Do You Have Skin? On Skin Chemistry and Perfume


“Do you have skin? I only need one arm.” I am in my office at International Flavors & Fragrances speaking on the phone with an evaluator (an individual who works with the perfumer to guide him/her on the project). Spending most of my waking hours in the fragrance world sometimes makes me feel as if I am jettisoned into another universe. It is small, closed, and very passionate.  The language it uses is laden with industry specific jargon and turns of phrase. Take the aforementioned and very common scenario. The first time I heard this question I was utterly baffled, being completely unprepared for such a query. Of course, the answer is simple—skin is needed to test the fragrance. Although paper blotters are used heavily to study the development of a fragrance composition, the skin is the ultimate test. As a result, I wear no fragrance to work to make sure I “have skin,” and I return home wearing up to 8 different perfumes on my arms. I always get a seat on the train. …

As a perfume blog writer, I receive many emails asking for fragrance advice. About 30% of questions touch upon skin chemistry and its effects on fragrance. Does skin chemistry affect the way one wears perfume? Why fragrance X smells wonderful on my friend and sour on me? Why do all of my perfumes smell different now that I have started a new prescription medication? Among fragrance journalists and writers, the opinions seem to fall in two radically different camps—skin chemistry does not matter at all and skin chemistry determines everything. In the perfume industry, however, the effects of skin chemistry on perfume are taken for granted. It matters and it affects the way fragrance develops. Every round of fragrance mods (a series of new trials) needs to pass a skin test, and every meeting with the customer includes a time when the fragrance is smelled on the skin. Some perfumers insist on smelling their compositions on several different people before making further decisions.

I admit that until I started smelling the same perfume on different people, I had no inkling how much the results might vary. Sure, Light Blue will not smell like Chanel No 5 on another person, but one might notice some differences from one individual to another. The top note is where the change is particularly noticeable, but the drydown can be altered quite dramatically as well by specific skin chemistry. In a sense, it is not surprising. As a baseline, every skin has its own specific scent, which is determined by diet*, hormones, lifestyle (smoking, alcohol consumption, etc.) and overall health.  Indeed, in the ancient times, doctors would smell the wrists of their patients in order to determine their state of health.

The perfume’s lasting power is another skin chemistry related matter. In my experience, green, fresh fruity and citrusy compositions seem to be particularly sensitive. Dry skin may not retain as much of the volatile elements, while the reverse is true for skins that are naturally moist. In other words, if you have dry skin and have trouble wearing sheer, sparkling fragrances, moisturizing with some light lotion is often the best remedy. Beware that many unscented lotions contain elements that cover up the chemical odor of their bases, which can likewise mute the effect of your perfume.

Although the olfactive profile of a perfume would be represented most completely on the skin of someone who is healthy, does not smoke, does not drink a lot of coffee or eat heavily garlicky and spicy foods, one does not have to aim to be a perfect human blotter. I find it interesting that although seven women in my circle of friends wear Angel, it still smells slightly different on us. One friend’s skin emphasizes the citrusy fruity top notes, another’s the dark chocolate facet. The scientist in me yearns for a control study, but for the time being, my unscientific observations suffice to peak my curiosity. In conclusion, whatever the effect of skin chemistry, I love the fact that my perfume can be truly personalized by my skin.

* If you are up to a small experiment, drink an infusion of fenugreek seeds and smell your arm the next morning. You will notice a caramel, maple syrup like note on your skin.

Image of Marylin Monroe from The Age.



  • Annapurna: I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but I feel as though skin color seems to make a difference as well…I am Indian and have sort of medium brown skin, and for some reason, lighter, greener scents don’t last on me for very long and tend to smell sort of flat, whereas gourmond, and vanillic scents tend to do well on my skin. Anecdotally, my friends with lighter skin wear soft florals and green scents well, while friends with darker skin often like and wear well richer, ambery, vanillic scents. April 24, 2008 at 2:47pm Reply

  • Annapurna: Maybe! I haven’t done any research really, this is just what I’ve found in passing. I thought maybe the amount of melanin might effect skin scent/structure? April 24, 2008 at 2:51pm Reply

  • Annapurna: Hi V, no I live in New York…I can tell you a bit about what my Mom, aunts and grandma like; they tend not to wear fragrances as such (perfume is prohibitivly expensive) but do wear scented talcum powder (a family favorite is Cuticura, which is a very nostalgic scent for me), rose and jasmin oil and coconut oil in the hair, all which makes for a lovely sillage on a humid Indian evening.

    Have you smelled the new Jardins by Hermes inspired by India? April 24, 2008 at 3:04pm Reply

  • Annapurna: I should add too that there is a lovely scent about a silk sari in sunlight…my mom thinks I’m being fanciful but I swear it has a definite warmth that I love to sniff whenver she puts one on. My mom lives in the states now, and her favorite perfume is Lancome’s Poeme. April 24, 2008 at 3:07pm Reply

  • Annapurna: I heard something once about Escada asking for a silk fragrance, I think I read something in the Burr book about it but I don’t remember. I haven’t smelled Un Jardin Apres Le Mousson, but I am excited about it. There is something streamlined and clean about Ellena fragrances that is often beautiful, but may not work for India. There isn’t much clean and streamlined about the place; but then again I’ve never found a scent that really captures India for me. April 24, 2008 at 3:16pm Reply

  • DrVogue: Hey, we were just talking about this over at MUA yesterday. Most people thought perfume smelled differently on different skin.

    When I was breastfeeding, I took Fenugreek capsules and hated the way I smelled.

    Nice article, thank you. April 24, 2008 at 3:29pm Reply

  • Annapurna: V, I heard that Ellena’s take on India was to stay away from the spice and focus on the sweet…It brings to mind Tocade, which is supposed to smell like gulab jamun. I’ve never had the chance to smell it so I can’t say much about that. The odd thing is that since the soil and humidy make a very fertile climate (at least in south India, where I’m from) sometimes the gardens smell strongly of just one scent, like roses or jasmin; another scent that is very India for me is the smell of raw petrol, which of course, can be wierdly intoxicating but I probably wouldn’t dot my wrists with. 🙂 April 24, 2008 at 3:52pm Reply

  • Annapurna: V,
    So funny! It is hard to talk about perfume and not get hungry. I had a wierd experience with it the other day. I was going to Red Mango, the frozen yogurt place (like Pinkberry) and stopped on my way to put some lotion on my dry hands at Savon, the soap/lotion store here in NYC. I put on their patchoulli-rose lotion. The combination by the time I was eating fresh fruit and yogurt was heavenly. I have gone out of my way to squirt some patchoulli-rose from Savon on my hands before going there again (cheap, I know, but finances not great right now)…it makes all the difference! April 24, 2008 at 4:06pm Reply

  • Annapurna: Speaking of finances, V, I would love to hear some of your thoughts on some of the less expensive perfumes out there as a benefit to your poorer readers. I’m always on the lookout for a good GAP, BBW or Body Shop perfume. Are their any that you find rival some of the higher end stuff out there? Thanks! April 24, 2008 at 4:46pm Reply

  • Marina: OK, where do I get those seeds? I want to naturally smell of caramel. 🙂 April 24, 2008 at 2:31pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Marina, you really made me smile. 🙂 Any Indian grocery store would have them. It is a spice commonly used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. If you like the smell of immortelle, you would like fenugreek. April 24, 2008 at 2:41pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Annapurna, I read an article based some recent research that refutes any associations between skin color and skin’s natural scent. I could not remember the title of it, so I did not post about it. Maybe, it has more to do with the dry vs moist skin? April 24, 2008 at 2:49pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Hmm, although I am tempted to say that it should not, I do not have much evidence one way or another. I will look for that article. Do you live in India? I am curious what fragrances are favored there locally. I traveled in India a bit and I researched about traditional attars and oils, but I never asked what perfumes are worn in general. April 24, 2008 at 2:57pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Annapurna, thank you for your observations. I can imagine that the cost of fine fragrance is outrageous for most people. I know the smell of coconut and jasmine oils that you are talking about–it is something I have noticed a lot, and it does make for a perfect sillage on a warm evening. In fact, when I first came back from India, I started wearing jasmine and tuberose fragrances a lot in the summer, because I noticed how beautifully they develop in the warm air.

    I have not smelled the Hermes fragrance, but I will next week. It sounds interesting, but I wonder how much it will remind me of India. Un Jardin Sur Le Nil certainly did not capture Egypt for me. April 24, 2008 at 3:12pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Ah, I know exactly what you mean about a scent of warm silk. It is unlike anything else. Now, that is an idea for a perfume… April 24, 2008 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: I cannot agree more with you. I appreciate Ellena’s aesthetic, but it does not strike me fitting my own idea of India.

    The moment I exit the door of the airport in Mumbai, this certain smell hits me–it is a mix of moist clay/dust, something sweet, indolic, decaying foliage, car exhaust. I love it, but it is nothing I would wear as such. April 24, 2008 at 3:21pm Reply

    • amit: the smell which hits you the moment you hit mumbai, is a combination of salt and fish and shit and sweat and diesel 🙂 May 29, 2012 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: DrVogue, I should check out that thread. We smell differently, so perfumes will not smell the same on everyone. That seems obvious, but I was still very surprised to see how large the difference could be.

    Fenugreek capsules will do that! April 24, 2008 at 3:33pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: A, I had no idea that Tocade was supposed to smell like gulab jamun, but it makes perfect sense. Actually, a few years ago I write in one of my articles that Maurice Roucel’s Tocade was an abstract gulab jamun, because that is exactly what it reminded me of. Milky notes, rose, toasted notes… Now, I want some gulab jamun. April 24, 2008 at 4:02pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: The rose and patchouli combination sounds very good! Plus, mango and yogurt. As a result, you’ve got something almost like shrikhand. 🙂 April 24, 2008 at 4:49pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Oops, I missed your other comment. It sounds like a good idea to explore this. Actually, I was just wearing Coty Muguet des Bois, which is ridiculously cheap and yet very pretty. Yves Rocher fragrances are very good quality and are worth exploring. I like their Rose Absolu, Iris Noir and Voile d’Ambre. As for BBW, Tuberose Petals is a very pretty fragrance. I will write in more detail about this soon. April 24, 2008 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Flora: Welcome back, and I have enjoyed catching up on your writing! I am smiling at the image of you getting on the train, billowing with scent as you pass through, and everyone stands aside …. 😀 April 24, 2008 at 11:15pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Delighted to see another post from you so soon, V! And especially to begin hearing a bit about your new life and your travels. I was initially skeptical about the difference that skin could make to a fragrance, but I have been startled out of my skepticism by the undeniable differences (some of which made me very jealous) I’ve found when testing perfumes on friends.

    While in New York, I had a long conversation with an amazing clothes designer from India about the traditional fragrance rituals there for both men and women. He insisted, passionately, that I could not write about perfume until I had been to India and the Middle East and studied their fragrance traditions. I’m inclined to agree with him, and await my check from the Fulbright foundation so I can begin my travels and research. ; ) I was hoping you might be posting on any such rituals you came across in your travels… April 24, 2008 at 9:59pm Reply

  • risa: V, i am definitely in the “chemistry matters” camp. i am the only person i know on whom certain bergamots will always smell like something nasty is burning, and i swear my skin has an internal principal who forces the cedar in any perfume to sit on a stool in the front of the class. 🙂 when i do my own formulations, i also require multiple skin tests, since i cannot trust my own skin! April 25, 2008 at 3:25am Reply

  • Annapurna: Oh V,
    I forgot to mention yesterday, one of my absolute favorite Indian scents, which both myself and my mom keep tubes of. It is this skin ointment called Vico Turmeric. It is a yellow paste that Indian women use for acne and other blemishes. For that purpose, I find it useless. However, it is scented with mysore sandalwood and smells like pure heaven. I like to rub it into my neck and collar bone as a bottom layer if I’m wearing a soliflore jasmine or rose. Don’t be turned off if you find a tube in the US and the smell is rancid; usually the stuff you can buy here in India stores is old stock that has travelled too much…the real stuff is gorgeous. April 25, 2008 at 10:33am Reply

  • Annapurna: I’m glad to see someone else familiar with it! If only the damn thing weren’t so volatile and so ready to be spoiled, I’d give it out as gifts more often. Maybe I should put them in the fridge. I tried to get a friend to buy me some SL Mysore Santal when he was in Paris but he didn’t get the chance; have you ever smelled it? The pale imposter of Aussie sandlewood is everywhere now and it is so annoying when you are looking for the Indian kind. April 25, 2008 at 10:55am Reply

  • Annapurna: Oh and V, (sorry to monopolize your time…once I get started, well) on the topic of mass market/less expensive scents: one that has been a real guilty pleasure for me is Victoria’s Secret Amber Romance. It is like warm cream with a splash of marischino cherry; it is ambery and warm. The sprays are so full of alcohol that I can’t tolerate them, but the lotion form is really beautiful. Hope you can try it sometime. April 25, 2008 at 11:55am Reply

  • Annapurna: Sophia Grojsman? WOW. And now everything is created there with some anorexic 13 year old in mind. Oy. There was something new there, however, that I smelled recently while waiting for a friend that was a surprisingly good rendition of Marc Jacobs and for a lot less. That place is so irritangly candy pink young now…I’m only in my 20s and I feel like I’ve aged out of it. April 25, 2008 at 12:16pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: A, I have bits and pieces for an article, which I started on the plane back home. I still need to sit down and reflect on it. I would say that the Middle East is truly fascinating and observing the perfume usage there turned out to be nothing short of revelation.

    By the way, I received MFK Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me, and I am enjoying it very much. I can see why you recommend it so highly. It is just the piece of writing I need to read right now. April 25, 2008 at 10:39am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Flora, your comment made me smile. There are days when I am myself feeling overwhelmed. 🙂 April 25, 2008 at 10:41am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Risa, I think that it is very interesting to observe the differences. “my skin has an internal principal who forces the cedar in any perfume to sit on a stool in the front of the class”–love this comment! 🙂 April 25, 2008 at 10:45am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: A, Vico Turmeric goes on my shopping list for when we go to Edison. A friend of mine once sent me some Indian soaps scented with Mysore sandalwood, and they were amazing. I have a small vial of real Mysore sandalwood oil I bought in Oman, and I often forgo perfume and wear it on its own. That milky rose and creamy wood scent is almost magical. April 25, 2008 at 10:48am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Santal de Mysore is a wonderful fragrance, one of my favorite from Lutens. It is a dark sandalwood, with a rich, animalic note of cumin. Funny you should mention it, because I was thinking of wearing it today.

    Australian sandalwood should not even be called that, it is completely different. Good news is that the laws of supply and demand are at work to mitigate the shortage of sandalwood. The plantations are getting replanted, and soon we will see more of it. It just will take some time. April 25, 2008 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: A, no need to apologize! I love having time for a chat. 🙂

    I am adding Amber Romance to my list. Somehow, it sounds very familiar. Speaking of VS, I once smelled the original Victoria, a fragrance created in 1988 by Sophia Grojsman. The difference between Victoria and everything else VS carries now is like night and day. Victoria was super animalic, dark, peachy, sweet (lots of civet, patchouli and sandalwood). I liked it, but I admit that finding these strong animal notes in a Victoria’s Secret bottle was rather disconcerting. April 25, 2008 at 12:06pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: A, I know what you mean. I am theoretically their target market, yet all of that glitter and pink colors (and ordinarily I love pink and its various shades) really get to me. Still, I will sample with an open mind next time I go there. April 25, 2008 at 12:19pm Reply

  • Bela: I used to get seats on the tube/bus too when I worked at Penhaligon’s. LOL! And my friends used to open the window as soon as I left the room when I visited them.

    I believe in skin chemistry. But doesn’t the great Luca T deny it exists? April 25, 2008 at 8:21pm Reply

  • damselfly1213: Hello – I lurk occasionally on your blog (have enjoyed the archives I’ve read) & am very interested in this “skin chemistry” topic. I was surprised to learn that Turin didn’t “believe” in skin chemistry, but in his recent book he and Tania Sanchez explain that top notes may smell different, due to differences in skin temperature and oiliness, but that once the heart notes appear such differences will disappear. All I know is, if I spray a sample of perfume on a paper strip and on my wrist and wait 30 minutes or so…it often smells quite different on my skin than it does on the paper. April 26, 2008 at 12:39am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: J, I can just imagine! Filling bottles with perfume will do that to you. Speaking of Bluebell, I recently spilled a vial of it in my purse, and oh boy, did I regret my clumsiness! This stuff wears like iron.
    I do not agree with Luca on this point, but then again, I never heard him discussing it in detail. I am not sure about his underlying argument for this statement. April 25, 2008 at 9:52pm Reply

  • Bela: Please do not mention Bluebell to me! If I had a magic wand I would make it disappear off the face of the earth. Poof! Penhaligon’s fragrances remove nail varnish (at least they did 29 years ago), but Bluebell also removes the nail underneath. LOL!

    I think we can believe what our own experience tells us. April 26, 2008 at 11:47pm Reply

  • agritty: Great piece! I have always known about the effects of skin chemistry – any perfume that smells good on me will smell like bug repellant on my sister, and vice versa! We learned that as teenagers. I second the other requests for some words on your travels and the role of scent in the Middle East, India, and so on. I completely agree that the new Hermes smells little like my experience of India, although the cool Cardamom Hills of Kerala came to mind a bit. I love the idea of trying to capture parts of India in scent – what a project. April 27, 2008 at 9:36am Reply

  • fredricktoo: Jersey City has almost as many Indian grocers, on Newark Ave. West of the Boulevard as NYC in the mid 20’s and 7th or thereabouts. Quite comparable.

    Edison is about 25 miles South and I’m not familiar with the neighborhoods but JC has a lot of shops. Great entry Bois.
    Thanks April 27, 2008 at 2:46pm Reply

  • Annapurna: Hi V,
    Hope you had a good weekend…I kept thinking of this thread, and wandered over to Saks for an afternoon of sniffing. I was with a friend who had asked me to help her find a “clean” fragrance, a request that is really irritating, even from a friend. She ended up buying some Jo Malone scent that smelled like Herbal Essences shampoo; I kept trying to persuade her to get Lancome’s Peut-être, which to me smelled like a non-aldyhedic No. 5, softer and warmer, and light enough to fulfill that “clean” request. I also got a chance to smell the new Hermes India fragrance, which I was surprised to find I really liked, but is so light that nearly inhale my wrist to get to it (to be fair I’d spritzed about 18 diff’t things on by then). I was surprised though, that even at Saks, with a really great collection and counter specific sales people, how little a lot of them knew about what they were selling. Very dissapointing; I don’t even mind being referred to literature, but there was little of that too. And at many of the counters, they’ll swear up and down they don’t have samples, only to hand a bagful to a customer who just made a big purchase, which I think is lame.

    At any rate, I kept thinking about the idea of bottling up India, and I was thinking that to get all my fragrance needs out of this idea, it’d have to be more of a coffret, my aunt’s tummy-soothing lime water; jasmine strung in hair and the amla and coconut hair oil; Vicco turmeric with maybe a spicy topnot of ginger and cayenne, oh i could go on forever. But one thing I had wanted to ask you about was the fragrance of heat/cold. I hope this isn’t a stupid question…but when thinking of India, I kept realizing how many of my scent memories were tinged with the “smell” of candelight; not wax in itself or the oil from a lantern, but the actual smell of them burning. Have you ever heard of such a thing? If I were to read in a note-list “candelight accord,” or some such, I’m sure I’d smirk, and yet there is a certain oily-flame scent there…

    Sorry for the obsenely long post! BTW, have you read the Turin/Sanchez book that just came out?
    A April 28, 2008 at 11:06am Reply

  • Annapurna: Just to sympathize, what in the hell do they use at Penhaligons? It seems like Windex, Pinesol and acetone are their version of Guerlinade…horrible. April 28, 2008 at 11:10am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Damselfly, skin temperature and oiliness matter significantly, but also the scent of the skin itself (which may be very subtle and almost impercetible, but some fragrance notes are affected by it). Smelling the same fragrance on different skins was a revelation to me. Of course, smelling on skin and smelling on blotter makes for a huge difference too. For instance, the paper retains the top notes much longer. Or try spraying fragrance on an unscented piece of silk, on skin and on paper and then comparing. The results could be very interesting. April 28, 2008 at 9:57am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: J, it is an olfactory equivalent of a knife. I now understand what you have been through with it! 🙂 April 28, 2008 at 10:12am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Agritty, Kerala is my next Indian destination. If Hermes made me think of it, then I must try it soon. April 28, 2008 at 10:16am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Fredricktoo, I have never explored Jersey City, to be honest. Sounds like I should. Thank you. April 28, 2008 at 10:24am Reply

  • damselfly1213: Annapurna – you inspired me to re-sniff my Penhaligon’s samples, LOL. I do pick up a bit of Windex…though the Lavandula smells quite pleasant on my skin, the Violetta turns dirty/musty. April 28, 2008 at 2:56pm Reply

  • damselfly1213: Boisdejasmin – thanks for expanding on the skin/paper/etc. differences. More reason to play/experiment with perfume 🙂 April 28, 2008 at 2:59pm Reply

  • Annapurna: This weekend at Saks in the Penhaligons corner was rough. I think I burned the insides of my nostrils!

    Also, just wanted to mention, I used to work in retail, so I know how annoying customers can be. Just wish they knew a bit more at Saks and were a bit more generous with samples. One of the sales ladies at Lancome was actually really lovely. April 28, 2008 at 3:02pm Reply

  • Bela: Annapurna, I used to work as a dispensary assistant (filling bottles, etc., when everything was done by hand) and constantly tried to catch a glimpse of the ‘bible’ that the two blenders used to carry around under their arms, but formulations are top secret so I never saw anything. I expect I wouldn’t have understood them anyway.

    I wasn’t joking when I said the fragrances used to remove nail varnish: they actually did. I stopped wearing polish a couple of days after starting work there. April 28, 2008 at 2:26pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Annapurna, sounds like you had a very productive weekend! I really need to stop by Saks one of these days. I never seem to get there, as it is too far from the office (Bergdorf’s and Barneys are closer). Now, after your comment as well as that of agritty, I need to make more efforts to smell the new Hermes.

    As for smoke, yes, you hit the bull’s eye with that one–India smells of smoke, something akin to burning leaves. It is incredible, but the moment you mentioned it, the memory completely overtook me. Jasmine and burning leaves smoke… Something that blends autumnal richness with the delicious decay of summer.

    P.S. I love your idea of a scent kit! April 28, 2008 at 9:06pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: A, I have not smelled all of Penhaligon’s fragrances recently, but after the incident with Bluebell, I am not tempted to explore them further. April 28, 2008 at 9:10pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: J, I can believe that! You should see a burn like mark inside my purse. 🙂 April 28, 2008 at 9:12pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Damselfly, I am glad! You are welcome. 🙂 April 28, 2008 at 9:12pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: A, I love Nordstrom’s, because the SAs there are usually very generous with samples. It makes all of a difference. Saks is horrid in that regard, plus their fragrance bar is terribly old-fashioned. One time I was told by a sales associate after inquiring about a sample that she will give it to me only if I buy a bottle (of the perfume I wanted to sample.) I asked her if it would not defeat the whole purpose, but she did not seem to understand. Oh well, if something is this difficult to procure, I do not bother. April 28, 2008 at 9:16pm Reply

  • Andrea: Hello!
    Actually, I have something to add about Bluebell here. Years ago, I developed a serious allergy to it. I used to love the smell, but I would get red itchy rashes all over after applying it. So, I stopped using it once and for all. It is way to strong and you are all right, Heavens know what is on it!
    Bela is right, it can remove nail polish and damage wood. I had some drops spilled over my dresser and it made a bad mark, almost like a carving. Now I started imagining if it does that to the wood, no wonder I ended up full of rashes!
    However, I must admit some other scents also have a similar effect on wood (although not nearly as damaging of course!): Eau d’Italie for example, and some of my Lutens too. But these don’t give me rashes, so, I don’t mind at all and will keep using them, 😀 !
    I think Beyond Paradise would be a good replacement for Bluebell “intolerant” lovers, however, I don’t wear it myself because it seems too persistent and ends up my making me nauseous. I also guess it is no longer my kind of scent. It became a bit too floral and sunny for me, I’m afraid!
    As for the whole India scented trip, I ADORE the smell of Indian clothes, since I was (ahem…) younger. Well, much younger. I still wear them and long to detect that delicate scent whenever I buy a new piece. Hhhhmmm…
    Santal de Mysore by SL is my Mom’s favourite and I can understand why, it’s so deep and dark and beautiful. Pity I cannot use since it became so “my Mom” lately! I would feel as if I were “stealing” that scent from her, weird, but true!
    Well, sorry for the long comment, and it was a pleasure chatting to you all,
    Andrea April 29, 2008 at 7:09am Reply

  • Andrea: Tania:
    I am guilty of buying perfumes without testing, just by reading the notes. So far, no regrets, but I guess it is pure luck. Even when I try a scent, love it and buy it, it may happen that I’ll fall out of love very quickly.
    But that is a new rule for me: no-buy-with-no-test!
    I believe fragrances might develop differently on different “media” (skins) as it’s been said. I also believe medication will make them smell differently – not all of them, but probably some of the components. I am on interferon myself, and I suspect it might be playing a role on that.
    Have a grand day!
    Andrea April 30, 2008 at 8:50am Reply

  • Tania: I enjoyed this blog post tremendously. I am still arguing with Luca about this particular subject. Getting him to admit that top notes are different was step one, and began with 100% Love, the first fragrance to smell noticeably different on both of us, but only in the top. We did the experiment a couple of times and got the same result. Weirdly, despite smelling very different from each other naturally and being of completely different backgrounds, ages, genders, ethnic extraction, etc., fragrances seem to develop very similarly on both of us. So far, in this household, the remainder of “skin chemistry” is mystery. But I think the truth is he doesn’t genuinely care, and I see why, because he’s less interested in wearing scents and more in elucidating their ultimate forms. I can see his point, but I am trying to make sure I mention in all interviews now that nobody in her right mind should purchase a scent without trying it first, despite what we may say. 😉 April 30, 2008 at 6:29am Reply

  • Annapurna: Tania,
    Just wanted to say hello and I’ve been reading and re-reading your book. It looks now like books I wrote papers on in college; tagged, post-it-noted, highlighted, semi destroyed. And it is only a week old.
    Annapurna April 30, 2008 at 3:41pm Reply

  • Andrea: Hi Victoria:
    Yes, alcohol + oils, you’re right. My Mother almost killed me when I decanted some Santal de Mysore for her on the dressing table in her bedroom. It made a nasty sticky stain and she almost strangled me. Well, I survived…
    I probably never noticed that effect before because most of my bottles are spray, so, less risky, I think. Except when I spritz my eyes, and that happens quite often. But that’s my clumsy way!
    Have a grand day!
    a. May 1, 2008 at 8:55am Reply

  • Peter: Tania, I just wanted to say congrats on a great book! I am one of your loyal fan from now on. 🙂

    Boisdejasmin, I love this article! May 1, 2008 at 9:10am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Andrea, alcohol can damage wood surfaces, plus the oils leave a stain too. Same with alcoholic drinks–I still cannot forgive someone who left a dripping wine glass on my polished wooden tray. The mark is impossible to remove! May 1, 2008 at 8:41am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Tania, glad to see you! I never got an impression that Luca cared that much on this topic, but then again I never heard him say much about it. I myself never gave this much thought until I started working and smelling same formulas on different people. I was quite surprised by the differences I observed. However, I agree, ultimately one must try everything on the skin, if only to live with the perfume and see whether it is interesting, delightful or simply pleasant enough to have around. May 1, 2008 at 8:44am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Andrea, I am guilty of that myself, especially if the fragrance is coming from the house I like… May 1, 2008 at 8:46am Reply

  • damselfly1213: Hello Tania – enjoyed your post. I’ve always been able to buy scent for my husband by trying it on myself. If it smells good on me, I know it will smell good on him, too (of course, he doesn’t really care; he’d wear Lysol spray if I gave it to him). So – maybe a husband and wife could share a similar body chemistry? And maybe that’s part of what attracted them to one another? I’ve always wondered about that. May 1, 2008 at 11:23pm Reply

  • Julia: Does that mean that Koreans like me are doomed? All that kimchi we eat :..( May 3, 2008 at 1:12am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Julia, no, not at all. Actually, Asians in general have no or very little natural odor, because they have very few apocrine glands (odor is caused by the bacteria that break down the organic compounds in the sweat released by apocrine glands.) I was recently watching a documentary on the samurai culture in Japan, and apparently, if a man was found to have an odor to his sweat, he would be exempt from military training. However, there was a very low incidence of this–only 8-10% would have any odor. May 3, 2008 at 10:59am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Andrea, yes, that will do it! Alcohol stains woods rather badly. May 3, 2008 at 11:14am Reply

  • damselfly1213: Julia – my son was adopted from Korea, and he’s pretty clean smelling except for his gym socks:) The only scent he owns is The Dreamer; smells good on him, but just weird on me. May 3, 2008 at 8:41pm Reply

  • Lindy-Fay: I`ve noticed the same as you Annapurna. My blonde friends (I`m from Norway), seem to wear lighter, citrus and flower scents well. they have fair skin, but not as fair as mine. The strange thing is that I and a couple of friends that have even fairer skin but dark brown hair, do best with richer scents, woody, amber,leathery, vanillic and so on. Citrus scents tend to go strong and sour on me and aldehydes is also emphasized on my skin. Chanel no5 for example is like a citrus scent (in an uncomfortable way) on me, but is like the way I guess it`s supposed to smell like on my mother, which is blonde .(On her it`s powdery and ladylike.) September 11, 2011 at 7:46pm Reply

  • frida: iam doin a science project on how the chemistry of your body changes how a perfume smells on you January 8, 2013 at 1:27am Reply

  • frida: can anybody give me ideas for my science project
    🙁 January 10, 2013 at 12:25am Reply

  • Natalia: I have always thought my skin quite peculiar in its reactions to perfume, it changes dramatically. September 20, 2014 at 5:35pm Reply

  • Fatima: Ok What to do if any perfume stays in my body, I tried many already. Angel, light blue, narcissi rodrigues, flower bomb, anyway lots of them and none stays on my skin, I even asked for an advised from the Macy’s retail associater to help me out with this manner but they told me that has to do with my skin chemistry, I eat well I have a good health condition, and I don’t know what to do or better saying what perfume to buy in order to smell good all day. Can anybody help me with this please no jokes its serious I’m very frustrated with this problem. January 27, 2016 at 1:32am Reply

    • Karen (A): Try layering – mixing some perfume with an unscented lotion, then spraying the perfume. You can also spritz some on your clothing, most fragrances will cling (for a long time) to fabric. Some of us apply perfume not just to wrist points, but behind knees, underside of arms and décolletage.

      However, the perfumes you’ve listed – at least Angel and Flower Bomb usually have a lot of longevity. Could it be that you can’t smell them, but they are still there? Check with a friend to see whether they can smell the perfume on you. But check with a couple of people to see how long the fragrance is lasting on you (in other words, see if others can still detect it).

      If the perfume has worn off, just carry a small travel atomizer or sample bottle to refresh your perfume. January 27, 2016 at 6:13am Reply

      • Fatima: Hi Karen, yes I did that and all my friends can never tell if I have perfume on. And yes I carried a little bottle with me I do sprang on but hour later it’s gone. I did try the lotion also but so far nothing seems to work. I really want to change in something so I can keep the smell on my body yes the perfume stays on my scarf and in almost all of my clothe not all. I’m try to see if maybe I can change the PH of my body but I don’t even know how to do that, but thank you for your help. I really appreciate . January 27, 2016 at 1:15pm Reply

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