Should you be more angry at our “nutritional experts” than IFRA?

Imagine if I had only sampled a few fragrances in my entire life?  Would you have much interest in reading my posts about olfactory concoctions that I hadn’t even read the note list for?  Something similar seems to be the case with some of our “nutritional experts!”  Now it’s likely that more than a few of you have heard about the “big news” about coconut oil being “very unhealthy,”‘ brought to us by the good folks at the American Heart Association.  For those who don’t know, the claim is that coconut oil raises your LDL, and that this is unhealthy because of correlations to “heart disease” or “cardiovascular disease.”  Moreover, this is not a new claim, so one question I have is, why is this being touted as such?  Let’s put that aside, though, as there are more important things to try and understand here, IMO.  One thing I do want to mention is that these “experts” also claimed that:

Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil…

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/16/coconut-oil-isnt-healthy-its-never-been-healthy/402719001/#

There’s a huge problem with the initial claim, and it’s’ not something new either, which is that the evidence suggests in the strongest possible terms (IMO – you can do your own research on pubmed.com, for example) that LDL is only a problem if it gets oxidized (which is likely why so many antioxidant studies suggest eating antioxidant-rich foods is important if not crucial to long-term health – there really isn’t any other reasonable explanation, from what I’ve seen).  Here’s some evidence from 2011:

In the new study, Chen’s group measured the effects of a diet high in oxycholesterol on hamsters, often used as surrogates for humans in such research. Blood cholesterol in hamsters fed oxycholesterol rose up to 22 percent more than hamsters eating non-oxidized cholesterol. The oxycholesterol group showed greater deposition of cholesterol in the lining of their arteries and a tendency to develop larger deposits of cholesterol. These fatty deposits, called atherosclerotic plaques, increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Most importantly, according to Chen, oxycholesterol had undesirable effects on “artery function.” Oxycholesterol reduced the elasticity of arteries, impairing their ability to expand and carry more blood. That expansion can allow more blood to flow through arteries that are partially blocked by plaques, potentially reducing the risk that a clot will form and cause a heart attack or stroke.

But a healthy diet rich in antioxidants can counter these effects…

http://www.physorg.com/news169978803.html

And what’s worse, there have been studies which appear to show that low LDL levels are associated with a higher risk of cancer!  Now one question I hope you are asking, because I’ve been asking it for well over a decade at this point, is do these experts know about the evidence, or are they just spouting old notions without question (the kind of material you’d read in a college freshman nutrition textbook)?  For example, there is this, from 1981:

Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 34: 1552-1561, 1981.

“Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian
atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and
Tokelau Island studies13.”

Ian A. Prior, M.D., F.R. C.P., F.R.A. C.P., Flora Davidson,4 B.H. Sc.,
Clare E. Salmond,5 M. Sc., and Z. Czochanska,6 DIP. AG.

ABSTRACT: Two populations of Polynesians living on atolls near the equator provide an opportunity to investigate the relative effects ofsaturated fat and dietary cholesterol in determining serum cholesterol levels. The habitual diets of the atoll dwellers from both Pukapuka and Tokelau are high in saturated fat but low in dietary cholesterol and sucrose. Coconut is the chief source of energy for both groups. Tokelauans obtain a much higher percentage of energy from coconut than the Pukapukans, 63% compared with 34%, so their intake of saturated fat is higher. The serum cholesterol levels are 35 to 40 mg higher in Tokelauans than in Pukapukans. These major differences in serum cholesterol levels are considered to be due to the higher saturated fat intake of the Tokelauans. Analysis of a variety of food samples, and human fat biopsies show a high lauric (12:0) and myristic (14:0) content. Vascular disease is uncommon is both populations and there is no evidence of the high saturated fat intake having a harmful effect in these populations.

And for those who are not aware, the scientific method is not something that is supposed to be based upon textbook claims.  Instead, you can’t assert that something is a theory (the highest level a scientific claim can attain) if there is any clear evidence against it.  But go ahead and try to get one of these experts to speak to these kinds of well-done studies and you’ll likely be ignored, “stonewalled,” or told to go read a textbook.  One of the “major” studies experts like these have cited for strong evidence (and probably still do) is Ancel Keys’ “Seven Countries” book (published in 1979).  On page 135 of that book, there is this statement:

At levels below 200 mg/dl, decreasing cholesterol concentrations tend to be associated with increasing rates of non-coronary death.

Isn’t it cute that they never mention this finding in that study?  The folks at IFRA are rank amateurs compared to many of our nutritional experts, IMO, but what you eat is clearly more important (in the context of health) than what fragrances you wear.  After doing a huge amount of research on the subject, I concluded (over a dozen years ago), the the major problem in the context of “chronic disease” is chronic inflammation, and that the underlying problem is oxidation that occurs in the body when you eat food items that are easy to oxidize (fried food is really bad). Again, you can do your own research (using obvious search words), and you’ll discover findings such as:

Eating an apple a day might in fact help keep the cardiologist away, new research suggests.

In a study of healthy, middle-aged adults, consumption of one apple a day for four weeks lowered by 40 percent blood levels of a substance linked to hardening of the arteries.

Taking capsules containing polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in apples, had a similar, but not as large, effect.

The study, funded by an apple industry group, found that the apples lowered blood levels of oxidized LDL — low-density lipoprotein, the “bad” cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol interacts with free radicals to become oxidized, the cholesterol is more likely to promote inflammation and can cause tissue damage…

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121002143220.htm

So, while IFRA compliance irritates me slightly, claims made against healthy food items is much worse, IMO, and may lead to a many needless deaths and untold suffering (note that fish oil is very easy to oxidize and isn’t necessary, if you eat a diet that does not include items that are easy to oxidize, again, based upon my research).  I do not have any chronic diseases, and I am thin (in my 50s); I just had an eye exam and no signs of macular degeneration or glaucoma were found (and I have avoided major sources of omega 3s since 2001!).  Within the next month, I intend to review a few fragrances from a new niche perfumer who is using the older materials and is not in compliance with IFRA, for those who are interested.  Sometimes I think there is more “gray matter” in a coconut than in the heads of some of our “experts!”  Needless to say, I’ve been consuming coconut oil and shredded coconut (about as much as I find to be tasty) for many years now, and it does a great job moisturizing the skin as well.

NOTE:  For those of you who want more information on this subject, the more unsaturated a fat source is, the more susceptible it is to oxidation, which is why I don’t even consume olive oil (there’s also a problem with adulteration in the olive oil industry), though high quality olive oil possesses its own powerful antioxidants to protect against oxidation (processing can destroy or strip out these compounds).  Sesame oil seems like it doesn’t lose too much of its antioxidant protection, relative to other highly unsaturated one (canola, soy, vegetable, corn, sunflower, safflower, etc.).  And no, lard is not healthy, because it has no antioxidant protection and in the US is about 39% saturated, so I don’t even consider it a “saturated fat,” and question why any “scientist”‘ would (it’s more useful as a culinary term).  Often, it is sitting in hot warehouses, which can lead to it oxidizing in the packaging!  Why do our scientists often use lard as the “saturated fat” in their studies, where they show that “saturated fat is unhealthy?”  Again, it seems that they simply don’t know basic facts, ones that most people probably assume they learned as undergraduate college students!  Coconut oil is about 92% saturated, and seems to be highly resistant to oxidation (I’ve had jars of the stuff for years and it’s still good).  And the pork eaten by some native peoples is much higher in saturated fatty acids because guess what?  They feed their pigs (and chickens) coconut!  They also tend to eat the animals right away, and with food items that are rich in antioxidants, so the “balance” in their meals that contain pork may be in the pro-antioxidant direction, whereas an American who eats a meal rich in lard or pork is likely going to get a powerful pro-oxidative effect.

 

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Do we need to be discreet when discussing discreet scents?

On a recent Basenotes.net thread, a question was asked about “discreet” scents:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/433269-Discreet-subtle-modern

The title was simply “Discreet/subtle modern.”  As one might expect, there were some rather questionable recommendations, such as Eau Sauvage, which is not only non-subtle, but it’s certainly not “modern.”  One person even suggested Pi, which is about as far from discreet as one can get!  I mentioned this, which seemed to offend him, and then I pointed out that if you are going to make such a suggestion you might want to ask yourself how that scent would fare if the opposite question were to be asked.  In this case, Pi would likely be suggested by many if the question involved the loudest scents that are widely available!

But the point I tried to make to the OP (and anyone who hadn’t thought of it previously) is that if you are like most people, and have a limited budget, then you might want to spend very little on a discreet scent that is “modern.”  I mentioned the $4 bottle of Cuba’s Silver/Blue (100 ml) I purchased recently.  It reminds me a bit of Allure Homme Sport, but simpler and more subtle, though of course one could spray more to achieve the desired effect (a major advantage of “super cheapos,” again, if you are on any kind of budget).  Someone took issue with my comment, at one point saying:

You’re not really asking why somebody would buy something nice for himself, are you? Yikes.

I guess some people see ‘discreet’ as being a bad thing. Not me. Not at all.

I never said it was “bad” to spend $80 or more on a scent that one likes, just that it might cause problems if another scent subsequently was desired but the budget had been “broken” on that discreet scent!  As most others might, I can go on a spending spree whenever I like, at least until the credit card is declined, but is that the standard for all such recommendation threads?  It sounds ridiculous to me, and what this person did was to set up a “straw man” argument, but he only made himself look desperate, for those who still respect logic to a large degree.  After all, if I could get a Lutens type scent at the dollar store, you can bet I’d stock up on them.  I wouldn’t say to myself, “I should buy something nice for myself, and there’s nothing nice at the dollar store.”  These are just smells.  You can either get what you want for let’s say $10 or less or you can’t.  If you can but you don’t you are wasting your money – at least admit it, for goodness sake!

My favorite approach lately to this “discreet scent” idea is to spray the back of my jacket with a scent that I think will be interpreted as “nice” by most people while I spray what I want to smell on my chest (when I go out in public), because to me the issue is the scent, not the strength.  One can always do things like spray into the air and walk through the mist to substantially lessen the strength – why not just wear what you want?  Just figure out how to make it subtle?  This brings me back to the Pi suggestion.  The person later claimed that one could simply wear Pi discreetly, which is true, but it’s not what the OP asked.  By contrast, my argument is that if one can barely smell a scent, why not spend very little on a “super cheapo” that gets the job done?  I can’t imagine that a subtle citrus/vanilla-dominant scent that is barely detectable is going to smell that much “better” if Lutens rather than Cuba released it (assuming Lutens would release such a scent)!  If it’s a tobacco-dominant scent, then by definition it would have to be quite subtle or else it would not be “discreet,” and again, Cuba has several scents that would function quite well in this context.

If one encounters an expensive, discreet scent that smells unique (and pleasant) then I think most of us would spray more, because we would not want to barely be able to spray it on rare occasion throughout the day.  Thus, it would no longer be “discreet!”  On the other hand, there are plenty of gourmand, oriental, etc. niche scents that people say are too weak, but it seems clear that the OP was seeking something like Prada’s Amber Pour Homme rather than something like Muscs Koublai Khan, and I’d guess this is the “modern” part of the request.  But this brings up another point I have made in the past, which is that if you want to ask for suggestions you should tell people what your experiences are – this person only mentioned two scents, and the obvious question is, if you found two that work for you, why not just wear those?  The OP’s question was actually:

What’s your preference in this area?

But everyone seems to have taken his post to mean what would they recommend to the OP.  For me, the suggestion would be the same.  In any case, I think there is often “subtext” to these kinds of threads, something along the lines of, “what do the people who really know great fragrances reach for when they are thinking they should smell modern but discreet?”  They don’t seem to want to know that there are really cheap alternatives, because when smells are really light not much is going to be detected – a musky vanilla is common, for example.  You don’t need to spend $400 per 50 ml bottle for that effect!  However, I do think there are more than a few people who do believe that there is a major difference between this and that very light scent of the same genre, as they may have been convinced by the marketing.  Nobody wants to admit this, though, and I’d guess that in most cases, once you have “bought the hype” it’s psychologically difficult to say to yourself, “you know, this Cuba scent would serve the same purpose and nobody’s going to be able to tell the difference, if they smell it at all.”  In many ways, life can be a constant struggle against self-deception.  For others, though, there is a preference to live in that happy land of nonsense businesses market to us all the time.  For those who have plenty of money, this may be less of an issue, but for those who don’t things can get bad in a hurry!

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L’Air du Desert Marocain reconsidered.

or:

Because my overall sensitivity has been quite low lately, I thought it might be a good idea to revisit L’AdDM.  I was able to obtain a decant and apply it as a spray, which sometimes results in different perceptions.  My very old vial sample was empty, only some fumes remaining, and so for all I know I now have a formulation that is at least slightly different, for “full disclosure.”  One thing that motivated me to do this is the number of positive reviews on the major sites.  Do people think they must like this one or else they would be a “newb,” or do they really enjoy it?  If this was in a bottle by Playboy or an obnoxious celebrity brand, would it have gotten the same kinds of reviews?  I don’t think so, mainly because I have some really interesting “super cheapo” scents that don’t get this kind of reaction.  An example is Black Oud by Remy Latour.

Right after application I was surprised because it didn’t seem as harsh or “chemical” as in the past, but again, that’s probably due to the low overall sensitivity to smell I’ve had lately.  Then I began to pick up the old perceptions, but with less strength.  There’s still the “cleaning chemicals” element, the dry spicy quality, the light but obvious florals, etc.  One way of thinking of this is it’s like looking at a painting with a transparent plastic sheet over it.  A new observation was that L’AdDM is sort of like a bunch of old scents combined, a bit of this here and a bit of that there.  Toujours Moi, for example, shares a bit in common with it.  However, L’AdDM adds a smoky quality that I haven’t encountered in any of the vintage scents I’ve tried, other than perhaps Smalto Pour Homme, though in SPH there’s a leathery/lavender smokiness that’s quite different from what I get in L’AdDM.  The smoky and somewhat “chemical” vetiver-ish element lasts a long time (with one full spray to the chest), with a touch of something ambery lurking in the background, but there’s not much sweetness.  I really don’t like this rendition of the vetiver and amber-ish combination; it’s kind of like a stew that went terribly wrong (though it does get a bit powdery and less “in your face” after a few hours).

So, would I like a bottle of L’AdDM, assuming my sensitivities stay where they are now?  No, I still prefer Black Tourmaline to it, and there are in fact still things in L’AdDM I flat out do not enjoy, which would make it a “dealbreaker” even if it sold at a third of its current retail price.  I’d much rather wear scents like the aforementioned Black Oud or Toujours Moi (I obtained an ounce of the newer TM for about $2 not long ago from Fragrancenet).  Like vintage Cool Water, which I’ve attempted to like on several occasions, there’s something about L’AdDM that does not work for me, almost as if it were designed to tease me with some “good” things but be unpleasant overall.  I think the reason is that it’s the composition that does not work, rather than the notes.  And on some level it reminds me of some “ground-breaking” mainstream releases, like Cool Water, where dihydromrycenol was used in large amounts.  This will make the scent stand out, but it will also make some of us say, “this is too much – I can’t stand this scent!”

And what about this scent evoking a desert landscape?  Perhaps a desert located next to a squalid third world city would work, as the chemical element (perhaps combined with the spices) suggests sweat shops to me.  The ambery element provides a sense of a cheap diet lacking in nourishment but rich in sugar.  I envision a person aged beyond his or her years, stumbling out of a decrepit building that serves as a factory (which might make trinket type items for the wealthy), in his or her filthy, old clothing (bearing chemical and other stains), after working 17 hours straight, then trudging through a makeshift village at the edge of a desert, collapsing onto a pile of straw, and trying to eat some lousy food.  No, I don’t really imagine this, but the point is that it’s just as realistic (IMO), if not more so, than what we have read in many reviews of L’AdDM (the wonderful spice market next to the picturesque desert stuff).

I think I understand what Tauer was trying to do here, and I can understand why some really enjoy it, but those who do should realize that it’s just like any other scent: some will like it and some won’t.  Those who call one of those olfactory concoctions a masterpiece should consider how those who don’t like it perceive it.  Just as few like it when a scent they enjoy is called garbage or something along those lines, going too far in the other direction is questionable.  If you want to call it a masterpiece, then go ahead and explain exactly why you think it is so far above all the others of the same genre.  For example, if it’s unique and really interesting for a few minutes, then just say that!  It’s often the case that such scents have wearability issues, but few mention this.  How many have said something like, “wow, this is so unique and interesting, a real masterpiece for a few minutes, but most people, even aficionados, probably won’t enjoy wearing it beyond that short period of time?”  Yes, people do get “carried away” sometimes when the smell something very different and compelling, but that’s one reason why I wrote this post, that it, to point out to such people that you don’t want to make those who dislike a scent feel like their noses are “broken.”

NOTE:  There have been some threads asking about a scent similar to L’AdDDM, and after wearing 1881 Bella Notte Pour Homme, I’d say that is a good inexpensive one (currently) to sample.  It’s more along the lines of a combination of Brit for Men and L’Instant Pour Homme (with a similar but subdued anisic element), but it does have at least a hint of L’AdDM, possessing the dry wood or incense, the slight powdery quality, the spices, and a mild floral.  The differences are that the 1881 flanker is considerably weaker and possesses a bit of a musky lavender that is, of course, very common in designer “masculines.”  That might be good or bad, depending upon personal preferences, obviously.

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A Review of Sauvage, after an application on the skin.

I obtained a sample of Sauvage in a swap, and finally got around to wearing it normally, though that may not be the correct way to phrase it.  What I did was to apply such a tiny amount that I couldn’t feel it and didn’t see any liquid on my chest.  I was afraid I might really sicken myself if I applied more than that, and of course I could always apply more if necessary.  Well, the very good news is that it is outrageously strong.  A few ml of Sauvage might be enough for a lifetime, if you prefer a lot of variety, as I do!  And more good news – I didn’t sicken me (though my general sensitivity has been low for a while now), though after a while I wished I hadn’t tried it again, as it was not pleasant.

I didn’t get much in the way of fruity top notes – it seemed to just go straight to the drydown, at least within a few minutes, which could be good or bad news, depending upon one’s preferences.  The bad news is that it smells like something I tried back around 2008 and 2009, and thought was far too synthetic to take seriously.  It is “sticky”/blob-like and reminds me of chemicals one might smell in a hair products store.  I have tried to remember which scent it was that smelled like this nearly a decade ago, but I couldn’t seem to place it.  There was Samba Viva for Men, which I really disliked, but I think it was a bit different.  Could it have been something by Liz Claiborne?  Wait a moment – what about Adventurer II by Eddie Bauer?

This really surprised me.  I thought it might smell like a simplified Horizon by Guy Larouche, perhaps a a bit synthetic-smelling, because that was my impression of Sauvage on a smelling strip.  I also thought Sauvage’s composition was unique, in terms of using a lot of ambroxan in a “mainstream masculine” scent.  Another idea is X-Centric by Alfred Dunhill (which lists ambergris as a note) or John Sterling:

https://www.parfumo.net/Perfumes/John_Sterling/John_Sterling

I decided to do an ankle sampling of X-Centric, Sterling, and Adventurer II, the idea being that even if they are not all that similar, there might be a similar strong accord, or that the experience might jog my memory regarding another scent I tried long ago that is more similar to Sauvage.  Starting with Sterling, this is the least like Sauvage, but it may indeed have a touch of ambroxan in it (I obtained my Sterling bottle early in my forays into this hobby and before I had sampled Green Irish Tweed, so to me Sterling is more GIT than GIT is, in terms of the name being consistent).  X-Centric is closer to Sauvage, but it doesn’t have nearly as much ambroxan either, and it has a clear fruity/sweet element either doesn’t exist or doesn’t last long in Sauvage.  Adventurer II is the closest, and probably what I was thinking about, as it does seem to contain quite a bit of ambroxan (though it’s got a bit of sweetness I don’t get in Sauvage).  After a couple of hours it seems fairly close, but not quite as strong (and so, possibly wearable by me).  On a positive note, I think that these three smelled more natural to me than at any time in the past, so I may want to wear them occasionally (they had been relegated to my “sell when the price is right” bin due to being too synthetic to be bearable for hours).

My opinion of Sauvage has changed with this regular wearing, from perceiving it as having a niche-like quality to it being unwearably synthetic-smelling (and not original in any significant way).  However, as I said when I only smelled the strip, it could still be good as a room spray.  After this “regular wearing,” though, I don’t think I want to smell it any more, at least if I can avoid it.  This is why I like to try a scent in different ways and on multiple occasions (spread out over months if not years).  In this instance, though, I would not wear it again because it was an unpleasant experience (even with the near “homeopathic” application!).  I wonder if we will see a few more “major” releases where a strong accord from generic scents of the past is “amped up” beyond belief and presented as something “edgy.”  My thought, though, is why would anyone want this?  Isn’t the point of a “designer” scent that it possesses some complexity?  Didn’t the “drug store” scents get criticized for being simple compositions (some called those “cheap and cheerful”)?  Also, I wonder if Sauvage was designed to smell better on a card, because it smelled a lot better to me that way!

NOTE:  I still think Playboy’s Berlin has some strong similarities to Sauvage, and may be best for those on a tight budget (if the person likes this kind of scent), but I’d say Adventurer II is clearly the most similar, in my experience, though it does seem to have some juniper berry included, so if you hate that note you might prefer Sauvage.

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My favorite scents are masterpieces, but yours are not!

A few years back, a Basesnotes.net member kept creating new posts, with titles such as, “Is Egoiste a masterpiece?”  After doing this a number of times, the person “disappeared.”  Clearly, it was likely a case of “trolling.”  Not long ago, someone (for whom English did not appear to be his/her native tongue) created a similar post about Terre d’Hermes.  There are a few interesting aspects to such a post, one being the question about whether these olfactory concoctions should be considered a craft rather than “fine art” (though, ironically, the concept of a masterpiece derives from the Western craft tradition).  Should a slightly innovative composition be considered for this status (assuming one accepts the application of the masterpiece concept in this context)?  Then there is this statement, from a response on that thread:

…I agree that contemporary is also a good description for Dior Homme Parfum, and that it is indeed the better masterpiece, or pièce de résistance, if one prefers.

That’s the first time I’ve ever heard someone say that a scent is a “better masterpiece,” but it goes to show how much confusion such claims can generate.  However, the aspect I want to address here is what creating a thread of this sort implies to readers.  And yes, I understand that many people tend to get “carried away” when they first experience a new scent that is very different and that they enjoyed.  That does not, however, explain why a small number of them create new threads about their experience on a site like BN.  And if you suggest this is the case, many will apparently get angry.  How dare you rain on their parades!  Do such people ever ask themselves, “what about the people who don’t think it’s a masterpiece – how will they feel – am I essentially calling them fragrance plebeians?”  By contrast, I either like a scent enough to want to own quite a bit of it (let’s say at least 50 ml of a strong one) or I don’t.  So, why do some people feel the need to “defend” the scents they view as masterpieces?

Coincidentally, I was reading a book at the same time that this TdH thread was created on BN.  It’s called “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents” (by psychologist Lindsay C. Gibson).  I heard it referenced and my first thought was, “my parents were about as emotionally immature as I could imagine,” so I read some reviews and decided to acquire a copy.  It is very good.  It’s concise, provides plenty of professional references (many that I encountered in the past), and “hits the nail on the head” time and again.  For those interested, I think I was spared some of the worst effects of this situation because my parents were so over-the-top immature that even as a young child I could only take them so seriously.  Thus, I didn’t develop the guilt that many others apparently do (many such parents are rigid, stern, uncompromising, etc., but mine were literally like selfish, obnoxious teenagers much of the time!).

In any case, in this book, the author brings up a concept she called role coercion:

Role coercion occurs when people insist that someone live out a role because they want them to. As parents, they try to force their children into acting a certain way by not speaking to them, threatening to reject them, or getting other family members to gang up against them. Role coercion often involves a heavy dose of shame and guilt, such as telling a child that he or she is a bad person for wanting something the parent disapproves of.

I think this is what happened, at least to some degree, on that TdH thread.  And I was wondering how many who behaved in a way consistent with this quote were raised by emotionally immature parents!  Of course, it’s clearly immature to want someone to share your tastes, but that is what emotionally immature parents tend to expect of their children.  And that would seem to be what emotionally immature people do in their interactions with others, in general.  I think the fragrance hobby is a great place to see the differences in the emotional maturity of people.  Some have become quite upset by the undeniable reality that these are just smells, for example.  And this brings me to what seems to be a major distinction, which is that some people don’t seem to have much of a concept of the self.  They use the reactions of others to provide clues about who they are or what they should think or do.  In the book, Gibson articulates the concept of mirroring:

…emotionally immature parents expect their children to know and mirror them. They can get highly upset if their children don’t act the way they want them to. Their fragile self-esteem rides on things going their way every time.

It’s funny on some level that some people care so much about what anonymous internet people think.  The more mature approach, it would seem, is to state your case and not worry about it, but many if not most seem to need a sense of engagement, as if they belong to a kind of virtual family (one wonders how much of a role this played in the last Presidential election!).  In that thread, I made the point that it’s important to respect the opinions of others as opinions, even if one did not agree with it, but that is not the way the world is seen by emotionally immature people.  They also tend to think that they can read minds, whereas since I suspected the person who created the thread might have been a “troll,” I raised the issue but did not argue that he/she must be one.

Of course I can’t say this is what the creator of the BN thread was thinking, but the thread didn’t make a lot of sense.  If he wanted to know of a scent like TdH but that many thought was superior, he could has simply asked that question!  There’s no need to make the masterpiece claim without even explaining why you think that is the case!  At least the BN member from a few years ago asked if this or that scent was a masterpiece, rather than announcing it as if he she were some sort of unquestioned authority (as emotionally immature parents view themselves relative to their children).  So, I hope that this post will help others think about what might be going on in the minds of people who make odd claims, but it also might help some recognize that their parents are emotionally immature, and so there’s no reason to blame yourself or allow them to “guilt trip” you.  That would be a much greater accomplishment than criticizing yet another “masterpiece” thread posted to BN!

And it’s not just one’s parents who might be immature.  Your boss, friend, teacher, religious leader, “significant other,” etc. might possess some of these qualities, obviously.  In fact, in that BN thread (and also on an old post of mine here), I used an analogy that upset some people, which is not common; usually people simply agree or disagree that an analogy is useful).  The context was being asked to keep trying a “masterpiece” scent until I finally “got it” (which I did with Cool Water, at least five wearing spaced across years, and never liked it, though I do like some similar ones), and so I said something like, “we don’t ask people who are heterosexual to try gay sex until they enjoy it, do we?”  Of course, the opposite would apply to gay people, though unfortunately there are still more than a few people, apparently, who actually believe gay people just need to try heterosexual sex until they finally enjoy it!  The point is that there is no reason for a mature person to react with horror at such an analogy; you either think it makes sense or you don’t.  I think it’s a great analogy because I actually tried Cool Water several times whereas I simply have no intention of trying gay sex, as is probably the case for most people who think of themselves as heterosexuals.  I guess these people can’t stop themselves from imagining certain sex acts, and if that is the case, then it’s a clear indication the person has some maturity issues to work through.

On a side note, I have been asked how it was possible for someone like myself to exist after being raised the way I was, and Gibson has a statement in her book that again seems to be spot on:

If you had an independent, self-reliant personality, your parent wouldn’t have seen you as a needy child for whom he or she could play the role of rescuing parent. Instead, you may have been pegged as the child without needs, the little grown-up. It wasn’t some sort of insufficiency in you that made your parent pay more attention to your sibling; rather, it’s likely that you weren’t dependent enough to trigger your parent’s enmeshment instincts.
Interestingly, self-sufficient children who don’t spur their parents to become enmeshed are often left alone to create a more independent and self-determined life (Bowen 1978). Therefore, they can achieve a level of self-development exceeding that of their parents. In this way, not getting attention can actually pay off in the long run.

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Which bouquet would you like, the Hammam or Edwardian one?

This was a decision I contemplated recently, as good deals arose, first for a bottle of Edwardian Bouquet and then Hammam Bouquet.  The former was marketed to women in 1901 and the latter to men (starting in 1872, not that it still smells exactly the same; several reviews claim it is noticeably different from the pre-2003 re-release).  As you might expect, I decided upon Edwardian Bouquet, though I could have purchased both.  The story of this choice may be helpful to others (I did not sample either one before the purchase) beyond my impression of Edwardian Bouquet, and so the reason for this post.

EB has “green notes” listed, and some reviews mention galbanum, which makes sense (I’m not sure what other “green notes” existed for perfumers in 1901), and I was seeking a scent with a fairly strong galbanum note in certain kinds of compositions (EB being one, from what I could tell by the reviews).  Here is the list of notes provided by Parfumo.net:

Top Notes Top Notes Bergamot, Green notes, Hyacinth, Mandarin
Heart Notes Heart Notes Jasmine, Rose, Ylang-ylang
Base Notes Base Notes Amber, Oakmoss, Musk, Patchouli, Powdery notes, Sandalwood

Some reviews called it “soapy” and there was a mention of a lot of jasmine, so I was a bit concerned, but with claims of it being “unisex,” I decided to take a chance on it.  There seem to be two bottle types, and since I thought I was getting the older formulation, that tipped the balance in favor of the purchase.  Here is my Fragrantica.com review of it:

I obtained a bottle of what I think is the older version (the smaller of the two pictures above). It’s definitely animalic, but not on the same level as vintage Kouros, for example. I also get the galbanum, but it’s stronger in vintage Halston 1-12. There’s a bit of the kind of chypre “bite” I have noticed in “feminines” from the 1970s, but again, it’s not as strong here. The florals seem heavy and perhaps a touch wet at first, but then feel drier and not as heavy after an hour or so. It is a bit musky and powdery, but I haven’t noticed any clear wood notes. And there was something that was almost but not quite minty. In any case, it reminds me a bit of vintage Aramis Herbal 900, in terms of the overall composition, and if you like that one I think you would find the drydown of this one to be at least somewhere around unisex. I like it and likely will keep it, despite having other, similar scents. I guess it’s the kind of scent that I would part with if a great deal came along, but I would prefer to keep it.

Though some claimed it was very strong, I did not get that impression at all, though I would not call it weak either.  My guess is that it came across as strong because it is an uncommon composition by today’s standards.  As one Fragrantica reviewer said:

What’s missing from this bouquet are the sweet florals…

Without much sweetness, the notes likely feel too strong to many who don’t have much experience with vintage.  With most vintage “feminine” chypres, there often seems to be something that’s irritating, perhaps strong aldehydes in most cases, but that’s not present in EB, thankfully.  I can appreciate the notes in a more straightforward way in EB, which is a major positive.  One Fragrantica reviewer said it has a strong “bite” to it but also that is has a milky quality.  I don’t know how a scent could have both – I certainly can’t remember one scent I have encountered that I would characterize this way, but EB is neither, for me.  Now, moving on to HB, there were some major concerns for me, based upon what I read.

Some pointed to a strong alcoholic or even whisky-like quality and at least one person spoke to the rose being more like geranium (which I tend to dislike).  I have encountered this before, in Acteur by Azzaro, and rarely am I in the mood to wear it, so I certainly don’t need another of this type (I have 100 ml of Acteur).  I also don’t like the comments about noticeable lavender.  The notes for HB are:

Top Notes Top Notes Bergamot, Lavender
Heart Notes Heart Notes Iris, Jasmine, Rose oil, Cedarwood
Base Notes Base Notes Amber, Musk, Sandalwood

Over time HB seems to go in a musky, animalic direction, but the strength falls off more than a little.  I wouldn’t be surprised if these are rather similar, compositionally, a major difference being a geranium-dominant rose note and lavender replace galbanum and a more floral rose.  If I was a huge fan of this sort of thing (or didn’t already possess bottles of vintage Acteur, Herbal 900, Halston Limited, etc.) I probably would have purchased the HB bottle too (another issue was that it was a splash bottle unlike the EB, which was a typical sealed spray bottle).  As things stand, I think I’ll layer EB with Acteur and say to myself, “this must be at least as good as HB by itself.”

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My Iso E Super Irritation Chart.

There was a recent thread on Basenotes. net about the aroma chemical, Iso E Super (IES), and I thought it would make sense to point out some of my observations.  First, though, I’ll mention others have noted the IES amounts in scents that contain the most of it (though it’s more “restricted” these days and hence the same scent may now have a different amount than when it was originally released; Terre d’Hermes seems to be a good example of this).  I’ll quote the Wikipedia page on IES:

The fragrance Eternity by Calvin Klein (1988) contained 11.7% Iso E Super in the fragrance portion of the formula…

The male fragrance Fahrenheit (Dior, 1988) is 25% Iso E Super. (of the fragrance compound)…

The men’s fragrance Encre Noire (Lalique, 2006) is 45% of the fragrance compound, Iso E Super…

The very popular Terre D’Hermes (Hermes, 2006) contains 55% Iso E Super (of the perfume compound)…

The men’s fragrance Fierce Cologne (Abercrombie & Fitch, 2002) is 48% Iso E Super…

Creed’s Aventus (2010) contains 18% Iso E Super in its fragrance compound.

I included these because I have tried them all, though I don’t remember Aventus that well.  I do have the “clone,” Club de Nuit Intense for Men, and that one does have a quality I associate with IES, but when I’m in the mood it is bearable.  However, Fierce, vintage Fahrenheit, Encre Noire, and TdH all have been overbearing, though a 2011 TdH batch seemed just a bit less irritating than the one I sampled in 2008 (IES seems to bother me as much now as it did back then, despite changes in sensitivity to other things or overall).  On that BN thread, I was criticized for pointing this out, since (obviously) Fierce was never 48% IES.  Instead, this refers to the fragrance portion of the liquid content of the bottle.  I didn’t think I had to point that out because it has been pointed out many times before, on several fragrance sites and blogs.  Do I have to mention that these are all alcohol-based scents too?  Note that it doesn’t really matter in terms of a chart, that is, if one has the percentages and can correlate those to personal irritation, that’s all that matters in this context!

In any case, Eternity for Men is an interesting example, because I have found that while it doesn’t have the overbearing quality that the “IES heavy hitters” do, there’s something about it I really don’t like that seems to go beyond the notes, as if there was a kind of fume-like element.  On the other hand, Aventus wasn’t especially irritating in that way, so it may have been a combination of aroma chemicals in Eternity, such as calone, dihydromyrcenol, a woody/amber, and/or some sort of “white musk.”  Clearly, there’s no way to know for sure without proper testing, and even so, that would only be useful for a particular individual.  What I can say with confidence is that the fume-like quality I detect in the IES heavy hitters is IES, because they are a rather diverse group of fragrances, and I don’t have a problem with the major components of those in other compositions that are similar.

For example, I have more than a few scents where vetiver is obvious, such as Guerlain’s, Vetiver de Puig, Monsieur Lanvin Vetyver, and vintage Carven Vetiver, yet none of these have anything remotely like that fume-ish quality in the IES heavy hitters.  I remember a very strong fume-ish quality in a bottle of Le Roi Soleil Homme (Dali) around 2008, and since it is similar to Eternity, my guess is that there is more IES in that one.  Of course, until someone tests it with MS/GC, only a few people probably know (and there may have been significant reformulations since that time).  In the meantime, one might want to consider the list of scents with lesser amounts of IES, which you can find on the Perfume Shrine blog:

http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/2009/03/iso-e-super-its-merits-its-faults-geza.html

Eau Duelle by Diptyque is listed, and I wore that not long ago.  I was surprised by how long it lasted without becoming too heavy, syrupy, or outright vanillic, and so I’d guess IES was used here in a subtle way.  And this is where I’d like to tie things in with my recent post about “niche Guerlainade.”  That is, there are quite a few scents that are dominated by a kind of fume-like, dry wood.  The Perfume Shrine blog lists Kyoto (55%) and Jaisalmer (51%), for example, and I don’t remember liking any of that series due to the dryness mainly.  However, I had dab samples and only dabbed a tiny amount on my wrists, which is a mistake I made as a newbie.  In any case, since then, a number of niche companies seem to think it’s a great idea to use this as a kind of base and add a little of this or that to the composition.  I think Stash is a good example of this, and since it should be widely available (if it isn’t already) you might be able to sample it a local stores.

NOTE:  The word “chart” in the title was used loosely.  The point I want to make is that it seems like it’s not just the amount of IES but how it’s handled, though my guess is that somewhere in the 10-20% range is where I begin to encounter irritation, and by 40% or so it’s unbearable.  Also, whenever there is a thread on this subject on BN it seems like one or more people mention scents that may not contain much if any IES (but may contain a lot of other aroma chemicals, such as calone or dihyromyrcenol).  This has led to some “doubters” claiming that one can’t smell IES or that it’s pleasant, as if there would be something major wrong with them if anyone found it irritating.  Apparently, they have never heard of chemical sensitivity syndromes!  On the other hand, some of us may still retain an ability to detect unhealthy substances – until more research is done, the picture might not be clear (at least to my reading of the existing evidence).  My grandparents, for instance, would never admit to being irritated by an odor.  When my grandmother burned something in the kitchen, it was “she’s got the fan on now, there’s ‘no problem.”  And when we drove in their car and it was sucking in fumes from a truck in front of us, they would say they couldn’t smell anything at all.

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