction that smells similar to armpits, salt and sour vanilla.

Finally, please note that perfume and deodorant are two different things. I know how obvious that sounds but you won’t believe how many people buy a can of spray deodorant and insist that they are using perfume. It’s not perfume. It is a deodorant spray and it has a far different function than perfume.

So that’s the low-down. Use an unscented deodorant, or a lightly scented one, and wear your perfume freely–just not on your armpits.

Crystal Stick Body Deodorant

Perfume FAQ, Part 3

Part 3 of the Perfume FAQ for common questions that keep coming up regarding perfume. I collect these questions from common misconceptions and queries I get regarding fragrances.  If you have a perfume related question, please leave a comment.

Q. What is the best perfume in the world?
A. No perfume is widely recognized as “the best”. Labeling a perfume as the best would be like labeling a color as the best. It’s too subjective, there’s too much variety, and everyone has a different opinion. There are classifications for most widely known perfume (Chanel No. 5) and best in class for the year according to certain organizations (FiFi Awards). Then there’s recognition for things that veer away from the fragrance itself such as world’s most expensive packaging (here’s lookin’ at you, Clive Christian). But as for best perfume in the world? Can’t be done. What’s the best depends entirely on you when it comes to this one.

Q. What are some nice perfumes that are inexpensive?
A. Enjoying fragrances doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. If you like chasing brand names or niche lines, you will punch a hole through your wallet sooner or later. But if you just want to enjoy some nice, inexpensive, scents then check out Victoria’s Secret ($10-70), Bath and Body Works ($10-40), Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab ($17.50-25), The Body Shop ($20-40) and the huge variety of celebuscents that can often be purchased from discounters (like FragranceX) for much less than at a department store. Reputable discounters are good for some designer brands though you shouldn’t expect too much of a discount when you’re dealing with designers like Chanel or niche lines like Creed. Wal*Mart also usually sells legitimate fragrances for a bit cheaper than a department store would. If you know what you’re doing and are confident, then eBay can have a lot of good fragrance deals. And if you want to hook yourself up with some vintage perfumes, estate sales can sometimes yield excellent results and of course, the aforementioned eBay for vintages is always an option.

Q. Is there a difference between a counterfeit fragrance and a designer impostor fragrance?
A. Yes. Counterfeits are fragrances that are manufactured to look like and mimic the appearance of a real designer perfume. It is  illegal to sell, trade or deal in fake or counterfeit fragrances. Many counterfeit fragrances contain poor  quality materials, volatile materials, watered down perfume, and sometimes harmful ingredients. A designer impostor fragrance is a fragrance produced by a company to mimic the smell of a designer perfume. Many times these impostor scents get a few of the predominant notes right but miss when it comes to the rest. This often results in a less complex imitation of the original fragrance and some perfume lovers prefer this. The perfumes marketed as designer impostors are not counterfeits as they are clearly marked as impostors and not as the “real” thing. The designs of the packaging are also not at all supposed to resemble the designs of the real fragrances to further avoid confusion (and lawsuits). Because perfume recipes are kept secret (for the time being anyway) these impostor scents may get close to mimicking the smell of a perfume but rarely get the entirety of the real fragrance correct. Many people confuse these two terms but it’s important to note that there is a difference. You can read up more on Parfums de Coeur, the leading impostor fragrance producer, and how they conduct their business at JiffyNotes >>

Q. What’s the difference between essential oil, fragrance oil, perfume oil and carrier oil?
A. Loaded question. Essential oils are raw materials extracted directly from the plants they were derived from through a variety of extraction methods including distillation, enfleurage, and other techniques. Essential oils are volatile and potent making most of them inappropriate and sometimes even dangerous for straight use on the skin. Essential oils should be carefully diluted in a carrier oil prior to use. If you do plan on using essential oils on yourself, make sure you read up on them very well first because as innocent as many people like to think essential oils are, improper use  by someone inexperienced can result in injury. Fragrance oils are a mixture of natural and synthetic components that produce a specific scent. Scents from fragrance oils can be composed of entirely natural materials or entirely synthetic materials. Often, it is a mixture of natural and synthetic. Sometimes fragrance oils can be made to mimic a natural scent like vanilla or iris. Sometimes fragrance oils can smell like something abstract like aqua or ozone. Fragrance oils, like essential oils need to be researched prior to use. There are fragrance oils made for cosmetic use and those that are not. There are also fragrance oils that need dilution and some that do not. Make sure you know what you are buying and doing before  putting anything on your skin. A perfume oil is a mixture of fragrant oils to create a scent. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is one such company that blends essential oils and fragrance oils to produce perfume oils. Carrier oils are oils that are used to dilute perfume, fragrance, and essential oils. Oftentimes these carrier oils have very little aroma or no aroma at all. Jojoba oil and sweet almond oil are two such examples of carrier oils.

Q. I keep seeing people and websites that claim that perfume is dangerous to your health. Are any of these claims true?
A. Perfume has been associated with some contact dermatitis (allergens coming in contact with the skin) and general allergies such as sneezing, stuffy nose, and trouble breathing. It is true that fragrance ingredients always come under fire for potential danger but they are regulated and restricted on a rather rigorous scale. A perfumista can tell anybody about the deaths of many great fragrances and reformulations that destroyed classic scents that had to happen because a component was found to be dangerous or concerning. What people who read online about perfumes and the supposed numerous dangers of fragrances need to understand that this issue is not a simple matter of “I saw it online and it sounds convincing so it must be true”. There is a key element to online research that I feel a lot of people are missing when they choose to believe claims they read on a website. I don’t believe you should or would trust me 100%. After all, where’s my scientific research? Aren’t I some disembodied voice with a website too? And I am but an independent blogger who just happens to like smelling things. I  have no scientific credentials either. What I want you to take away from this rambling is my request for you to study the sources of where your information comes from prior to outright believing it. I am not imploring you to believe me or take my words for truth. I am imploring you to deeply research a subject from credible sources before deciding on a stance and this goes for everything you read about, not just perfume. If the website you’re on does not provide a solid scientific or medical background to its claims that fully backs up what it’s trying to say, do you really want to trust that it’s telling you the whole story? “Safety advocates” have an agenda too. Please keep that in mind.

Q. Does civet really come from a cat’s butt?
A. Almost as good as the “deer butt” question from Part 2. Civet is a musk taken from the rear region of a curious little creature by the same name. Despite popular belief, a civet is not actually a cat. It’s more of a mongoose, really. Civet notes used in modern perfumery are usually synthetic. However, some modern perfumes will still use natural civet as farming and harvesting of these animals is still going on.

Q. How do I check the ingredients of a perfume?
A. You can’t. I always find it a little off when well-meaning individuals with concerns over ingredients suggest to consumers that they should “check the ingredients” of a fragrance. It makes me ask myself if these well-meaning folks have tried to do the same before suggesting it to others. You simply can’t check all the ingredients of a perfume with the present regulations because perfume formulations are jealously guarded by the manufacturers who produce them. The list of ingredients on the back of a box of perfume lists the base that the fragrance was diluted in–not what the fragrance is composed of. The actual fragrant oils and components are kept secret to prevent the copying of the fragrance recipe. The notes list that comes out with  most perfumes is also not a definitive list of ingredients. Sometimes the notes mean absolutely nothing, oftentimes there are more components in a scent than the notes list would indicate, sometimes notes listed aren’t even present in the perfume itself. Notes lists are used to give the consumer an idea of what they should be smelling. They are not ingredients lists. Also you will be very lucky if you contact a perfume manufacturer requesting a full ingredients list and actually get one. Pretty much the only way for the average person to find out exactly what’s in a perfume is to perform a gas chromatography analysis–something highly expensive, complicated, exclusive, and far more trouble than most people would care to go through.

Got any questions not addressed in this FAQ? Please leave a comment.

Banana Republic Classic

Banana Republic has a surprisingly nice selection of fragrances that usually tend to sit on the simple and easy side of things but that doesn’t discount them from making some pleasant on the nose scents that are versatile and pretty easy to wear. Banana Republic Classic

In Bottle: Classic smells like a green, clean machine. Reminiscent of the sticky sap of a banana tree. But it’s really just a fantastic blend of limes and leaves.

Applied: Jolt of green citrus that harkens in the clean and fresh immediately. Classic reminds me of  how fresh laundry and clean clothes should smell. I know people out there like the smell of clean laundry and there’s quite a few fragrances that can pass themselves off for that. Classic is one of them. No one can accuse you of being smelly with this on as it’s so incredibly inoffensive. Nothing more than fresh, clean citrus at first with a subtle hint of florals as the fragrance progresses. The white florals balance the citrus as Classic heads into its dry down of gentle white musk and sandalwood.

Extra: Banana Republic is a mid-range fashion brand. The term Banana Republic also refers to unstable countries whose chief means of finances tends to be some sort of agricultural product. The two are obviously not related.

Design: Classic comes in a rectangular bottle with a metal cap affixed to the top. The cap and the sprayer are a type of brushed metal. No thrills or frills with Classic. It’s just simple, easy to hold, and can be purchased in the slightly larger 125ml version rather than the usual 100ml you often see.

Fragrance Family: Fresh

Notes: Lime, mandarin, bergamot, orange, grapefruit, white florals, musk, sandalwood.

Classic came out in 1995 and is a generally lovely fragrance for office and other purpose wear when you don’t want the other person to know you’re wearing perfume. I can often feign a pleasant smelling soap with this stuff. The other thing about Classic is it tends to have terrible longevity on me. We’re talking on for an hour and gone before you know it. I assume this is due to the predominance of citrus in the fragrance but it’s only a guess.

Reviewed in This Post: Classic, 2010, Eau de Toilette.

Givenchy L’Interdit 1957

L’Interdit, the original, was discontinued then reformulated and re-released in 2002. Then slightly reformulated back to the classic version and released again in 2007. What it became in 2002 was a generic scent. Reformulated 2002 L’Interdit smells nothing like the classic, the 2007 version is closer but I still thought it lacked a certain daring feel that the original possessed. I had the chance to smell L’Interdit 1957 and the bar has been raised. L'Interdit

In Bottle: Aldehydes, very strong. Sharp and sparkling, and astringent. It’s approaching that point where it smells like urine as the aldehydes are just so strong in this. I think this may have something to do with the perfume’s age making the aldehydes stronger than they should be.

Applied: More aldehydes! The sharpness and sparkle are fleeting on the skin though as they start to evaporate but never quite leave, lending L’Interdit a constant status of glitz and high perfumery. The fragrance calms down a bit into a soft floral with touches of fruit here and there giving it a sweetness. It’s gentle like a like touch, and easy to wear. It doesn’t smell clean or fresh, just warm and gentle. The mid-stage is dominated with floral notes as sheer and light as the non-aldehyde notes in the opener. L’Interdit is  so easy to love as it approaches the dry down with a splash of incense over a bed of flowers and powder. It ushers out with a final flare of woodsy incense.

Extra: L’Interdit was composed in the 1950s for Audrey Hepburn. They released it for the public on 1957 with Hepburn  endorsing it. L’Interdit was composed by Francis Fabron. The man who created Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps. You may find it difficult to find the original L’Interdit in stores today but a recent reissue in 2007 of L’Interdit smells as close as you’re going to get.

Design: Simple glass bottle with a red label and a metal cap to protect the sprayer. L’Interdit knows it doesn’t need to impress you with a flashy bottle and it really doesn’t even try. I can appreciate the bottle for its simplicity though and its high contrast design.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: : Aldehydes, galbanum, peach, bergamot, jasmine, rose, narcissus, lily of the valley, incense, sandalwood, benzoin, tonka, amber, musk, vetiver.

I didn’t get an exact date on how old this bottle of L’Interdit was so we compromised with a reasonable year.

Reviewed in This Post: L’Interdit, circa 1970, Eau de Toilette.

Perfume FAQ, Part 2

Part 2 of the Perfume FAQ for common questions that keep coming up regarding perfume. You should not, by any means, stop your research at this page. If there’s a topic you’re interested in, Google  has opened up a very good resource for research and knowledge. If you have a perfume related question, please leave a comment.

Q. Why do perfumes give me headaches?
A. I’m not a doctor and cannot diagnose what might be a more serious condition that you have but in my experience, related entirely to perfume, people who get perfume headaches may have smelled a particularly large dose of perfume or a particularly strong perfume. If all perfumes give you a headache, you may be sensitive to scents. Some people also get headaches from perfumes that are too sweet or cloying. Others might get headaches from perfumes that are too spicy, or sharp, the list goes on. We’re all different and so are our perfume headaches. It should be noted however, that a perfume headache does not necessarily indicate a perfume allergy. Allergies can sometimes cause headaches but if all you experience when you smell a trigger perfume is a migraine an allergy may not be what you have. It should be reiterated that I am not a medical doctor and you should consult with a licensed physician if you are having any physical ailments.

Q. What’s the deal with old lady perfume?
A. I don’t know what the deal is, but here’s a run down. Poor Chanel No. 5 often gets accused of smelling like “old lady perfume” but I find that most people who often say this are also the kind of people who have never actually gone out of their way to smell Chanel No. 5 before and are just repeating a public misconception. Old lady perfume is whatever you want to make of it. Some people will call anything over-applied an old lady perfume. Some people call any perfumes old lady perfumes. Many people equate old lady perfumes to floral heavy perfumes, lavenders, nerolis, jasmines, powdery scents, bitter scents, earthy scents, cloying scents, tuberose scents, sometimes incense-heavy fragrances get lumped into this classification too. In fact, we’d save time by saying perfumes that smell like candy, cookies, cakes, or chocolate brownies, sweet fruits, massive infusions of citrus, and giant mountains of vanilla ice cream are pretty immune to being classified as “old lady”. Many of the vintage classics made earlier than the 1980s suffer from this derogatory label. If you ask me, the phrase, “old lady perfume” should be stricken from the records as it’s an ignorant classification of a certain group of people as well as an equally ignorant classification of a huge selection of fragrances and fragrance history. For a more eloquent entry on “Old Lady Perfume”, check out Perfume Shrine >>

Q. Are designer perfumes better than non-designer?
A. No. Not necessarily. Designer perfumes are sold as a brand. Unless brands matter to you, wear what you like to smell and don’t worry about it. The composition of most designer perfumes versus non-designer such as Victoria’s Secret or celebrity fragrances are not all that different.

Q. I think I have a counterfeit fragrance on my hands, how do I confirm my suspicions?
A. Get on a fragrance forum like Basenotes or Makeupalley, take several clear photographs of your suspected fake and ask people if they can identify whether or not you’ve got a counterfeit on your hands. I personally cannot identify every single bottle as I have not seen, held, or owned every single bottle of perfume available. Therefore, I may not be able to tell you if you got swindled or not but other people might.

Q. Why is there Arabic writing on some of my perfume boxes or bottles and what does it say?
A. Your perfume was imported from another country. Possibly grey market but not necessarily counterfeit. Just to re-iterate; Arabic writing on your perfume box or bottle is not one of the indicators of a counterfeit. As for what that says, I can only assume it might say something like, “For external use only” or something equally unexciting. So rest assured, you did not stumble upon a secret message that will lead you on a journey of self-discovery and hidden treasure. That would be pretty neat though. To read about the difference between grey market fragrances and counterfeits, go Here >>

Q. Someone told me that all perfumes expire after two years. Is this true?
A. No. Perfumes do not have a set expiry date. Some last for much longer than two years, other expire in even less time than that if they’re not stored properly. How long your perfume lasts depends on how well you take care of it and what kinds of components it was made with. A bottle of citrus-heavy fragrance for instance, is more volatile and prone to spoilage. Generally, the two years to spoilage date is given as a precaution, not a hard and fast date that all perfumes will expire by. The rule of thumb I go by is, if the liquid is clear, it hasn’t changed color, and it still smells the same then it’s probably fine to use. I also recommend keeping perfumes out of the sunlight and in an environment with a relatively stable temperature to prolong their lifespan.

Q. Why do people say it’s bad to spray perfume in your hair or on your clothes?
A. I’m not a hair or clothing expert but I assume spraying hair is a no-no due to the alcohol base in most perfumes which can dry out or damage your hair. As for the clothes thing, perfumes contain coloring agents so I assume if you spray enough you might stain your clothes.

Q. Is it true that perfumes contain ingredients that come from a deer’s butt?
A. You won’t believe how often this gets asked. “Deer’s butt ingredients”, more eloquently known as, natural musk,  used to be widely present in perfume. In some rare instances, musk, and other such natural animal-based ingredients still are but the use of natural musks and animal ingredients is rare in modern perfumery due to the versatility and efficiency of synthetic musks.

Q. How do you train your nose to pick out individual ingredients in scents?
A. Picking out individual smells in a fragrance is a purely subjective exercise for a hobbyist like me. But I find that as I smell more perfumes, fragrance oils and essential oils, I start to recognize these same smells in certain perfumes and can sometimes pick them out. So it’s just a matter of the more you smell, the more you know.

Got any questions not addressed in this FAQ? Please leave a comment.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia

Still on the look out for another lovely vanilla. Preferably one that can replace Spiritueuse Double Vanille because I refuse to be shackled to a limited edition fragrance–even if it’s awesome. This time, it’s Vanilia by L’Artisan Parfumeur, a pretty green vanilla plant of a thing. Vanilia

In Bottle: Sweet, green vanilla with a floral mixture and a nice white woodsy scent. Nothing at all what I was hoping but still very pleasant.

Applied: Sweet vanilla with a topper that reminds me of sweet powder and fruits. Not too sweet, in fact the sweetness is really subdued and appropriately used and the fruits are a pleasant blend that recedes into the background rather quickly. You won’t get a toothache from this. As Vanilia settles down, it releases a pleasant waft of green floral and spice mixed with a pleasant smoky floral. Very strange mix but it works out really well. Vanilia is a fantastic morpher as it’s one of the nicest smelling vanillas with a rich and complex composition. It is not your run-of-the-mill gourmand vanilla with the fruity, bubbly, candy personality. This is a sophisticated vanilla. The airy greenness mixed with the very pleasant ambery powder vanilla adds a great dimension to this fragrance.

Extra: L’Artisan Parfumeur is a niche house established in 1976s and based in Paris. Vanilia was released in 1978.

Design: Vanilia is bottled in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s now iconic seven sided glass bottle. It has a nice weight to it, looks pleasant–if somewhat sparse to me–but the real show stopper is truly the juice inside.

Fragrance Family: Spicy Fresh

Notes: Fruit, rose, jasmine, amber, patchouli, vanilla, sandalwood.

For some reason, Vanilia is a very difficult to find fragrance for me. No stores carry L’Artisan Parfumeur in my general area and my usual haunts online don’t have this fragrance represented.

Reviewed in This Post: Vanilia, 2007, Eau de Toilette.

Etat Libre d’Orange Secretions Magnifiques

In a time when fragrances are pushed out the door at alarming rates, where the same themes are repeated over and over again, Etat Libre d’Orange takes a conceptual approach to perfumery and challenges people’s notion of what a perfume is and could be. Sécrétions Magnifiques is, to me, well–I could wax poetic about it all day but when it comes down to it, this stuff smells gross. Fascinating. But mostly gross. Secretions Magnifiques

In Bottle: Airy and light, slightly floral layered over something sticky and sinister. I read up on this stuff before I tracked down a tiny amount of it to try for myself and I know full well that its in bottle impressions are not to be trusted. In a way, it’s funny. Sécrétions Magnifiques almost lures the person in with this innocent smelling lightly flowery top with a slight dark under note.

Applied: Then you put it on, thinking that perhaps you’re the one person that might actually work on. That maybe you’re scent blind to whatever disgusting accord everyone else has been raving about. You poor soul. My first impression of this stuff was a rather innocent fresh and light floral fragrance with a bit of slick coconut. Then the top notes fly away and what you’re left with is a miasma of unfolding perplexity. My first and immediate impression after initial spray went a little something like, “This isn’t so bad.Smells like a very synthetic coconut, floral and citrus mixture. Kind of tropical. What’s that weird thing I’m smelling that’s kind of metallic? Oh. Ew!” Sécrétions Magnifiques continues to mount its assault from there as the blood accord floods right up with a a sharp bleach note. This isn’t the blood scent that’s essentially a sticky metallic twang present in some BPAL fragrances, or the coppery-like scent of real blood. This is old, dried, rotted blood that’s been left baking in the sun and fermenting in a puddle of bleach. Then it was run over a few times by some cars. And finally, someone took a congealed scoop of this rancid mixture and rubbed it under their sweaty unwashed armpit. Just because they could. This is a bizarre mixture of citrus, white florals, sharp bleach, salt, rotten blood, old fish and armpit.  I toughed it out for the dry down to discover that after hours and hours of you and those around you have suffered, the fragrance takes a turn (quite amusingly) for a  soapy dry down with a slight hint of lingering salty armpit–just a touch. Enough to make you nervous about whether or not you’ll get a second wave of that special mid-stage. This is not to mention this stuff is stubborn and lasts a very, very, very long time. Truly Sécrétions Magnifiques commands your loyalty.

Extra: Sécrétions Magnifiques is Etat Libre d’Orange’s prank on the perfumery world. There are people who love how it smells. But the vast majority of individuals who’ve come across this thing can only appreciate what it’s trying to do at best. It takes guts to purposefully create a fragrance that’s such a challenge to perfumery and what “smells good”. While I’ll probably never wear this fragrance, I can appreciate the fact that it’s unique and very brave. Funny enough, for a fragrance that smells awful, Sécrétions Magnifiques sells rather decently. People want to smell and own this stuff simply because of how novel it is. I wonder if anyone’s adopted Sécrétions Magnifiques as their signature scent?

Design: Bottled in an unassuming rectangular bottle with the house name and fragrance name and very assuming fragrance design on it.

Fragrance Family: Dirty.

Notes: Iode accord, adrenaline accord, blood accord, milk accord, iris, coconut, sandalwood, opoponax.

Sécrétions Magnifiques is not a perfume to be worn out to work, to a party, to go on a cruise, to go grocery shopping, and please for the love of all that is good in this world don’t wear it onto an airplane. This is a fragrance for fragrance lovers and the fragrance curious. It’s a piece of unwearable art that dares you to put it on and go out in public. And you can certainly do that if you are brave enough but please, no airplanes.

Reviewed in This Post: Sécrétions Magnifiques, 2008, Sample Vial.


Perfume FAQ, Part 1

You spend a certain amount of time in the perfume hobby and a few things start to dawn on you that you didn’t know before. Feeling like a dummy for a few moments is the least of it until you realize that perfume and perfumery is a vast and complicated subject with a rift between the people who enjoy it and the people who enjoy it enough to sift through the how, what, and why of it. That rift is where misconceptions and confusions are born.

This FAQ was written on a bit of a whim to answer questions that keep coming up regarding perfume.

Q. What perfumes do guys/girls like?
A. This is like asking what food everybody in the whole world will like. There is a lot of variety in tastes and what people consider to be “good”. People can have more than one favorite. People might love something that everybody else hates. There’s simply no catch-all fragrance as it is all a matter of personal taste and opinion.

Q. What’s the difference between an Eau de Toilette and an Eau de Parfum?
A. Eau de Parfum has a higher concentration of fragrance oils compared to Eau de Toilette. Therefore, Eau de Parfums tends to smell stronger and last longer when used. Fragrance oils being those lovely things that give the perfume its scent. The higher the fragrance oil concentration in relation to the dilution agents, the more powerful the scent. Some houses also change the formulations between Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette versions, making one smell different than the other. Guerlain is known to do this with their perfumes. More info >>

Q. Is it okay to wear cologne if you’re a girl? How about wearing perfume when you’re a guy?
A. Fragrances do not have genders or gender preferences. It is the people and the marketing that assign genders to perfumes and colognes. Something can smell feminine or masculine but I treat that as a “good to know” sort of thing rather than a hard and fast rule. If you like how something smells but it happens to be marketed to the other gender then wear it anyway. As long as it smells good to you, do what makes you happy.

Q. Is this perfume better than that perfume?
A. Something being better than something else is a highly subjective topic that’s entirely personal opinion. Technically, nothing makes one perfume better than another if we’re talking about personal taste and asking someone else what makes one fragrance better is not necessarily the answer you want because they’ll be judging based upon their tastes when you should be judging based upon your own.

Q. How do I make my perfume last longer?
A. Layering. There is a reason why some perfumes come in sets with soaps, lotions and shampoos. The main goal here is to layer, layer, layer. If you wash yourself with the same scented soap and use the same scented lotion before spraying on the perfume then you gather a few more hours worth of enjoyment out of the fragrance. If a fragrance doesn’t come in a set then you can use unscented lotion on your skin to help your fragrance last longer. Also keep in mind that in hot climates, perfume will fade faster than normal no matter what you do.

Q. Are perfumes made from essential oils safer than the synthetic stuff?
A. Not necessarily because essential oil usage can be dangerous as well. Citrus essential oils can cause photosensitivity. Some essential oils are made from plants that are dangerous and harmful to humans. Certain essential oils need to be diluted or they can cause injury to whoever uses them. Synthetics have a murky reputation. But they are also tested and regulated quite stringently. Basically, you cannot assume that just because something is derived from nature, that it is automatically better than something manmade. In short, no, natural essential oils are not safer than synthetic oils. They are, however, beautiful and useful in their own ways.

Q. How do I correctly apply perfume?
A. Tons of schools of thoughts on this and there is no correct way, just preferred ways. But I’ll make it easy. Perfume will work wherever you want to spray it. Most people will spray it on their pulse points. The most popular locations are the wrists and neck. Some people also apply perfume to the back of the knees, back of the neck, the chest, and sometimes the insides of their elbows. So long as you keep it away from and out of any orifaces on your body, the perfume will work just fine.

Q. How should I store my perfumes?
A. Perfumes should be kept away from their three major enemies, light, air, and heat. Store them in a dark, cool place with a stable temperature. A dresser drawer would be okay. A closet would be okay. A fragrance fridge set to the right temperature would be ideal but expensive. Avoid sunlight especially as sunlight is powerful and can break down the components in your perfume very quickly. Avoid keeping your fragrances in your bathroom as well because most people’s bathrooms will experience frequent temperature fluctuations. More info >>

Got any questions not addressed in this FAQ? Please leave a comment. I plan on doing more of these in the future.

Chloe 1975

Not to be confused by Chloe 2008, the young remake of 1975. These two fragrances smell nothing alike. Though they share the same name and are both essentially florals, they are leagues apart. Chloe 1975

In Bottle: A heady, lush tuberose with jasmine and lily of the valley. It’s light, powdery and much more mature than Chloe 2008.

Applied: The initial fragrance is a light, lilting lily of the valley scent that’s quick to dissipate as a big lush tuberose and its friend jasmine head into the scene. Chloe 1975 is all about the white florals and no white floral is louder and more recognizable than the charismatic tuberose. Slightly sweet, and dusted in powder the tuberose is what dominates the heart of this fragrance but does let a nice classic rose and its jasmine friend in now and then. Chloe 1975 is a bit musky too, she’s a pretty floral but the tuberose and ambery treatment give her a little bit of sensuality. In the dry down, the tuberose is still very prominent as it mixes with smooth white woods and amber. Chloe 1975 was released in the powerhouse era and it’s strength is not to be undermined. Go light on this stuff if you have it or you will be smelled from quite a distance.

Extra: Chloe is a fashion house founded in 1952. Today, they still deal with fashion but have also added accessories such as handbags and sunglasses to their répertoire. Classic Chloe, as Chloe 1975 is often called, was replaced in 2008 by a new fragrance of the  same name. You can find Classic Chloe at discounters for the time being.

Design: Designed by Joe Messina, the bottle for Chloe 1975 is supposed to be reminiscent of a calla lily. A lot of people who see the bottle, however, associate it to looking more like a heart. Not Vera Wang Princess heart either. Think anatomical heart.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Lily of the valley, honeysuckle, orange flower, ylang-ylang, hyacinth, jasmine, rose, narcissus, carnation, tuberose, sandalwood, amber, oakmoss.

I vastly prefer Chloe 1975’s fragrance to Chloe 2008. But I prefer Chloe 2008’s packaging.

Reviewed in This Post: Chloe, ~1980, Eau de Parfum.

Soivohle Pink Praline

Soivohle does one of the best and most true gourmands I’ve ever smelled. The very lovely, very rich and very beautiful, Pink Praline. It’s a lush and sweetly nutty fragrance that takes the best from the gourmand genre.

In Bottle: Sweet and lush nutty fragrance with a a big hit of maple syrup and cocoa. Smells good enough to eat.

Applied: A small flare of grapefruit hits my nose upon application but the moment is fleeting. It’s priming the canvas for the fantastic remainder of the fragrance when the rest of the notes roll in. These pralines are rolled lovingly in a sweet and sticky mixture of coffee and maple syrup, then lightly dusted with cocoa. The fenugreek does a fantastic job at conjuring the concept of praline while the rest of the notes push your brain even further into that category as you sit contented in your bubble of maple-coated goodness. The scent starts to wind down with a slight muskiness while the nuttiness fades first followed by the last lingering traces of maple. Pink Praline is a fantastically blended sweet gourmand that should serve as an example of how a sweet and candy-like perfume should be done. It is sweet, but it is not cloying or annoyingly sweet. It’s foody but it doesn’t rely on vanilla, sugar or chocolate notes to accomplish its foodiness. And best of all, it doesn’t use that accursed caramel note that always turns to burnt sugar on my skin.

Extra: With mainstream fragrances gone to the tried, tested and true formulations that seem to be recycled again and again, independent perfumers like Soivohle are a welcome change of pace. I can enjoy my mainstream stuff for its safe bets and pleasantness but when it comes down to artistry, you really should try niche or independent.

Design: Bottled beautifully from what I can see as I have yet to purchase a Soivohle scent, I cannot directly comment on the packaging or bottling.

Fragrance Family: Gourmand

Notes: Pink grapefruit, coffee, cocoa, maple, fenugreek.

Pink Praline is an Eau de Parfum natural that’s definitely on my “to buy” list. For now the cute little sampler jar sits happily with its other Soivohle sample brothers and sisters.

Reviewed in This Post: Pink Praline, ~2009, Eau de Parfum.