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  1. #1

    Default Perfume for a rational person

    As a young adult, I now consider exploring the world of perfume. I respond well to pleasant smells, but the perfume world always seem to alien to me.

    Let's fact it. The bullshit-level in it is pretty high. I don't care about brand names. All those fancy bottles put me off. The whole fashion and trendy association it has; the bit of elitism, the fact it is considered a luxury item, I didn't respond well to that at all.

    I dabbled a bit in organic chemistry when I did my degree. I know scents are molecules. The idea a scent is 'synthetic' or 'natural' is a misunderstanding. I know what it means. Often, my experience with perfume has been some old lady passing me and around her is surrounded a cloud of perfume; an unpleasant one; call it synthetic. Probably the ethanol combined with the generic lavender or flower scents.
    Same with deodorants or air fresheners. This is why I always thought all perfumes smell bad.

    But one day at school a bunch of girls were sitting at the other side of the table. There was a strong perfume smell, something I never smelled before. The scent was way too strong, but it smelled very good. I should have complimented and asked about what perfume it was, but I didn't.

    Now I always have known that there are rare materials in nature that supposedly smell very good; be it ambergris or agarwood.
    I also know an endless number of molecules can be created in the lab; esters, ketones, phenols.
    I also know for most perfume's the ingredients cost almost nothing. A lot of brand name, bottle design, marketing and indeed some perfumes to have expensive ingredients.

    I have been trying to explore the world of perfume by reading about it online. But scents can't be described. The same scent even smells differently to different people.

    Sadly, a lot of these notes, like tonka beans, velvetier, musk, bergamot.
    I do know my spices and herbs smells, I like the smells of some a lot; but as food smells.
    I realize a perfume is a complex pallete of scents and that these also have their place.
    Sometimes I see perfumes with things like 'water'-notes. But I know for a fact that water is completely oderless.

    Is there anyone here who was in a similar position or can comment on this. I know what I have said may have offended some people.
    But there must be similar-minded people.

    I think I am looking for a casual daily use perfume. I think I don't want a flower based scent. Also, the leather and smoke scents don't sound like they are what I want.
    Not sure if I actually want a perfume recommendation.
    Some day I need to go to some shop, have the right baggage to cut through the bullshit and help direct the shop clerk, who probably is clueless, to what I need. I notice that in a lot of shops, all perfumes are behind the counter and you have to ask and request an item.
    When I buy something, be it food or something else, I pick it up and look at the ingredients. Sadly, that approach doesn't work here.
    I can look up what sounds reasonable online, but the odds a shop actually carries that are not big.

    If the market was designed around my mindset, all perfumes would be in the same generic bottle. All would be brand-less and all would list the molecules and extracts they contained.

    BTW, I am male. I don't believe in 'male' and 'female' smells too much, though.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Hi & welcome, Almeisan!

    Some of the smaller 'indie' or artisanal lines do still use quality ingredients and spend a massive amount of time & energy sourcing them, plus they often sell direct which cuts costs.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    What is your question?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    I didn't pose a question, as you seem to have noted.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    You said "the bullshit level is pretty high", I couldn't agree more.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    So, where shall we go from here guys?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Welcome Almeisan.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    I think most people here are unmoved by advertising and buy based on what they smell.

    Unfortunately, there is no way to understand what one likes other than smelling one's way around, and then smelling more. If you live near a big city, you should go into the various stores and smell. Eventually, you'll get an idea on what you like. Just looking at the ingredients doesn't say much, first because the official notes are just themselves advertising, they're not the actual ingredients, second, because the actual ingredients would be a list of dozens of molecules that wouldn't say much. Pretty much like trying to understand what a dish is from the list of its ingredients.

    As for the natural/synth, we've had many discussions, these terms can mean many things. the great classic perfumes are often a mix of synthetic and natural elements. The synthetics provide the structure and give longevity, power etc. The naturals provide warmth and complexity. Of course, natural per se doesn't mean much, most natural odors are quite bad and not interesting. But, as for the materials you suggested, there are natural substances that are composed by hundreds of different molecules that together smell wonderful, and they would be really difficult, if not impossible, for a perfumer to replicate.

    cacio

  9. #9

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Welcome to basenotes

  10. #10

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Welcome! I think you are overthinking it, or at least coming at it with a lot of associations and baggage (much of it generated by the industry's own marketing).

    Despite not having asked a question, I'm going to address my answer predominantly to the title of the thread.

    I think a rational person would enjoy Comme des Garcons take on scents. Yes, they have their own BS in a way, but I think their approach was a mind opener for me and one of the things that drew me into the world of scents. If not CdG, other niche companies not associated with the "luxury" or clothing design industry might also be a good place to start exploring.

    Another alternative is to go to decant sites like the Perfumed Court and Surrender to Chance and order small samples of anything you like the sound of. It helps to divorce the scent from the packaging and the whole department store experience so it might be easier to evaluate the scents on the basis of your own tastes.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Testing, testing, and testing once more. Then you will find your way through the jungle and get your cologne, or a few more. The path of discovery through the bullshit level is not all that unpleasant. Muddle on.
    There are no answers, only choices. (Stanislav Lem)

  12. #12

    Default Perfume for a rational person

    I agree with Cacio and Ursula. Only by diverse sampling can you discover the scent that suits you. Scent preferences do not follow rational rules (see 'left brain vs right brain' discussions).

    As a result is hard to suggest fragrances to suit certain personalities, despite this being a popular request. For example, anyone who claims to be 'indie' or hipster is automatically recommended something with incense or patchouli; rock band members, leather. From the few who bother to return to inform us of their eventual choices, they are just as likely to pick a popular gourmand.

    Making recommendations based on note preferences is somewhat easier. The problem with inexperienced noses is establishing what notes they like in the first place. Which can only be learned by extensive sampling. By which stage recommendations may no longer by required, if you stumble upon 'the right stuff'!
    Last edited by Marais; 16th March 2014 at 12:08 PM.

  13. #13
    Basenotes Junkie Curly11's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Maybe you ought to take note of odors that are pleasing to you despite their sources and start your search that way. For example, if you like the smell of cedar, you could look for fragrances that are cedar heavy.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by Almeisan View Post

    Now I always have known that there are rare materials in nature that supposedly smell very good; be it ambergris or agarwood.
    I also know an endless number of molecules can be created in the lab; esters, ketones, phenols.
    I also know for most perfume's the ingredients cost almost nothing. A lot of brand name, bottle design, marketing and indeed some perfumes to have expensive ingredients.
    Very true, but fragrances are created in "batches", with different combinations of different ingredients until the final product is made. So in the process of creating a new perfume, the creators may have gone through 100 different batches before finally hitting their desired fragrance at batch 101. Factor in all of those efforts, resources, and ingredients, and suddenly the costs seem a little more justified.

    I'm not saying that this automatically means Roja Dove should charge $500 a bottle, but I'm saying that in any production, there are tons and ton of invisible costs that consumers often don't factor in. As it stands, I'm never going to buy a bottle of Roja Dove because it's too expensive and I know for a fact that I can probably find the same level of quality for less than half of the price.

    By the way, you give off the stink of a banned member who made a new account just to post this rant and try to prove how super smart you are.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Welcome Almeisan,

    The general tone of your post tells me that you are quite jaded and skeptical towards fragrances and the industry. Sadly, you have more than enough reasons to feel this way. One thing to remember when you look at the fragrance industry, in particular the mass market releases, is that they are not made for the people of this forum. They are made for the average guy/girl who likes pretty things coming in a nice bottle; he/she likes their fragrances to be associated with a movie star or a model. They are, after all, selling a dream of who we can be if only we buy their fragrance. With the big brands it's always sales first, art second.

    Luckily, there are many niche brands that do the opposite - art first, sales second. I think you should be looking at those companies.

    You already have some experience with the mass market fragrances. Explore the more niche side of the industry, companies that look at perfume as art. Try something more avant garde and original. Here are a few suggestions:

    Comme des Garcons (as darjeeling else suggested)
    Etat Libre d'Orange
    A Lab on Fire
    CB I Hate Perfume
    Le Labo

    Have fun exploring.
    http://ScentBound.com
    Exploring the Art of Smelling Good

    "If a fragrance is too perfect or too pretty, it becomes boring. Fragrances like people have to have some kind of imperfection." - Frederic Malle

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by Curly11 View Post
    Maybe you ought to take note of odors that are pleasing to you despite their sources and start your search that way.
    That seems like a very rational way to go about things IMO.
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
    Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals don't warrant or deserve other individuals' acknowledgement or respect.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by Almeisan View Post
    I didn't pose a question, as you seem to have noted.
    That's why I asked for the question.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    now if you'd said an irrational person, I would have suggested Givenchy Pi

    honestly bro, +1 to the above comments. We can't solve your problem for you, you're going to have to do it yourself. smell your way through a whole bunch of things. Start at the mall brand level stuff and ignore gender and sales people, and then find niche stores in your area. also check my resource archive for self education in the just starting out section. It'll probably take a few months and a few hundred dollars but if you smell about 300-500 scents I think you'll end up with a pretty good idea of what you like or not and I'd suggest you buy 3-5 scents by the end that will cover all occasions and seasons. Good luck!
    NEW SPLIT - Tom Ford Lavender Palm 50ml in Atomizer - DISCONTINUED!. .

    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

  19. #19

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    I want to add that you can get ideas for sure from other people here and some direction but I kind of doubt that you could find 2 people that have say 10 or more scents who would have identical collections

  20. #20

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    This is a shortened version of the process that led me to my preferences/knowing enough to blind buy.

    Start off smelling in department stores or perfume shops. Start off with saying "I want to work out what scents I like and I'm not particularly worried whether I wear a man's or a woman's scent." Don't spray anything on your skin yet, take a note of what perfumes you liked and what PART of the perfumes you liked (the initial note, how it mellowed, the fruity smell, lemons, herbs, etc.) Then go to basenotes, look at the notes of the perfumes you liked and try to find other perfumes that are similar. See if you can fit them into a family (fougere/chypre/woody/ambery/green/acquatic etc.) Seek them out, smell them, see if it was THAT note that you liked or something else.

    (As an example: I really love both chypres and vetiver. So I will like a perfume that has EITHER of those characteristics, and I'll give it a try.)

    Educate your nose. Find out which perfume family/notes you like. I'd recommend starting off at a perfume stockist that doesn't have an allegience to a particular brand. If you get a good sales assistant, they should say "This is a woody chypre" or "This is an aquatic/ozone perfume." Say "I don't even know what family I'm looking for," and see how they react. If they say "Oh! Well, this is an archetypal fougere," then you know you've got a good sales assistant.

    (Some sales assistants are just there for their commission. Some are there because they know and love perfume and will be HAPPY to help educate you. You'll soon find out the difference.)

    Then try one on your skin. See how it ages, and whether you like it through all stages. Try it several times, at least a day apart and when you're in different moods.

    Then buy it. Wear it. See if it's your thing. If not, begin again.

    Also, you're wrong about water not having a smell. The smell of ozone, the smell of rain before a storm, the smell of the ocean and the beach--all of these are aquatic notes.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by Almeisan View Post
    ...
    If the market was designed around my mindset, all perfumes would be in the same generic bottle. All would be brand-less and all would list the molecules and extracts they contained...
    What fun would that be?

    Moreover, how useful?

    It sounds to me like you'd like to find a scent that smells nice to you, that others would appreciate, without paying an arm and a leg that you suspect goes to the marketing or packaging expenses you don't appreciate.

    I'd go to a large department store and walk up to male fragrance counter and tell them you'd like to buy a pleasant, popular male fragrance that is not too expensive. Have them spray those for you on a card, wait a bit and then try the ones you like on your wrist. Make sure to include Chanel male fragrances, which sometimes are kept at a separate counter. Work with the sales assistant by telling him or her what you like or don't like about what you smell. Then buy your choice right there and enjoy it.

    I suggest the male counter not merely because you are male, but also because those fragrances would seem to suit your tastes better.

    Popular fragrances are big sellers because they smell nice and are decently priced. I'd certainly go that way.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    the most rational thing i can suggest is to simply go smell a bunch of fragrances, discover what notes and accords you like, and seek out fragrances with those features. bypass all the ads and hype and do your own research WITH YOUR NOSE. work for me

  23. #23

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Try and get out of the malls and into either bigger stores or independent outlets where they let you 'breathe' and test fragrances on your own

    Sounds like the SA's where you go haven't got a clue and might as well be selling bathplugs!

    Hey -- you even grumpier than me

  24. #24

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Scents are not so much rational as emotional. You like how they smell or not. As such there is a rational process - but its the brain firings that make you like or not - cross references and comparisons - and then there is the marketing thing that affects some......

    Unless the SA is totally hot - they is no [rational] way she could make you want to smell like cow manure....

    But in total - Its not really a ration thing

  25. #25

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    @OP

    OH MY GOD. I am not in the exact same position as you, but I am in an extremely similar situation and I think you will like what I have to say.

    As I said, I am not in the exact same position. I do not have any Organic Chemistry background, but I am getting some Chemistry and Organic Chemistry books in the mail, and I read a LOT about Natural Products and Marine Natural Products, and a few other things around that.

    But I too recently got into Fragrance, and I do not like the idea that some hairy guys in turkey make most of the Rose perfume in the world, then companies like Chanel get credit (I know that not may not be accurate as far as branding, but I am not into the marketing side of this). Same way I don't like that Ethiopia started what we call "Coffee" and the slave trade basically stole that from them as a national identity.

    But anyways, back on topic.

    I am sure that with an organic chemistry background you have heard of what are known as "Designer Drugs" and maybe you have heard of the books "Pihkal" and "Tihkal".

    I think that using the whimsical nature of pihkal and tihkal's view of organic chemistry, plus fragrance = Designer Smells.

    If you like a certain smell, mess around with the structure and see what you can do.

    I am about to do some stuff to Cinnemaldehyde in a few weeks and see what happens. Just like decarboxylize it, or add something small to it, or something.
    Last edited by TheDopeyOne; 19th March 2014 at 03:19 AM.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDopeyOne View Post
    @OP

    OH MY GOD. I am not in the exact same position as you, but I am in an extremely similar situation and I think you will like what I have to say.

    As I said, I am not in the exact same position. I do not have any Organic Chemistry background, but I am getting some Chemistry and Organic Chemistry books in the mail, and I read a LOT about Natural Products and Marine Natural Products, and a few other things around that.

    But I too recently got into Fragrance, and I do not like the idea that some hairy guys in turkey make most of the Rose perfume in the world, then companies like Chanel get credit (I know that not may not be accurate as far as branding, but I am not into the marketing side of this). Same way I don't like that Ethiopia started what we call "Coffee" and the slave trade basically stole that from them as a national identity.

    But anyways, back on topic.

    I am sure that with an organic chemistry background you have heard of what are known as "Designer Drugs" and maybe you have heard of the books "Pihkal" and "Tihkal".

    I think that using the whimsical nature of pihkal and tihkal's view of organic chemistry, plus fragrance = Designer Smells.

    If you like a certain smell, mess around with the structure and see what you can do.

    I am about to do some stuff to Cinnemaldehyde in a few weeks and see what happens. Just like decarboxylize it, or add something small to it, or something.

    The O.P. didn't indicate that he needed advice on psychoactive drugs.

    This is a fragrance forum so we shall please stick to discussing fragrance.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by lpp View Post
    The O.P. didn't indicate that he needed advice on psychoactive drugs.

    This is a fragrance forum so we shall please stick to discussing fragrance.
    That was not advice on psychoactive drugs by ANY means, I apologize if it looked that way. That was advice on creating designer smells. They would not have the effects of the molecules in Pihkal and Tihkal, those books just lay out procedure for organic synthesis. If you use fragrances you will get different results than if you use a psychoactive plant oil, as they do in the book.

    This would open up entirely unheard of (unsmelled) smells.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Well, I'm sure some of us are basically in agreement with you.
    If you want to accustom yourself to individual notes there are ways to do so, check some of the other forums on the site for leads.
    If you want to find a scent to wear go to a department store and try different things out, but be patient, you can only try so many different scents at a time and a subtle scent may be almost undetectable next to a grosser one.
    If you just want debate maybe you should trim your post down to a clearer point.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by TLS View Post
    That's why I asked for the question.
    In fact there was a question in his post,
    Is there anyone here who was in a similar position or can comment on this
    Welcome Almeisan
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  30. #30

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    PerfumedCourt

    You can select specific notes and sample well known fragrances that boast these notes.

    But yes, I agree most of it is pure bs. It is not a rational thing to be into, but, then again, what is these days?

  31. #31

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by df91 View Post
    In fact there was a question in his post
    Strange as the OP stated there wasn't.

  32. #32
    Ursula's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    There is nothing rational about perfume except the price. Then it is a trade item in a market.
    There are no answers, only choices. (Stanislav Lem)

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by TLS View Post
    Strange as the OP stated there wasn't.

  34. #34
    New Member winesipides's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by Almeisan View Post
    If the market was designed around my mindset
    i feel you. i sometimes get down when the world doesn't operate the way i want it to, too.

  35. #35

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    You seem to have too much time on your hands

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    This topic is now going in the direction of mindless Bla bla bla.
    There are no answers, only choices. (Stanislav Lem)

  37. #37

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by Ursula View Post
    This topic is now going in the direction of mindless Bla bla bla.
    To be fair, it started out that way

  38. #38

    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    Quote Originally Posted by Marais View Post
    To be fair, it started out that way

  39. #39
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    Default Re: Perfume for a rational person

    More than once I enjoyed highly spirited debates on BN which were held like a fencing contest. That was worth while. Which is one of the good parts of BN I like.

    Here we have a topic started with great "meaning" and when replies come and are on the level for a while, the Original Poster remains strangely silent. So, since the topic is not nourished with more "meaning", the topic cannot but just fizzle out
    There are no answers, only choices. (Stanislav Lem)

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