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Tarheel Golfer


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Well I've finally decided to take the plunge and try to write my first ever blog post of any kind. Of course it would be about this hobby of fragrances that has grabbed such a hold on me.

My subject for this post is the limitless variability that can be found in wearing fragrances. I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I have been doing more and more sampling and experimenting. There is so much variability in my opinion that it's a wonder those of us who love to discuss fragrances are even discussing "apples to apples", if you will, when even discussing the same fragrance.

What I mean is I have come to realize that the same fragrance can smell very different depending upon numerous variables. Some of those variables include season, environment, skin chemistry (I know there are counter opinions to this one), amount and method of application, age of the juice, and as with some niche fragrances (I'm looking at you Creed) the batch of juice.

It's been well discussed that many fragrances, though they can be worn in any season, certainly perform or smell better in particular seasons. Just look at all of our great Youtube reviewers. They all talk about "what season", or "top ten for fall", etc. I think that climate or environment also plays a factor in this, and by that I mean the average temperatures, humidities, and even whether you wear them mainly inside or outside.

A good example for me of this environmental variability is the way one of my favorites, Creed Erolfa, performs for me. I've seen people state that it is great in the summer, and projects better in the heat. Well, it doesn't do that for me. It is true that it does do great in temperatures below 80*F, and maybe that is "in the heat" for those that made that statement. Where I live the summers get above 90*F pretty consistently, and when it does and I go outside wearing Erolfa it just vanishes. When I get back inside, and cool back off, I can smell it again. But it's like the high heat just presses it down. I know some will say that it may be causing it to project so good that I'm getting anosmic to it at those times. Maybe, but I honestly don't think so.

What about skin chemistry? I've seen people argue that this isn't possible. That they are just molecules, and the smell of them can't change. I'm in a scientific field, and I can understand that theory. But, I've certainly experienced first hand that fragrances can in fact smell different on different people. I have a coworker that wears Azzaro Chrome, for example. It smells great on him. But when I tried it on, it was instantly a chemical, metallic mess that I had to go scrub off. I really hate that about Chrome to this day, because I really like the fragrance. It just won't work on me.

Now about amount and method of application. This variable is one that I don't think is taken into account enough when we discuss and review fragrances. First of all there is the obvious factor of whether it was dabbed/splashed on versus whether it was sprayed from an atomizer. That certainly plays a big factor in the way a fragrance will smell. I've had a few fragrances already in my short time in this hobby that I really liked when I dabbed them on from a sample vial, but really didn't like at all when I was finally able to spray a full application on. Of course the opposite is true too. Sometimes a full application from a spray reaveals the true beauty of a fragrance.

There are a couple of factors that contribute to this difference in application, and they are the volume of juice applied and the area of your body in which it gets applied. This isn't just the case with vial versus atomizer either. The differences in the atomizers can be drastic as well. Some atomizers spray out a greater volume of juice than others. Some disperse the juice into a finer mist, while others give more of a concentrated spray or stream. There is also the distance you hold the atomizer from your body when you spray that contributes to this. Obviously, if you hold it closer you get the spray concentrated in a smaller area, and the farther away the more it is dispersed over a greater area.

A great example of application (spraying) method affecting the way the fragrance smells is with another of my favorites, Chanel Allure Homme Edition Blanche. I was discussing this fragrance in a thread one time with someone who had just tried it out. They were talking about how aweful and cloying it was. come to find out the SA had sprayed several sprays in one area on his arm. I could understand it then, because Edition Blanche will get cloying if applied in concentrated blasts like that. However, sprayed at an appropriate distance and dispersed in a broader area it is absolutely beautiful.

Another example for me, and this one is about the amount (number of sprays) applied, is the famous Acqua di Gio. Despite it's popularity, and the bashing it receives for being too mainstream, I actually really enjoy it. It has such an inoffensive smell that I thought it couldn't be overapplied. So over time I had started to spray extra sprays at each wearing. I began to notice that it would project this total cloying dryer sheet vibe. Then one day I just happened to go light on the application (back to the two sprays I normally wear on most fragrances). I thoroughly enjoyed it that day, and didn't get any "dryer sheet" from it. This is definitely a less is more fragrance for me.

I won't go into the differences in age and production batch variables. Those have been discussed quite a bit. I'll just state that they add even more variablity into the overall impression we get when we try on a fragrance.

So what do I conclude from all of these musings? Ultimately, that we may not always be talking about the same thing, even when we think we are. What smells good to one person, may not smell good to another. That is a given. We all have our own likes and dislikes, and it would be an incredibly boring world if that wasn't the case. But even beyond that, what I'm saying is that with all of this variablitiy it is no wonder that people sometimes describe their experience with a fragrance (including the way it smells) drastically different.

So keep this in mind when you read someone's opinion or description of a fragrance. Also, keep it in mind when you are sampling. Many fragrances you will know immediately if you like or dislike them. But for those that you are on the fence about, try applying them in different ways. You may just find that there is something truly magical in a fragrance you initially thought was just okay. It makes me wonder how many I've dismissed in the past that I would actually really enjoy.

Anyway, for those that stuck through this long, rambling post, thanks for reading. I hope you got something out of it.


  1. trex57's Avatar
    Very interesting and well reasoned. Keep bloging.
  2. ECaruthers's Avatar
    I'd even add a couple of more variable:

    There might be small differences between the odor receptors in your nose and those in mine. I expect everyone here smells vanilla & rose & lemon (wouldn't be here otherwise). But I once read a post by a perfume developer who said, every new molecule we ver tried, there was someone who couldn't smell it. From the varied reactions to synthetic musks, I would guess this is a source of significant variation.

    And I'm sure there are big differences in what our minds do with the smell signals coming from our noses. We recognize and react to familiar smells differently from unfamiliar. Going back to the end of your post, you might respond to something now that you didn't notice in a fragrance you dismissed long ago.

    OK, I've lost count of how many sources of variations we've listed so far.
  3. JaimeB's Avatar
    Congratulations on your first-ever blog post! It's a great one!

    I would add another factor, and that is what we are led to expect by the way we pigeon-hole the scent. When I read that a scent is a fougère or a chypre or an oriental, I have certain expectations about how it will smell and how it will develop over time. Whether the scent conforms to my expectations or not is a factor in my perception. Some come in on target, others fall short of expectations, and others exceed them. What my nose looks for, focuses on, or ignores is a powerful determiner of how I evaluate the scent and how likely I am to wear it in the future.

    Keep blogging! You have good ideas, and a very clear style. I look forward to reading more from you.
    Updated 26th October 2010 at 10:45 PM by JaimeB
  4. Tarheel Golfer's Avatar
    Wow, thanks for they feedback and encouragement. When I wrote that, I thought it was probably just stupid ramblings. I'm happy to see that others were able to even expand upon the idea.


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Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000