On verticals, horizontals, and “air fresheners fragrances.”

You may have heard some people describe a personal fragrance as smelling more like an air freshener than anything else, but they rarely explain what they mean. Generally, this probably means that the scent is blunt and simple. For example, a pine-like smell might have just one aroma chemical, or else that aroma chemical is used in large amounts, whereas in a personal fragrance there would be other aroma chemicals used in significant amounts and the pine-like one would be used in a considerably smaller amount. However, this could a matter of what the commentator is used to, and may not be helpful to those who enjoy simpler fragrances.

There is another possibility, however, though it involves my way of understanding fragrances, which I’ll need to explain first before moving on to how this applies to the air freshener claim against some fragrances. My idea involves how one’s “mind’s nose” experiences the scent. For example, why do certain smells register as earthy or heavy to us while others smell light and uplifting? In another way, some fragrances seem to be very rich and full, while others feel somehow bare or barren. Because of this, and also because of the way my nose actually felt while smelling certain fragrances, I came up with the idea that it’s helpful to think in terms of vertical and horizontal fragrances.

A strong horizontal fragrance, for example, might feature a prominent rose note, which feels like it’s stretching the nose out from side to side. There isn’t much in the way of feeling that the nose is being pressured downwards or upwards, however (unless there is also a prominent vertical note). Citrus often has a vertical sensation, upwards, whereas a strong amber note seems to register as vertical downwards to me. Even if you do not feel the exact same way, this idea can supply you with a tool that can be used to understand why you want to like a fragrance, and think that you should, but for some reason find it at least slightly unpleasant.

Now back to the air freshener claim. The fragrances that have had this effect on me seem to be way too horizontal or vertical (upwards, but never downwards). This may be why they come across as unsophisticated and more worthy of a room rather than a person. Of course, the reason can still be that on aroma chemical is used in large amounts, and little or no others are being used to “smooth it out.” In any case, this blog is about personal fragrances, and the point of talking about air fresheners is to try and consider helpful ways of thinking about why one likes or does not like fragrances. With my vertical/horizontal idea, I am able to quickly rule out or rule in fragrances that I sample, in terms of whether I might might to bull a bottle some day. Hopefully, this can be helpful to you as well.

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