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Thread: help, mentors!

  1. #1
    Basenotes Junkie lionheart's Avatar
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    Question help, mentors!

    Hey, guys,

    My obsession with fragrances is rather new, although my sense of smell has always brought me the most pleasure of all my senses since I was a boy.

    So many of y'all speak so knowledgeably about fragrances and notes and sillages and greens and woods, etc. I find fragrances to be so elusive. For example, It's hard for me to pinpoint what is, say, vetiver, or cypress, or what.

    Also, many of you know about SO MANY OBSCURE fragrances.

    Since ordering samples of every frag known to homme can be very expensive, and since, even if I did, recognizing notes, etc, is not exactly like looking at a fire truck and saying, "That's red," does anyone have any practical pearls of wisdom that will jumpstart my knowledge and discernment?

  2. #2

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    Start reading the reviews in the directory. Many basenoters who do reviews are very good at describing the scents and you can get a good idea from those descriptions whether you'd like it or not.

    To become more familiar with notes, you can always have a look at websites that supply oils, absolutes, etc. to perfumers... they often describe what that ingredient adds to the scent.

    Welcome and may your days be very GOOD and smell lovely!
    [URL="http://www.basenotes.net/fragrancereviews/38140"][B]Actias luna's fragrance reviews[/B][/URL] | Now blogging with [i]AromiErotici, Carrie Meredith, Mimi Gardenia, Sugandaraja, Asha, bluesoul, shamu1, Redneck Perfumisto and Daly Beauty[/i] at [URL="http://aromierotici.blogspot.com/"][B]Il Mondo di Odore[/B][/URL] [URL="http://www.ebsqart.com/Artist/Kathleen-Harper/3794/Art-Portfolio/1/"]
    [B]Art[/B]: Actias luna's other hobby[/URL] - along with some impromptu [URL="http://www.basenotes.net/threads/268480-Why-Mouchoir-de-Monsieur-Act-III-Resumed"]"performance writing"[/URL] here on Basenotes!

  3. #3

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    What I have learned, it takes time. Its not like I can try 10 frags at a store and know what I will like. I had to read a lot(from the people here) and wear them one day at a time. I made some bad purchases along the way, its been expensive but very fun.
    I post lots from my I phone so if this looks like a text message that's why ( :

  4. #4

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    Indeed it does take time, and even with that said.. it's still hard to detect individual notes. I sometimes have trouble differentiating between orange blossoms and mango's.

    Vetiver is very common in older fragrances and often used when making the big powerhouses. Vetiver is a type of grass with a dark earthy smell.. it even smells dirty. That's what I think of when I think vetiver, but there are different types, and of course in fragrances, they can easily be altered to smell any way they please. Cypress is more a of a genre than a note, it includes pine, various trees, barks, pine cones, pine needles, tree sap, and various woods. Cypress is often sharp or tangy, but again that all differs depending on who the perfumer is. People may have different takes than mine, or may have things to add, but what i noticed most is a lot of us are just waiting for new questions to pop up on the forum, so anything you ask will be most likely answered.

    Some people also incorporate mandarin and lemon with cypress as well.
    Last edited by The_Cologneist; 9th May 2010 at 02:20 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    You don't have to know the particular notes to enjoy the fragrances. But if you are looking to learn to identify them, start with the spices in the kitchen and flowers in a greenhouse or park -- look for the spices and florals that are regularly used in fragrances. Notes like sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver you can experience through essential oils. You can find them on the internet.

    There are sites on that offer tons of basic information: H&R Geneology is a bit dated (no frags added since 2001) but it gives a visual chart of the categories of frags: http://www.leffingwell.com/h%26rfrag...e_masculin.pdf

    OsMoz also provides a lot of information: http://www.osmoz.com/Encyclopedia/Olfactory-groups

    And don't forget The tons of information available to you right here in the Basenotes directory and forum.

    The obscure fragrances won't be so obscure once you get started.

    Good luck!

  6. #6

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    Welcome! In addition to using essential oils, also look to easily-found elements. Herbs and spices -- check your spice rack or go to a health food store which sells them in bulk. That same health food store may have an aromatherapy section (having oils, incense, etc.) that will also be benchmarks.
    Flowers -- when you pass a florist or see some growing -- "stop and smell them" Learn those floral notes. They are not exactly the same in essential oils and scents but they may be similar.
    Be aware of the smells of the world! Develop "scent memory". This same sensory recollection is used by wine tasters as they analyze the wine.
    And finally, think of what sort of smells you like. What evokes happy feelings and memories? Cookies baking? A walk in the woods? A favorite soap? An old leather jacket? Think about what those things might contain.
    Grasshopper... live in the moment! I say this in a light-hearted way but it is true. "Be here, now." (And remember.)
    odysseusm

    "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower // drives my green age..." Dylan Thomas

  7. #7

    Smile Re: help, mentors!

    Quote Originally Posted by foetidus View Post
    The obscure fragrances won't be so obscure once you get started.
    They also stop being unknown quantities once you get the chance to smell them.

    Smell everything you can, as often as you can. Give things you don't immediately like second and third chances over time, since your tastes will change and your knowledge will grow. Note lists for individual fragrances may be useful, if not necessarily accurate; knowing what to expect before you smell something and comparing afterwards might help you to describe what you are smelling, since gaining fluency in the language of scent might just be the hardest part of this hobby.

    If you can, buy things that you absolutely love, or even just really like, but resist the urge to purchase anything else for the sake of building a "collection". Save your money for the ones that do move you, and get sample vials of things you are interested in but cannot try in person. It takes a little while to get used to paying for the opportunity to try stuff you may not even ultimately like but once you realize that you can try 15 or even 20 scents--some of which may be better than anything you have ever smelled in your life--for the price of one full bottle of some generic designer moneyspinner, it is easy.

    Mostly though, just have fun with it. If it stops being fun, you can always walk away and come back if and when you feel like it.

    And welcome!

  8. #8

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    Connecting what smells are similar between scents has helped me vaguely discern notes as well.
    If fragrance has a gender, so does all art.

  9. #9

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    Lots of good tips here. I concur to just read posts and investigate scents that sound interesting to you through the Directory. You don't list where you live, so don't know what kind of stores you have access to. Develop a habit of sampling, even if you have to pay a bit to The Perfumed Court or Lucky Scent. Be patient. Your nose and opinions count the most to you.

    There are all different types of Basenoters. I'm not a "notes" guy. I do pay attention to commentaries about them, and I've learned a lot, but I can't dissect a fragrance the way many can. I'm also not big on the classifications (chypre, fougere, oriental, etc). I'm just a clod who likes to smell good.

    Just dive in.
    Last edited by StylinLA; 9th May 2010 at 06:17 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    ugh. glitch- duplicate post
    Last edited by StylinLA; 9th May 2010 at 05:57 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    Quote Originally Posted by foetidus View Post

    OsMoz also provides a lot of information: http://www.osmoz.com/Encyclopedia/Olfactory-groups
    +1 on that site... it's helped me many times when I thought I knew the scent but couldn't put a name to it!
    [URL="http://www.basenotes.net/fragrancereviews/38140"][B]Actias luna's fragrance reviews[/B][/URL] | Now blogging with [i]AromiErotici, Carrie Meredith, Mimi Gardenia, Sugandaraja, Asha, bluesoul, shamu1, Redneck Perfumisto and Daly Beauty[/i] at [URL="http://aromierotici.blogspot.com/"][B]Il Mondo di Odore[/B][/URL] [URL="http://www.ebsqart.com/Artist/Kathleen-Harper/3794/Art-Portfolio/1/"]
    [B]Art[/B]: Actias luna's other hobby[/URL] - along with some impromptu [URL="http://www.basenotes.net/threads/268480-Why-Mouchoir-de-Monsieur-Act-III-Resumed"]"performance writing"[/URL] here on Basenotes!

  12. #12

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    Lots of good advice above.
    If it is important to you to identify notes buying the essential oils is a definite must.
    That being said you can eventually gain the knowledge by just trying different fragrances and comparing note lists and you will pick up the core main notes that are used prominently.
    The best advice I can give you is to sample and not blind buy. Go to your local department stores and ask for any samples they are willing to give you. Sephora is aparticularly good source as they will make up a sample of anything in the store for you. If there are niche things you want to try use the swap board on Basenotes and the sample programs from online retailers. After you have tried a few things you should start to develop some preferences.
    Then come back and post and let us know your experience then you will get a number of suggestions based on what you like already.

    It should be a lot of fun and once you get some sniffing experience in it will add to your enjoyment, I'll bet.

    Good Luck and keep us posted.
    More writing on fragrance by me to be found at http://www.cafleurebon.com/

  13. #13

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    Quote Originally Posted by actiasluna View Post
    Start reading the reviews in the directory. Many basenoters who do reviews are very good at describing the scents and you can get a good idea from those descriptions whether you'd like it or not.
    That's just what I did when I started, sort of. Thing is I really didn't start seriously considering the colognes often mentioned as the best around here (consensus) until the last year. I'd always go to the store and start testing a million different things. Seemed like I'd read reviews after the purchase instead of before. Ass backwards I know.

    What a lot of people around here consider to be best usually is i.e. M7, Egoiste, GIT, Terre d'Hermes, etc. Read reviews and search old posts. More importantly, test stuff on your skin for a day and see if it's for you. Don't go by paper strips and SAs' opinions. You'll read that here all the time for a reason. It's so true!
    Last edited by Naitch; 10th May 2010 at 02:43 AM. Reason: Clairification

  14. #14

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    ^^ but there's always gonna be reviewers with less accurate reviews; though I respect everyone's review and opinions.. typically you wanna find a reviewer you have something in common with. Like me.. there's a handful of reviewers that are just amazing, spot on, and as accurate as words can describe (I'm not gonna say names though) And don't think just because somebody has 2,000 reviews.. makes them a better reviewer than one with 15 reviews. First find a reviewer that you can relate to, follow his/her reviews and see if they just keep getting better and better and more like something you agree with or something you think you'd like. I can actually trust certain Basenoter's noses to help in influencing my blind buy purchases!

  15. #15

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    I agree, TC... go for a reviewer with which you find something in common (through his or her posts on the other forums, likes, dislikes, etc.) The reviews are by necessity the individual's impressions of and opinions about a scent, and about how that scent smells on THEIR skin, so "accurate" is a relative term. I'm sure all reviews are accurate for that reviewer, even if the particular scent smells nothing like that on anyone else. Then, when you find a scent you really think you'd be interested in, get a sample or a decant and wear it for a few days. Basenoters are great about sharing small samples or decants, so if you can't find a bottle to test from or a sample at the scent counter, that's another way of getting your hands on enough to know whether you'd buy a full bottle.
    [URL="http://www.basenotes.net/fragrancereviews/38140"][B]Actias luna's fragrance reviews[/B][/URL] | Now blogging with [i]AromiErotici, Carrie Meredith, Mimi Gardenia, Sugandaraja, Asha, bluesoul, shamu1, Redneck Perfumisto and Daly Beauty[/i] at [URL="http://aromierotici.blogspot.com/"][B]Il Mondo di Odore[/B][/URL] [URL="http://www.ebsqart.com/Artist/Kathleen-Harper/3794/Art-Portfolio/1/"]
    [B]Art[/B]: Actias luna's other hobby[/URL] - along with some impromptu [URL="http://www.basenotes.net/threads/268480-Why-Mouchoir-de-Monsieur-Act-III-Resumed"]"performance writing"[/URL] here on Basenotes!

  16. #16

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    1. This thing takes time. I've spent literally at least an hour a day on this site reading reviews and discussions. I've spent my weekends walking around department stores smelling everything in sight, labeling papers and smelling them later. I've used a different sample every day nearly. I've read The Guide several times and a few other books. And in the course of about 7 months of doing all that, I can finally say I might be able to identify 1-2 notes when I smell something, have a sense that there are about 20-30 frags I really like and a million I'm indifferent to. So yes, take your time and enjoy it. It's not about trying to find the answer and then just moving on (well, it can be if you want).

    What I did was started first with a list of the most popular/talked about ones and went to go smell those, over and over again.
    I also researched ones I liked to try and find what notes I might have liked about them.

    I started by always buying the 100ml bottle of about 5 highly talked about or popular frags and then swapping decants. I've PM'd a ton of people. Every time I see in a thread about X frag a bunch of people saying they want to try it, or someone saying they have a bottle and hate something, I see an opportunity for a trade. I've managed to take 5 100ml bottles, which I like, but only really wanted 50ml of, and turned the other 50ml broken into 5ml and 10ml decants x 5 bottles into about 20-30 decants of various other things I wanted to try before buying. I've never bought a single decant from perfumed court but have tonnes of samples and decants now.

    other idea - Look around for a swap box to join. You'll get exposure to a whole bunch of stuff
    NEW SPLIT - By Kilian A Taste of Heaven (full 50ml bottles). .

    Most of the time I am very proud of the Basenotes community. Time after time I have witnessed the thoughtfulness, empathy & genuine friendship that members of this community extend to others - oldtimers & newcomers alike. There are other times, however, when egos get the upper hand and civility goes out the window. My philosophy is that I won't say anything here that I would not say if you were standing in front of me. Welcome to Basenotes, each and every one of us. ~ TwoRoads

  17. #17
    Tarheel Golfer's Avatar
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    Default Re: help, mentors!

    A lot of good advice already.

    Quote Originally Posted by foetidus View Post
    You don't have to know the particular notes to enjoy the fragrances.
    Big +1

    Quote Originally Posted by StylinLA View Post
    Lots of good tips here. I concur to just read posts and investigate scents that sound interesting to you through the Directory. You don't list where you live, so don't know what kind of stores you have access to. Develop a habit of sampling, even if you have to pay a bit to The Perfumed Court or Lucky Scent. Be patient. Your nose and opinions count the most to you.

    There are all different types of Basenoters. I'm not a "notes" guy. I do pay attention to commentaries about them, and I've learned a lot, but I can't dissect a fragrance the way many can. I'm also not big on the classifications (chypre, fougere, oriental, etc). I'm just a clod who likes to smell good.

    Just dive in.
    I am in the category with Stylin. I can only identify a few notes, but that isn't important to me. I just enjoy the broader experience a fragrance brings. Like stepping back and enjoying a beautiful painting, rather than trying to dissect the brush strokes.

    As others have said, it takes time. Keep hanging out here. I've learned so much just reading the forums (sometimes for hours at a time like Master-Classter). Most important, this can be a never ending journey. No limit to what you can learn/smell/experience. Just enjoy it.

  18. #18

    Default Re: help, mentors!

    lionheart,

    Welcome! I'd suggest trying lots of samples and decants. There are many to be found here at very reasonable prices. And as mentioned above- it takes time and apparently the quest never ends and that is what makes it so fun.

  19. #19
    Last edited by Master-Classter; 10th May 2010 at 03:02 AM.
    NEW SPLIT - By Kilian A Taste of Heaven (full 50ml bottles). .

    Most of the time I am very proud of the Basenotes community. Time after time I have witnessed the thoughtfulness, empathy & genuine friendship that members of this community extend to others - oldtimers & newcomers alike. There are other times, however, when egos get the upper hand and civility goes out the window. My philosophy is that I won't say anything here that I would not say if you were standing in front of me. Welcome to Basenotes, each and every one of us. ~ TwoRoads

  20. #20
    Basenotes Junkie lionheart's Avatar
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    Default Re: help, mentors!

    To all who have been posting: THANK YOU! I am thrilled to know that I kind of started this journey unknowingly kind of how you would suggest. I knew what basic smells I liked and didn't like...I read up on the ones who had the kind classification I like (oriental/spicy, i.e.) and then asked you for suggestions, got my hands on decants and now I'm off to the races.

    INVALUABLE advice on this thread. I cannot thank you enough!

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