general perfume articles: 94 posts

Articles on different aspects of perfumery. If you’re interested in learning how to make decants, to craft your own scented lotion, to test fragrances, to pick the best perfumes for different occasions, or if you’re curious to step inside a perfume lab, this group of essays will be of interest.

Perfumes for When You Are Under the Weather

Are you feeling under the weather? Pat explores a range of scented cures. (Bois de Jasmin will be back to its regular schedule on March 6th, Friday.)

It might start with a slight headache, or a small case of the sniffles, or just feeling somewhat unbalanced, then it progresses to general malaise and aching limbs. Time to face up to it, you’re sick, and you might as well cancel everything planned for the next three days to a week. Your best friends will be a cup of hot tea, a box of tissues, and a warm comforter on the sofa. Perfume won’t even be on your radar.

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But what about when you start to recover and take an interest in life again? Just as you wouldn’t attempt a three-course meal before starting with a bowl of hot chicken soup, you won’t want to go right back to wearing a heavy application of your vintage Mitsouko. Transition fragrances are in order, and here are some of my favorites.

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Trading Senses

Can poor eyesight be compensated by a sharp sense of smell? Our guest writer Jillie shares her story of struggling with poor vision and falling in love with perfume.

Sometimes I believe that when I was born the Bad Fairy cursed me with bad sight, while the Good Fairy gave me a keen nose. I know that it sounds fanciful, but I am convinced that my poor vision is compensated for by a sharp sense of smell. Perhaps, if I hadn’t suffered with severe myopia, I may never have developed into the scent obsessive that I am now.

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I was nine when I realized that I couldn’t see as well as other children, but by then my nose had already been working as hard as Samantha’s in Bewitched. As a toddler, it would lead me around the garden and I would plunge into banks of honey-scented alyssum, drifts of lavender and into the lush red roses climbing up the wall.

Good smells were usually associated with food in my early years , especially my mum’s apple and blackberry pie and my dad’s roast dinners. Christmas would be a feast of aromas: the sunny citrus tang of tangerine peel (a fruit we only saw in the holiday season), the creaminess of chocolate buttons, the licorice darkness of the Christmas pudding, the delicate bitterness of marzipan, the vanilla sweetness of my grand-dad’s pipe tobacco and the boozy tang of port and whisky, which were only ever drunk on special occasions. Add a note of fir tree, and you have my ultimate festive perfume. (I’ll skip the ever present funk of cigarette smoke, one of my least favorite smells.)

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Workout for the Nose : How to Improve Your Sense of Smell

New research conducted by scientists at Rockefeller University revealed that the human nose is much more sensitive than was previously believed and can distinguish close to a trillion different scents. Another study at Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences de Lyon shows that “the regions of the brain associated with olfaction are more developed in professional perfumers than in the general population” and that with practice, it’s possible to reverse the age-related grey matter reduction that affects the olfactory regions among the general population.

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“Take care of your nose and use it more often,” is the main advice I give in my perfumery classes. But the frequent question is whether it’s possible for a non-professional to improve their sense of smell. There is a belief that perfumers are unique in their ability to perceive scents that other people simply can’t identify. There is nothing further from truth; what separates perfumers from the general public is the number of hours they dedicate to smelling. It’s also no coincidence that many perfumers come from families involved in the fragrance trade, and they are taught to use their nose at an early age.

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In The Mind’s Nose : Olfactory Imagination

Courtney reflects on one of the best side effects of the perfume hobby–the ability to imagine scents.

I was sitting on the meditation cushion, feet tucked under my thighs, hands in my lap, back straining to keep from falling into its familiar bend. It was quiet in the airy meditation hall in Cambridge, save for the occasional rustles and shuffles of fellow meditators shifting position to keep a foot from falling asleep.

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I had been to this center several times over the past few years, but I was not a dedicated practitioner. Some people mistakenly believe that meditation is relaxing (usually those who haven’t meditated much). In fact, meditation is tough. You try to keep your mind focused on your breath or some other object of attention, only to have it drift into thoughts, worries, and daydreams. Part of the meditation practice is learning to reckon with the random thoughts that pop into your head, the detritus of an over-busy mind.

But today, something new came into my mind—not a thought, but a smell. A very specific smell: Diptyque Eau de Lierre. I wasn’t wearing perfume because of the no-scent policy, yet here it was as if the smell was actually drifting into my nose. It had a distinct shape and character, a blend of watery green and sharp pepper. It was like the image of a person’s face.

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Hidden Gems : The Perfumes No One Talks About

Elisa talks about several underrated favorites that she would be glad to keep to herself. Of course, she can’t help but share with us. 

A woman is standing in line at the grocery store. She smells the most amazing perfume wafting by. She turns and realizes it is coming from the woman behind her. “Your perfume is gorgeous!” she says.

The woman smiles, obviously flattered. “Thank you. I’ve been wearing it for 20 years.”

“How wonderful,” the first woman says, “what is it?”

Her smile disappears. “If you don’t mind, I’d rather not say.”

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I read a version of this story in a comment on a perfume blog, and I found it both funny and sad – why not share the name of your perfume with a perfect stranger? It’s one thing to hope your coworker or your best friend stays away from your signature scent, but you can’t protect your chosen perfume from everyone. (If nobody but you buys it, it’s not going to be available for long.)

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