Thread: What makes a scent "powdery"?
This is my first post, and I am new to the wonderful world of fragrances, so I'm asking for forgiveness in advance for my stupid questions.
One of the reasons it took me so long to get into perfumes is because a number I tried in the past turned "powdery" on me. And for whatever reason, the smell of powder makes me gag. Literally. (Actually, it could have something to do with drinking Chanel No. 5 when I was a toddler. ) I'm not sure if it's a body-chemistry thing--Burberry The Beat turned into the scent of Playdough on me, go figure--or just the ubiquity of certain ingredients.
So I was wondering what components and/or notes come across as powdery so that I can skip them and give my gag reflex a rest.
I remember reading that orris has a powdery quality. I have some strong ambery frags that aren't especially powdery (Carven Homme, Gucci Envy).
Last edited by Bigsly; 30th June 2008 at 10:35 PM. Reason: spelling error
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I've read that aldehydes can be responsible for a powdery smell. Also I agree about orris root, which has a violets-like scent.
Thanks for responding--you've given me some good stuff to avoid.
I wish amber weren't powdery, because it seems to be in a lot of perfumes. Actually, I've noticed I seem to have a problem with responding poorly to a number of commonly-used basenotes. But who wants a fragrance that's gone after an hour? Guess I'll have to keep working on this one.
Vanilla and iris.
L'amour fait songer, vivre et croire. Il a, pour réchauffer le coeur, un rayon de plus que la gloire; et ce rayon, c'est le bonheur. (Victor HUGO)
Ah yes, vanilla--thanks for that. I knew I really disliked vanilla in fragrances, but for some reason I never tied it to the powdery aspect.
On a sad note, I just tried Delrae Amoureuse, and I loved it for the first hour or so, but now, it's starting to tend toward powder. Nooooooo!
Amber is a powdery accord, esp. depending on how it's made it can also have an animalic or narcotic smell, similar to jasmine or civet musk. It's actually a soft smell and not very strong, not alot of impact. I love the smell. Like you said, though, it's used in alot of perfumery so it's hard to avoid, it's a very good fixative, better than most flowers.
If it makes you sick to be around, you could try a bit of desensitization. Go to a healthfood store and buy one of their amber roll-ons and wear it a little bit every day- not alot, just a tiny amount. Eventually you'll probably be neutral to the smell, you might even learn to appreciate it.
Of course you can also wear too much amber, just like anything else. There are amber heavy fragrances, though. Middle eastern attars are a good example.
btw I really like powdery scents in general, maybe because I really love most of the above mentioned notes
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From the natural side of things, I can personally say these ingredients often lend a powdery quality to a scent:
opoponax in small quantities
tolu balsam in small quantities
oakmoss (powdery but with more bite than most. Not your typical vanilla or talcum kind of powdery scent. I'd classify it more as "round and fluffy" than powdery )
Iris Pallida 50ml
Ungaro I 75ml
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Thanks to all for the helpful information--I will definitely try some amber desensitization, per Magnulus' suggestion. I don't feel like I ever need to love it, but it does seem limiting not to be able to wear anything with it.
Thanks to Jellybean for the welcoming words. It's hard when one's starting out, especially with terms of art. For instance, with wine, I know there's a difference between "aroma" and "bouquet," so I suspect there are differences in fragrance terminology as well that I am misusing. Thanks for the patience!