Should you “test” scents on smelling strips?

On a recent thread, a person stated:

I always prefered testing on skin, but sometimes you just want to try more than 4 scents, so i end up taking test cards with me.

Well this time, i learned the hard way not to do it : A montale scent that i bought last month ( Montale Aoud Mayyas) which has Orange and Cedar, smelled absolutely divine on paper and the orange lasted a good couple hours on the card. I bought it based on the card test because i didn’t think my skin will end up devouring the orange note completely, but it did.

On my skin, the orange disappears literally in 10 seconds (!) and i’m greeted and left with heavy cedar and a large dose of ISO E . I don’t like it at all…

This is yet another one of those situations in this hobby that probably drive the “OCD” people away in droves! There is no “right answer” here, and there isn’t enough time in one lifetime to test every scent released in a year fully, let alone in different ways. Then there is the possibility of layering, creating your own scents, trying to determine differences in formulations (if any), and of course if there is something about you that is different, such as if you are beginning to get a cold, though I’ve found that sensitivity, either to the scent in general or to certain notes/accords, can vary for no apparent reason. So, all I can do here is to provide some ideas, and you can decide what worth these may possess.

This Basenotes member found himself in a situation that I have, that is, there are a bunch of testers in a store and you’d like to try more than a few. You can spray them on various parts of your body, but even if you don’t mind the possibility that some people may stare at you when you are spraying your ankle, the major problem is that the scents can interfere with each other (and you might also forget which one you sprayed where!). Of course, you can ask if they have small sample bottles, as some Sephora stores do, to my knowledge, but if that is not the case then you need to decide how to handle the situation.

My “solution” (if you can’t get samples made up by the clerks) is to bring small, zip lock bags with pieces of paper in them. I was able to get a hundred bags on ebay for less than two dollars total, for instance. The paper I use is from unbleached coffee filters. This thin paper seems ideal for my technique, and you can write the name of the scent on the paper if you know which ones you will be sampling. It may be best to store them in the refrigerator, in another zip lock bag, such as a sandwich style one, and I try to get the air out of the bag before zipping it up. When you are read to sample it, you then use a common funnel, which you can usually get at dollar stores, last time I looked.

Just stick the paper in the “neck” of the funnel and hold it up to your face. Then use your other hand to waft air through the neck of the funnel. I have found that the scent is quite well represented this way, but I have yet to try it with ones that have a high iso e super content. It may be that the more synthetic scents smell very good on paper strips, but soon become irritating to people (like me) who dislike such compositions. In fact, that would explain why these scents seem to be popular, such as Terre d’Hermes, though I think top notes play a more important role in this context.

There was also a recent thread at the Badger and Blade site, which concerned the best way to apply a scent. My opinion here is that you never know, but if a scent seems to “heavy,” and you dabbed or splashed it on, then you should try a fine mist atomizer application. In general, I’d suggest a fine mist application, unless you already know you don’t like it that way, of course. Even so, I might try it again that way if I thought my sensitivity might be the problem rather than the application technique. In many cases, such as with vintage Kouros, I lightly tap on the sprayer button because I want less than one spray, due to the strength of such scents. Just don’t get discouraged, because it seems almost all of us are trying to figure these things out, and it’s not “just you.”



Filed under The basics.

2 responses to “Should you “test” scents on smelling strips?

  1. I’m not sure that I understand your technique, bigsly. The scent is floating in the air, not contacting your skin, right?

    Paper tests are nearly completely meaningless to me. The worst of all are the powdery “testers” in magazines, but even the strips at places like Sephora provide a radically different experience of the perfume than does a full wear.

    Dead trees are not human skin! To be honest, I have been occasionally annoyed when companies have sent me strips of scented paper in small cellophane envelopes, and I would never base a purchase on such a “sample”. They really mean next to nothing to me…

    • I agree that a “regular” wearing is best, but that’s not always practical, and with my paper sample technique, I can send people free samples for more or less the price of a stamp, so it’s good in that context as well. I have never gotten a paper smell from the unbleached coffee filter paper as I have with the “official” strips, so that’s a major advantage for me as well. As to the technique, I would agree that it might not be great for capturing the full top note experience, but I do think it helps me at least determine what a scent is like, particularly the base. That is very important when I hear reviews that are contradictory. For example, if one person claims that a scent is like Roadster and another person says it’s very close to Cool Water. Please try it once and let me know if it is at all useful to you !

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