Recently, I sampled a friend’s scent, “Pirates of the Caribbean.” I didn’t expect much, but it seemed decent for a “cheapo” (he paid about $9 for a 100 ml bottle). It was a bit weak with one spray, though so I went ahead and used three more, assuming it was really weak. That appeared to “do the trick” and I think I was able to get the most from the scent. As you might expect, it didn’t exactly smell “natural.” In fact, for a while (perhaps half an hour, if not more), it came across as outright “chemical.”
When it finally settled down, it was clearly an aquatic. The notes for it, according to Fragrantica.com, are:
Top notes are apple, chamomile and bergamot; middle notes are jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, rose and orchid; base notes are heliotrope and tonka bean.
It has a powdery quality, so perhaps one can chalk that up to what heliotrope, but otherwise, it seemed like calone (or a similar chemical or chemicals) was the main component to the drydown. It wasn’t noticeably sweet nor fruity nor floral (other than for the powdery quality, which I’ve noticed some people describe as “floral”). If one was outdoors and moving around a lot, I’d guess the “chemical” qualities would be less obvious. I don’t have much experience with these kinds of scents, but I doubt I would ever think about reaching for it if I owned a bottle (other than for layering purposes, which I’ll address in a forthcoming post), mainly because for me it’s “just a smell.”
That is, once the “chemical” aspect has largely dissipated, it smells fairly “nice,” but there’s no dynamism, little depth, and hardly any richness (though longevity is good). Interestingly, I don’t find it as irritating as the wood note that dominate many recent (and much more expensive) scents. As you may have read somewhere, it’s not uncommon for “untrained noses” to think that natural oils smell “synthetic.” If the natural is not diluted to a certain degree, it can come across this way, but even if diluted to a degree that works for some people, others may find it highly unpleasant. A good example is geranium, and it’s no surprise that geranium is used in some “smelling salts.”
This brings me to an article on Fragrantica. The subject is Caron’s Pour un Homme. In this article the book, “Scent and Chemistry” (2012) is cited and the author of the article states:
It [Caron Pour un Homme] consists of 41% of Lavandula oil (Lavender hybrid) and another 31 % of lavender oil, giving a total of 72%…
It’s no secret that more than 300 different components have been found in lavender oils from different countries…
Pour Un Homme de Caron shows how to decorate lavender while leaving it very natural. One could easily note the camphorous resinous rosemary and transparent sage; the powdery sharpness of carnation that resembles the smell of a wet piece of chalk, extended by warm coumarin; in the sillage, the last exhalations of freshness seamlessly become the warm confidence of cedarwood and coumarin, neutral and soft musk and warm vanilla. But anyway, the cologne shows that it was made as masculine…
After reading this my first thought was, “did this person ever smell the newest formulation of CPuH? This formulation smells more “synthetic” than that Pirates of the Caribbean scent (at drydown)! Now of course it’s possible that I am one of those people who find the “natural lavender” in CPuH to be irritating. I certainly find anything camphorous to be a problem. However, I have a formulation from the 1960s, and that seems to be a good example of what is being claimed by this author (though this person did not specific the formulation). That is, I do find it a bit camphorous, or at least camphorous-like, and it’s usually too much for me, but the new one comes across as the kind of “sticky, synthetic mess” one might read about in reviews of recent Boss scents!
Does anyone believe that the 1934 formulation smells nearly identical to the latest formulation? Even if the lavender smelled exactly the same, this does not mean the other components can’t “spoil the broth?” Let’s take a look at the full note “pyramid:”
Lavender, rosemary, bergamot, lemon.
Nutmeg, rose, palisander rosewood, cedar.
Vanilla, tonka bean, moss, musk.
So, while you may enjoy the strong qualities that some naturals possess, the idea that the newest formulation contains the same ingredients used for the cedar note, for example, is one that requires verification. Those of us, like myself, who are clearly more sensitive to substances that tend to “spike out” are not smelling olfactory ghosts. And why the author claims CPuH is “masculine” is beyond my comprehension, as this is one of the few “men’s” scents that many women claim to view as unisex or even more feminine than masculine! Is the author aware of this undeniable fact? In any case, my guess is that actual pirates were used to very strong odors, and so probably would have preferred a scent like CPuH, but I wonder what they would think of the odd “plastic” type quality of the newest formulation.
NOTE: I acquired some rosewood essential oil that is supposed to be “high quality” a couple of months ago and mixed it with vodka because I seem to like rosewood notes (Equipage and Cereus #12, for example). Even diluted this was a bit harsh, and to generalize I’d call it harsh woody/floral. However, it also smelled rich and deep. I probably created at least an EdP concentration, and I could have diluted it some more to see what that would be like but I didn’t think I’d like it by itself (and I needed to use the bottle for something else). This experience is consistent with what I wrote above, I believe, and it also supports my notion that dynamism is very important to my enjoyment of these concoctions (which can vary significantly in terms of complexity).