Testing Your Perfume Boundaries

What lies outside of your perfume comfort zone? Which fragrances are still challenging for you?

The other day I voluntarily donned a perfume called I’m Rock and immediately regretted my choice. I decided to test my boundaries wearing a sweet gourmand fragrance, but when I’m Rock turned into a candy factory on fire, I cut the experiment short. I don’t have a strong sweet tooth when it comes to fragrances, and I’m Rock wasn’t the best choice.

parrots-brussels-winter

Another group of scents that I don’t enjoy are the watery, aquatic perfumes, even if they are well-made like Issey Miyake. An accent of watery notes can give a gauzy, weightless effect to rich florals like Marc Jacobs for Her, but a generous dose smells sharp and cold to me.

I still keep on trying scents, even if I suspect that they may not fit the bill for me. Hope springs eternal that I may nevertheless find a hidden gem. At worst, if a perfume turns out to be a scrubber, some makeup remover (the kind designed for waterproof cosmetics works best) is all it takes to remove the offending scent. The thrill of discovery is worth a few duds.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, parrots testing the Belgian winter.

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204 Comments

  • Rowanhill: The thick dried or jammy date/prune like scents are the killer for me, especially if they start to veer towards the savoury gourmand territory. Yes, Serge Lutens Arabie and Féminité du Bois, I am looking at you. Also, the very ethereal violet fragrances do nothing for me, unless in an unobtrusive soap format. But worst on my skin has been SL Musc Koublai Khan. The sweaty cumin accord was awful on me whereas a friend of mine tames this monster to a gentle flowery musk. Hèrmes Ambre Narguilé does not follow far behind MKK, thus amber in a dominant role. But any ingredient mixed well with others can create a wonderful fragrance. February 22, 2013 at 7:33am Reply

    • rosarita: MKK is a favorite of mine too, though I can certainly see how it’s not for everyone! February 22, 2013 at 7:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Makes sense. I usually don’t think in terms of challenging ingredients, since it really depend on what other notes are present, how a perfume is blended, etc. Although of course, there can be some materials that one is sensitive to. Some woody ambers are so incredibly sharp to my nose that I feel uncomfortable wearing a perfume that includes more than a slight presence of these notes. February 22, 2013 at 11:22am Reply

      • Rowanhill: For me the candied syrupy fruits within almost any ingredient combination, and in particular with cumin/curry, smoke/incense and honey, turns the perfume unwearable. However I probably would be excited to have the mix in my food. A while ago I listed my collection of some 40 full bottles of fragrance by family and prominent notes (isn’t Excel just fabulous :-D) in an attempt to see if there was a common denominator that had escaped me. There wasn’t in the sense that I would have seen it in the list, which is chypre heavy, which might explain the fruit averseness. The common denominator was what was not there, the “chutneys”. February 23, 2013 at 3:21am Reply

        • Victoria: Then you probably really dislike Amouаge Memoir! That’s one fragrance that actually made me gasp. It smelled like raisin chutney and incense and someone’s spilled perfume, but the chutney impression was the strongest! February 23, 2013 at 5:58am Reply

          • Rowanhill: Out of curiosity I will need to refresh my memory on that one and go have a sniff. February 24, 2013 at 3:03am Reply

          • Brian Shea: That actually sounds really good to me! LOL! Of course I would have to actually smell it, really, but it sounds really intriguing. March 3, 2013 at 11:34pm Reply

    • Austenfan: This is very off topic, but you suggested the teashops in the Rue Bailli area in Brussels in a tea post in I think November or December of last year. I am so glad you did. La 7me Tasse is a real treasure. Thanks! February 23, 2013 at 2:59pm Reply

      • Rowanhill: So glad that was useful for you Austenfan. Also, I just saw two giant Kusmi tea containers at a shop window on rue du Page close to Bailli. Let’s see what their selection is. Kusmi Russian tea is my current favourite in this cold weather. February 24, 2013 at 2:18am Reply

  • rosarita: Fruity florals, fruits in general, aldehydic florals, white florals are all difficult for me. I really want a new floral scent for spring and I think I could handle orange blossom or jasmine; I’ve given up on tuberose completely, and lily of the valley. Love the actual flowers. I need to try more fruit scents (I guess) because I just don’t like them, except (inexplicably) Angel in small doses. I’m with you on watery aquatics, too. What can I say, I love those rich spicy orientals. February 22, 2013 at 7:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Apart from Diorissimo, I find few lily of the valley perfumes to replicate the flower. Diorissimo, especially in its original formula, was like burying your nose into a bunch of tiny white blossoms. Ah… February 22, 2013 at 11:25am Reply

      • susan: The original Diorissimo was so exquisite. It was one of my first perfumes, introduced to me by a favourite aunt, a lady of great elegance. Unfortunately, the new formulation makes me sneeze. The delicacy is missing.

        Another casualty of reformulation is Dioressence, a mere shadow of its former glory. February 22, 2013 at 2:23pm Reply

        • Victoria: Dioressence has suffered a lot. Dior mentioned in one of the magazines that they were reformulating it again (to improve it), so fingers crossed. February 23, 2013 at 6:58am Reply

    • Ann: Have you tried Santa Maria Novella’s Honeysuckle (Caprifoglio)? I am a florist; it has happened more than once that customers commented on how good the flowers smelled when I knew the flowers they received were not scented. February 22, 2013 at 12:37pm Reply

      • Victoria: Sounds wonderful! I will have to try it too. February 23, 2013 at 6:59am Reply

      • rosarita: I will check this out, thanks for the rec! February 23, 2013 at 10:23pm Reply

  • Ralu: I find orientals challenging as well as watery notes and fruity notes. Lately I have started to warm up to sweet frangrances like Angel and Pink Sugar. I do love organza indecence and other than that I’m all white flowers. Gucci Rush is another favorite although I’m not sure which category it belongs to. February 22, 2013 at 8:18am Reply

    • Ralu: Forgot to mention that I don’t like rose in perfumes either. FM une rose smells like the fave toner with rose water i got at whole foods. February 22, 2013 at 8:22am Reply

    • Victoria: In the cold weather, I wear more sweet fragrances, but overall, my relationship with them has ups and downs. I can certainly appreciate the nicely crafted ones, even if I don’t want to wear them. February 22, 2013 at 11:26am Reply

      • susan: One of my favourite cold weather fragrances is Femme Rochas. Rich with plums, and elegant powdery dry-down like a cosy shawl. The pure perfume is gorgeous in the original formulation (grey lace boxes). February 22, 2013 at 2:55pm Reply

    • susan: Have you tried Guerlain’s Samsara? In particular, the pure perfume. A rich, sweet oriental. February 22, 2013 at 2:27pm Reply

  • george: There are lots of fragrances that have an element I don’t like- the dirty bath mat aspect of Kouros, and the dirty aspect of Rose 31, which smells of something so disgusting that I wouldn’t even write what it is. But at the same time, I love other fragrances with a good dose of wrongness.
    I kind of think that it more often more a case of lack of balance, or when a perfume obviously smells like X, or a note is so prominent- whether it be candy, a flower or something dirty that I either can’t be bothered with it, or I just feel that I’m making a strongly reductive statement about myself by wearing it.
    And that’s how I would feel about a really, solely sweet fragrance like I’m Rock, that I would be making a statement about myself as being a really sweet person, which, if I’m being truthful, I’m not.
    However, shove a bit a bit of creosote like birchwood and patchouli in with some vanilla to make Patchouli 24, and I’m good to go. February 22, 2013 at 8:18am Reply

    • Victoria: The most interesting perfumes smell of something else other than the sum of their parts. I also find them more enjoyable to wear. February 22, 2013 at 11:28am Reply

  • Elizabeth: Big white florals are a challenge for me. Even if I find them beautiful on a paper strip, like Carnal Flower, Songes, and Tuberose Gardenia, when I try to wear them, I feel like I am in a steamy jungle, 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 100% humidity, gasping for air. They always seem to overwhelm me. The only white florals in my comfort zone are subtler jasmine or orange blossom. February 22, 2013 at 8:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Tuberose is such a complex and rich note, especially with all of those milky, sweet coconut nuances. Tuberose scents really elicit love or hate reactions. February 22, 2013 at 11:29am Reply

  • kjanicki: Some perfumes with leather notes are scrubbers for me, such as Heeley Cuir Pleine Fleurs, Tauer Carillon pour un Ange, and the opening of SL Boxeuses (although that gets better after a while if I can wait is out). Not all leather, I own Cuir de Russie and it never affected me that way. February 22, 2013 at 8:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Suzanna also don’t care for most leathers, but I believe that Cuir de Russie is one of the few she enjoys. February 22, 2013 at 11:30am Reply

      • OperaFan: I guess I fall into the camp with leather issues while liking CdR. It’s mainly the raw, and dry varieties. Suede is not as big an issue, though, like the one in Delrae’s Mythique, which I love. February 22, 2013 at 11:52am Reply

  • briony: The only one that’s been a real scrubber for me is, sadly, Bois de Violette. I normally love violet fumes but for some reason I can’t manage its austerity. Another I’d love to be able to wear but can’t is Patricia de Nicolaii’s Odalisque. That just smells brutal on me. February 22, 2013 at 9:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Bois de Violette feels more of a wood, rather than a flower to me, so I can definitely imagine why it would seem austere. February 22, 2013 at 11:31am Reply

  • Anne Sheffield: I have difficulty with watery note too! I find them fake for some reason. I also struggle with anything with too much mimosa in it, Cinema by YSL comes to mind. Also some strong ambery smoked oriental are hard for my nose. But I am a bit of a virgin perfumista, so it s all in the learning curve. Kisses February 22, 2013 at 9:21am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve worn Issey Miyake at one point, but I think that I’ve overdone it! :) February 22, 2013 at 11:35am Reply

      • susan: I had the same experience with Burberry Body, and Amani Idole. Both nice enough for a one night stand, but oh so boring after the first bliss. February 22, 2013 at 3:06pm Reply

  • Gretchen: I cannot tolerate leathers, tobacco, and that cumin scent-my body accentuates them and makes me smell like the county dump. The sweet Guerlains and amber scents tend to do best with my skin, but I push the envelope with florals and aldehydic monsters. I guess I’ve learned to go with what works and skip the others. February 22, 2013 at 9:27am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s fascinating how individual skin chemistry can push certain notes and not others! February 22, 2013 at 11:36am Reply

  • nastja: This is an interesting question! I’ve realized that some of my favorite perfumes now are the ones where my nose’s first reaction was almost repulsion. Aromatics Elixir was one of those, the patchouli violet force seemed like nothing I could ever stomach, now I crave it. Most musky orientals (yes, sadly, Shalimar, which I hate to hate) are that way for me. And yet I wear them because I find it interesting. February 22, 2013 at 9:30am Reply

    • nastja: Sorry, I meant to ask, does anyone else find themselves wearing difficult scents almost addictively? Or scents you can’t quite make out, that elude analysis or definition, or even turn your stomach (JP 1000 does this, because it just reminds me of airplane bathrooms:(…? And why? February 22, 2013 at 9:35am Reply

      • Zazie: I don’t know if it answers your question, but many scents I love have a “nasty” facet to them: the opening of Shalimar, the aldehydes of Chanel 5 and bois des iles, the rubber in tuberose criminelle, the watery greenness in Carnal flower, the sugar candy disguised in fracas… the list is very long!
        Yet, these are some of my most treasured fragrances – their “nastiness” is very transient (in most it is confined to the very first minutes of application), and what follows is so gorgeous that I even learnt to enjoy those awful openings! February 22, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

        • Victoria: The rubber/diesel fume top of Tubereuse Crimenelle was my first thought too! It’s strange, even repellent at first, but also intriguing and then addictive. February 22, 2013 at 10:02am Reply

          • behemot: Tuberose Criminelle… believe me or not, this is the only white floral perfume I really love. Tuberose is still a challenge to me, I am trying to love Carnal Flower.. Most white florals give me giant headaches.
            Also have problem with water notes (issey Miyake is the worst for me) , too much of aldehydes and leather. February 22, 2013 at 1:18pm Reply

          • Daisy: I love TC too! And I will also admit repulsion for years, and now addiction. But I also think that the more you smell, the more you come to appreciate more challenging fragrances. February 22, 2013 at 2:11pm Reply

      • Deborah: Yes I do exactly that – I wear Vent Vert and Arpege because they are so complex and do entirely unexpected things. But sometimes when I put them on I think what WAS I thinking? I am trying to expand my horizons! February 22, 2013 at 11:07pm Reply

      • Ilia: I felt that way about LesNez Manoumalia. To me it smells of rotten apples in the bushes on a hot summer’s day. But it’s also addictively moreish because I catch gardenia there every now and then.
        I agree about Aromatics Elixir as well, especially the Perfumer’s Reserve edition which is even more medicinal than the original. But I keep going back for me. February 25, 2013 at 9:48am Reply

  • Zazie: I try to avoid watery and sugary scents – sometimes I venture trying perfumes outside my comfort zone, but the results aren’t very encouraging.
    That said, I’ve had some luck in the “green” cathegory: I quite dislike green notes in perfume, but I’ve found several Emerald-tinged loves/likes: Ninfeo mio, n° 19, Fiji, Aedes signature…
    Alas my worst enemy is not easily recognizeable: it is transversal to perfume families – I call it “the sharp laundry musk” (and it seems most bloggers are anosmic to it, so i cannot even find warnings in perfume reviews) that can be found in niche and mainstream, in pretty florals and hideous fruity gourmands alike…
    It’s what makes me very shy in testing new perfumes on skin.
    I wish my scrubbers were easy to scrub off. The “sharp laundry musks” laugh at my make up removal… :( February 22, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

    • Zazie: Oh, another difficult “family” I try to tame: the “rose centric”.
      My score rate: 1 lukewarm success out of hundreds of trials. But I would really love to find THE rose for me… February 22, 2013 at 9:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Do you mind giving me some examples of these sharp laundry musks? People often smell musks very differently, even the perfumers, but I’m curious to see what’s your benchmark, so to speak! :) February 22, 2013 at 10:50am Reply

      • Zazie: With pleasure!
        Here are a few:
        Nasomatto Nuda
        By Kilian Prelude to Love (lots of CB’s scents host the culprit)
        Keiko Mecheri Jasmine or datura blache (but also here most KM fragrances host the culprit)
        Juliette has a gun citizen queen.
        all Bond n°9 fragrances I’ve tried.
        NR for her (but here there are so many other laundry musks that the sharp monster is almost unable to come through)
        Chanel la pausa has it HUGE.
        Hermes gentiane blanche and un jour, if I recall correctly.

        I cannot in any way smell the horrible monster during the first development of the fragrance. But when it pops up, during mid-development, it just keeps on growing (must be a looooong molecule), and will stay for many, many hours getting stronger by the minute.
        You cannot in any way wash it off. If the thing hadn’t the power to give me “perfume repulsion”, a good strategy could be to cover it up with something like Shalimar (or musc ravageur), which is always great at covering up messes. February 22, 2013 at 11:20am Reply

        • Zazie: Forgot one of the worst: Byredo la tulipe. Talk about a delicate spring scent…. February 22, 2013 at 11:21am Reply

        • Victoria: Once I return home I will retest La Pausa and some of these. I’ll pay more attention to the musk. February 22, 2013 at 11:37am Reply

    • Brian Shea: Oh, I hear you about those “laundry musks”! They are also ever present in men’s ‘colognes’ too, which I was going to add as a comment, that I hate-and I’m a guy! Guy’s fragrances all seem to smell like that laundry musk mixed with some really synthetic smelling, transparent,metallic ‘green’ sort of scent. Luca Turin hit it head on when he said that most men’s scents smell like detergent and rubbing alcohol! March 3, 2013 at 11:38pm Reply

  • Absolute Scentualist: Aquatic and sporty fragrances are difficult for me, but I think I like or love almost every other category. Fruity florals, heady florals, incense, chypres, big white florals, orientals, woods, tropical fruits and florals, tobacco, spices, gourmands, jammy fruits, patchouli… I love something from almost all of them. The only fragrance with which I’m trying to come to an understanding at the moment is Hermes Eau de Merveilles. It is an odd one but I’m determined to find the right climate/season that tames the saltiness and brings out more of the mango. February 22, 2013 at 10:10am Reply

    • Victoria: I like Hermes Eau de Merveilles best of all in the cooler weather, because it’s rich and when it’s too hot, it simply smells overwhelming! February 22, 2013 at 11:42am Reply

  • Patt: Immortelle is a deal-breaker for me (dislike Sables, Tilda Swinton Like This, The Afternoon of a Faun, and Interlude Woman).
    I also want to like Vetiver more than I actually do. Can anyone recommend a Vetiver with training wheels fragrance? Other than Vetiver pour Elle, which I actually do like. February 22, 2013 at 10:16am Reply

    • Victoria: What about Atelier Cologne Vetiver Fatal? Or Diptyque Vetyverio? February 22, 2013 at 11:56am Reply

    • E. Lime: Have you tried L’Artisan Timbuktu? I like the vetiver in this perfume over others because it feels more luminous and sweetly dry. February 22, 2013 at 1:49pm Reply

    • Theresa: For vetiver, try Chanel’s Sycomore. It is luscious, and has made me love love love this note, which I previously thought I couldn’t take! February 22, 2013 at 2:05pm Reply

      • solanace: Seconding Sycomore. And the name reminds me of Twin Peaks, which makes me love it even more! February 22, 2013 at 3:34pm Reply

    • Patt: Thank you all for your suggestions. I look forward to trying them! February 22, 2013 at 6:03pm Reply

    • nozknoz: I’d suggest Chanel 28 La Pausa, which is a lovely iris scent scent with vetiver in a supporting role. February 22, 2013 at 9:47pm Reply

    • Lynley: Have you tried Mona di Orio’s Vetiver? It has a softness and warmth not often associated with vetiver :-) February 23, 2013 at 10:31pm Reply

  • allgirlmafia: I read interesting reviews of Sarah Jessica Parkers ‘Covet’. It sounded envelop-pushy so I decided to purchase the full bottle I found for a bargin on ebay.

    Though I could understand and appreciate the things that made it unique to me the fragrance smelled more ‘vintage’ than my actual vintage bottles of Aromatics Elixir and Climat.

    ‘Vintage’ and mildew. Thats what it smelled like on me. I still pull it out from time to time, but no.

    Sugar-rush and watery perfumes are the ones I usually steer clear of. I am always willing to try something unique or quality tho. February 22, 2013 at 10:37am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m with you, as long as something is made well and has quality about it, I will be much more willing to be challenged. For instance, Parfums de Nicolai Kiss Me Tender is a very sweet perfume, but it’s so well crafted that it manages to tempt. February 23, 2013 at 5:56am Reply

  • fleurdelys: Like you, I can’t wear watery fragrances, or candy-and-cupcake gourmands. Nor can I abide laundry musks. Most fruits are out as well. However, I’m finding that if a note I don’t usually care for is well-blended with the other elements, or if the other elements dominate the composition, I can wear it. February 22, 2013 at 10:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Balance is the most essential component of a good perfume. The same ingredients can smell very differently depending on how they are used. It always fascinates me. February 23, 2013 at 6:48am Reply

  • Jan Last: Big fat roses send me running. I’ll put on a scent, smell it 20 minutes later, and there it is….the big fat rose. It’s not the hint of rose, that seems fine to me. Creed’s Fleurs De Bulgarie is one of those. It smells fine on other people. February 22, 2013 at 10:54am Reply

    • Victoria: :) I’ve noticed that rose perfumes can be very challenging for many people, mostly because we all have very strong associations with that style. February 23, 2013 at 6:49am Reply

  • Lucas: Anything with strong sillage can be unbearable for me, especially when it’s something heavy on the leather, patchouli, vetiver. Those are my cryptonite. February 22, 2013 at 11:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Those definitely can be tough. February 23, 2013 at 6:49am Reply

  • Liz K: I suffer from migraines so really have to be careful even when wearing favorites but anything smoky is completely out for me (Lonestar Memories, I’m looking at you) as that liquid smoke stays with me for days bringing waves of nausea. I also find most musks smell very sweet to me so while everyone else thinks I smell like armpit, I smell nothing but sweet warmth and get a bit paranoid about it. Some of the stronger orientals get me too. I actually do like melon and aquatic scents but only for a brief period. There has to be something worthwhile underneath. Cumin always smells good and warm to me, rarely sweaty- but I grew up eating comino seasoned meals almost every night so it is probably a cultural thing. I can’t seem to get enough incense, cedar, and juniper scents but can’t handle most of the strong black peppers or spices.
    How interesting to read people’s preferences and perceptions. February 22, 2013 at 11:13am Reply

    • Victoria: My Indian friends also find cumin warm and comforting, not raunchy. Since I’ve been experimenting more with foods that use it as spice, I have always started liking this note more. February 23, 2013 at 6:51am Reply

  • OperaFan: I’m embarrassed to say that there are many types of fragrances that would qualify.
    The first type that comes to mind, though are fragrances with prominent vanilla bases which render the perfume too sugary-sweet to wear. This extends to a lot of heavy ambery perfumes, which, thanks to a very negative encounter at the opera about 3 years ago due to a lady in my vicinity wearing about half a bottle of some ambery stuff and completely neutering my light and airy iris perfume, makes me wary of all strong amber fragrances.

    [In a short time my skin and clothes completely absorbed and subsequently wafted her perfume by virtue of proximity. An argument ensued because the lady was annoyed at my attempted fanning to drive away the fumes. I eventually got relocated by the very sympathetic house manager who upgraded my seat…]

    Surprisingly the classic Guerlains don’t seem to be a problem, but that’s just a testament to the masterful blending applied by the perfumers.

    Other potential deal breakers are prominent presense of patchouli, rooty vetivir (probably in combination with patch – I like most green Vetiver such as the Guerlain and Tauer), and smoky incenses can be a challenge as well. I very much enjoy incense as part of a religious ritual, but not to wear as a fragrance. Oh, and violets have a tendency to go sour on me – La Rose de Rosine, Bois de Violettes, Meteorites, but I adore L’Heure Bleue and Apres l’Ondee, so it all depends. February 22, 2013 at 11:20am Reply

    • Victoria: It sounds like you’re a Guerlain woman! There are some people who wear these fragrances so well, they feel like second skin on them–a natural, beautiful aura, rather than a strong scent (after all, Guerlains are potent!) February 22, 2013 at 12:07pm Reply

      • OperaFan: I’ll prefix that label with “Classic” – Sadly I have not had too much good luck with Thierry Wasser’s creations, among ones I’ve tried. I do like a few, such as Ode a la Vanille and Tonka Imperiale, but not too many. February 22, 2013 at 2:00pm Reply

    • Annikky: With the exeption of violet, our problems seem to be exactly the same, Operafan! February 23, 2013 at 5:01am Reply

  • Bettye: I’m fairly new to the world of perfumery and trying to learn and understand — and thank you, Victoria, your blog is very helpful and so beautifully done. For me, so far at least, animalic, cumin-y, civet and leather notes are tough to understand. For example, Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue pour le Soir was literally beastly on me. Tried it one night getting into bed and felt like I was sleeping in a barnyard! I like much of his work, but this one, no go. Waited a few days, tried again and yep, back to the barnyard. Or maybe the stable. Yikes! Not sure why anyone would want to smell like this. :-) February 22, 2013 at 11:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your nice words, Bettye!
      I’ll confess that my impressions on Absolue pour le Soir are similar to yours. I’ve tried it a few times, and I just can’t handle it. I usually enjoy animalic notes, but it’s too much for me. February 22, 2013 at 11:58am Reply

    • mough: See, I’m the total opposite: MFK Pour le Soir is one of my absolute favorites! LOVE it. But, I grew up on a ranch. I spent a LOT of time around sweaty horses, cow manure, afterbirth, chicken crap, dead carcasses, etc. I rode and ride bareback, so I could go into town, still wearing the sweat -marked, hair encrusted jeans I had on before, bearing the tell tale dark spot on my butt and inner thighs. I just smelled like everyone else. I live on a wildlife refuge, it seems. I can smell male mountain lion urine a mile off. So, maybe it’s that. But to me, MFK’s smells great, a warm, slightly flowery but earthy smell. For the same reason, I love Bal a Versailles. The mix of (clean) Horse, Russian Olive blossom, and chewed apple would be my all time great mix of accords. February 22, 2013 at 12:08pm Reply

      • nikki: I love MFK Pour le Soir as well! February 22, 2013 at 12:21pm Reply

      • solanace: What a lively description, I felt tranported. February 22, 2013 at 3:39pm Reply

    • figuier: I’m with you on the AplS. I’ve generally got a high tolerance of cumin etc. but this was beyond awful, laundry detergent crossed with the kind of smells detergent is designed to counteract! Total scrubber…MKK on the other hand seems to me utterly innocuous, just hay and animal warmth.

      There aren’t that many specific notes I can pinpoint as not-me, but scents with lots of obviously-synthetic/shampoo-ish sillage make me very uncomfortable (e.g. Love Chloe, Clinique Happy, Lancome Miracle, the original Alien, YSL Safari & Manifesto) . I’m also not too good with colognes, unless I’m in a hot and dry climate (i.e. not here in the UK).

      But I’m always willing to test… February 22, 2013 at 1:18pm Reply

  • Domestic Goblin: Although this is not a perfume, it still tested my olfactory boundaries. There is a shower gel from LUSH called The Flying Fox. It’s very heavy on the Jasmine and I actually recoiled from the smell. February 22, 2013 at 11:55am Reply

    • Victoria: This actually makes me intrigued. :) Off to look for it. February 22, 2013 at 12:05pm Reply

      • Andrea: I was thinking “oh, V would probably like this one” then scrolled down and saw your comment. I’m not a LOL-kinda gal, but I actually did LOL! February 22, 2013 at 2:49pm Reply

      • Andrea: I just went through a bottle of it…pretty strong but I sadly detect hardly any lingering scent after washing off and toweling dry. February 22, 2013 at 10:52pm Reply

    • solanace: I liked it a lot a few years ago. February 22, 2013 at 3:40pm Reply

    • annmariec: Love Flying Fox. Very heavy on jasmine and honey. Robin on NST reviewed it favourably last year, tho’ I recall her saying she finds it very strong, and it will take her ages to get through even the smallest bottle. February 22, 2013 at 4:27pm Reply

  • Fatima: First, thanks for how to get scrubbers off. I’m lucky because in my house, my daughter Tamara and I like very different scents. I tend to like florals and orientals, she likes vanillas and leathers, so we both get to check out fragrances we normally wouldn’t try. We were once checking out samples we got. One of mine was Rose Poivree – so so for me. When Tamara sniffed it, she burst into a big smile and started laughing! She said she could see and smell her grandfather’s (my late father’s) garden and yard – the flowers, the earth, the stream with the moss growing along it. She said she would bathe in it if it weren’t so expensive. On her, it’s beautiful and she’s happy when she wears it. For me, that is what perfume should be about. February 22, 2013 at 12:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Can’t agree more! The best fragrances have to smell good as well as to transport us. February 23, 2013 at 7:48am Reply

  • nikki: I can’t stand anything with melon, i.e. Issey Miyake, Pour Therese….also Angel is terrible to my nose. I can smell it from afar. Aquatic is not my thing either. I also can’t stand Blu by Dolce/Gabbana. Terrible scent, like toilet bowl cleaner. Even though they are well made, L’Heure Bleue and Apres L’Ondee have an ingredient, maybe anisette, I don’t like at all. Carnal Flower is total overkill and I gave it away. Amarige and Ceara are too much in general. Although I like Aromatics Elixier on others, I can’t wear it at all. Another one is Jasmine, I don’t like any perfumes that are supposed to smell like jasmine, A La Nuit for example. Unless it is fresh jasmine, I don’t like the scent at all in perfumes. In general, melon is the biggest offender to my nose, and then maybe cucumber. February 22, 2013 at 12:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I notice that melon is a tricky note. Maybe it’s the association with the early 1990s when these notes were all the rage? We’ve all overdosed on them. February 23, 2013 at 7:49am Reply

  • Erin T: I’m starting to wonder if I’m finally losing the categories of scents that I’m afraid to wear. Leathers, lilies, powdery scents – I wear a few of them all now. I’ve always like animalic notes and even melons and the odd aquatic. But I thought I still couldn’t do really smoky ones: Le Labo Patchouli 24, CB IHP Burning Leaves, SSS Fireside, Vero Onda, etc. They all smell like bratwurst on me. Grilling bratwurst.

    I recently tried Lush/ Gorilla Perfumes Voice of Reason, though, and while the first 15 minutes smells EXACTLY like Bull’s Eye BBQ sauce, I can see me wanting to wear the drydown. Another boundry crossed! February 22, 2013 at 12:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: I predict that those would be my husband’s favorite perfumes. :) February 23, 2013 at 7:50am Reply

  • Leah: Hi Victoria! I am also with you on the watery notes. I tend to feel like I did not quite understadn that whole trend in perfumery. Same goes for the “sporty” scents, which always seem to remind me of the soap Irish Spring. There are some of the newer fruity creations which initially call my attention, but after wearing a few times (and comparing with some of my older beloved scents) lose their allure very quickly. February 22, 2013 at 1:06pm Reply

    • Daisy: I’m with you, Leah! Ozonic scents never held much appeal to me. Marine scents neither. And I can leave the whole “sport” genre alone. February 22, 2013 at 2:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: When you smell something constantly, it gets old.

      I’m starting to feel this way about the heavy amber and incense notes popular in niche perfumes. The best of the genre like Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan are complex and nuanced, but the less successful examples smell heavy and rough. February 23, 2013 at 7:52am Reply

  • Austenfan: I think I dislike too much powder. Teint de Neige ( what a lovely name though!) is the one fragrance that had me almost gag.
    Another one I had trouble with is Le Dix. I don’t know if the problem was the aldehydes or the powder.

    I used to wear L’Eau d’Issey for a long time. I find it a tad loud now. February 22, 2013 at 1:13pm Reply

    • Andrea: My mom just sent me a half-full (half-empty?!) bottle of Le Dix, and although it is from the 1960s (I think) and has “turned”, I smell something under the “old” notes that I really love. Do they still make this? I can’t seem to find it and would love to compare it. The bottle is so lovely! February 22, 2013 at 2:52pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I think i has been discontinued. February 22, 2013 at 3:40pm Reply

        • Austenfan: I mean it not i.. February 22, 2013 at 3:40pm Reply

        • solanace: What a shame, my mom loves it! :-(
          Not surprising, though. February 22, 2013 at 6:05pm Reply

      • Andrea: Yes, it is still produced! February 22, 2013 at 10:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: L’Eau d’Issey has a huge sillage, especially for something that purports to smell of water. :) February 23, 2013 at 7:53am Reply

      • Austenfan: Well when you have been dousing yourself in YSL Paris for over a decade, eau de parfum, most of the time, it seemed quite light.
        I don’t know if it has been reformulated but I find it loud and a tad harsh these days.
        Very distinctive though. February 23, 2013 at 12:56pm Reply

  • E. Lime: There is a quality to some perfumes that I classify as “oily” or “fatty” that I have some issues with, as it tends to turn my stomach. I find this quality in many of the Guerlains and in some of SSS and I wonder what it is.
    I wanted to love Tabac Aurea and SL Bois de Violette, but both of them reacted strangely with my skin, giving it a sharp and unpleasant scent–I think it is the cedar in both of them, however, cedar in other scents if combined with different notes doesn’t seem to be a problem.
    I can do aquatics no problem, but I think it is because my main issue is that I do not like anything that is powdery, or heavy amber, or sweet vanilla… so aquatics often feel very nice and crisp and refreshing to me. Ha! I didn’t think I was that picky, but it really sounds like I am! February 22, 2013 at 1:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love aquatic notes in Jardin apres la Mousson, so it depends on how they are used, I guess. In that particular fragrance, I do get that refreshing sensation you mention. February 23, 2013 at 3:20pm Reply

  • solanace: I despise the watery notes, anything ozonic or calone-like. I have kind of a sweet tooth, wearing L’Heure Bleue and Sacrebleu in Brazilian summer! But my sweet stuff must be interesting, anisey, smokey or something. I also hate fruit. Got 0.5 ml samples of the three new Kilians, and I know I’ll never finish them. Also loathe Goutal’s Mon Parfum Chéri, par Camille, because of the fruit note. Even the raspberry in Lipstick Rose turns me off on most days. The peach in Mitsouko I love, but that’s about it. Finally, I can’t stand the ‘tauerade’. I love Andy Tauer and the idea behind his creations, but there is something in there that I just hate… Shame on me! February 22, 2013 at 2:16pm Reply

    • solanace: But I forgot to mention the worst: Chanel 18. It freaks me out! February 22, 2013 at 6:08pm Reply

      • Victoria: Do you think it might be the musky-mineral note of ambrette? February 23, 2013 at 3:20pm Reply

        • solanace: I’m so curious about that, V!
          It might be the ambrette, but I can’t tell for sure ’cause I don’t know the material. When I read that 1932 was somehow related to No 18, I lost all interest. No. 18 is my least favourite sent in the wide world… I just can’t get (or believe) it. Maybe those Place Vandome diamonds are not my thing, after all… And since we are on it, Beige smells very sharp and flat to my nose. It must be me. I can find no white flowers in there, at all!

          Interesting thing you said above to the Guerlain gal, that perfume houses have a kind of signature… I discovered about the taurade because I couldn’t believe I didin’t likeany of the Tauers. February 24, 2013 at 4:55am Reply

  • Daisy: I just looked up I’m Rock and guffawed out loud at the screen! The chains! The skull charms! The electric guitars that I think are charms too, but just seem randomly stuck on! Hysterical!

    You are brave, Victoria :-)

    To hope in the face of such silly packaging is to inspire us all :-) February 22, 2013 at 2:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Or to display my utter naivete! :) February 23, 2013 at 5:59am Reply

  • Sofia: I don’t like watery aquatic “blue” perfumes either.. ok except for Dolce Gabanna Light blue, but thats just blue in the name, I dont find it blue in how it smells. When I see a perfume that its packaging already looks aquatic, I don’t even want to bother going anywhere near it. Maybe I’m being too harsh and missing out on some great scents… February 22, 2013 at 2:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: Or Angel! That one is a completely unexpected “blue” perfume. :) February 23, 2013 at 3:21pm Reply

  • Xenia: I agree with Daisy – judging by the bottle, it’s something scary :)
    Somehow I feel that awful packaging means awful insides, so i never venture into trying perfumes that “look” questionable. Perhaps it has prevented me from trying an amazing fragrance, but i’m sticking to my guns: if the maker had enough taste to formulate/pick a good fragrance, they should have enough taste to pick a good flacon.

    Anyone could make an example of a good fragrance in ugly packaging? Thanks! February 22, 2013 at 3:01pm Reply

    • Austenfan: Tocade? February 22, 2013 at 3:39pm Reply

      • Victoria: Definitely Tocade! That packaging is really clunky. February 23, 2013 at 6:52am Reply

        • Xenia: Interesting :) I actually have a Tocade perfume and share your sentiment about the ugly bottle. February 25, 2013 at 3:39pm Reply

          • Victoria: The larger EDP bottle is even worse, because scaling the design does nothing to improve on the looks. :) February 25, 2013 at 3:50pm Reply

    • Daisy: That’s a good question, Xenia! Hmmm, I will nominate Kate Walsh Boyfriend. But even covered in the names of boyfriends, it is comparatively tasteful! February 22, 2013 at 11:09pm Reply

      • Xenia: Daisy, I actually liked the quirky bottle :). It’s very playful :)
        I was very skeptical about the perfume (as I usually am about celebrity fragrances in general), but this one is definitely one of the best out there. February 25, 2013 at 3:43pm Reply

        • Daisy: It is quirky :-) Also tongue-in-cheek I feel. I also agree that Boyfriend is one of the best celebrity scents out there. Or rather, it’s just a good fragrance :-) February 25, 2013 at 8:11pm Reply

  • Andrea: I don’t like to smell anything with cumin, as I live in Texas and it smells like someone who just went out for a (yum!) meal of Mexican food. Love the food, but I don’t want to smell like I have not bathed, and that is how cumin is on me.

    I was testing some scents that I loved recently when I realized that they do not actually smell “good”. When I first began learning about fragrances, I would have hated these scents! I realized that (as I tend to be a people-pleaser) I would never wear the scents that seem to polarize in public, I might use a sample at home.

    I like Elie Saab, but when I tried it I smelled heavy indoles. Narcisco for Her, EL Private Collection, the SJP fragrance… All of them seem to have that “diaper” smell somewhere within the other notes. I wish I did not smell it, as I love these otherwise! But learning about indoles has been wonderful, as for years I thought a Private Collection-wearing relative had tummy issues! When I smelled Elie Saab with the same note, I realized my mistake.

    The fragrance I actually am crossing over to wear is TDC Pure Virgin. My hubby liked it on me at The Scent Bar, and I bought it on his recommendation. It is not “me”, as I like clean (white, rose)florals with a hint of wood or musk. I am learning to like heavy heliotrope. To me, this also smells like Penhaglion Artemesia (which I blind bought) minus the violet note. I am still bothered by too much violet; perhaps in a few years I will even be wearing Paris! February 22, 2013 at 3:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: So much fun to read what others like/don’t like and especially how we each perceive different scents. I now want to smell TDC Pure Virgin again. February 23, 2013 at 3:23pm Reply

      • Andrea: I agree! We are all so different, and even smells we think we don’t like smell fabulous to us when on other people. Part of the fun of this website/blog is hearing other’s opinions! The other part is, of course, the amazing writing and education from you, Susanna and Andrew.

        When I was at the Scent Bar, we were exclaiming over the Pure Virgin scent on my wrist. Some girls were there trying on scents and asked to smell the perfume on my wrist by saying “I want to smell the Virgin!”. I was embarrassed, to say the least…! February 23, 2013 at 4:04pm Reply

  • annmariec: I’m still reading my way through everyone’s comments but I just want to say I love those parrots! What are they Victoria? That colour is so bright.

    I adore parrots and we have lots of parrots in our gardens where I live. King parrots are one of my favourites. They are have different colouring and are darker than the parrots in your photo, but the colours are unbelievably vivid. It’s as if they are their own light source.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_King_Parrot February 22, 2013 at 4:14pm Reply

    • Andrea: Alexandersittiche – they spread through central Europe a few decades ago – tolerating our winters. February 22, 2013 at 11:17pm Reply

      • annmariec: Thanks! February 23, 2013 at 12:55am Reply

      • Austenfan: I was wondering about the parrots too. I didn’t know that any lived in colder climates. I always associate them with the tropics, but then I know next to nothing about birds. Thanks for letting us know! February 23, 2013 at 4:37am Reply

        • annemariec: Yes, I had associated such colourful birds with tropical, or at least warmer climbs, as well. February 23, 2013 at 3:37pm Reply

    • Jillie: Hi Annemariec! I think they might be parakeets. In England, believe it or not, we have colonies of them living in the wild, especially in the London area, in Richmond Park and the famous rugby ground at Twickenham. It is said that a couple escaped when they were used during filming “The African Queen” near Shepperton Studios, they adapted to our cold climate and went on to produce lots of offspring. You can hear them in the trees and when you look up there are quite literally dozens of them sitting there! February 23, 2013 at 3:56am Reply

      • annemariec: That sounds fabulous (well, to me, anyway). I found a site where you can listen to the call of these birds, and it seems fairly piercing! But I wonder if these birds have invaded the food supplies and nesting spots of birds native to your part of England. A pity, if so. February 23, 2013 at 3:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: When I first saw them in a snow covered park, I thought that I was dreaming. I worked all through the night to finish a major deadline, and then I was so tired that I couldn’t even sleep. I went for a walk and saw green parrots. “I must be hallucinating,” I thought.

      It turns out that they are the psittacula krameri, an Asian parrot, according to my Facebook friends. They’ve descended from escaped pet birds and they came be found all over Europe and the US! February 23, 2013 at 6:55am Reply

      • annemariec: Parrots in the snow would be a bizarre and lovely sight! February 23, 2013 at 3:49pm Reply

  • minette: sounds like “i’m rock” should’ve been called “i’m rock candy.”

    i think it’s always good to remain hopeful – so why not try new things? even if you don’t love them, you have still experienced them. and life is here for the experiencing.

    cheers! February 22, 2013 at 5:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think so too! Trying new scents is fairly low commitment (and zero cost if you try them on skin or blotters at the store). February 23, 2013 at 3:24pm Reply

  • annmariec: I go through phases of trying perfume genres I don’t like, following the principle (which applies to clothes too) that if you only wear what you believe suits you, you are in danger of falling into a rut. I still can’t go near fruity fragrances of the Flowerbomb (and, lately, La Vie est Belle) type, but I have learned how invigorating, satisfying and sensual fruity notes can be (in moderation, especially over a contrasting chypre base).

    I’m lucky I can wear cumin quite happily, so a fruity chypre with a decent addition of cumin – Rochas Femme – is heaven for me. :) February 22, 2013 at 5:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: Fruity notes can definitely be very interesting. For instance, I love the happy, bright mango notes in Parfums de Nicolai L’Eau A La Folie or crisp apple in D&G Light Blue. February 23, 2013 at 3:26pm Reply

  • bhama: My challenging perfumes as of now are Bulgari Black and Guerlain Habit Rouge. I cannot get past the rubber note in BB, but I am going to keep on trying as I like the dry down very much. The powdery aspect of Habit Rouge is too cloying (turns my stomach) for me, even though I have no issues with Shalimar!!!!! I don’t find Shalimar EDT that sweet at all!!

    I am still learning to appreciate stewed plum/ fruit and boozy notes. On a happy note I am enjoying leather notes and I never thought I would!! February 22, 2013 at 8:51pm Reply

    • annmariec: Oh I do hope you can persist with the Black!
      I don’t ear Black myself (found it a bit meh) but bought some for my teenage son and on him it is glorious. (I have to restrain myself from begging him to wear it more often; how embarrassing that would be for a teenage boy!).

      But with both a son and a daughter growing up, I am craftily wondering if I can get them to wear perfumes that don’t quite work for me, so that I can still enjoy them! February 22, 2013 at 9:50pm Reply

      • bhama: Dear Annmariec- I will try to persist, but the rubber note is tough! You have given me an idea though-My 8 year old is a budding perfumista and he has been playing with my Shalimar and Coromandel. I am going to give him Habit rouge since its the boy version of shalimar! The other day he went to his violin group lessons wafting of ANGEL!!!!!! I caught it in time to clean him of it. Those poor children wouldn’t have seen it coming!!
        Angel should have its own warning label!!
        Thankfully Habit rouge is much safer and he can bathe in it if he wants! February 23, 2013 at 6:27pm Reply

        • annemariec: Maybe you had better hide the Angel. :) Anyway, sounds like you have already set your son on the right path. Hopefully when he is grown up and gainfully employed he will be giving YOU perfume!

          Have you tried Le Labo’s Patchouli 24? A wonderful dry vanilla, with smoke rather than rubber. Same perfumer as Black, Annick Mernado. February 24, 2013 at 5:41am Reply

          • bhama: Thankfully I only had a sample of Angel which he drained! I have yet to try any Le Labo fragrances, and dry vanilla with smoke feels like the perfect starting point! Will have to order a sample soon. Thanks Annemariec. February 24, 2013 at 9:21am Reply

        • Victoria: Great story! Sounds like he has been observing you. :) February 24, 2013 at 11:28am Reply

          • Bhama: Yup Victoria, he is a very curious little boy!! He is eyeing my Santal Majuscule now which I am not ready to share yet!! February 24, 2013 at 12:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: Habit Rouge does smell thicker, warmer than Shalimar to me, so I can understand why you would like one but not another. February 23, 2013 at 3:27pm Reply

  • Andrea: I have had problems with some sandalwoody components. My nose went crazy and I got this horrible sharp chemical note overruling everything else. It started with Sublime de Patou and Sandalo di Etro from one day to the next. Sandalo I sold off, so I couldn’t tell, but after a hiatus of more than two years Sublime smells ‘normal’ again. What happened?

    My other HATE note is one which I connect with ‘male’ scents. Mainly in cheap and generic ones, but it also is a prominent note in the middle and later development of Lierre de Diptyque. Hate hate hate. What is this note? February 22, 2013 at 10:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can relate to that too. I love natural sandalwood, but the sandalwood synthetics especially when used on their own (rather than to round out an accord) can be very harsh. The drydown of many classical fragrances was ruined for me when the synthetic sandalwood was substituted for natural. I’m not advocating “all natural all the time,” but in this case, it is the question of balance.

      Sublime might have been reformulated again.

      I don’t remember Eau de Lierre, but I suspect that you’re disliking the lime-lavender note. It’s called dihydromyrcenol and is one of the most common ingredients in masculine perfumes, especially the “sporty” ones. February 23, 2013 at 8:07am Reply

      • Andrea: Thank you Victoria!

        I’ll think ‘lime-lavender?’ next time I smell this component…will find out. On their own I love those notes.

        Re Sublime – it was always the same bottle. Strange isn’t it? Like an allergy that you stopped having. But you are right. That was ca 2006, when true Sandalwood vanished. February 23, 2013 at 12:19pm Reply

  • nozknoz: I identify with nastja’s comment about realizing that some of her favorite perfumes were ones for which her first reaction was almost repulsion. Aromatics Elixir was like that for me, too, and also Shalimar, which I kept coming back to and finally came to love. I would add Caron En Avion as another. I, too, wear some perfumes because they are so interesting, like Timbuktu, even though they don’t smell “good” in a conventional sense. I’ll try anything, really – you never know! February 22, 2013 at 10:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that’s the best perfumes are like that, especially when it’s a style completely new to you. Also, a memorable perfume should have a hook, something that captures your attention. As a student, I quickly learned that comments made on my trials like “this feels too smooth” or “this seems like a round ball” were not meant as positive. February 23, 2013 at 7:47am Reply

  • Annikky: Many of my potential problem areas are quite common – too sweet vanilla and amber, rough vetiver/patchouly, very strong incense, etc. Non of those have surprised me, but I’ve got one perfume issue I didn’t expect.

    A couple of moths ago, I got small decants of all Chanel Exclusifs. I adore four of them – Cuir de Russie, La Pausa, Rue Cambon and Bois des Iles and enjoy the rest to different degrees. And then there is No 22. I have tried and tried, but it still smells like very expensive soap to me. Is it simply the amount of aldehydes? Aldehydes as such don’t seem to be the problem, as I love the rest of the collection (and several scents form the main line, but No 5 not so much). February 23, 2013 at 5:22am Reply

    • Austenfan: I don’t know because I have never tried No.22, but aren’t 22 and 5 much heavier on the aldehydes than the other Exclusifs?

      Lauder’s White Linen uses a hefty dose so you might want to try that one and see whether it boters you in the same way ( if you haven’t already).

      I admire the Chanels; they are too flawless for me though. The only ones I really like are the mean green ones. ( Cristalle, No.19 and Pour Monsieur). The only exclusifs I know are Cuir de Russie and Bois des Iles. February 23, 2013 at 5:55am Reply

      • Annikky: You are right, of course, as always:) There is more of the stuff in No 22 and No 5. And that’s why I wondered, whether it’s simply the overdose that I have a problem with or are there other considerations as well (type of aldehyde used?). I am absolutely fine with Cristalle, No 19 and Beige, for example, while No 22, No 5 and White Linen (as you correctly guessed) are difficult. February 23, 2013 at 7:18am Reply

        • Victoria: I too agree with Austenfan. No 5 and No 22 are the only two aldehydic florals in Chanel’s collection (basically, a floral structure + a generose dose of aldehydes). None of the other fragrances you mention are. The most aldehydic of them would be Beige, but even there the aldehydes are subtle.

          Of course, there are lots of different aldehydes, and the majority of fragrances on the market use one or another type. But the soapy-waxy kind you mention disliking are what’s known as fatty aldehydes. The overdose as in No 5, White Linen, Arpege or Rive Gauche will give that characteristic note that many people find challenging. Especially today when this style is not at all popular and is associated with retro perfume styles. February 23, 2013 at 7:41am Reply

          • Annikky: Thank you both, that’s settled then. A bit embarrassing to rise such an obvious issue, but I wasn’t sure of my interpretation and that kept bothering me. I will of course not give up on aldehydes, fatty or otherwise. February 23, 2013 at 7:52am Reply

            • Victoria: Not at all! It’s a great topic, and trust me, far far from obvious. For one thing, marketing sometimes uses the word “aldehydes” in a fiendishly confusing manner. It’s as if the cooking magazines talked about spices by referring to everything from cumin to flour. And also, the idea of fragrance classifications is never explained clearly. February 23, 2013 at 8:00am Reply

            • Austenfan: I had/have a problem with those particular aldehydes as well. What I did with my aldehyde heavy fragrances ( First and White Linen) is just “stay away” from them for the first 15 minutes or so. Afterwards I was fine. I found that after a while the interval got shorter and I now even quite like the opening. I always loved the heart and dry down of these fragrances so much that it was worth it for me to wear them this way. February 23, 2013 at 2:57pm Reply

          • Austenfan: Are fatty aldehydes the same as aliphatic aldehydes? February 23, 2013 at 12:54pm Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, that’s right. Aliphatic comes from Greek aleiphar, which means fat or oil. February 23, 2013 at 1:45pm Reply

          • Terry Edwards Futrelle: Thank you, V. You just explained why I cannot wear these perfumes. They go so off, on my skin. Every time, I read the threads, I learn so much! I have very alkaline skin and some things will never work for me. February 23, 2013 at 2:15pm Reply

  • Karen: One thing I’ve found is that whole perfume lines test my boundaries. I’ve never really made any Guerlain or any Dior perfume work for me, but I can wear practically any Etat Libre d’Orange and adore it (ok, maybe not Secrétions Magnifiques …)’ or any L’Artisan Parfumeur. I don’t know whether there is a common theme throughout a line or whether some ingredients are more prevalent in one line than another.? As I’m a relative newbie, this may be a dumb question, but I’d love to know! February 23, 2013 at 5:24am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a good observation, and you’re absolutely right. When it comes to the Guerlain and Dior collections, there is definitely a common theme, especially in the older fragrances. Guerlain has its special accord of tonka bean, rose, vanilla, iris and musk that gives their perfumes a very distinctive scent. Dior has a memorable style, although these days they’ve reformulated everything to near death. February 23, 2013 at 6:57am Reply

  • Connie: It’s my first time posting here but I’ve been reading for a while. I find there is a big difference between things that I need soem more practice to like and things that I am repulsed by, and always will be repulsed by. The latter category is populated by ‘marine perfumes’ not so much watery ones as salty ones like CBIHP’s At the Beach 1966 and Heeley’s Sel Marin. But I have no problem with Eau de Merveilles. I also can’t stand melon smells, as in Jardin Apres la Mousson. The notes that I have had a hard time with but now love, since I have practiced smelling them include patchouli, aldehydes, leather, and galbanum. Then there’s a whole other category of perfumes that bore me, that have become so infamous that I smell them and can’t help but stereotype the kind of person who wears them, like the sport fragrances, teh aquatics, and the sugar candies. February 23, 2013 at 9:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Welcome, Connie!
      I also find it hard to disassociate some fragrances from people who wear them. I wear Anais Anais time to time, but to me, it will always remains my aunt’s perfume. February 24, 2013 at 11:29am Reply

  • Domestic Goblin: I forgot to mention. I sampled Blood Concept B a while ago, but all I could smell was the metallic note and nothing else. Unless I wanted to attract vampires, this will be one I will avoid at all costs. February 23, 2013 at 12:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t smelled it yet, but nothing I’ve read about it has been encouraging. February 24, 2013 at 11:30am Reply

  • Andrea: Anybody out there who gets a headache from the CdGs? I’ve beed trying time and again – always the same…. February 23, 2013 at 12:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: From all of them or just certain ones? February 24, 2013 at 11:30am Reply

      • Andrea: Victoria,
        basically yes, some worse. Was very prominent in the green series, also the red, also in several of the incenses. Ditto their main scents, except the Bijou flanker. It is a component that I met in several contemporary, mainly indie scent-lines. I’ve named it the Dry Cleaners/Car Interior Cleaner. Same effect, same scent family. February 24, 2013 at 12:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: It could be the clean woody notes + musk. I admire CdG more than I enjoy them, except for incenses and the original. They never settle on my skin and remain very sharp. I suppose that I like a hint of sweetness or softness. February 25, 2013 at 6:07am Reply

  • Noele: I agree with you about aquatic scents. They’re uninteresting to me. I wonder if I subconsciously associate “aquatic” with a watered down perfume. Sweet perfumes definitely need to be tempered. I like (and even bought) Louve but SLs Rahat Loukoum was cavity inducing for me.

    The one perfume line that I cannot warm up to is Chanel. Even the Exclusifs. There’s a shrillness to them that I find off-standish and the dry down usually smells cheap on me, like a drugstore deodorant.

    I also prefer my perfumes to be uber feminine. Anything I’ve tried on the more masculine end of the spectrum is just not enjoyable to me. February 23, 2013 at 12:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Chanels definitely have a distinctive style–not overly sweet, somewhat austere even. My favorites are the ones with rich iris notes, like No 19, Cuir de Russie or La Pausa (just wish La Pausa lasted better). February 24, 2013 at 11:32am Reply

  • Sandra Levine: A strong opening note of aldehyde is unpleasant to my nose and headache-producing — so no Chanel No. 5 for me. Identifiable rose is also a big turnoff, but not as much as smelling like something to eat. February 23, 2013 at 1:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: I went through a tumultuous relationship with aldehydes before I finally warmed up to them. But it really took a while! February 24, 2013 at 12:08pm Reply

  • Terry Edwards Futrelle: Bond n°9 fragrances, do not work for me, much to my sadness… I love the complexity of Ormonde Jayne fragrances, but very few work well with my dry skin. I keep trying, them, though! Sometimes, it requires many tries, before I will set a fragrance aside. Green scents do not work for me, either. I do think it is my skin chemistry…Orientals work very well, for me, but I will keep on testing anything that sounds delightful. February 23, 2013 at 1:40pm Reply

    • Noele: I haven’t been too impressed with the Bond No. 9 line either. I do have one, though. Westside. It’s quite interesting. It’s a boozy rose with patchouli, musk, amber….It has a little more character than the rest of the lineup. Maybe it’s the booze. :) February 23, 2013 at 4:29pm Reply

      • Terry Edwards Futrelle: Noele, I will give Westside a try! Thank you for the description. It helps, so much! February 23, 2013 at 5:51pm Reply

        • Victoria: I also like Chinatown. Not a big fan of Bond no 9 overall, but Chinatown is my favorite. February 24, 2013 at 12:08pm Reply

          • Terry Edwards Futrelle: I am very grateful to V and everyone here, for their descriptions ans observations. For almost 40 years, I have been on various medications for arthritis. It changes my body chemistry, it seems, and makes wearing many perfumes, difficult. For me, trial and error gets expensive, so, I read everything from this lovely page, to give me guidance and direction. Heartfelt thanks, to everyone! February 24, 2013 at 12:50pm Reply

            • Victoria: I’m so glad to hear that the posts are helpful, Terry! Have you observed if your skin pushes some notes more than others? This could be something to track or even write down. I bet that there must be some common culprits–like green notes or woody ones, etc.? February 25, 2013 at 6:03am Reply

              • Terry Edwards Futrelle: I have a friend, who worked for Dior, for more than 20 years. She was very helpful to me. I discovered that I can wear many Guerlain fragrances. Much to her dismay, I could not wear any of Dior. I particularly loved, “Dune”, but, sadly, it did not work. Oilier scents and scents with vanilla, seem to work well. Today, I am wearing, “Ormonde Jayne, Tiare”. “OJ, Woman”, also works. Guerlain, Shalimar is wonderful. CK-Euphoria is a good scent, as well. I never give up, V. I love scent. If something doesn’t work on my skin, I just use it to scent my home. The next scent I want to try is “Spice Bomb”…Your reviews are the best, V., because of the depth of your description. (Warmth, powdery notes and vanilla all draw compliments for me, so, I read everyone’s comments with these notes in mind.) February 25, 2013 at 9:25am Reply

  • axum: I find leather challenging in perfume, particularly when it is really raw and starts to remind me of roadkill, or jerky. This is frustrating, as I like the concept of leather in fragrance very much. Happily I can and do wear Bottega Venetta.

    My biggest challenge, overall, is Guerlinade. I just cannot enjoy it. Which means I cannot enjoy all those classic Guerlains! Such a pity. February 23, 2013 at 2:02pm Reply

    • Karina: axum, I too struggle with leather, but I am the opposite to you, I can’t stand Bottega Veneta but I adore Shalimar. The leather in BV seems cold and artificial to me, but in Shalimar it feels warm and natural. Go figure. February 23, 2013 at 9:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: What about smoky, birchtar leathers as in Chanel’s Cuir de Russie? That one is not all that animalic. February 24, 2013 at 12:09pm Reply

  • Carmen: Aldehydic florals, such as No. 5 and Jubilation xxv. I try and try to like them but no dice. Those are instant headache inducers for me I never was into rose scents but am finding that as much as I don’t want to like them, I get the most compliments when wearing them. Honey type scents also seem to wirk well. February 23, 2013 at 2:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Which honey scents do you like? February 24, 2013 at 12:10pm Reply

  • sara: anything sugary. my office mate wore pink sugar by aquolina and it was a torture. February 23, 2013 at 2:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Pink Sugar is so strong too! If she wore a lot of it, I can imagine how it can be uncomfortable. February 24, 2013 at 12:11pm Reply

  • Karina: I totally agree on the sharpness and cold feeling of aquatic fragrances. They just don’t seem to come alive on me, rather they smell like some sort of cleaning agent. Give me the warm and heady embrace of woody orientals and white flowers any day. February 23, 2013 at 9:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a good point too–those notes are used in some cleaning products, so I might have a reverse association. February 24, 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

  • Jack Sullivan: Oddly enough, while I don’t mind stinky animalic scents I have issues with the much gentler leather and tobacco notes. It really depends on the general balance of the ingredients but in numerous cases these notes leave something bitter on my skin.
    My major issue is with iris – most fragrances with a prominent iris note feel like being trapped in a damp cave. I discovered this feeling upon testing Iris Silver Mist (my only “no-go” in the SL line so far).
    However, I don’t like being outside looking in – I kept on trying with the hope I’d finally find an iris scent that would “do it” for me. It turns out I fell in love with Parfum d’Empire Equistrius, which also has leather in it – so it’s actually helping me overcoming two dislikes simultaneously. February 24, 2013 at 3:06am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m with you, I like to understand why something is admired or considered interesting. February 24, 2013 at 12:13pm Reply

  • Cybele: I cannot deal with the average floral fragrance such as Flora, Valentina, Lola, Romance, Chloe etc. the opening is usually an immediate turnoff for me and I can’t tell them apart at all.
    Besides that, I dislike milk chocolate notes as in Angel or 100% Love, most Serge Lutens for the sirupy quality, and rose dominated fragrances (with few exceptions). February 24, 2013 at 3:48am Reply

    • Cybele: oh, and I must add, I really can’t do rum/booze February 24, 2013 at 5:02am Reply

    • Mitzi: Oh me too! I could not for the life of me tell the difference between say Flora and Valentina, or almost any of Marc Jacobs scents, apart from his very first. It’s a first strong hit on your head with a bag full of synthetic strawberries, and I am all knocked out.
      Also any Poison flanker after Hypnotic Poison is a mystery to me: not a single flowery or base note is discernible, it’s all cheap and very sharp air freshener on me. February 24, 2013 at 5:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Some Serge Lutens’s fragrances definitely have that thick, rich quality, especially Arabie, Bois et Fruits, etc. I put on Douce Amere the other day and then I just had to wash it off. It was too much, and I was not in a mood for something like that. February 24, 2013 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Mitzi: I recently was testing my boundaries after reading “Cheap Trill” category on another blog, and decided to approach the fragrance aisles in our local supermarket. They stock scents by Hale Berry and Paris Hilton and similar sort. Without any conscious snobbery, I would have never approached this area before, it would just not occur to me. In any case, I opened a bottle of Dazzle by Paris Hilton, and followed up by some of the Hale Berry offering, and all I can say is that my boundaries are firmly in their old place. Regrettably! February 24, 2013 at 5:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t think that all celebrity fragrances are cheaply made, but the ones you’ve smelled are definitely among the least interesting ones. I’m not surprised you weren’t swayed by them. February 24, 2013 at 12:32pm Reply

  • Safran: I grew into a lot of scent notes that I used to dislike before, e.g. white florals, especially tuberose and just recently powdery scents. But what I still can’t enjoy is anything with a strong cumin note. Also, some scents have actually a faeces note to my nose. And that’s not a matter of skin chemistry, it’s more a matter of nose chemistry, because I smell that on paper strips as well. Examples are MKK and Rien of EldO. I know, that’s horrible and they are certainly not meant to smell like that, but that’s what my nose get’s. February 24, 2013 at 6:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can believe it, J! Some people perceive animalic notes with more intensity than others. Like some people have more taste buds on their tongues, so they are more sensitive to strong tastes. February 25, 2013 at 6:14am Reply

  • gentiana: Wow! Interesting topic… The last year and something I was constantly exploring my boundaries regarding fragrances. I have a love/hate relationship with big white florals. Or, properly said… with flowers and florals. I adore the scent of jasmine (each year in may I would actually like to move my home in a jasmine bush). I love lily, lily of the valley, tuberose… etc. The perfumes based on these react on me and give a sharp metallic or urinous smell. And on others give me a nose-wrinkling reaction: they are everything that I am NOT.
    The strangest experience was, although with Narcotic Venus from Nasomatto: I had a repulsive reaction in the shop, had in mind to scrub it off at the first gas station… I had a journey of about 3 hours to do, and wanted to see what happens. After one hour..a wonderful, hounting smell kept coming out from my coat’s sleeve… I turned back and caught the SA right the minute before closing the shop, shouting not to leave, ’cause I die if I go home without this perfume.
    Now I have it in my drawer… I use it now and then at home… but I am not enuogh daring to wear it when I go out somewhere. I have the feeling EVERYBODY would rise an elbow…. Simply it is that part of me that I don’t want to show at all !!!! February 25, 2013 at 12:27pm Reply

  • gentiana: Yes. Tuberose… Sometimes it gives me shivers of pleasure… Sometimes it scares me to death! February 25, 2013 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: Tuberose can definitely do that! It’s such a polarizing note, and I can see why–it smells so thick, so rich. February 25, 2013 at 3:21pm Reply

  • Jennifer: I think my issues are mostly around fragrances with iris or violet. I’ve found that iris is just dandy when combined with sweet notes (i.e. Diptyque Volutes), but most of the time it just seems soapy. I’m not a fan of soapy. Dzonkha didn’t work for me at all. All I smelled was soap and vetiver. I didn’t get the incense that others seem to. But because I know that iris can work for me sometimes, I’ve been wanting to try other iris-centric fragrances and see if I find anything that works for me.

    Violet can be a tough one because I think my skin pushes violet notes a bit. But I’ve tried a couple of things that had an unobtrusive violet note that didn’t overpower on my skin, so I’m thinking that’s an avenue to explore as well.

    Aside from specific notes, fragrances that I tend not to like usually fall into the soapy or powdery category, though I can occasionally like a powdery one. Soapy is tougher. I guess I also don’t generally do lighter florals, except for layering with other stuff. February 25, 2013 at 4:43pm Reply

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