Is there a fragrance note equivalent to simple sugar (for those of us with bitter skin)?

    Is there a fragrance note equivalent to simple sugar (for those of us with bitter skin)?

    post #1 of 28
    Thread Starter 
    I have met at least one young woman whose skin turns fragrances sweet. In a side-by-side sampling of L'Artisan Mure et Musc, the scent amped up to maximum sweetness on her and crashed to barely sweet on me.

    I have shopped with another fellow BNer who, along with a sales associate, applied Fico di Amalfi. It smelled beautiful on them, but there was no disguising the repulsed expression when my BN friend smelled my arm.

    I am bitter or sour. I am probably not alone, biologically speaking, and I have hypothesized that this is why many people never take up fragrance wearing and why I was so late in discovering the pleasures of bottled scents.

    Every three years or so, I ask a question like this, and have yet to find an answer: Is there a single-note-type of scent I could use to compensate for my scent shortcoming? A simple scent like Jo Malone Orange Blossom almost "fixes" my skin, but something with even less personality would be preferable for layering with, say, Jean-Louis Scherrer, a bitter green chypre.

    Yes, this is a weird and perhaps unanswerable question.

    Yes, I really have sampled more than a thousand fragrances.

    No, I don't guzzle vinegar on a daily basis.

    Thanks for listening.

    Go, talk amongst yourselves.
    post #2 of 28

    Maybe ethyl maltol?



    You'd have to dilute it in ethanol.  Probably at 1% or so.


    Or benzoin. Benzoin smells sweet and smoky.



    post #3 of 28

    The correct molecule for vague sweetening seems IMHO to depend upon what you plan on layering with it. As mentioned by Skelly, ethyl maltol works well, beware high doses can impart a caramel odor. Helional would be more appropriate for a bitter green chypre, though in concentrations it will impart a grassy, wet hay sort of note. I suggest using some glucam-20 to add some longevity to the top notes of whatever your wearing (in a decant?) if the top notes are sweet, as they often are. 

    post #4 of 28
    Quarry - there are also physical approaches. You can spray on clothing, which I do a lot to either alter the fragrance, make it last, or make it work when my skin is incompatible. Some perfumers have been of the opinion that skin is the wrong place for fragrance to begin with - a customer habit that simply has to be dealt with. I have even carried fragrance sprayed on coffee-cup collars - they make excellent, disposable scented objects, and they hold the base for a very long time, becoming rich and fragrant.

    There are chemical approaches, too. Skin preparation may work - a neutral-smelling cream or lotion which either kills bacteria or denatures enzymes which are degrading important aromachemicals. You may have to experiment, but testing multiple products on multiple sites on a weekend, using a single standard reference fragrance which goes dramatically bad on your skin, may give you an answer quickly.
    post #5 of 28

    You can scent hair; they retain odors very well. Interesting question; no, vinegar had nothing to do. :)  Your diet has implications of course. Vegetarians smells more acidic, I've heard. Body odor closely related to skin microflora and is determined genetically. Similar relationships are on the other surface of the skin.

     Have you ever tried washing with essential oils? Something like here.

    Unfortunately, Amazon does not show the most necessary pages of the K. Schnaubelt "The healing inteligence of esential oils" book ... You can use many non-irritating natural oils (bay laurel, black spruce, cape chamomile, cardamom, clary sage, coriander seed, cypress, douglal fir, eucalyptus radiata, geranium, hyssop decumbens, lavandin, lavender, monarda, neroli, myrtle, palmarosa, petitgrain, pine, ravintsara, rose, rosemary verbenone, sage petit feuilles, spike lavender,tea tree, thyme linalool, thyme thuyjanol). I love bay laurel and frankincense too. From this list most sweet can be Cape Chamomile, Eriocephalus punctulatus. Simply I think, that this method can change yours skin microflora and as a consequence reactions with perfumes can become different, I hope more pleasant.

    I don't think that it is impossible to answer, but I think that answer can only be find yourself. If I had such a problem, I will test all natural oils useful in perfumery for "sweet" notes as  well. Tonka absolute, vanilla, benzoin etc. But... tonka have coumarins, benzoin  benzoic acid, they are sensitisers and can be  risky. You need something more safe for daily use.

    post #6 of 28

    Please be careful when using anything (Essential Oil or single molecule) at high concentration.   Also, please be aware that every one of the Essential Oils mentioned above will contain at least one of the 26 materials described as being potential allergens.

    post #7 of 28

    How about frankincense hydrolat?  That's sweetish, though it also smells of frankincense.  Well, it would...


    As far as I know it's harmless, apart from all the woo eg  'Attracts angels'  Pshaw!



    post #8 of 28
    Thread Starter 

    You kids are great. Every response is so thoughtful and well considered. Thank you, my dears.


    As you rightly observe, different sweeteners marry better or worse with a floral, citrus, or chypre 'fume. Since I can rely on many scents to deliver on vanilla and amber accords, it’s probably the chypre and citrus scents for which I need a crutch.


    Fabric is helpful, yes. That's been the best answer for chypres for me, but even then I sometimes wish I could nudge them a bit less bitter. For what it’s worth, I notice the pale, hairless skin on the inside of the forearm offers a better canvas than the top, tanned outside.


    Chamomile in the shower sounds like a really beautiful way to start the scenting process. That pineapple-like quality would tip the scale favorably in the right direction.


    I should have thought sooner to post this question directly within the perfumers’ forum of BN. You folks know best how to break down the elements of this challenge. Also, I like to give you something different to ponder in your exploration of this incredible universe of pleasure molecules.

    post #9 of 28

    'Your diet has implications of course. Vegetarians smells more acidic, I've heard. Body odor closely related to skin microflora and is determined genetically. Similar relationships are on the other surface of the skin.'


    I read somewhere or other - this was ages ago - that consuming large amounts of dairy products can cause some people to sweat butyric acid.  I can't find the source, and it might not be true, but it's probably worth not eating them for a couple of weeks to see what happens.  Or doesn't. :)



    post #10 of 28

    There is not a single fragrance material that is only sweet (in the sense of fragrance), they always bring in other fragrance aspects, that way they change the fragrance.


    Maltol and alikes are the most common sweeteners, they have a caramel / cotton candy aspect they will add. Vanillin and alikes + other sweet balsamics also add vanilla like notes. Others will add almond or fruity notes.


    So: no there is no fragrance note equivalent to simple sugar.


    The two main reasons fragrances can smell different on skin are:

    - oilyness: more oil means that the fragrance will fade away more slowly, but some materails are hold back longer than others

    - natural fragrance of the skin


    The acidity of the skin does not matter much, though the natural fragrance of the skin is mainly because of some volatile acids, they are certainly important.

    post #11 of 28

    Have you tried this?  candy that makes you smell like a rose apparently. The active ingredient is geraniol, so I suppose you could just get some and drink a few drops in your tea. But I have no idea if that is safe, so please don't.

    post #12 of 28

    I can't comment as to how it would react to body chemistry, but I was just thinking about amping up sweetness the other day as I tend to like things to smell a bit sugary.  I came across a scent called 'Brown Sugar' by Fresh which smells just like Brown sugar.  I wonder if this could help you?  Might be worth a sample at any rate.


    post #13 of 28

    My bottle of geraniol says: Danger: may be fatal if swallowed and enters the airways. May cause an allergic skin reaction.  And it has flammable, irritant, marine pollutant, and skull and crossbones signs.


    I think I'd better read the MSDS.





    Here we are... Geraniol: ORAL (LD50): Acute: 3600 mg/kg [Rat]


    So you'd have to drink quite a lot.


    I did once accidentally ingest a few drops of benzyl acetate without ill affects, and can report that it still smells exactly like benzyl acetate the following day. 



    post #14 of 28

    Hello Sister-in-leau! I zoomed in on your post because it reminded me of something.......


    I remember many years ago reading something about different "types"  of body smells.  Each of us having one of those types. I particularly remember  "rancid" and  "scorched". I looked into it and It turns out that it is from Chinese Medicine. There are the five types;




    I don't think that these types actually smell as bad as they sound!!


    Years ago I worked with a guy who ALWAYS smelled like freshly ironed linen. Cotton ironed with a scorching hot iron. like freshly ironed bedlinen. I assumed it was *actually* his shirts. But it wasn't. We had to travel in his car sometimes where his smell was very apparent, and even when he wasn't wearing a formal shirt he still smelled like that. It was very pleasant. I guess that he was a "scorched" type. Also I remember that as a child I was aware that my sister smelled different from me. She smelled warm and almost oily, like hair. She still does. It's not at all unpleasant, just intimate, it's a kind of comforting smell. Whereas I thought that I smelled sort of neutral, probably because I'm not aware of my own skin smell, so I don't actually know.


    Isn't that interesting Quarry? I'm surprised that this hasn't come up on Basenotes before. Or has it.............smiley.gif


    Maybe counteracting it is not the best approach, maybe embrace it. It does sound like you could rock bitter chypres, fragrances with galbanum and oakmoss, and beautiful bitter colognes with citrus and green notes like cypress. Have you worn Cabochard?


    Does anyone have any more thoughts on this?

    post #15 of 28
    Thread Starter 

    Foustie, favorite friend, that IS so darned interesting. I must be rancid.


    I rarely encounter my genetic family members, but this coming weekend I'm traveling for an aunt’s 90th birthday party, and now you've set me on the task of concentrating on sniffing their skin when I go to give each a hug. (Frankly, I have to make this visit interesting in an anthropological way since I have virtually nothing in common cerebrally with these folks--maybe nothing skin-scent-wise either. Oh, how I'd prefer to spend a weekend with you!)


    In theory, you'd think I'm good with chypres, but they're the ones I'd like most to sweeten on my skin. Fruity chypres, Mitsouko and Libertine, are okay. Cabochard was the first chypre I owned, then I went to Miss Balmain on my pillowcase, which was sublime, though DH didn't care to smell it. Galbanum is iffy; oakmoss in the vintage frags works well, so, of course, that's getting snuffed out by reformulations. Damn you, IFRA!

    post #16 of 28

Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000