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The difference between magical thinking and reasonable assumptions.

Magical Thinking

First, I suggest you read this blog post before reading what is below the link:

In graduate school, I learned to investigate phenomena beyond textbooks.  Basically, you learn about the existing notions, then study the primary sources for yourself or possibly do studies/experiments.  And you have several professors who serve as advisors, formally or informally.  Today, you can do much of this online, but a major problem is that many if not most people don’t appear to be able to distinguish between those who have expertise and those who are pretending to be experts (if they are able to gain access to someone with expertise).  In this online world, though, one can try a different approach (at least with the fragrance industry, that is, if it’s difficult to find experts who are willing to speak “on the record” if at all), which is to go to the relevant “online communities” and ask questions.  If you don’t useful responses (even if that is due to poor explanations rather than lies, misinformation, etc.), you can then present a tentative conclusion of your own.  If it turns out you are incorrect, that’s fine, because you want to learn something, not impress others with your “expertise,” which you don’t possess, at least officially, anyway!

Now as to the subject of claims about how these kinds of olfactory concoctions are being “debased” or otherwise modified significantly in recent years.  Perfumer Chris Bartlett, who has been willing to answer questions at if not elsewhere as well, has stated that traditional chypres are no longer possible if current IFRA guidelines are used, for example.  But this is not only an issue for naturals; there have been complaints about the “restriction” of certain aroma chemicals going back at least about a decade!  And one in particular that comes up every once in a while is Terre d’Hermes; the claim is that the first formulation contained 55% iso e super (ies), but that it contains much less now (along with other ingredients, possibly).  This passage from a blog is often quoted in this context:

Here is a table of Top Ten Fragrances with Regard to Their Content in Iso E Super
No., Fragrance Name (Company, launch year), Iso E Super
[NB. the percentage is in regards to compound, not diluted ready to use product]

1 Molecule 01 (escentric molecules, 2005) 100%
2 Perles de Lalique (Lalique, 2007) 80%
3 Poivre Samarcande (Herme`s, 2004) 71%
4 Escentric 01 (escentric molecules, 2005) 65%
5 Terre d’Hermes (Hermes, 2006) 55%

And here is the kind of concern one might encounter (from nearly five years ago):

A lot of people are anosmic to ISO E Super, (as well as certain musks).

I own Encre Noir and sometimes have a hard time detecting part of it.

It has a lot of ISO E Super in it. Terre d’Hermes does as well and the amount of ISO E Super in that one used to be even more significant until regulations curbed the usage of the chemical somewhat.

Are a lot of people anosmic to it?  I would guess that is the case and would be very surprised if it weren’t the case, but could it just be the amount that is the issue?  Anyway, the key point here is the obvious misinformation, apparently: TdH has not been restricted in terms of at least the ies content.  Most likely, this person saw somewhere that TdH is 55% ies and that ies was now restricted to 21.4%, and so assumed that recent formulations were much weaker.  And one has to question why IFRA bothered to create this new guideline, since if a scent is “100% iso e super,” and it’s 80% alcohol, that means it’s around 20% ies (a bit less due to the water, and possibly preservatives/dyes), still under 21.4%!  What is the purpose of a “restriction” that has no practical use?  It almost seems like it was intended to be misleading.

Before going further with TdH and the ies content, I think it’s worth addressing an area of misunderstanding.  When one looks at a list of ingredients on a typical EdT box of today, which would be something like “alcohol, water/aqua, parfum/fragrance, linalool, citral, eugenol, etc. (possibly a preservative like BHT would be included, towards the end, and dyes are common, such as “yellow 5,” or tartrazine).  This means there is more alcohol than anything else in the liquid (clearly, the glass that comprises the bottle is not relevant here).  Also, sometimes we see “alcohol, parfum/fragrance, water/aqua…” and then the other items.  On the box, we see a number with the percentage symbol next to it, usually somewhere between about 80 and 90 (for EdT and EdPs), which represents the alcohol content.  Thus, we know that everything else listed makes up about 20% or less of the liquid within.

So, why does anyone need to tell us that TdH isn’t or never was 55% ies; why don’t they say that the portion that is “parfum/fragrance” may be 55% ies?  Isn’t that obvious to those who know what “90% vol.” (or whatever amount) means?  But things get worse, for as you can read on the FromPyrgos blog page cited above, some people want to talk in terms of “of compound” and “in concentrate.”  This may be the way perfumers talk to each other, but it is not what consumers have been and are exposed to, and it obviously can be quite misleading!  For example, let’s say you buy some peach ice cream with this list of ingredients: “milk, cream, sugar,  artificial peach flavoring, peaches.”  When you eat it, you see bits of actual peach, but even in parts of the ice cream that have no visible peach bits, it still tastes strongly of peach.  You know that the artificial peach flavoring is responsible or largely responsible, because, being listed in front of peaches, there is more of it in the mix, and it’s not something you would be able to see, unlike the actual peach bits.  Do we need someone to talk of the elements that comprise the ice cream as “of compound” or “in concentrate?”  Wouldn’t that just make things very confusing for many if not most consumers?

Now let’s take a look at a comment by someone who was confused about this about a decade ago:

I was quite scared and angry until I read the comments. I thought it was a ban – I guess I jumped the gun. If comments by Alex (I’m guessing our Alex?) are correct, then the limitation on Iso E Super will be 20% of the final composition. He says that TdH is only 5% Iso E Super in the final product (based on 50% of concentrate, at 10% EdT strength). He says we should worry if the regulation was, say, 10%.

But why does it need to be that complicated?  You can look at the box or label and see what the alcohol content is, and then you know the parfum/fragrance is going to be a percentage of whatever is left over, so if it says “90% vol.,” you know that the parfum/fragrance is less than 10% (since there is also water, probably other things that contribute to the smell – certainly the case with TdH – and possibly dyes and preservatives as well).  But now we need to understand what IFRA restricted, in terms of ies, and that apparently means that it can be used up to 21.4% of the entire content, not just the parfum/fragrance content.  Since TdH was one of the strongest ies scents of all time, “restricting” the ies content to about four times this is not what most people would consider any kind of “restriction” (especially compared to their most recent guidelines on oakmoss!).  Thus we have another area of potential confusion.  Also, if you want to blame someone for a reduction of ies in TdH, it would seem that would be Hermes.  Why not send them an email and ask, as a BN member did with Creed’s “80% natural ingredients in the parfum portion” claim” (to be addressed in my next blog post)?  And do we need to know about “dilution?”  Of course it’s diluted with the alcohol – otherwise when you sprayed it you would never know what you would be getting!  It would be like the peach ice cream, at least in terms of being able to pick out the peach bits and only eat those (if you decanted it and if the undiluted parfum/fragrance portion was visible).

As to claims that some people are imagining ies content, we only have to turn to the Wikipedia page on this aroma chemical to see the reality there:

…chronic exposure to Iso E Super from perfumes may result in permanent hypersensitivity

And as is stated there, it seems to be dangerous as well:

Iso E Super is toxic and bioaccumulative in aquatic organisms and the environment, and is suspected to be bioaccumulative in humans.

So, I certainly would be one to applaud more restrictions of iso e super (because I seem to be one of the people have become hypersensitized to it), but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be an issue with IFRA at the moment.  And now I’ll turn back to the title of this post.  There is no magical thinking on my part, nor has there been, in terms of at least ies.  That is, I have and am still trying to figure out what the reality is here.  For example, I still don’t understand why it’s necessary to talk in terms of “in concentrate” and “of compound” when we know the alcohol content is going to be so high, and we also know that of course it’s been diluted into the alcohol, or else it would smell differently when we sprayed it!

Misunderstanding that is due to experts not being able to explain well or not wanting to divulge “industry secrets” is like a poorly-written textbook that also may contain misinformation.  If that’s the case, you might want to investigate for yourself, and as part of that you might want to put forth a tentative hypothesis, to see what the responses are to it.  One of those responses might lead you to the truth, and so appearing to be “wrong” is a small price to pay.   If I was wrong, that involved making the reasonable assumption that the 21.4% ies “restriction” must refer to the parfum/fragrance portion, since otherwise it’s essentially a meaningless gesture, apparently.  Moreover, it’s often a good idea to continue to press the investigation forward, whereas magical thinking is characterized by a “closed mind.”  Overall, magical thinking seems to involve believing things that are inconsistent with what is known (in some cases including the “laws of nature”), as well as an inability to recognize that one’s  perceptions can vary significantly.  Perhaps worst of all, those who engage in it tend to persist stubbornly in their notions, assuming that what is at best a tentative hypothesis can’t possibly be wrong, which can mislead others too!

NOTE:  You might be asking yourself (as I did), whether certain aroma chemicals that appear on the ingredient list, such as linalool, are part of the parfum/fragrance portion but are just listed separately for some reason.  If so, doesn’t this violate the “rule” for listing ingredients, which is that the one that is most common is listed first and the one that is least common is listed last (and so forth)?  I asked a fragrance chemist whom I met during a swap, and this is the response I got:

They [that is, items like linalool, citral, and eugenol] are considered part of the parfum, but are listed for a number of reasons. The items listed tend to fall into a number of categories:  GRAS (generally recognized as safe), ubiquitous (long tail theory in action) and used primary as blenders/fixatives/stabilizers/preservatives. Listing them started as a way to show some transparency over what is going into their cosmetics while not giving much away at all. The industry was compelled to start the practice of throwing the consumer a bone a few decades past, and once rules get stuck in place they tend to take hold.

Apparently, “transparency” is not the real goal here, at least for those in the industry, but whatever the case may be, unless percentages are listed, we can’t know for sure (a GC/MS study can be useful here but is rarely done AND disclosed to the public) how much of anything is in the liquid, and when a percentage is given, as was the case with the ies content of TdH long ago, one might want to ask the source of the information (or misinformation) whether he/she is referring to all the liquid in the bottle or just the parfum/fragrance portion.



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How can one review a scent for newbies: the Dior Homme Intense example.

Dior Homme Intense 2011 Christian Dior for men

I’ve wanted to sample Dior Homme Intense for years, but every time I got close it alluded me, such as a few swap negotiations that fell through, and one ebay purchase that the seller refused to honor (she claimed her grandmother accidentally listed it at the wrong Buy It Now price).  Still, I decided it made sense to wait, because what would be the best result?  I’d like it and buy a bottle, then wear it once or twice a year?  But recently I was able to try the 2015 formulation, and while I was thinking about something else crossed my mind: would my review of it make sense to a newbie?

First, I’ll start with my review of DHI:

…I wore that 2015 batch of DHI. I’m getting a kind of neutered version of original DH (I used two sprays to the chest half an hour ago), but it does seem to have more of a gourmand element, though nothing all that special to me. So far, I’d say I’d buy this at a low price or swap for it, because it is reasonably pleasant, an okay winter office scent, but I think I’d rather wear something like Magnet for Men by Eclectic Collections because I prefer the notes in that one and the “quality” seems to be the same. I’ll update if I get something different as it develops.

UPDATE: I can understand the appeal, as the balance is nice, but I don’t find it especially interesting, and there’s a touch of what I perceive as “laundry musk.” What Luca Turin said about Jaipur Homme, that it feels like it’s part of a group of items that comprises a gift set (something to that effect) is how I think about DHI. Vintage Jaipur Homme, though (at least EdP), is something at least relatively unique, and it does take chances, so to speak. How things have changed since the Turin/Sanchez “guide” book was published, nearly a decade ago!  At this point, if asked, I’d have to say I prefer Halloween Man Shot to this 2015 batch of DHI, because it develops into a more compelling blend of similar notes, and also doesn’t have the lavender (which I think is just a distraction in DHI).

The listed notes for DHI are:

Top note is lavender; middle notes are iris, ambrette (musk mallow) and pear; base notes are vetiver and virginia cedar.

The notes for Halloween Man Shot are:

…brisk lemon daiquiri cocktail notes with spices of cardamom and black pepper. The aromatic – floral heart of iris and sage is placed on the intensive base of leather, vanilla and amber wood.

To be blunt, I have no idea why anyone would spend more than $20 or so for a bottle of DHI (let’s say at least 50 ml), and I would just swap or sell a bottle if I obtained one really inexpensively.  But how do most “newbie noses” experience DHI?  Is it some sort of olfactory revelation, since all he might know are Cool Water and its clones, Curve type scents, obnoxious party room clearers, and “grandfatherly” fougeres?  I remember not being ready for it in the early days – I couldn’t even detect sweetness in a scent!  Instead, I was more interested in the unique note combinations, not having even heard of a gourmand scent, for example.  It took me at least several months to detect “quality” differences, but then that was mostly about vintage versus recent.  I only rarely thought that a recent “top designer” was obviously “higher quality” than the best of the “lesser designers,” “celebuscents,” etc., from what I can remember.  Perhaps that was the thinking behind creating “exclusive”‘ designer lines.  But the most important thing (for me) was the decision not to spend too much before I thought I understood the significant differences.

I also remember seeing the vast price differences, but decided not to buy anything beyond the “cheapo” range, because I didn’t think I would be able to appreciate the supposedly significant differences that warranted the higher prices.  I did read a post or two at, in which people were talking about how great this or that “cheapo” was, but I still couldn’t imagine it being “better” than a “top designer,” let alone niche, just very good for the price range.  But especially now, with IFRA guidelines more or less funneling any “mainstream” release into one of several directions, I see even less difference.  For example, inexpensive “oud scents” like Jovan’s Intense Oud, are fine for when I want that “punch in the face” synthetic oud experience (anything stronger wouldn’t work for me anyway).  And something like Magnet for Men by Eclectic Collections (which cost me around $8 for 100 ml, IIRC) is right up there with just about any other scent I’ve got (in terms of complexity, naturalness, dynamism, etc.), for my purposes (of course it’s not what I would reach for when I want to wear something like Leather Oud by Dior).

Now if I want some really rich and natural smelling notes, I’m going to reach for a vintage bottle, and I mean it’s probably going to be a batch from the early 1990s or earlier (or perhaps ten years later if made by a company like Guerlain, but of course there are some possible exceptions).  However, I usually want a more “modern” composition these days, and I’m quite content with the variety available at “cheapo” price levels.  I don’t know why anyone would seek to pay the higher prices, other than for psychological reasons that they are not aware of (or for “status” reasons that they are all too aware of!), again with a few possible exceptions.  But how do you communicate this to people who are convinced that the “big name” is meaningful?  I’m not sure there is a way, though a few of those people will likely “get it” and be very thankful once they realize what the reality is!  Again, why not wait until you are able to detect clear differences, and if you never can, why not just wear an inexpensive but similar scent?




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The Viking that never backs down!

…according to the standard economic framework, consumers’ willingness to pay is one of the two inputs that determine market prices (this is the demand). But as our experiments demonstrate, what consumers are willing to pay can easily be manipulated, and this means that consumers don’t in fact have a good handle on their own preferences and the prices they are willing to pay for different goods and experiences.


In our next test, we changed the brochure, scratching out the original price ($2.50 per pill) and inserting a new discount price of 10 cents. Did this change our participants’ reaction? Indeed. At $2.50 almost all our participants experienced pain relief from the pill [which was a placebo in both cases]. But when the price was dropped to 10 cents, only half of them did.

Pages 54 and 167 (respectively) of the book, “Predictably Irrational,” by Dan Ariely.

The main reason why I thought I should devote another post mainly to this scent, or rather, reactions to it, involve the human mind. As I often tell people, we are not all the same “between the ears.” We have different personalities, we learn things in different ways, we have different emotional responses (Russians, some researchers tell us, experience emotions at much lower intensity levels than most Americans, for example, and of course generally-speaking, which leads some to think that Russians “lack emotions”), etc. And that is in addition to things we already know, such as that religion, ethnic background, socio-economic status, etc. can make big differences in terms of how we perceive the world.

Viking is a scent I’d probably never wear (my review is at the end of this post) after a couple of sampling experiences, because there’s just nothing about it that’s particularly appealing to me.  At, someone accused me of “attacking” those who are claiming that Viking is some sort of “great” scent, which itself is an example of obvious misperception, because I was just trying to explain that you can enjoy a scent but you can’t expect everyone, or even anyone, to share that perception. This was my response:

…Who am I “attacking?” I’m merely saying that not everyone is going to like any particular scent and that there’s nothing about it that sounds like I’d like it. I don’t like lavender notes, I don’t like pepper notes, I don’t like aquatic/marine notes, I tend to dislike “smoky woods,” I don’t like ambroxan, I only like certain kinds of mint notes, etc. And what about the other 1500+ new releases? Why shouldn’t I sample them too? The reality is that even if a scent lists notes that I like and the reviews look good there’s probably at least a 25% chance I’m going to outright dislike it, and I’m talking about scents that cost around $30 or less because I rarely spend more than that on a bottle (most of my niche comes from swaps these days, and I have more than few niche bottles, including Creed’s Vintage Tabarome as a large decant). If you like Viking and it’s worth the price to you, great! If it gets you the “action” you are seeking, great (I guess)! But there’s no magic in that bottle, especially in this age of IFRA guidelines. DULLAH [whose opinion tends to be respected more than many others at, and I’m always interested in hearing what he has to say] over at BN said it was like a light/sport version of L’Anarchiste by Caron, and that might be what some people are seeking (especially those who have never tried vintage L’Anarchiste), but please don’t tell us how great Viking is – it can be great for you but it’s not necessarily great for anyone else in the world, which is true for all the 100,000s of fragrances released over the last 150 years or so (the age of “Modern Perfumery”).

Now let’s contrast this to a comment made on the second major Viking thread at BN (the first one was closed by the moderators due to a perception of “overheated emotions” or something along those lines, apparently):

Can’t remember when my last blind buy was (quelle horreur!), so… I’ve just ordered Viking. The discussions here have intrigued me. Will definitely report back.

I was going to respond with, “what, exactly, have you found intriguing? DULLAH said that it’s more or less a light/sporty version of L’Anarchiste; does that sound really great to you? And if another scent had the exact same commentary but cost $25 and was marketed under the name of a ‘lesser’ designer, would you come to the same conclusion?”  However, I decided to “back off” and see how things played out.

Now it’s certainly possible many would want to blind buy such a scent, simply because $25 “lesser designers” never get this much commentary, but doesn’t this person realize that Viking is getting all the commentary for reasons other than the scent itself? It may be a very nice scent for those who like ones of that type, no question, but how many will think it’s so special that it warrants the current prices? Instead, what seems to be at work is a collective generation of fantastical notions, for example, early in this thread we read:

After wearing my sample for a couple days it has really grown on me. Longevity is great and the fresh rain forest vibe with the spices is enjoyable. I love the salt and sandlewood notes, and I also find myself smelling it throughout the day and discovering new notes…

Then came:

I really like it, it’s becoming my go-to work scent for Autumn. Getting a lot of rotation at the moment. As someone above me said, it’s a complex scent that reveals new facets over time…

And then came:

It’s definitely red – bright fire engine red!

And then came:

Rain forest? Now that sounds interesting.

And then someone responded to the red comment with:

I like this description.

A previous poster was referring to the color of the bottle, but this person seemed to think it referred to a way of classifying the smell of it! All of this preceded the comment I quoted first, and suggests strongly that these kinds of comments are what influenced him. This is exactly why I wrote up the comments that I did, trying to point out that they are responding emotionally when in fact there really can’t be anything magical in that “bright fire engine red” Creed bottle. If there was, we’d have read commentary to that effect, and people like DULLAH would tell us what that was, such as when he commented about the high-quality rose of vintage Acteur by Azzaro. Another “respected voice,” the_good_life_had this to say on the original Viking thread:

Olivier Creed’s French uppercrust contempt for young American men and their consumer culture knows no limits. But like a postmodern jester he’s decided to make a parody of it that will nonetheless earn him s___loads of money. What a clever cynic.

(ridiculous French accents)
Erwin: “Papa, how is zee bottle coming along?”
Olivier: “It is not ugly enough yet, how say zee Americains? Cheesy. We need more cheese! I sink I draw ze Viking ship on an old Atari Computer!”
Erwin: “Have you found a revolting formule?”
Olivier: “Yes, ze cheapest possible without vomiting over my scent organ: melonal, ambrox – I will call that driftwood, haha – dihydromyrcenol, calone. 100 percent synthétique, it will be very ‘ard to engineer batch variations, but we will manage…It was so unbearable to make I had to put a bottle of vintage vol de Nuit next to me to inhale in between!”
Erwin: “You are a brave man, Papa!”
Olivier: “I know, my son. Now go play with your Lear jet!”

BN member Palmolive agreed with this assessment, saying:

Smelled this again the other day and still couldn’t shake those menthol Airwaves chewing gum mixed with Deep Heat balm and some woody vibes doused in cheap deodorant style citrics that this scent has in spades. It steps out like an old timer at the gym getting loosened up for a work out talking bout “Back in my day….”

and calling it the Emperor’s New Creed, but the “wishful thinking” emotions seem to have taken total control in more than a few BN members. And to those who think that Viking smells like rain or like this idea, how many have sampled Ocean Rain? It still amazes me how easily people can be taken in by fantastic promises (does this remind you of any recent elections?) when theoretically they should know it’s simply not possible. How can any company create a “mainstream” type scent that complies with IFRA and is something that is special? If they did something like load up the top with a powerful blueberry note, for instance, that would be a major focus in discussions, but with Viking, it’s vague, or they say there are “hidden facts” and “subtle intricacies” and that you’ll need to “give it time” if you want to experience these, which makes them sound like they belong to some sort of ancient, exclusive cult!

By contrast, over at Fragrantica, Viking, and Creed in general, seems to have become the butt of jokes by quite a few, for example, take a look at the page meant for a SpongeBob scent:

So, at least the Viking release has led to some humor, but what’s also interesting is how the Fragrantica crowd, which at least in the past has tended to be younger and less experienced with fragrances, was able to assess Viking in a way that (IMO) is a lot more realistic than several at BN, which seems to have more members who have a strong devotion to the Creed brand. Why can’t such folks even bring themselves to say something like, “I think it’s great, but it’s the kind of scent for those who enjoy ______________ type fragrances, so I can understand that those who don’t wouldn’t perceive it as being worth more than perhaps a dollar per ml?”\

Here’s my review, as yet unpublished at BN:

This is a “busy” fragrance, reminding me of vintage Zino in that way. Mint and what I call a “chemical wood” element are most obvious at first. There’s a bit of sharpness, which I assume is the pepper, along with vague florals, citrus, and amber. There isn’t much sweetness nor muskiness now. The wood continues in strength but the mint more or less disappears within several minutes. Saltiness makes itself felt, and after that (not sure how long), there’s the resemblance to Pasha (with a bit of muskiness), though with the saltiness added (good call by the person who first suggested this!), but the “chemical wood” remains strong. I had no idea I was sampling Viking when I first did, because someone had sent me the sample and I thought it was a unisex scent, which was likely enhanced by the fact that I had sampled vintage Born Wild Men by Ed Hardy a few days earlier (and that one has a monstrous wood note of a similar charter, though it’s missing the several minutes of mint and the saltiness).

The claims about this being a fougere are likely from the Pasha type quality, but as someone who tends to dislike fougeres, I don’t consider Viking to be one. The next day I smelled the clothing that had come into contact with where I sprayed Viking and it reminded me of VC&A’s In New York (citrus, pepper, spice, “chemical wood”), and I found it to be most pleasant in this way. Aside from telling people you are wearing Creed’s Viking, I don’t understand why someone would pay more than say $70 per 100 ml for this, though I wouldn’t pay that much, mostly because these kinds of scents don’t appeal to me and I wear them very rarely (and already have a few bottles, such as 125 ml of In New York, 100 ml of Born Wild, etc.). I don’t think many people are wearing In New York these days, so if you want to be “unique” that one might function just as well as Viking. I’m not giving it a neutral rating because it’s so expensive but rather because it moves around so much and yet doesn’t do anything novel, along with how strong and “chemical” smelling that wood note is.

NOTE:  If I wanted mostly “chemical wood” type notes and mint, I’d go for Black is Black Sport, which is really inexpensive, though it’s more of a vetiver/wood than sandalwood.




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Creed’s new Viking release: an unofficial, non-review.

There are more than a few reviews of Viking on the major fragrance sites at the moment, so I thought I’d write up some thoughts, as I am not likely to sample it any time soon (it may be another super-hype scent, like Aventus).  The notes listed at are:

…bergamot, black currant and pink pepper; middle notes are driftwood, salt, rose and fruity notes; base notes are ambergris, oakmoss, sandalwood and sea salt.

With a name like Viking one might have guessed a Yatagan-like scent (at least before seeing the notes), but so far the reviews suggest it’s more like a Pasha type scent, with the anise/mint taken out and the salty element added.  I could go on a tirade about how ridiculous it is for a company that prides itself on “royal” affiliations to name a scent after those who slaughtered anyone who got in their way, including royalty, women, children, monks, etc., but one can just go to the Wikipedia page and decide for himself/herself.

My guess is that it has a dry/woody element that is not too strong, because that is much of what I get from Pasha (vintage formulation).  Here are the notes for it:

…lavender, mandarin orange, mint, caraway and anise; middle notes are coriander and brazilian rosewood; base notes are labdanum, sandalwood, patchouli and oakmoss.

I don’t get any of these notes with strength, unlike an “old school” scent with many of the same notes, such as Azzaro Pour Homme, where the lavender/fougere and anise are quite “in your face.”  Pasha is closer to Safari for Men, though I’d guess there’s a bit of dihydromyrcenol in Pasha (I don’t remember if I ever thought it was present in Safari).  Obviously, Creed’s perfumers don’t mind the use of this aroma chemical, because it’s clearly present in Green Irish Tweed.  And while I don’t get a specific salt aspect to Pasha, there is something about it that does suggest at least a hint of it.

Some who have sampled it say it is a “safe” and “all around” scent, and one wonders if the idea was to create a more interesting and less “chemical” version of a designer offering like Sauvage.  The main point I wanted to make in this blog post is that unless you are wealthy you might want to ask yourself if you can simulate Viking fairly well with a layering combination.  Now if you only own a few bottles then no, you probably aren’t going to get particularly close.  In my case, not only do I have a lot of bottles to choose from (and quite a variety too, including a whole lot of “feminines”), but I tend to dislike “salty” scents, so it might work out better for me, assuming I like the idea of a salty (or saltier) Pasha, more or less.

Thinking about the reviews of Viking (in terms of it being safe/”all purpose”) and my experiences with Pasha, I have to conclude that these kinds of scents are just not for me, and I really like the way Pasha smells!  The problem for me is that I lose interest in it quickly.  However, I realize this sort of perception can vary greatly from one person to another.  For example, Luca Turin said something similar about Jaipur Homme, yet to me that is a scent that I find to be quite interesting, in terms of the strong spice contrasting with the other notes.  I’d rather have a scent like JH, which I have to be in the mood to wear, than one like Pasha, which I doubt I’d ever have an issue with wearing, but almost always prefer another scent when deciding what to spray on in the morning.  It’s also not great for layering because it’s already rather complex, so I’d likely try a different scent to use if I wanted a layering combination with a salty element.

Viking doesn’t sound too complex, by contrast, and I wouldn’t mind sampling it (I’d likely wait for a “clone” if I enjoyed it, though, considering the prices), but lately I’ve found myself more interested in what I already have.  Over the last couple of years I’ve rarely found myself intrigued by a note list of a scent I’ve yet to sample, and that’s often in “super cheapos” anyway.  The notes for Playboy’s King of the Game, for example, include black coffee and an alcoholic drink accord (known as “Jager Bomb”); it’s certainly worth the $7 for 100 ml that I paid, as I enjoy it and do think about reaching for it, unlike Pasha.

Anyway, I went ahead and wore vintage Pasha, got bored with it (as expected) within the first couple of hours, then sprayed Red Sea by Micallef once just above the navel (below where I sprayed Pasha).  Sure enough, I was thinking, “yes, Viking sort of makes sense, but it’s more like the shore right before the vikings came to invade!”  Now I doubt I would have thought that if I didn’t have that name on my mind, but the important thing (for me) is that both scents were improved by this combination (IMO).  The notes for Red Sea are:

Top notes are neroli and cinnamon; middle notes are rose and iris; base notes are sandalwood and musk.

So, I’m glad Creed and the “fanboys” gave me the idea to try this!  If and when I sample Viking I’ll be sure to update this post or create a new one about it.  If you have tried it, please let us know what you think.

NOTE:  For those who want to talk about the name/design, it’s interesting that a significant area of the bottle is covered in orange – that doesn’t seem to make sense, for example:

In heraldry, orange is a rarely used tincture except in South Africa and in the heraldry of the United States Army. A more accurate picture of its use is at tenné.

And in the West, orange would seem to be the exact opposite of what the name Viking suggests:

In Europe and America orange and yellow are the colours most associated with amusement, frivolity and entertainment.

By contrast, purple is the royal color, at least in European history.  What about real vikings?

“Blue and red were popular colours throughout the Viking Age. In general, they all wore colourful clothes with patterns and sewn-on ribbons,” says Mannering, adding that archaeologists have come across examples of colours covering the entire colour palette.

Some members seem to be thinking along the same lines, for example:

…This new Creed release just looks rediculous, in terms of perfume pyramid matching the theme of the scent.
What a blasphemic step…


…that [bottle] is hideous.

And the color simply doesn’t match at all with the concept or notes.


…the discordance is very jarring, if Creed were creating a fragrance called Silk Road and were to switch the logo to something more appropriate the vivid red/orange colour would work but for Viking I was expecting a much darker shade and around cobalt blue with gold trimmings, maybe even switch it up to a wooden cap to keep with the theme…

I liked the name Aventus – why not come up with an original name so that will only be associated with your scent?  For me, though, it’s the scent that matters – I’d buy a scent called Royal Turd if I really liked it, even if there was a pile of you-know-what pictured on the bottle!


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A “mini me” Sécrétions Magnifiques? A Fragrant Mystery?

I have no idea why those who had the license to Perry Ellis fragrances released Perry Ellis by Perry Ellis for Men (I think that’s the official name for it) in 2008.  When I first sprayed it on, I was thinking that it doesn’t seem to fit in with other “masculines,” of that time or any other!  Of course I may just be ignorant of certain kinds of masculines of that period, because I was never a fan of citrus-dominant fragrances.  But let’s start with the notes – even there are not clear.  For example, has the notes as:

…grapefruit, woody accords, resins, iris root, leather.

But has the notes as:

Green apple, Grapefruit, Patchouli, Woody notes, Amber, Musk, Leather.

Then there’s the list, which is just apple and amber.  I don’t get a clear apple note, green or otherwise, and instead it seems like a soft grapefruit.  And it begins quite musky.  Several reviews talk of a metallic, bloody, or fishy note or aroma chemical, and when I wafted this to my nose I detected that, but since it’s not pleasant I stopped, and then didn’t smell it again.  My guess is that the people who say this smell it up close or waft it around.  Now in 2005, Everlast Original 1910 was released, which included these notes (from Fragrantica):

…lime, lavender, mandarin orange, mint and grapefruit; middle notes are nutmeg, cypress, cinnamon, tarragon and geranium; base notes are leather, tonka bean, patchouli, musk and guaiac wood.

However, EO 1910, while possessing strong grapefruit/citrus in general and leather, also has a fougere accord gets a bit oriental over time, whereas PEbPEfM doesn’t change much.  The citrus gets weaker but the musk really hangs in there for hours (thankfully, it’s not of the sharp “white” variety, but it’s not animalic either).  After a few hours, I do begin to think this isn’t too far from EO 1910’s drydown.  I never got clear iris, “resins,” nor woods, and the leather is more like a texture to me.  It’s a touch a sweet, but otherwise indistinct, though in its own way (I wouldn’t call it a “blob” because there are a few obvious facets).  There is still an oddball quality to it, in terms of the metallic, bloody, fishy element but it has dissipated more than a little.  And this brings me to Sécrétions Magnifiques, which was released in 2006, the official notes being (from Fragrantica):

Lodized accord (fucus, azurone), adrenalin accord, blood accord, milk accord, iris, coconut, sandalwood, opoponax…

And if you don’t know, this is a scent that has nauseated its fair share of aficionados, who claim to smell things like spoiled milk, metallic blood, etc.  My guess is that those who say this are more likely to smell it up close on the skin, but since I’ve never sampled it, I can only wonder whether the perfumer for PEbPEfM decided to do a low-level designer version of SE for the “masses.”  At Fragrantica no perfumer is listed for it, but Antoine Lie composed the other two.  Even if he had no part in the creation of PEbPEfM, another perfumer might have sampled the other two and thought about combining those.  In some ways it reminds me of the original Hummer scent (“vintage” formulation), in that it’s a fairly recent “mainstream” release with a strong (and interesting) but not entirely “friendly” muskiness.  Perhaps this would be great for someone who doesn’t want to smell too much like all the other young guys (many or most wearing Sauvage?) but doesn’t want to stray into the potentially weird waters of niche.

But wait, there’s another possible “mystery,” depending upon how you define them.  When I posted about PEbPEfM not long ago over at Basenotes, one comment on that thread was:

…it’s quite disgusting. It smells even cheaper than it costs. I can’t see any basenoter enjoying it. It is synthetic but that’s not the worst part. It’s just a total mess and it’s topped with this rotten ‘aquatic’ stuff.

My response was:

Perhaps you should have read the reviews before making the latter statement? And how many BNers like Secretions Magnifique? Is that one for “sophisticated noses” whereas because this one was released by Perry Ellis it’s got to be bad? Seriously, these are just smells, so if you don’t like them, fine, but you don’t have to implicitly (if not explicitly) assert that some scents are “bad” and some are “good.” I think more than a few BN favorites are a kind of olfactory torture, but I know that there are factors at work, such as sensitivity to certain aroma chemicals, that need to be taken into account. This PE scent is what I think of as a training wheels Secretions Magnifique, so I might actually wear it once in a while, and in fact if I spray the air with it and walk through the mist, it might be quite good. I’d much rather have a bottle of it than a whole bunch of other scents, and that would include TdH, Fahrenheit, the original Moschino Pour Homme, etc. (all other things being equal; otherwise I’d take one of those others and sell the bottle quickly).

Here’s the “mystery” element, IMO, embodied by this hypothetical question:  what if Antoine Lie had created PEbPEfM, and in an interview had said he was “perfecting” his Sécrétions Magnifiques composition, with one aspect being to make it more wearable?  Would it then be embraced by those who think they can speak to “objectively good” scents that “sophisticated noses” would appreciate?  Why can so many like the idea behind Escentric Molecule scents, but can’t seem to recognize an interesting composition released under the Perry Ellis brand name?  But one doesn’t need to go that far – what about Terre d’Hermes?  When I first tried it back around 2008 it felt like a chemical assault!  How in the world is that “objectively” better than PEbPEfM?  Again, for all we know PEbPEfM was Lie’s greatest achievement (in his opinion, at least), but even if he had nothing to do with it, how does one “objectively” say PEbPEfM is terrible but “vintage” TdH is great?  How can some people become so distorted in their thinking?



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A sign of how uncivil society has become?

Civil Unrest Sauvage.jpg


An interesting question occurred to me not long ago, and I decided to see what members thought about it.  Those of us who have been to the major fragrance sites more than a few times know how popular Sauvage and Aventus are (there’s an entire sub-forum for Avtentus at BN!), but among those who don’t care for, or outright dislike both of these, are they disliked in the same way?  My original post to this thread I created at BN was:

This thread is for those who might like one or both, to the point that you’d wear it once or twice a year at most. For those people, which one do you prefer? To me the aroma chemicals in Sauvage are just too much, even using an amount that might have been 1/100th of a ml !

I was accused of “trolling” by a few people, despite this being a question many in the industry probably want to know the answer to!  The reasoning seems to go like this, “Aventus and Sauvage are really popular, so if you criticize them in any way you know you are going to set off some people.”  That may be true, but it can also be said of many other people who were branded “trouble-makers” at the time, for instance civil rights protesters in the 1960s.  Now you might say that this comparison is questionable, but it could be argued that it’s more ridiculous (taking the commonly held notions of the period into account) with fragrances, because it’s just a matter of personal preferences, whereas “Jim Crow” society was viewed as almost a religion by many “whites” in the South!  Indeed, one of the most horrifying things to such people, from the history I’ve read, was the prospect of “miscegenation;” unfortunately, that seems to be a “major issue” for quite a few people today in the South.

So then, the obvious question becomes, what do such people want?  I addressed that in one response posts to that thread:

I don’t know why the question is “trolling.” Everyone knows that scents as widely distributed as these two aren’t liked by all humans! Because they are very popular, there is no social pressure to dislike them (unlike Kouros, for example, at least in today’s world); I’m curious as to whether those who don’t like either (or are just “meh” about them) dislike them or are “meh” for the same reasons. If that’s “trolling” then perhaps it’s time to have a forum where only heavy praise is allowable! Yes, a few people who are “fans” of one or both might “lose it,” but that’s their psychological issue and we shouldn’t all be punished for it, just as movies have ratings to keep the young children from seeing inappropriate things.

The thread was closed by a moderator, though I’m not sure why.  The statement by the moderator on the thread (in the “thread closed” post) was:

It seems some of us cannot be civil or take a question seriously here. We are aware of certain trouble makers and they will be severely dealt with right now. Without having ANY posts or threads reported to the mods, it’s hard for us not to act sooner. That said, people taking the ‘rules into their own hands’ here is also not something we take lightly. So we will be taking a tough approach to a wide-range of posts here that caused trouble.

The best way to report spam, abuse, trolling, etc is using the reporting function at the bottom of each and every post on the site. This will alert all mods immediately to the offending thread/post/user.

I’d like to compare this to someone I know who was recently railing against “the Berkeley students,” who protested against a right wing pundit speaking there (the pundit, TMK, does not have sociological or political science or otherwise relevant credentials beyond being a right wing pundit for more than a few years).  The university  has their own security force and can also call the police if they think some students do unacceptable things when they protest, so I don’t see what the issue is from that perspective.  I think nearly everyone would agree we all should have the right to protest in a peaceful manner, but if things get violent, the authorities should have a plan in place, especially if they allow a known far-right pundit to speak at a “bastion of liberalism.”  How could they fail to predict that this might happen, with Berkeley’s history?  For those who don’t know about it, there’s a documentary called “Berkeley in the Sixties.”

So, my point here is that if these kinds of threads are to be quickly closed, then is BN a place where only praise towards at least the “big” scents of the today is acceptable?  If so, shouldn’t they make that clear to members?  In this case, I was not even criticizing the scents!  I simply wanted to know if people who thought these two were no better than “okay” assessed them in the same way!  I was surprised that nobody said something like, “they are both generic and meant for the masses – I don’t want to smell like everyone else.”  Instead, there were a few posts that lent support to my notion that many hobbyists who at least don’t care much for these two scents find Sauvage just too “chemical” and perceive Aventus as “okay” or “meh,” but definitely not special.  Note that some of the posts were deleted, perhaps because they contained obscenities, which makes sense, but this can have the proverbial “chilling effect” on one’s sense that a certain site is a place to ask reasonable questions on particular subjects.  BN once had a politics forum, but apparently they couldn’t handle the “heat” that predictably resulted, and so it was closed fairly quickly.  I don’t know if there is a “solution” here, since a person who owns a site can make up their own rules, but this does strike me as rather odd behavior – punishing the victims, so to speak, makes little sense to me.

NOTE:  I mentioned on that thread that I have edited some comments to this blog, simply deleting obscenities in at least a couple of cases, and wondered why such a policy was not in place (apparently) for the BN forums.




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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…

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, 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…

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…

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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