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  1. #1
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    Default Help Detecting Notes?

    So I'm incredibly new to fragrances. Not to wearing fragrances, per se, but to thinking about them critically. Does anyone have any tips to help learn about individual notes? As of now I can't really say with any confidence what I'm actually smelling.

    Is it possible to buy oils of individual notes (e.g. sandalwood, ambergris, musk, etc) and learn from that? I realize that mixing and diluting the notes will lead to widely varying characteristics, but I feel like it's best to start with the basics.

    I've been wearing a sample of GIT for the past week or so. I feel like I get the florals at the top, but the dry down is a roller coaster. I have no idea what's what. I tried a dab of OV one day, too. No idea.

    Some other samples that I have coming include Aventus, Royal Oud, Tobacco Vanille, Neroli Portofino, Oud Wood, Tuscan Leather, and Noir de Noir. Hopefully I can glean something from those?

    Thanks for the excellent resources, basenoters!

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    Oils are one way to do it, but I think a better way is to find three or four perfumes with a particular note and try to distinguish the note. For example, if you want to smell iris, try Prada's Infusion, Dior Homme, and 28 La Pausa. People here can recommend exemplary fragrances for specific notes.

    Also, it takes time, so don't get too frustrated if you can't recognize everything at first. One day you'll just be smelling and find you notice the vetiver in The Body Shop White Musk for Men and be very pleased with yourself.

    And just about musk: sometimes it's not really a smell, it's more of a sensation. Sort of like salt in food. So don't worry if you don't get that one right away.

  3. #3
    Dependent TLS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    This is extremely difficult. Still I sample stuff and at first sniff I don't find notes that are expected to be dominated by it. Some notes come in different ways too.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    Quote Originally Posted by 1adam12 View Post
    Is it possible to buy oils of individual notes (e.g. sandalwood, ambergris, musk, etc) and learn from that? I realize that mixing and diluting the notes will lead to widely varying characteristics, but I feel like it's best to start with the basics.
    Yes, that method would help a lot. At the same time, it's fun to blend your own concoctions.

  5. #5
    David Ruskin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    It is very difficult to recognise a note if you are unfamiliar with the materials that go into making that note. If it is possible for you, the best way to start learning is by getting some individual materials (Essential oils and Aroma Chemicals), and some smelling strips. Dip the individual materials and smell them. Make notes as you are doing this. Start off slowly, only one or two at a time, and describe them in your own words. It doesn't matter how daft your description is, it is what you think the smell is that matters. Also keep smelling them over a period of time; every 30 minutes to start with. Some will disappear quite rapidly, some will hang around for hours, and some for days and even weeks. Thus you will discover which material is a Top Note, which a Middle and which a Base. After awhile you will be able to recognise the individual notes in the fragrances you wear.

    Also, pay scant attention to the official description in advertising. More often than not, the description put out by the manufacturers is marketing BS.

  6. #6
    Dependent Possum-Pie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    I did both...I tried many fragrances with oud, or vetiver, or some note, until I kinda could recognize that note. Some notes I sniffed the oil of that note straight. Perfumer's Apprentice is a great website to buy small samples of notes and try them. You have to be careful...My favorite fragrance is Mona di Orio "Vetyver"...I thought I would love vetiver BUT I HATE the note!!! It was the ginger in the mix that covered up the vetiver. I tried vetiver oil and couldn't stand the note.
    For Sale: Gengis Kahn, Mona d' Orio, Penhaligons.

  7. #7
    NorstrÝm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    Parfums Raffy have single note samples, perhaps this is helpful

    http://www.parfumsraffy.com/snsamples.html
    - Mark

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  8. #8
    Dependent Possum-Pie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    Quote Originally Posted by NorstrÝm View Post
    Parfums Raffy have single note samples, perhaps this is helpful

    http://www.parfumsraffy.com/snsamples.html
    Parfumsraffy may or may not have individual notes you need like norlimbanol, vetiver, ambroxan. They tend to have "sex on the beach" or "spring rain" Not notes at all but fragrance mixes...Try Perfumer's Apprentice.
    For Sale: Gengis Kahn, Mona d' Orio, Penhaligons.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    Ask your mates at Creed

  10. #10
    David Ruskin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Possum-Pie View Post
    I did both...I tried many fragrances with oud, or vetiver, or some note, until I kinda could recognize that note. Some notes I sniffed the oil of that note straight. Perfumer's Apprentice is a great website to buy small samples of notes and try them. You have to be careful...My favorite fragrance is Mona di Orio "Vetyver"...I thought I would love vetiver BUT I HATE the note!!! It was the ginger in the mix that covered up the vetiver. I tried vetiver oil and couldn't stand the note.
    That's another problem; a single note may not give the full story as it may need to be blended with other things. But you got to start somewhere!

    By the way, I agree with you PP, don't like Vetiver on its own, love what it does in a fragrance.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    It took me a year before I could tell patchouli and it was mainly because I got a sample of patchouli imperial. My recommendation is to buy samples since getting bottles just to practice doesn't make sense. I would recommend patchouli imperial for patchouli, tuscani for leather, nior for rose (but dark). You can check out the swap thread or crystal falcon.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    Thank you all for your input. I think I'll eventually do both (samples and oils) but will stick to samples for now. Financially, I think that makes more sense as I get to try new fragrances as well.

    It might be a long journey but I think it'll be fun, too.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    That's a very good method. I'm still learning myself. With so many synthetic additives, it makes it ever harder these days.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    It is very difficult to recognize a note if you are unfamiliar with the materials that go into making that note.
    Very true for me.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    It is very difficult to recognise a note if you are unfamiliar with the materials that go into making that note.
    Quote Originally Posted by hednic View Post
    Very true for me.
    You're probably right. If I check out perfumer's apprentice is there anything I should go for first? Maybe ambroxan, vetiver, bergamot? Those seem to be fairly prominent.

    EDIT - I just noticed the sets that perfumer's apprentice sells. Maybe I'll do that.
    Last edited by 1adam12; 10th May 2013 at 10:57 PM.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    Hey there and welcome!

    Most of the really serious perfume freaks get the Perfumer's Apprentice Perfumery Notes Kit. It's $95, but that's what you's pay for a bottle of perfume... If you get to know the chemicals in that, especially if you try mixing the combinations they suggest, you'll know more about perfume notes than most people here.

    That being said, it may leave you knowing too much to simply converse. When people talk about an orchid note and you recognize it as a mix of artificial rose, multiple lily chemicals, and strawberry aldehydes, it can be a little frustrating.

    My other advice is something I put in my blog here. Smell EVERYTHING. Spices in the kitchen, flowers outside, fruit, candy, grass, trees, anything that grabs your attention. As much fun as it is to dive deep and get into the chemicals, it's actually way more helpful to simply know what the flowers on an actual orange tree smell like...
    Has everyone checked out my Top 100 Blog??

  17. #17

    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    I wrote up some posts on this subject on my blog. Also, I suggest spraying to the chest so you experience it after it has mixed with air and also spray it somewhere you can smell it right up on the skin. Sometimes do this with two different scents and not always the same one. For example, spray an oriental to the chest and an aquatic to the arm or leg. Lower leg is better because it won't mix with the oriental but you may be around people and not want them to see you smelling your leg up close !

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Help Detecting Notes?

    What you should do is avoid reading any reviews on it,
    test it the whole day, form your opinion on it and then
    check the reviews, you will gradually get a hang of it.

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