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  1. #1
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    Default Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    I've been noticing a huge difference between evaluating a fragrance on blotter vs skin and I'm wondering how much is in my head or part of my personal chemistry and what others experiences are. Quite a few times I've made something and evaluated it on blotter - the notes seem to transition nicely, the smell is very even and balanced, smells good.... but as soon as I put it on my skin for evaluation is smells horrible, uneven, muddy, sickly... I know that body heat, etc will make a difference in terms of evaporation rates but I'm not talking about subtle differences, I'm talking about the difference between "This smells nice, I think I'll stop here and ride it out" and "How could I possibly have thought it was even worth saving? Yuck!" kind of difference.
    Justin E. Beasley

  2. #2

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    You need a lot of test-bunnies/friends for evaluation! Unfortunately I like the trials even better on my skin than on paper so I consult friends' skins to get a realistic impression.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Graphite View Post
    You need a lot of test-bunnies/friends for evaluation! Unfortunately I like the trials even better on my skin than on paper so I consult friends' skins to get a realistic impression.
    I don't have any test bunnies Looks like I have to stink all by myself, lol.

    So, are blotter strips mostly used for evaluating volatility of single materils?
    Justin E. Beasley

  4. #4

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    I rarely had such striking differences. My skin doesn't keep perfume well, so a perfume proceed very fast from top to base notes, whereas on a strip of paper I can smell it in slow motion. Just for a few perfumes the skin highlighted notes that weren't clear on paper. So in general paper corresponds to the actual smell for me, though with different timing.

    One thing I noticed is that sometimes bringing the nose to the skin to smell does result in something strange, whereas the smell from a bit far away is more balanced.

    cacio

  5. #5

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    One thing I noticed is that sometimes bringing the nose to the skin to smell does result in something strange, whereas the smell from a bit far away is more balanced.
    That could be a tough one.. You will need to stay in place, make a scent cloud, step out of it without disturbing it, and then walking into it..

  6. #6

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Hello,

    last weeks i had also an strange observation with my osmanthus-perfume.
    In the endmixture i added one tiny drop of Methylsalicylate and after aging i think that drop was too much.
    Applied to my skin or on blotter there is too long that medicinical, herbaceous feeling that covers the light, peachy osmanthus too much.
    I thought with that one drop i ruined the whole perfume.

    But as i applied it to the back/head in my hairs i couldn't even smell the strong methylsalicylate but instead a really nice voluminous peachy theme started to act really nice.

    So for the future i will be very confused how i should create my perfumes.
    As in the stores the most or maybe all perfumes are tested on a paper-strip and if a customer would find it ugly on the strip nobody thinks that this composition could go really nice in the hair.
    (maybe in future there is an hint at every bottle: "smells best on hair" or something.)

    greetings:

    Hondo
    Last edited by Hondo; 20th February 2014 at 08:15 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Yes, I too have noticed this muddying effect when testing blends on skin. I also think it must be due to more than just the temperature difference. Even with commercial perfumes I usually notice a significant difference on skin as compared to paper. As cacio alluded to, I don't think sniffing one's wrist or arm is the best way to enjoy a perfume anyway. Nevertheless, that seems to be the way most people judge a perfume so I do think it's a very useful tool in testing your formula.

    Is there a particular type of formulation that presents this problem for you? I've been running into this "muddy" problem while trying to put together a classic style chypre over the past year or two (or three). It's getting better. Still trying to figure that one out, if anyone has any advice, but in general I think I can recommended being a little bolder, simpler, thinking more "structurally", and perhaps in some cases making things a little brighter and cleaner, maybe sweeter, than you'd expect they'd need to be.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Renegade View Post
    Yes, I too have noticed this muddying effect when testing blends on skin. I also think it must be due to more than just the temperature difference. Even with commercial perfumes I usually notice a significant difference on skin as compared to paper. As cacio alluded to, I don't think sniffing one's wrist or arm is the best way to enjoy a perfume anyway. Nevertheless, that seems to be the way most people judge a perfume so I do think it's a very useful tool in testing your formula.

    Is there a particular type of formulation that presents this problem for you? I've been running into this "muddy" problem while trying to put together a classic style chypre over the past year or two (or three). It's getting better. Still trying to figure that one out, if anyone has any advice, but in general I think I can recommended being a little bolder, simpler, thinking more "structurally", and perhaps in some cases making things a little brighter and cleaner, maybe sweeter, than you'd expect they'd need to be.
    I have yet to identify the problem(s). I've been struggling with this since I started combining materials and it's still perplexing me. I think my next step is to keep everything extremely simple and evaluate on my skin instead of paper. My most recent craptastic anomaly was an orris accord, I tried three different variations and they all turned out horribly. On a paper strip they all smelled great and one of them smelled almost identical to real orris root on a strip but as soon as I put it on my skin... yuck! I ruined one variant with too much benzyl salicylate, the other two have an as of undetermined adulterant(s) that is/are mucking up the works. I think the only way to figure this out is to start over with 3-5 ingredients and evaluate and then keep moving if all is well on the skin (it puts the perfume on it's skin!) then add another ingredient, evaluate, wait, add another, evaluate, wait, ad nauseam.
    Justin E. Beasley

  9. #9

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by JEBeasley View Post
    I've been noticing a huge difference between evaluating a fragrance on blotter vs skin and I'm wondering how much is in my head or part of my personal chemistry and what others experiences are. Quite a few times I've made something and evaluated it on blotter - the notes seem to transition nicely, the smell is very even and balanced, smells good.... but as soon as I put it on my skin for evaluation is smells horrible, uneven, muddy, sickly... I know that body heat, etc will make a difference in terms of evaporation rates but I'm not talking about subtle differences, I'm talking about the difference between "This smells nice, I think I'll stop here and ride it out" and "How could I possibly have thought it was even worth saving? Yuck!" kind of difference.
    I have the same problem, Justin. I've never understood why you see all these images of perfumers evaluating on strips when the smell on skin is so completely different. I once saw a quote that Jean Claude Ellena only ever evaluates directly on skin.
    Because of the body heat, the evaporation rate of all the different elements of a perfume all change and the whole balance gets messed up. it does for me, anyway. Maybe we're just hot blooded ;-)
    I only evaluate individual materials on paper and exclusively test perfume trials on my own skin.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    I have the same problem, Justin. I've never understood why you see all these images of perfumers evaluating on strips when the smell on skin is so completely different. I once saw a quote that Jean Claude Ellena only ever evaluates directly on skin.
    Because of the body heat, the evaporation rate of all the different elements of a perfume all change and the whole balance gets messed up. it does for me, anyway. Maybe we're just hot blooded ;-)
    I only evaluate individual materials on paper and exclusively test perfume trials on my own skin.
    I think the reason we see so many pictures of perfumers smelling strips is because perfumers are the only ones smelling paper strips.

    Hot blooded in many ways, yes, so there might actually be some truth to that When I was a kid I knew that if I feigned sick and went to the nurses station I'd be sent home because my temp always ran a couple degrees hotter than normal. I don't have a higher than normal temp as an adult but I do have really oily skin and tend be pretty active all day. Temperament wise this is also true however I don't think that would have an effect on perfumes, just the number of people in a ten foot radius at any given moment. I think from now on I'm going to have to try everything on myself, like you do... although I know I'm going to run out of room after an hour of blending. DAMN IT, bathing five times a day wasn't in the perfumers handbook!
    Justin E. Beasley

  11. #11

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    *A* reason to evaluate on strips is to be able to get away from it and come back to it with a clean nose later. And you can operate several smell trial sniffing simultaneously this way. It's MUCH harder to do that if it's on your skin, and surrounded by it.

    Conversely, when you are surrounded by it, you smell it at different levels, as your nose tires of the topnotes, and then you smell what is underneath that, etc.

    There are reasons to use both skin and strips, for differing purposes, when appropriate.

    These are all tools, learn to use them for what they are good for, and don't use them when it's not the right thing to do...
    Just like when you use a screwdriver instead of a wrench, because you have a screw to address, and not a bolt.

    PK
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    I do use the strips in order to come back to it so I guess I use them correctly in that sense. I use them to evaluate single materials, to evaluate the layering of blends, volatility and to determine how it dries down, how it smells the next day, etc. I just find it weird that something can smell good on a strip but totally crappy on skin.
    Justin E. Beasley

  13. #13

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Perfumers usually work on more than one project at a time, so of course they have to use smelling strips. It would get too confusing if every trial of every fragrance was being worn at the same time. Depending on the end use of the fragrance ( and please remember that the majority of Perfumery is not about Fine Fragrances) it will be tried out in its designed end product. If that end product is skin, it will be tried on skin. As has been commented, the effect on skin can be very different to the effect on a smelling strip, but at least the smelling strip gives a good indication whether it is working or not.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    Perfumers usually work on more than one project at a time, so of course they have to use smelling strips. It would get too confusing if every trial of every fragrance was being worn at the same time. Depending on the end use of the fragrance ( and please remember that the majority of Perfumery is not about Fine Fragrances) it will be tried out in its designed end product. If that end product is skin, it will be tried on skin. As has been commented, the effect on skin can be very different to the effect on a smelling strip, but at least the smelling strip gives a good indication whether it is working or not.
    Thanks for enlightening, David. That all makes sense now.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    Perfumers usually work on more than one project at a time, so of course they have to use smelling strips. It would get too confusing if every trial of every fragrance was being worn at the same time. Depending on the end use of the fragrance ( and please remember that the majority of Perfumery is not about Fine Fragrances) it will be tried out in its designed end product. If that end product is skin, it will be tried on skin. As has been commented, the effect on skin can be very different to the effect on a smelling strip, but at least the smelling strip gives a good indication whether it is working or not.
    Thanks, that helps. So, it sounds as though strips are used in order to give a very general indication of a perfumes performance but are not by any means an "end all, be all"- just another means to an end.
    Justin E. Beasley

  16. #16

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    So at what stage should we test on skin anyway? If I built a base accord with 10 ingredients, is it too late to test on skin? And if I start building up the middle notes, do I have to keep testing on skin?

  17. #17

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    When I was working, and I think this is true of most Perfumers, the only time I smelled on skin (or the desired end product) was at the end, when I was satisfied with the fragrance on smelling strip. Of course, once the fragrance was put into the final end product, it often needed more work.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    But isn't it easier to debug along the process, instead of on a finished product?

  19. #19

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Nizan,I don't know what you find to be easier, and I am not telling you to do as I did, all I can tell you is how I worked. I worked this way throughout my career, as did my colleagues. Maybe we had a better understanding of the individual ingredients, and so was less surprised by the results.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Then that's what I'll do too
    When coding, if you get to a point when you need to debug a finished code, you're pretty much doomed..

  21. #21

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Code? Coding? I don't understand what you mean.

    A fragrance is finished when everyone who smells it is satisfied with it. Very often, after a fragrance was acceptable on smelling strip it needed to be modified when put into its end product. Putting a fragrance into anything will change your perception of it. Every fragrance should be evaluated in the end product it was made for, doing the job it was designed for. However, it is far simpler to work mainly with smelling strips during the majority of the creation time. Especially when you have several projects on the go at the same time. I my post above I explained that is why we always used smelling strips. If you are only working on one fragrance at a time, and find it easier to put every trial on skin, then go ahead. Work however you like. You asked for opinions; I gave you mine, but you don't have to take any notice of it if you don't want to.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    By coding I meant programming..
    I guess I'll just check on skin at a few stages when I'm happy with the blotter.. Will make it easier as I'm not yet very familiar with all the chemicals..

  23. #23

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Don't understand "programming" either. Is this part of the way you create a fragrance?

  24. #24

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    No, I mean writing computer programs. There are bad practices there, such as evaluating your work only at the end, which can turn things into little hells. The best way is to break the task you want at achieve into smaller tasks/programs, and then evaluate those separately and in concert.. Though I'm talking about programs which consist of thousands of lines of code.. I guess if you know your chemicals well, you could suffice in evaluating the final version on the skin and correct it.. Which you obviously did with success

  25. #25

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    Ah I see Nizan; you equate creating a fragrance with writing a computer programme. That explains so much.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Blotter evaluation vs skin evaluation

    I compare, not equate..
    Another analogy - it's like writing a whole symphony on paper (or just on the piano), and then listening to it (with full orchestra) only when it's finished and start working things out from there.. better analogy?
    (Though I can't really compailn, I saw this one coming..)

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