my controversial advice to newcomers in the fragrance journey

    my controversial advice to newcomers in the fragrance journey

    post #1 of 128
    Thread Starter 

    Some may find this controversial, but I don't care.  My job as a fragrance critic is to be a door to new perspectives; and not a mirror of every single person's own view.  So I'll be honest.

     

    So, you're new to fragrances and you just logged on this site to see what it's about. 

     

    What do you do?

     

    First, don't buy cheapies.  Don't waste your money on a flurry of $15 to $40 fragrances you got just because they were on sale.  In the end, once you discover that there are better fragrances out there, you will probably regret having 10 or 15 bottles of "cheapies".

     

    Next, I suggest you start right away at higher end fragrances.  There's no point in trying low-end cheap fragrances first because once you try fragrances that use better quality ingredients, the cheapies are going to be an obsolete.

     

     Go on websites like surrendertochance.com and try some niche out.  And THEN return back to the cheap fragrances to see which ones you'll like.

     

    Some you'll go back to still loving and others you'll be totally disappointed by once you find there are better options in a higher price range.  Better to get a clearer vision of everything before you commit yourself to only 1 range of fragrances.  

     

    Sometimes you will find that once your standards were raised by more expensive ones, that you may still end up liking a few cheapies.  If you try $200 fragrances and you still like the low-end designers, then you know they are for you.  But many times, people simply start with lower end fragrances and grow disappointed in them once they realize there's better stuff out there.

     

    Honestly, if you really love a few cheapies and your favorite fragrance of all time (after trying many of all price ranges) is $40, then I totally respect that.  But most of the love for cheapies on here isn't genuine.

     

    Not saying fragrances like The Dreamer, Body Kouros or Rochas Man are bad, but probably 90% of the reason these are bought is because paying $30 is much less intimidating than paying $90.  But with all the cheapies some people buy (including myself when I first started) they could have bought 1 or 2 expensive fragrances that they actually love.

     

    Lastly, buying 6 $30 fragrances you like because they were cheap is bad because you simply won't use all of them.  Buying a $150 fragrance is really no more expensive than buying many cheapies because you won't use them up.  

     

    If you live in a developed country, under a roof, you eat regularly, you have electricity and internet, you probably can find the money to afford something you really like, whether it's cheap or expensive.  A fragrance lasts a really long time, for years, and to spend a lot of money on that will pay off if you love fragrances, but what's the real waste of money is buying a bunch of stuff you won't even use most of and realize you didn't need it anyway.

     

    Quality > Quantity

     

    And yes, on a general scale, $70+ fragrances are generally better than <$45 fragrances.  It's not politically correct to grade an art form in monetary terms, but the truth is, generally, you do get what you pay for much of the time.

    post #2 of 128
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by noirdrakkar View Post

     

    Lastly, buying 6 $30 fragrances you like because they were cheap is bad because you simply won't use all of them.  Buying a $150 fragrance is really no more expensive than buying many cheapies because you won't use them up.  

     

     

     

     

         Completely agree with this idea.  It will help you create a collection of 15 fragrances you love and wear as opposed to 90 fragrances you could do without and many of which will rarely see the light of day. 

    post #3 of 128
    All good and well if the person's financial situation is sound.
    post #4 of 128
    Was your first beer a Guinness?

    A much better way to begin a fragrance journey is to go to fragrance counters with paper and a pen, and jot down your thoughts on whatever you smell. If you like one, jot down the name and whatever you think about it. If you dislike one, do the same.

    Later, when you're at home again, go to fragrantica.com and look up the names of the scents you tried. See if anything starts to click. The goal is to start noticing notes in order to figure out what you like and what you dislike.

    Maybe you love vetiver.
    Maybe you hate ginger.
    Maybe you love violet leaf.
    Maybe you hate cumin.

    Once you figure which notes you like or dislike, it becomes a million times easier to pick scents to sample. Sure, you could just start buying samples of expensive scents that people rave about, but you could waste a ton of money since the choices would be more or less random. But once you know which notes and which styles you like, it's easier to find stuff you'll love.

    Also: the idea that you have to spend $150 and up is elitism. Don't fall for it. My most complimented scents cost me less than $70. Don't get me wrong, I own some really pricey stuff too, and I love it, but I'd never suggest a newcomer start at such a high price point.

    There's a reason kids' bikes come with training wheels. It's the same reason your first beer probably wasn't a Guinness.

    There's wisdom in learning to walk before you try to run.
    post #5 of 128

    Beg to differ extremely

    Couldn't disagree more if I wanted.

    Money is the last thing that should guide a purchase in this realm.

    Scent type and learning what notes you like, that's important. Understanding what it is in a frag that attracts you to it, that's key.

    From there you can explore different "levels" within your preferred "genre(s)" or scent types, as I call them.

    The last advice a newb should receive is recommending blind buying a full friggin' bottle of anything!

    The first piece of advisement that should be met with is SAMPLE! Then identify preferred notes and, finally, begin to try varying renditions of frags that hit on those notes.

    Price is pointless, in my experience. Limited as it may be. I think a lot of buying into hype enters this world, moreso than any other I've seen. The hype being niche makers and overpriced brands.

    But that's just my nose...
    post #6 of 128

    I have a lot of cheap scents I love.

    I did buy just about whatever was on sale which led me to 300 bottles.

    this is something you must learn on your own.

    post #7 of 128
    Thread Starter 
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by L'Homme Blanc Individuel View Post

    Also: the idea that you have to spend $150 and up is elitism. Don't fall for it. My most complimented scents cost me less than $70. Don't get me wrong, I own some really pricey stuff too, and I love it, but I'd never suggest a newcomer start at such a high price point.
     

     

    I know a lot of people on here are apt for misinterpreting my words instead of carefully reading (I'm not sure you're in that category.

     

    But my post is NOT saying "Cheap fragrances are bad and the only ones worth owning are $150".

     

    What I am saying is that you should sample fragrances from multiple price levels before you decide what you're going to buy.  For example, had I sampled Virgin Island Water at first, I probably would have not wasted my time pursuing most summer scents <$40 and below, but some of them are still great.

     

    What I am saying is that you shouldn't spend your hard earned money on anything (even a cheapie) until you know what else is out there.

     

    So what I'm suggesting to newcomers is to buy $3 samples of expensive fragrances to see if they should still spend $35 on that Lacoste fragrance or save up their money for a Creed.  But why make the decision to buy something only to realize later you could have gotten something much better.

     

    And all of these points apply to niche fragrances too.  Sample as much as you can before you buy.

    post #8 of 128
    People starting out generally want to cultivate a varied wardrobe, and an affordable one at that. A collection that offers them choice, variation of what they currently enjoy and one that offers them versatility. There are many good cheaper fragrances out there, and its an excellent place to start. Its familiar and gets people cutting their teeth on some historical fragrances and basic genres. It takes them a step at a time away from where they have been stuck and its a gentle transition to expanding their palate.

    As for buyers remorse, most people probably regret the expensive purchases over the small ones. And yes, even niche buyers get remorse.
    The big piece of advice in that sense would be to sample before going for the whole thing.

    While I'm not adverse to encouraging new perfumista's to dabble in niche early, I do have an issue with touting niche as the lofty peak on which every perfumista should stand and look down from.
    There is so much niche hype around, and not so much for the fragrance, but for the fact its niche. I dont know anyone who started straight out on niche. Or smelled niche and never went back.
    I dont think its fair to encourage people to eradicate the biggest and most important part of their new journey and graduate them as fast as you can to be some kind of serious fragrance nerd.

    Wheres the journey, the evidence of evolution?

    Edit: As for not buying until you know more about whats out there- who really sits around buying 10 samples before deciding whether that bargain bottle of Eternity is what you really want?
    post #9 of 128
    I agree....Better to save a few weeks longer and get better quality. You will be disappointed in cheap fragrances. They won't last, and will smell artificial. That doesn't mean you must by $300 stuff either. Research and buy Quality at the best price you can.
    post #10 of 128
    I smell Perfume Snobbery in this post!
    I would advise beginners not to risk their money on niche but instead buy samples of both niche and designers. Some cheap designers are even better than niche!
    How many niche brands can compete with 24 Gold which you can get for $49 (perry Ellis Red is $20 and a nice aquatic). I have received more complements from Issey Miyake than any other fragrance! My point is, price has nothing to do with quality and performance. That has been my experience and l am sure there are many people out there that are not falling for this deception that you need tons of money to smell good.
    post #11 of 128
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hednic View Post

    All good and well if the person's financial situation is sound.

     

    I agree. Diving head first into niche can be a hard expensive lesson especially if you don't know what your smelling in the first place. 

    post #12 of 128
    It's like buying a Colt National match gold Cup when a rock Island, unless used for competition, would place the bullets in the same spot, every time.
    post #13 of 128
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JackWest View Post

    I smell Perfume Snobbery in this post!
    I would advise beginners not to risk their money on niche but instead buy samples of both niche and designers. Some cheap designers are even better than niche!
    How many niche brands can compete with 24 Gold which you can get for $49 (perry Ellis Red is $20 and a nice aquatic). I have received more complements from Issey Miyake than any other fragrance! My point is, price has nothing to do with quality and performance. That has been my experience and l am sure there are many people out there that are not falling for this deception that you need tons of money to smell good.

     

    I don't think he's trying to come off as a snob, but you're right on with sampling and not letting price point influence what you like. A journey is about experiences good and bad. Without the bad it makes discovering the really good fragrances less satisfying. 


    Edited by silentrich - 8/7/13 at 4:23pm
    post #14 of 128
    You don't need tons of money! One of my favorites is Thallium Black which I got for under $20. But if you base your whole opinion on the bargin counter of the Dollar store you will be disappointed. Try a variety of samples. You can get niche samples for under $7 so why not try them? I am no snob, I love and own many dept. store frags. But there is a difference for sure.
    post #15 of 128

    I dont think I agree with this at all. Most people need to start out buying cheap fragrances just to learn what they like. Buying samples is not the same and is no fun. I dont think most people are that rigid and are not constantly equating cost divided by quality minus potential future purchases plus fragrance categories. Or whatever.

    Just smell a bunch of stuff and buy a few bottles that you like. Then repeat. The great thing is that there are probably 500 fragrances that are amazing and cost less than $50 each so you could go years and be very happy with cheapies. Thats never going to happen though. This is supposed to be enjoyable not angst inducing. 

    post #

    8/6/13 at 3:29pm

    noirdrakkar said:



    Some may find this controversial, but I don't care.  My job as a fragrance critic is to be a door to new perspectives; and not a mirror of every single person's own view.  So I'll be honest.

     

    So, you're new to fragrances and you just logged on this site to see what it's about. 

     

    What do you do?

     

    First, don't buy cheapies.  Don't waste your money on a flurry of $15 to $40 fragrances you got just because they were on sale.  In the end, once you discover that there are better fragrances out there, you will probably regret having 10 or 15 bottles of "cheapies".

     

    Next, I suggest you start right away at higher end fragrances.  There's no point in trying low-end cheap fragrances first because once you try fragrances that use better quality ingredients, the cheapies are going to be an obsolete.

     

     Go on websites like surrendertochance.com and try some niche out.  And THEN return back to the cheap fragrances to see which ones you'll like.

     

    Some you'll go back to still loving and others you'll be totally disappointed by once you find there are better options in a higher price range.  Better to get a clearer vision of everything before you commit yourself to only 1 range of fragrances.  

     

    Sometimes you will find that once your standards were raised by more expensive ones, that you may still end up liking a few cheapies.  If you try $200 fragrances and you still like the low-end designers, then you know they are for you.  But many times, people simply start with lower end fragrances and grow disappointed in them once they realize there's better stuff out there.

     

    Honestly, if you really love a few cheapies and your favorite fragrance of all time (after trying many of all price ranges) is $40, then I totally respect that.  But most of the love for cheapies on here isn't genuine.

     

    Not saying fragrances like The Dreamer, Body Kouros or Rochas Man are bad, but probably 90% of the reason these are bought is because paying $30 is much less intimidating than paying $90.  But with all the cheapies some people buy (including myself when I first started) they could have bought 1 or 2 expensive fragrances that they actually love.

     

    Lastly, buying 6 $30 fragrances you like because they were cheap is bad because you simply won't use all of them.  Buying a $150 fragrance is really no more expensive than buying many cheapies because you won't use them up.  

     

    If you live in a developed country, under a roof, you eat regularly, you have electricity and internet, you probably can find the money to afford something you really like, whether it's cheap or expensive.  A fragrance lasts a really long time, for years, and to spend a lot of money on that will pay off if you love fragrances, but what's the real waste of money is buying a bunch of stuff you won't even use most of and realize you didn't need it anyway.

     

    Quality > Quantity

     

    And yes, on a general scale, $70+ fragrances are generally better than <$45 fragrances.  It's not politically correct to grade an art form in monetary terms, but the truth is, generally, you do get what you pay for much of the time.

    8/6/13 at 3:36pm

    Buysblind said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by noirdrakkar View Post

     

    Lastly, buying 6 $30 fragrances you like because they were cheap is bad because you simply won't use all of them.  Buying a $150 fragrance is really no more expensive than buying many cheapies because you won't use them up.  

     

     

     

     

         Completely agree with this idea.  It will help you create a collection of 15 fragrances you love and wear as opposed to 90 fragrances you could do without and many of which will rarely see the light of day. 

    8/6/13 at 4:13pm

    hednic said:



    All good and well if the person's financial situation is sound.

    8/6/13 at 4:17pm

    L'Homme Blanc Individuel said:



    Was your first beer a Guinness?

    A much better way to begin a fragrance journey is to go to fragrance counters with paper and a pen, and jot down your thoughts on whatever you smell. If you like one, jot down the name and whatever you think about it. If you dislike one, do the same.

    Later, when you're at home again, go to fragrantica.com and look up the names of the scents you tried. See if anything starts to click. The goal is to start noticing notes in order to figure out what you like and what you dislike.

    Maybe you love vetiver.
    Maybe you hate ginger.
    Maybe you love violet leaf.
    Maybe you hate cumin.

    Once you figure which notes you like or dislike, it becomes a million times easier to pick scents to sample. Sure, you could just start buying samples of expensive scents that people rave about, but you could waste a ton of money since the choices would be more or less random. But once you know which notes and which styles you like, it's easier to find stuff you'll love.

    Also: the idea that you have to spend $150 and up is elitism. Don't fall for it. My most complimented scents cost me less than $70. Don't get me wrong, I own some really pricey stuff too, and I love it, but I'd never suggest a newcomer start at such a high price point.

    There's a reason kids' bikes come with training wheels. It's the same reason your first beer probably wasn't a Guinness.

    There's wisdom in learning to walk before you try to run.

    8/6/13 at 4:42pm

    BeyondTheBox said:



    Beg to differ extremely

    Couldn't disagree more if I wanted.

    Money is the last thing that should guide a purchase in this realm.

    Scent type and learning what notes you like, that's important. Understanding what it is in a frag that attracts you to it, that's key.

    From there you can explore different "levels" within your preferred "genre(s)" or scent types, as I call them.

    The last advice a newb should receive is recommending blind buying a full friggin' bottle of anything!

    The first piece of advisement that should be met with is SAMPLE! Then identify preferred notes and, finally, begin to try varying renditions of frags that hit on those notes.

    Price is pointless, in my experience. Limited as it may be. I think a lot of buying into hype enters this world, moreso than any other I've seen. The hype being niche makers and overpriced brands.

    But that's just my nose...

    8/6/13 at 4:50pm

    Tony T said:



    I have a lot of cheap scents I love.

    I did buy just about whatever was on sale which led me to 300 bottles.

    this is something you must learn on your own.

    8/6/13 at 5:02pm

    noirdrakkar said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by L'Homme Blanc Individuel View Post

    Also: the idea that you have to spend $150 and up is elitism. Don't fall for it. My most complimented scents cost me less than $70. Don't get me wrong, I own some really pricey stuff too, and I love it, but I'd never suggest a newcomer start at such a high price point.
     

     

    I know a lot of people on here are apt for misinterpreting my words instead of carefully reading (I'm not sure you're in that category.

     

    But my post is NOT saying "Cheap fragrances are bad and the only ones worth owning are $150".

     

    What I am saying is that you should sample fragrances from multiple price levels before you decide what you're going to buy.  For example, had I sampled Virgin Island Water at first, I probably would have not wasted my time pursuing most summer scents <$40 and below, but some of them are still great.

     

    What I am saying is that you shouldn't spend your hard earned money on anything (even a cheapie) until you know what else is out there.

     

    So what I'm suggesting to newcomers is to buy $3 samples of expensive fragrances to see if they should still spend $35 on that Lacoste fragrance or save up their money for a Creed.  But why make the decision to buy something only to realize later you could have gotten something much better.

     

    And all of these points apply to niche fragrances too.  Sample as much as you can before you buy.

    8/6/13 at 5:04pm

    L'eaulita said:



    People starting out generally want to cultivate a varied wardrobe, and an affordable one at that. A collection that offers them choice, variation of what they currently enjoy and one that offers them versatility. There are many good cheaper fragrances out there, and its an excellent place to start. Its familiar and gets people cutting their teeth on some historical fragrances and basic genres. It takes them a step at a time away from where they have been stuck and its a gentle transition to expanding their palate.

    As for buyers remorse, most people probably regret the expensive purchases over the small ones. And yes, even niche buyers get remorse.
    The big piece of advice in that sense would be to sample before going for the whole thing.

    While I'm not adverse to encouraging new perfumista's to dabble in niche early, I do have an issue with touting niche as the lofty peak on which every perfumista should stand and look down from.
    There is so much niche hype around, and not so much for the fragrance, but for the fact its niche. I dont know anyone who started straight out on niche. Or smelled niche and never went back.
    I dont think its fair to encourage people to eradicate the biggest and most important part of their new journey and graduate them as fast as you can to be some kind of serious fragrance nerd.

    Wheres the journey, the evidence of evolution?

    Edit: As for not buying until you know more about whats out there- who really sits around buying 10 samples before deciding whether that bargain bottle of Eternity is what you really want?

    8/6/13 at 5:13pm

    Possum-Pie said:



    I agree....Better to save a few weeks longer and get better quality. You will be disappointed in cheap fragrances. They won't last, and will smell artificial. That doesn't mean you must by $300 stuff either. Research and buy Quality at the best price you can.

    8/6/13 at 5:39pm

    JackWest said:



    I smell Perfume Snobbery in this post!
    I would advise beginners not to risk their money on niche but instead buy samples of both niche and designers. Some cheap designers are even better than niche!
    How many niche brands can compete with 24 Gold which you can get for $49 (perry Ellis Red is $20 and a nice aquatic). I have received more complements from Issey Miyake than any other fragrance! My point is, price has nothing to do with quality and performance. That has been my experience and l am sure there are many people out there that are not falling for this deception that you need tons of money to smell good.

    8/6/13 at 5:41pm

    silentrich said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hednic View Post

    All good and well if the person's financial situation is sound.

     

    I agree. Diving head first into niche can be a hard expensive lesson especially if you don't know what your smelling in the first place. 

    8/6/13 at 5:44pm

    BeyondTheBox said:



    It's like buying a Colt National match gold Cup when a rock Island, unless used for competition, would place the bullets in the same spot, every time.

    8/6/13 at 5:48pm

    silentrich said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JackWest View Post

    I smell Perfume Snobbery in this post!
    I would advise beginners not to risk their money on niche but instead buy samples of both niche and designers. Some cheap designers are even better than niche!
    How many niche brands can compete with 24 Gold which you can get for $49 (perry Ellis Red is $20 and a nice aquatic). I have received more complements from Issey Miyake than any other fragrance! My point is, price has nothing to do with quality and performance. That has been my experience and l am sure there are many people out there that are not falling for this deception that you need tons of money to smell good.

     

    I don't think he's trying to come off as a snob, but you're right on with sampling and not letting price point influence what you like. A journey is about experiences good and bad. Without the bad it makes discovering the really good fragrances less satisfying. 


    Edited by silentrich - 8/7/13 at 4:23pm

    8/6/13 at 5:58pm

    Possum-Pie said:



    You don't need tons of money! One of my favorites is Thallium Black which I got for under $20. But if you base your whole opinion on the bargin counter of the Dollar store you will be disappointed. Try a variety of samples. You can get niche samples for under $7 so why not try them? I am no snob, I love and own many dept. store frags. But there is a difference for sure.

    8/6/13 at 11:05pm

    heperd said:



    I dont think I agree with this at all. Most people need to start out buying cheap fragrances just to learn what they like. Buying samples is not the same and is no fun. I dont think most people are that rigid and are not constantly equating cost divided by quality minus potential future purchases plus fragrance categories. Or whatever.

    Just smell a bunch of stuff and buy a few bottles that you like. Then repeat. The great thing is that there are probably 500 fragrances that are amazing and cost less than $50 each so you could go years and be very happy with cheapies. Thats never going to happen though. This is supposed to be enjoyable not angst inducing.