Many of us have rating systems in which we rate fragrances. I'll explain mine, and you all are free to explain how you grade fragrances (for reviews and in general).

There's no surefire way to objectify fragrances, but my rating system is just how I prioritize what I recommend to people. Just because I give something a low rating, doesn't mean you shouldn't sample or buy it if you really want to. What I give a high mark, you could give a low mark to, and vice-versa. I try to be as broad-minded as I can, but my ratings aren't authoritative. Just opinions with a lot of thought put into them.

My current system:

The Ratings

A rating from 1-5 with .5 increments in between. (Western culture generally, when it comes to art and entertainment as well as academics, has an entitlement bias with the 10 scale that anything below a 7 is bad).

1 - Terrible
Only the worst of the worst get this, and truth be told, most fragrances actually aren't that bad. Since I believe almost any fragrance has some people who are going to enjoy it, I don't really give 1's often unless the fragrance really screws up badly.

2 - Mediocre
This fragrance isn't bad. It's just neutral or uninspiring. Maybe there's 100 fragrances like it or it's way overpriced for what you get. A person without discriminating tastes can easily wear this, but fragrance collectors have higher standards to avoid this.

3 - Good
The positives outweigh the negatives, but there are better fragrances out there. This fragrance will appeal to certain people who can tolerate its flaws.

4 - Very Good
This fragrance does just about everything you could ever want from a fragrance of it's type. There aren't any significant flaws for the fragrance, it does everything it should, but it doesn't go that extra mile either.

5 - Great
This fragrance is not only free of meaningful flaws, but it's a monumental fragrance that's groundbreaking and will shape the industry. It doesn't just do everything you could ever want, but it does much more than that. It's a staple recommendation for every serious collector to buy or try.

* Most fragrances out there will usually get 2.5, 3 or 3.5

* 4's aren't relatively common and 5's are relatively rare

* I'm strict when it comes to ratings, but that just means the one's that do get high ratings are special.

* Keep in mind that two fragrances with the same rating aren't equal. I may give Fragrance-A a 3 and Fragrance-B a 3, but for totally different reasons. Fragrance-A might get a 3 because it's a pleasant fragrance but just doesn't do anything extremely well. Fragrance-B might get a 3 because it does a lot of things extremely well, but also has significant flaws.

* My reccomendations are triangulated. It assumes the average person who has interest for the type of fragrance that is being reviewed, isn't biased toward that type of fragrance and isn't biased against it either.

Niche vs Designer

For the rating system, I define a niche fragrance as a fragrance bottle that costs more than $100 for 100ml.

I grade niche fragrances differently than I grade designer fragrances. I rank designers how they compare to other designers and I rank niche on how they compare to other niche.

For designers, I assume there there will be fragrance collectors who are thinking of buying them, but also average consumers who aren't really into fragrances but want a great deal for their money.

For niche, the higher price means my standards are higher. I understand that nicheheads are willing to spend more money, but their budget still matters. Also, since the main target audience for niche is collectors who have already tried most designers, originality matters much more.

So, I may give a designer fragrance a 3.5 and a niche fragrance 3.5, but that doesn't mean they are equivalent. For example, a niche fragrance I give a 2/5 because it's overpriced and unoriginal could very well be a 4/5 if it were a designer fragrance.

The Criteria

Here are the factors I rank the fragrance on:

Overall Scent
Yeah this is very subjective. I generally try to grade it by ingredient quality. A fragrance that is well balanced and diverse, but still leans in a certain direction is great. A fragrance that is complex and distinct, but not too complex to where it's muddled. Also, what kind of mood does it convey? But in the end, there's no denying it, it's pure opinion (even as hard as I try to be universal and objective).

This includes the drydown. A scent may be magical at opening, but if the scent becomes average in an hour, the scent rating will suffer. If a scent starts out average or mediocre and develops into something very nice, it will get some deduction, but still overall appreciation for the improvement in the drydown.

Does this fragrance smell like the dozens of bland fragrances out there or does it do something to make it unique and stand out from the crowd. Does it break ground and push new standards or is it safe to the point of boredom? Is there something that this fragrance has that no other one does? Is this just a smell-good fragrance or is this a work of art?

Generally, versatile is a word that is used in the context of being safe (not too offensive). This often conflicts with originality, but fragrances that are unique and safe are gems. Versatility means you can wear it to work, to a high class event, clubbing and for casual places (practically anywhere). It means it won't offend too many people. It means that any age can wear it at any season.

A scent needs to be able to project for more than just the first hour. You want other people to smell you.
Everyone's skin is different though. I try it on different parts of my skin and it projects differently depending on where I spray, but I'm looking at the overall picture.

Here is my general rating criteria:
Under 2 hours - 1/5
Under 4 hours - 2/5
Under 6 hours - 3/5
Under 8 hours - 4/5
8+ hours - 5/5

Some people are absurdly rich and don't have to budget their money, but for most of us, that's not the case. Fragrances aren't a cheap hobby and we all want to get the best value we can for our dollar. This is where the above factors come together. Niche fragrances will be graded more harshly than cheaper designer fragrances for this reason. Some fragrances are great, but are just not worth the price. If a fragrance is good for the price, but not good in an absolute sense, the value rating won't boost up its overall rating too high.

Overall Rating
It's not an average, because the importance of each of the above factors are dynamic.

The Verdict
Every review ends with a one-sentence verdict. I don't recommend blind buys, ever, so here are examples of what verdicts often are.
* I don't recommend you to sample this fragrance.
* Sample this if ____, but otherwise I don't recommend sampling this fragrance.
* I recommend that you sample this fragrance.
* I strongly recommend that you sample this.

In Closing

Noirdrakkar, you're overthinking this. Yeah, maybe, but it's fun

Question: How do you rate fragrances?