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  1. #1

    Default Trying to understand notes...

    This is the worst hobby I've had. It seems to take an algebraic equation to determine what it is about a fragrance I MIGHT like. Lol

    How do you guys do it? What's your secret? Or do you just simply close your eyes to the notes and accords and buy indiscriminately?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Listed notes can be a helpful guide, and you'll get "clicked in" to more and more of them as you explore and compare your experience with notes listed, but nothing beats just smelling the actual fragrance. If you like it, wear it on skin. See how it develops. That's always primary.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Yes, for me too there's no substitute to smelling. I know that on average I'm more drawn to certain genres (leathers, green) and I dislike others (aquatics), but this is not a rule. And then there's simply no way of knowing how something would smell from the supposed notes alone.

    cacio

  4. #4
    hednic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by BeyondTheBox View Post
    Or do you just simply close your eyes to the notes and accords and buy indiscriminately?
    Speaking only for myself, after a little research, if the fragrance fills a gap in my collection within the criteria I have established, then yes - this.
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    I know exactly what you mean - I am pretty much obsessed with fragrances and feel that I should understand the notes but the problem is that I don't. On the odd occasion I can pick out distinct notes such as honey in Tobacco Vanille and black cherry in Pure Havane but that is it - there are so many fragrances that I am limited to deciding if I either like or don't like with zero ability to pick out notes

    I find it very frustrating but I am hoping that over time I can improve

  6. #6

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Part of the challenge is, at the bargain level, you're going to get more fragrances where the notes aren't as detectable since everything becomes a cheap mishmash, especially in the base. The low end stuff really gets pushed into playing it ultra-safe because they have to sell in huge volume in order to make a profit, and sadly, consumers at that price point want ultra-safe (ugh!). As you move up to scents that take more chances, things become more complex - or sometimes even more minimal - and notes start to become more obvious.

    One way to learn notes is to seek out fragrances that highlight a specific note, and then compare and contrast with other fragrances that have that same note. Even that is tricky, since a single note can be used many different ways, often smelling quite different... but still... it's a starting point. A super easy start there would be Molecule 01, 02 and 03, although that's really going super-minimal (but not in a bad way)

    Fragrantica is a better place to look up fragrances, in my opinion, because they list notes and they let people vote on which notes are actually detected. I don't use their message boards, but their database of perfumes tends to be very good, with much more information than the database here (sadly).

    The best advice is to sample a LOT - preferably at home rather than in a store. The Perfumed Court has horrendous customer service, but their selection is great. Decantshop has a smaller collection, but they're growing, and their customer service is excellent. Luckyscent can be great. Parfums Raffy is awesome for some things.

    Give some thought to what inspires you, and then seek out samples.
    "Follow your nose. It always knows." -- Toucan Sam

  7. #7

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Its a never ending lesson. A fun one though!

  8. #8
    kumquat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    LuckyScent has a code for free shipping- MUA. And you can pick a scent like 'amber' and all the scents with that note will come up.

  9. #9
    Basenotes Junkie Wheatstraw2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    There's really no substitute for direct experience via the nose. I know I like amber, I know I like vanilla, but seeing that a fragrance has those notes isn't enough to make a blind buy because you never know when the perfumer has decided to experiment - on your dime - with inserting some disgusting, repugnant, non-disclosed note in there to make it interesting. To him.

    I'm not that great at notes either but, in the fullness of time, I do intend to do a lot of single note exploration so that I improve on this.

  10. #10
    kumquat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    A simple way to start is go to the 'Hippie Head Shop' where they sell incense and start sniffing. Also your own spice cabinet.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    You have to remember that most perfume is made of totally synthetic ingredients these days.

    Take Acqua di Gio PH for example. Its note list says it has, amongst other things, Lemon, Neroli, Peach, Rose, Jasmine and Amber. Not one of these is likely to come from the real thing (Amber isn't even a "real thing", it is an accord rather than a note).

    So there is no substitute for actually smelling a frag, because the note list is really only a suggestion of what this cocktail of chemicals is supposed to smell like.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  12. #12

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    The listed notes can help guide you towards what you MIGHT like, but even that is of minimal help, since it isn't an ingredient list, but rather a marketing concept. Reviews are another help. Mostly, it's just about spending a LOT of money on samples - or blind buys.
    Seasonal favorites:

    1. Creed - Spice & Wood
    2. Creed - Aventus
    3. Dior - Vetiver
    4.
    by Kilian - Straight to Heaven
    5. by Kilian - Cruel Intentions
    6. Puredistance - Black
    7. Tom Ford - Plum Japonais
    8. Neela Vermeire - Trayee
    9. Creed - Royal Oud
    10. Chanel - Egoiste

  13. #13

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wheatstraw2 View Post
    you never know when the perfumer has decided to experiment - on your dime - with inserting some disgusting, repugnant, non-disclosed note in there to make it interesting. To him.
    YES! I love this quote. Its the absolute truth. If you really want to learn the notes, and I mean really, you could pay a lot of money for a note kit, I think that's what it called. It has a lot of the chemicals used in perfumery laid out for you to smell individually.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    A couple of days ago you flatly stated that you think anyone who spends more than $ 50 on a perfume is 'moronic' and now here you are asking those same people to indulge you and explain basic stuff because it's too difficult for you?

  15. #15

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Kumquat's kitchen cupboard idea is good, plus knowing what the different things commonly referred to in 'notes' lists smell like in reality is always handy but, as others have already mentioned, will not 'explain' a fragrance - smelling it will.

    Buying aromachems is a costly pastime, but can be helpful if one really wants to try to understand some aspects of the various concoctions being sold.
    Buying naturals is also a very expensive hobby and possibly less worth pursuing purely for reference since they are less commonly used, particularly in most of the less costly fragrances.

    Fragrantica's 'notes' lists are often inaccurate btw.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    I've learned the hard way that you have to test a lot. Get samples, apply a dab, then wait for the base notes. Something you may consider the greatest fragrance you've ever encountered can turn ugly quickly. For this reason, NEVER purchase from a store based on the opening. I've also learned that just using the notes as a guide to determine what you will like doesn't always work. It will get you CLOSER but can't be used to determine if you will really like the fragrance.

    Wellington Fragrances sells small bottles of fragrance oils at a VERY reasonable price. This can really help provide a better idea of the characteristics of the different notes.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Part of the problem is that there are synthetic versions of every note, it seems, so one can't tell what they really like. Lol oh well, I'm still hooked, for now anyway. Though this, like all things before it, will become obnoxious and worthless to me, eventually.

    Ugh, frustrating for sure.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    It ain't complicated. If it smells good, go for it.

  19. #19
    kumquat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Trial and error and yes, some considerable investment of time and money. As with any hobby, it depends on how serious you are.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Or if you are buying from an Artisanal Perfumer, engage them, and ask a couple of questions... If you are buying from a small business, than we are happy to help people learn and educate their noses. If people talk to me, and they need to learn some note, I'll often put in their order some single notes to experience, that way they can figure some of this out.

    A great way to experience single notes or notes you wish to explore, too, is to visit a Perfumer's Shop/Lab.

    I welcome visitors here to my Perfumarium in So Calif., with thousands of bottles, many variations on a note, different types of processes, countries of origin, and botanical varieites... The amount of materials available for Perfumery is mind boggling...

    Keep Smellin' Great!

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

  21. #21
    kumquat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    If there is a 'Bath Junkie' store near you (Google it) they have tons of essential oils to sniff.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    For me, it's easier to know what notes I definitely do not like. If I know that I can't stand tuberose, immortelle, and heavy doses of cumin, strong white florals and roses, then I at least know to stay away from frags with those notes.

    But I find it's really hard to tell what I may like based on note lists alone. You never know how the frag's going to be balanced according to those notes or if the notes are even going to be accurately represented .

    What works best for me is looking at the notes, excluding any frag with notes I really don't like, then reading reviews about the frags that have potential and getting a general idea of how they're presented. Then I can kind of get an idea for what I'll like.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by BeyondTheBox View Post
    Part of the problem is that there are synthetic versions of every note, it seems, so one can't tell what they really like. Lol oh well, I'm still hooked, for now anyway. Though this, like all things before it, will become obnoxious and worthless to me, eventually.

    Ugh, frustrating for sure.

    It may depend on your intentions - it's fun to me, the whole exploration & learning thing never stops and thereby sustains my interest.

    @ Buysblind - even that's not always helpful to me 'though - some perfumers compose very innovative creations that can turn a previously despised 'note' into a loved one.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Oh I'm with you buysblind, 100%. I always focus on the negative because it's easier to weed out based on that. Still, same thing applies...

    I loathe vanilla and Tonka, but not always, sometimes synthetic amber had vanilla or Tonka in it and I don't mind amber at all, usually. There really is no way to definitively determine what one does or didn't like in this, not without smelling it first.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by lpp View Post
    It may depend on your intentions - it's fun to me, the whole exploration & learning thing never stops and thereby sustains my interest.

    @ Buysblind - even that's not always helpful to me 'though - some perfumers compose very innovative creations that can turn a previously despised 'note' into a loved one.
    That's true...

    And sometimes tastes change as well. A note I had previously disliked will suddenly seem appealing, like oud, for example.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by kumquat View Post
    Trial and error and yes, some considerable investment of time and money. As with any hobby, it depends on how serious you are.
    He's already made it clear that we're moronic (his word) for ever spending more than $50.


    Quote Originally Posted by mr. reasonable View Post
    A couple of days ago you flatly stated that you think anyone who spends more than $ 50 on a perfume is 'moronic' and now here you are asking those same people to indulge you and explain basic stuff because it's too difficult for you?
    I agree 100%.


    Quote Originally Posted by BeyondTheBox View Post
    Part of the problem is that there are synthetic versions of every note
    What are you expecting when you limit yourself to nothing ever over $50?


    Quote Originally Posted by noggs View Post
    It ain't complicated. If it smells good, go for it.
    THIS. Compare what you smell with the info you find online.
    "Follow your nose. It always knows." -- Toucan Sam

  27. #27

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by L'Homme Blanc Individuel View Post
    He's already made it clear that we're moronic (his word) for ever spending more than $50.
    I think you're putting words in my mouth. I said I think it moronic to spend more than $50, I still do, but that's obviously based on my own perspective and for me. I don't care what anyone else spends on a fragrance. Your Money isn't mine and the way you spend it has no affect on my life so I quite literally don't invest that much thought into any of you.

    Trust me, I don't think your moronic. Even if I thought the way you spent money on fragrances was moronic that doesn't mean I think you are moronic. That's like when I tell a girlfriend she's being a b**ch and she makes it sound like I called her one... nope, huge difference. Mole Hill, meet mountain.

    Ps, moronic isn't my word, it's been in the dictionary since way before I've been around. And calling anyone else moronic weren't my words either, please see above for details.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by mr. reasonable View Post
    A couple of days ago you flatly stated that you think anyone who spends more than $ 50 on a perfume is 'moronic' and now here you are asking those same people to indulge you and explain basic stuff because it's too difficult for you?
    I think you missed something. I didn't ask anyone for any explanation. Rather, I presented an opportunity for those willing to provide any insight they might have.

    Nothing about this is basic stuff, I think if you knew anything, you'd know that... But, in case you're actually interested in being informed, do read the replies. Seems like most agree, there's no rationalizing, it's not a calculable risk, it's all trial and error...

  29. #29

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by BeyondTheBox View Post
    I think you're putting words in my mouth.
    Here's your exact quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by BeyondTheBox View Post
    I've never wasted a second of thought or cent on "niche", which is a laughable concept and term itself, or overpriced designer. I never support any fragrance that costs more than $50 for 2.5oz or greater.

    Consider it moronic to do so...
    Quote Originally Posted by BeyondTheBox View Post
    Even if I thought the way you spent money on fragrances was moronic that doesn't mean I think you are moronic. That's like when I tell a girlfriend she's being a b**ch and she makes it sound like I called her one
    ..facepalm.

    Edited to add: You learn notes by learning notes. Get out there and smell. Then look up what you've smelled and compare your impressions with the information you find about the scents you smelled.
    Last edited by L'Homme Blanc Individuel; 6th March 2014 at 06:58 PM.
    "Follow your nose. It always knows." -- Toucan Sam

  30. #30

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Exactly, read the quote again. I think you have very poor reading compensation.

  31. #31

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by BeyondTheBox View Post
    This is the worst hobby I've had. It seems to take an algebraic equation to determine what it is about a fragrance I MIGHT like. Lol

    How do you guys do it? What's your secret? Or do you just simply close your eyes to the notes and accords and buy indiscriminately?

    Future posters in this thread will all please stick to the thread topic without insulting each other - or check out some other threads instead.

  32. #32

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    All I can tell you is that I'm the one who said it and because of that nobody would know better what was said than me. If you didn't understand it the way I'm telling you it was then it's nothing more than a misunderstanding. I'd say I'm sorry for that but I'm not, there's no fault or blame to be had here.

    I can also say I learned something long ago, and that's never to bother trying to explain oneself to those who are committed to misunderstanding me.

    Now I'd like this thread to remain on topic. Thank you for the input you did provide on that.

  33. #33
    Basenotes Junkie Wheatstraw2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by mossyoakpenn View Post
    YES! I love this quote. Its the absolute truth. If you really want to learn the notes, and I mean really, you could pay a lot of money for a note kit, I think that's what it called. It has a lot of the chemicals used in perfumery laid out for you to smell individually.
    Very cool. Thanks. I'll make a little project out of it.

  34. #34
    Basenotes Junkie Wheatstraw2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by kumquat View Post
    Trial and error and yes, some considerable investment of time and money. As with any hobby, it depends on how serious you are.
    So true. People do focus on the money, of course, but it can also take years to put together a portfolio of stuff that you really like. It really is trial and error, and there's effectively an unlimited number of options.

  35. #35
    Basenotes Junkie Wheatstraw2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by BeyondTheBox View Post
    Exactly, read the quote again. I think you have very poor reading compensation.
    "comprehension"

    Oh, the humanity!

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    For me, this is NOT the worst hobby I've ever had. This is the most challenging hobby I've ever had.

    Take oud, for example. I still can't quite put my finger(nose) on it.
    New York Oud....rose with...is that oud?
    Oud Wood.... so that's oud?
    Aoud Leather.....that band-aid smell is oud?
    Velvet Oud....now it's that smoky smell?
    Oud/MFK....sorry, I smell patchouli.
    Oud/ADP...That sharp note, oh now it's a little smoky...oud?
    Royal Oud.....wait, smells like wood...oud?

    I was into leather note before this oud thing. When I'm done with oud, I'll move on to another note. What a great hobby. AND I smell good. AND yes, I spend more than $50 a bottle.

    If I thought that a hobby I was involved in currently was the worst hobby I got into.... I would quit.
    Last edited by 601red; 6th March 2014 at 10:57 PM.

  37. #37

    Default Re: Trying to understand notes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wheatstraw2 View Post
    "comprehension"

    Oh, the humanity!
    Lol yeah, I should know by now my auto correct on this smartphone keyboard is atrocious. Major editing required! Lol

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