Do you feel lost in your fragrance “journey” ?

I’ve seen several posts about this idea on and over the years (the latest one in the Men’s Forum at Basenotes was titled, “…and with that, I’m good, I think”). In some cases, a person will bid adieu to the hobby entirely, though many have come back to post again a year or so later. Here, I’d like to speculate about the possible reasons for this sense of being lost, feeling loss, or finding little enjoyment, as one once did, and to offer some suggestions about how to avoid these thoughts. It seems that in many hobbies (or even in one’s professional life or personal relationships) there is often an initial period of excitement, novelty, etc., but this always wears off to some degree, so this phenomenon will account for some of the posts on this subject.

Others, by contrast, seem to feel a sense of betrayal, as if they had paid their dues and deserved to be rewarded by some special revelation. I got this sense especially from those who claimed to have obtained a huge number of samples, including just about every niche scent, and then within a couple years began to complain that there wasn’t enough variety or that things had become stale. Perhaps we can chalk that up largely to unrealistic expectations. Still others experience something clearly “real,” such as how many scents smell very similar to ones they have already sampled. These tend to be the “blind” bottle buyers, and seem to be more likely to buy designer scents. The difference between the two is that the former think about scents are “art” whereas the latter seem to be more interested in scents on a practical level (the obvious example being trying to impress those of the opposite gender).

Whatever the case may be, I have never experienced any of these things, perhaps because I already had in other endeavors and knew not to think much of them, and that they would soon pass. However, this is particularly easy for me to do with scents, because this hobby is not like most others because other than using your hand to press down on a button once a day, there isn’t anything else you need to do! If I get the sense that things are “played out,” I usually spray on something that I haven’t worn in a very long time, often one that is different from the ones I think I like most. I keep these “oddballs” around mostly for that purpose, but if the right swap offer was made I’d certainly go ahead and move them out. One example is Burberry’s Sport Ice for Men while another, very different one is 273 Men by Fred Hayman.

What words of advice can I offer? Don’t try to rush or force anything; make sure you look forward to wearing a scent on any given day. If you don’t feel that way, don’t use anything but keep some different samples in your pocket so that if the desire strikes at some point you will be able to satisfy it. And if you don’t feel any desire to wear scent that day, you saved some money, so you can tell yourself it’s a “win-win situation.” Another idea is to tell yourself to embrace the unusual, for example, I’ve found it’s common to really like a scent during the first few wearings, but then the experience can become stale for the next few. However, it seems like several months later, the “magic” often returns! Conversely, I’ve found that some scents were not appealing at first but “grew” on me after coming back to them every few months or so. With certain kinds of scents, for instance the dense/heavy orientals without an animalic element, it took time for my mind to be able to separate the notes out enough so that they didn’t come across as a cloying blob.

If you are going to be home for a while, another idea is to take the caps off of your bottles and smell them, one at a time (use coffee beans or take some time before going from one bottle to another). Doing this may provide you with a desire to wear one of them, perhaps because you think you are smelling something in it that you didn’t during previous wearings. Still another idea is to use smelling strips (I use acid-free, archival paper and cut it up) to give yourself the experience of several scents in one day. You can keep them in ziplock bags and open them up when you want to smell them. If you have a desk job, you can place one on your desk and let the scent come to you in subtle form. This may lead to a newfound appreciation of the scent, especially if you are more of a “top notes person.”

A final idea is to construct a “monclin.” You can see pictures of one that is simple and easy to make at:

Basically (in case the link goes “dead” at some point), you drill a hole through the bottom of a piece of glasswork that is the shape of a goldfish bowl (perhaps a goldfish bowl would be fine). Don’t ask me for details because I’m no “handyman” and remember that you do this at your own risk! You spray the scent on a smelling strip and then stick it in through the hole so that it remains vertical (in other words, just make sure the part you sprayed gets pushed through, while the rest of the strip can remain outside, on the bottom of your “bowl.” You then smell it through the open part of the bowl, not the other end, where you drilled the hole (though you can try that too and see what it’s like). I have yet to try this, but others seem to think it allows you to smell the scent with more intensity (and I’d guess better note separation as well). If you have any idea of your own for “spicing things up,” please go ahead and mention it in the comment section for this post.

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