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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 Basenotes.net 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 !

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/439524-Sauvage-or-Aventus-for-those-who-don-t-think-much-of-either-one

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…

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/16/coconut-oil-isnt-healthy-its-never-been-healthy/402719001/#

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 pubmed.com, 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…

http://www.physorg.com/news169978803.html

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…

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121002143220.htm

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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L’Air du Desert Marocain reconsidered.

or:

Because my overall sensitivity has been quite low lately, I thought it might be a good idea to revisit L’AdDM.  I was able to obtain a decant and apply it as a spray, which sometimes results in different perceptions.  My very old vial sample was empty, only some fumes remaining, and so for all I know I now have a formulation that is at least slightly different, for “full disclosure.”  One thing that motivated me to do this is the number of positive reviews on the major sites.  Do people think they must like this one or else they would be a “newb,” or do they really enjoy it?  If this was in a bottle by Playboy or an obnoxious celebrity brand, would it have gotten the same kinds of reviews?  I don’t think so, mainly because I have some really interesting “super cheapo” scents that don’t get this kind of reaction.  An example is Black Oud by Remy Latour.

Right after application I was surprised because it didn’t seem as harsh or “chemical” as in the past, but again, that’s probably due to the low overall sensitivity to smell I’ve had lately.  Then I began to pick up the old perceptions, but with less strength.  There’s still the “cleaning chemicals” element, the dry spicy quality, the light but obvious florals, etc.  One way of thinking of this is it’s like looking at a painting with a transparent plastic sheet over it.  A new observation was that L’AdDM is sort of like a bunch of old scents combined, a bit of this here and a bit of that there.  Toujours Moi, for example, shares a bit in common with it.  However, L’AdDM adds a smoky quality that I haven’t encountered in any of the vintage scents I’ve tried, other than perhaps Smalto Pour Homme, though in SPH there’s a leathery/lavender smokiness that’s quite different from what I get in L’AdDM.  The smoky and somewhat “chemical” vetiver-ish element lasts a long time (with one full spray to the chest), with a touch of something ambery lurking in the background, but there’s not much sweetness.  I really don’t like this rendition of the vetiver and amber-ish combination; it’s kind of like a stew that went terribly wrong (though it does get a bit powdery and less “in your face” after a few hours).

So, would I like a bottle of L’AdDM, assuming my sensitivities stay where they are now?  No, I still prefer Black Tourmaline to it, and there are in fact still things in L’AdDM I flat out do not enjoy, which would make it a “dealbreaker” even if it sold at a third of its current retail price.  I’d much rather wear scents like the aforementioned Black Oud or Toujours Moi (I obtained an ounce of the newer TM for about $2 not long ago from Fragrancenet).  Like vintage Cool Water, which I’ve attempted to like on several occasions, there’s something about L’AdDM that does not work for me, almost as if it were designed to tease me with some “good” things but be unpleasant overall.  I think the reason is that it’s the composition that does not work, rather than the notes.  And on some level it reminds me of some “ground-breaking” mainstream releases, like Cool Water, where dihydromrycenol was used in large amounts.  This will make the scent stand out, but it will also make some of us say, “this is too much – I can’t stand this scent!”

And what about this scent evoking a desert landscape?  Perhaps a desert located next to a squalid third world city would work, as the chemical element (perhaps combined with the spices) suggests sweat shops to me.  The ambery element provides a sense of a cheap diet lacking in nourishment but rich in sugar.  I envision a person aged beyond his or her years, stumbling out of a decrepit building that serves as a factory (which might make trinket type items for the wealthy), in his or her filthy, old clothing (bearing chemical and other stains), after working 17 hours straight, then trudging through a makeshift village at the edge of a desert, collapsing onto a pile of straw, and trying to eat some lousy food.  No, I don’t really imagine this, but the point is that it’s just as realistic (IMO), if not more so, than what we have read in many reviews of L’AdDM (the wonderful spice market next to the picturesque desert stuff).

I think I understand what Tauer was trying to do here, and I can understand why some really enjoy it, but those who do should realize that it’s just like any other scent: some will like it and some won’t.  Those who call one of those olfactory concoctions a masterpiece should consider how those who don’t like it perceive it.  Just as few like it when a scent they enjoy is called garbage or something along those lines, going too far in the other direction is questionable.  If you want to call it a masterpiece, then go ahead and explain exactly why you think it is so far above all the others of the same genre.  For example, if it’s unique and really interesting for a few minutes, then just say that!  It’s often the case that such scents have wearability issues, but few mention this.  How many have said something like, “wow, this is so unique and interesting, a real masterpiece for a few minutes, but most people, even aficionados, probably won’t enjoy wearing it beyond that short period of time?”  Yes, people do get “carried away” sometimes when the smell something very different and compelling, but that’s one reason why I wrote this post, that it, to point out to such people that you don’t want to make those who dislike a scent feel like their noses are “broken.”

NOTE:  There have been some threads asking about a scent similar to L’AdDDM, and after wearing 1881 Bella Notte Pour Homme, I’d say that is a good inexpensive one (currently) to sample.  It’s more along the lines of a combination of Brit for Men and L’Instant Pour Homme (with a similar but subdued anisic element), but it does have at least a hint of L’AdDM, possessing the dry wood or incense, the slight powdery quality, the spices, and a mild floral.  The differences are that the 1881 flanker is considerably weaker and possesses a bit of a musky lavender that is, of course, very common in designer “masculines.”  That might be good or bad, depending upon personal preferences, obviously.

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A Review of Sauvage, after an application on the skin.

I obtained a sample of Sauvage in a swap, and finally got around to wearing it normally, though that may not be the correct way to phrase it.  What I did was to apply such a tiny amount that I couldn’t feel it and didn’t see any liquid on my chest.  I was afraid I might really sicken myself if I applied more than that, and of course I could always apply more if necessary.  Well, the very good news is that it is outrageously strong.  A few ml of Sauvage might be enough for a lifetime, if you prefer a lot of variety, as I do!  And more good news – I didn’t sicken me (though my general sensitivity has been low for a while now), though after a while I wished I hadn’t tried it again, as it was not pleasant.

I didn’t get much in the way of fruity top notes – it seemed to just go straight to the drydown, at least within a few minutes, which could be good or bad news, depending upon one’s preferences.  The bad news is that it smells like something I tried back around 2008 and 2009, and thought was far too synthetic to take seriously.  It is “sticky”/blob-like and reminds me of chemicals one might smell in a hair products store.  I have tried to remember which scent it was that smelled like this nearly a decade ago, but I couldn’t seem to place it.  There was Samba Viva for Men, which I really disliked, but I think it was a bit different.  Could it have been something by Liz Claiborne?  Wait a moment – what about Adventurer II by Eddie Bauer?

This really surprised me.  I thought it might smell like a simplified Horizon by Guy Larouche, perhaps a a bit synthetic-smelling, because that was my impression of Sauvage on a smelling strip.  I also thought Sauvage’s composition was unique, in terms of using a lot of ambroxan in a “mainstream masculine” scent.  Another idea is X-Centric by Alfred Dunhill (which lists ambergris as a note) or John Sterling:

https://www.parfumo.net/Perfumes/John_Sterling/John_Sterling

I decided to do an ankle sampling of X-Centric, Sterling, and Adventurer II, the idea being that even if they are not all that similar, there might be a similar strong accord, or that the experience might jog my memory regarding another scent I tried long ago that is more similar to Sauvage.  Starting with Sterling, this is the least like Sauvage, but it may indeed have a touch of ambroxan in it (I obtained my Sterling bottle early in my forays into this hobby and before I had sampled Green Irish Tweed, so to me Sterling is more GIT than GIT is, in terms of the name being consistent).  X-Centric is closer to Sauvage, but it doesn’t have nearly as much ambroxan either, and it has a clear fruity/sweet element either doesn’t exist or doesn’t last long in Sauvage.  Adventurer II is the closest, and probably what I was thinking about, as it does seem to contain quite a bit of ambroxan (though it’s got a bit of sweetness I don’t get in Sauvage).  After a couple of hours it seems fairly close, but not quite as strong (and so, possibly wearable by me).  On a positive note, I think that these three smelled more natural to me than at any time in the past, so I may want to wear them occasionally (they had been relegated to my “sell when the price is right” bin due to being too synthetic to be bearable for hours).

My opinion of Sauvage has changed with this regular wearing, from perceiving it as having a niche-like quality to it being unwearably synthetic-smelling (and not original in any significant way).  However, as I said when I only smelled the strip, it could still be good as a room spray.  After this “regular wearing,” though, I don’t think I want to smell it any more, at least if I can avoid it.  This is why I like to try a scent in different ways and on multiple occasions (spread out over months if not years).  In this instance, though, I would not wear it again because it was an unpleasant experience (even with the near “homeopathic” application!).  I wonder if we will see a few more “major” releases where a strong accord from generic scents of the past is “amped up” beyond belief and presented as something “edgy.”  My thought, though, is why would anyone want this?  Isn’t the point of a “designer” scent that it possesses some complexity?  Didn’t the “drug store” scents get criticized for being simple compositions (some called those “cheap and cheerful”)?  Also, I wonder if Sauvage was designed to smell better on a card, because it smelled a lot better to me that way!

NOTE:  I still think Playboy’s Berlin has some strong similarities to Sauvage, and may be best for those on a tight budget (if the person likes this kind of scent), but I’d say Adventurer II is clearly the most similar, in my experience, though it does seem to have some juniper berry included, so if you hate that note you might prefer Sauvage.

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Which bouquet would you like, the Hammam or Edwardian one?

This was a decision I contemplated recently, as good deals arose, first for a bottle of Edwardian Bouquet and then Hammam Bouquet.  The former was marketed to women in 1901 and the latter to men (starting in 1872, not that it still smells exactly the same; several reviews claim it is noticeably different from the pre-2003 re-release).  As you might expect, I decided upon Edwardian Bouquet, though I could have purchased both.  The story of this choice may be helpful to others (I did not sample either one before the purchase) beyond my impression of Edwardian Bouquet, and so the reason for this post.

EB has “green notes” listed, and some reviews mention galbanum, which makes sense (I’m not sure what other “green notes” existed for perfumers in 1901), and I was seeking a scent with a fairly strong galbanum note in certain kinds of compositions (EB being one, from what I could tell by the reviews).  Here is the list of notes provided by Parfumo.net:

Top Notes Top Notes Bergamot, Green notes, Hyacinth, Mandarin
Heart Notes Heart Notes Jasmine, Rose, Ylang-ylang
Base Notes Base Notes Amber, Oakmoss, Musk, Patchouli, Powdery notes, Sandalwood

Some reviews called it “soapy” and there was a mention of a lot of jasmine, so I was a bit concerned, but with claims of it being “unisex,” I decided to take a chance on it.  There seem to be two bottle types, and since I thought I was getting the older formulation, that tipped the balance in favor of the purchase.  Here is my Fragrantica.com review of it:

I obtained a bottle of what I think is the older version (the smaller of the two pictures above). It’s definitely animalic, but not on the same level as vintage Kouros, for example. I also get the galbanum, but it’s stronger in vintage Halston 1-12. There’s a bit of the kind of chypre “bite” I have noticed in “feminines” from the 1970s, but again, it’s not as strong here. The florals seem heavy and perhaps a touch wet at first, but then feel drier and not as heavy after an hour or so. It is a bit musky and powdery, but I haven’t noticed any clear wood notes. And there was something that was almost but not quite minty. In any case, it reminds me a bit of vintage Aramis Herbal 900, in terms of the overall composition, and if you like that one I think you would find the drydown of this one to be at least somewhere around unisex. I like it and likely will keep it, despite having other, similar scents. I guess it’s the kind of scent that I would part with if a great deal came along, but I would prefer to keep it.

Though some claimed it was very strong, I did not get that impression at all, though I would not call it weak either.  My guess is that it came across as strong because it is an uncommon composition by today’s standards.  As one Fragrantica reviewer said:

What’s missing from this bouquet are the sweet florals…

Without much sweetness, the notes likely feel too strong to many who don’t have much experience with vintage.  With most vintage “feminine” chypres, there often seems to be something that’s irritating, perhaps strong aldehydes in most cases, but that’s not present in EB, thankfully.  I can appreciate the notes in a more straightforward way in EB, which is a major positive.  One Fragrantica reviewer said it has a strong “bite” to it but also that is has a milky quality.  I don’t know how a scent could have both – I certainly can’t remember one scent I have encountered that I would characterize this way, but EB is neither, for me.  Now, moving on to HB, there were some major concerns for me, based upon what I read.

Some pointed to a strong alcoholic or even whisky-like quality and at least one person spoke to the rose being more like geranium (which I tend to dislike).  I have encountered this before, in Acteur by Azzaro, and rarely am I in the mood to wear it, so I certainly don’t need another of this type (I have 100 ml of Acteur).  I also don’t like the comments about noticeable lavender.  The notes for HB are:

Top Notes Top Notes Bergamot, Lavender
Heart Notes Heart Notes Iris, Jasmine, Rose oil, Cedarwood
Base Notes Base Notes Amber, Musk, Sandalwood

Over time HB seems to go in a musky, animalic direction, but the strength falls off more than a little.  I wouldn’t be surprised if these are rather similar, compositionally, a major difference being a geranium-dominant rose note and lavender replace galbanum and a more floral rose.  If I was a huge fan of this sort of thing (or didn’t already possess bottles of vintage Acteur, Herbal 900, Halston Limited, etc.) I probably would have purchased the HB bottle too (another issue was that it was a splash bottle unlike the EB, which was a typical sealed spray bottle).  As things stand, I think I’ll layer EB with Acteur and say to myself, “this must be at least as good as HB by itself.”

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My Iso E Super Irritation Chart.

There was a recent thread on Basenotes. net about the aroma chemical, Iso E Super (IES), and I thought it would make sense to point out some of my observations.  First, though, I’ll mention others have noted the IES amounts in scents that contain the most of it (though it’s more “restricted” these days and hence the same scent may now have a different amount than when it was originally released; Terre d’Hermes seems to be a good example of this).  I’ll quote the Wikipedia page on IES:

The fragrance Eternity by Calvin Klein (1988) contained 11.7% Iso E Super in the fragrance portion of the formula…

The male fragrance Fahrenheit (Dior, 1988) is 25% Iso E Super. (of the fragrance compound)…

The men’s fragrance Encre Noire (Lalique, 2006) is 45% of the fragrance compound, Iso E Super…

The very popular Terre D’Hermes (Hermes, 2006) contains 55% Iso E Super (of the perfume compound)…

The men’s fragrance Fierce Cologne (Abercrombie & Fitch, 2002) is 48% Iso E Super…

Creed’s Aventus (2010) contains 18% Iso E Super in its fragrance compound.

I included these because I have tried them all, though I don’t remember Aventus that well.  I do have the “clone,” Club de Nuit Intense for Men, and that one does have a quality I associate with IES, but when I’m in the mood it is bearable.  However, Fierce, vintage Fahrenheit, Encre Noire, and TdH all have been overbearing, though a 2011 TdH batch seemed just a bit less irritating than the one I sampled in 2008 (IES seems to bother me as much now as it did back then, despite changes in sensitivity to other things or overall).  On that BN thread, I was criticized for pointing this out, since (obviously) Fierce was never 48% IES.  Instead, this refers to the fragrance portion of the liquid content of the bottle.  I didn’t think I had to point that out because it has been pointed out many times before, on several fragrance sites and blogs.  Do I have to mention that these are all alcohol-based scents too?  Note that it doesn’t really matter in terms of a chart, that is, if one has the percentages and can correlate those to personal irritation, that’s all that matters in this context!

In any case, Eternity for Men is an interesting example, because I have found that while it doesn’t have the overbearing quality that the “IES heavy hitters” do, there’s something about it I really don’t like that seems to go beyond the notes, as if there was a kind of fume-like element.  On the other hand, Aventus wasn’t especially irritating in that way, so it may have been a combination of aroma chemicals in Eternity, such as calone, dihydromyrcenol, a woody/amber, and/or some sort of “white musk.”  Clearly, there’s no way to know for sure without proper testing, and even so, that would only be useful for a particular individual.  What I can say with confidence is that the fume-like quality I detect in the IES heavy hitters is IES, because they are a rather diverse group of fragrances, and I don’t have a problem with the major components of those in other compositions that are similar.

For example, I have more than a few scents where vetiver is obvious, such as Guerlain’s, Vetiver de Puig, Monsieur Lanvin Vetyver, and vintage Carven Vetiver, yet none of these have anything remotely like that fume-ish quality in the IES heavy hitters.  I remember a very strong fume-ish quality in a bottle of Le Roi Soleil Homme (Dali) around 2008, and since it is similar to Eternity, my guess is that there is more IES in that one.  Of course, until someone tests it with MS/GC, only a few people probably know (and there may have been significant reformulations since that time).  In the meantime, one might want to consider the list of scents with lesser amounts of IES, which you can find on the Perfume Shrine blog:

http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/2009/03/iso-e-super-its-merits-its-faults-geza.html

Eau Duelle by Diptyque is listed, and I wore that not long ago.  I was surprised by how long it lasted without becoming too heavy, syrupy, or outright vanillic, and so I’d guess IES was used here in a subtle way.  And this is where I’d like to tie things in with my recent post about “niche Guerlainade.”  That is, there are quite a few scents that are dominated by a kind of fume-like, dry wood.  The Perfume Shrine blog lists Kyoto (55%) and Jaisalmer (51%), for example, and I don’t remember liking any of that series due to the dryness mainly.  However, I had dab samples and only dabbed a tiny amount on my wrists, which is a mistake I made as a newbie.  In any case, since then, a number of niche companies seem to think it’s a great idea to use this as a kind of base and add a little of this or that to the composition.  I think Stash is a good example of this, and since it should be widely available (if it isn’t already) you might be able to sample it a local stores.

NOTE:  The word “chart” in the title was used loosely.  The point I want to make is that it seems like it’s not just the amount of IES but how it’s handled, though my guess is that somewhere in the 10-20% range is where I begin to encounter irritation, and by 40% or so it’s unbearable.  Also, whenever there is a thread on this subject on BN it seems like one or more people mention scents that may not contain much if any IES (but may contain a lot of other aroma chemicals, such as calone or dihyromyrcenol).  This has led to some “doubters” claiming that one can’t smell IES or that it’s pleasant, as if there would be something major wrong with them if anyone found it irritating.  Apparently, they have never heard of chemical sensitivity syndromes!  On the other hand, some of us may still retain an ability to detect unhealthy substances – until more research is done, the picture might not be clear (at least to my reading of the existing evidence).  My grandparents, for instance, would never admit to being irritated by an odor.  When my grandmother burned something in the kitchen, it was “she’s got the fan on now, there’s ‘no problem.”  And when we drove in their car and it was sucking in fumes from a truck in front of us, they would say they couldn’t smell anything at all.

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They’re not just smells? Then what are they?

On Basenotes.net, a member started a thread recently, apparently in response to a comment I had made a few times in the past, which is that these concoctions are just smells.  He is the same person who thinks I’m a “niche hater,” or something along those lines, so his claim that these are not just smells is at least consistent.  Now I wouldn’t have written up this post from a scientific perspective, because there is no question these are just smells, if we are talking about the liquid portion of what we get when we purchase a “personal fragrance.”  Of course some might be carcinogenic if used in large amounts relative to others, or some may cause a rash on some people, but not others, etc.  That sort of thing is clearly not the point he apparently was trying to make.

Instead of addressing any one person in particular, with one exception (see below), I want to address the argument that these are more than smells.  First of all, there is marketing, which is often clearly designed to prompt strong emotional responses from at least some people.  By contrast, I am the kind of person who gets mildly irritated (for a very short period of time) and then goes into mockery mode when someone tells me that one of these concoctions really does capture an emotion, a specific landscape, a memory, a time period (Victorian seems to be one of if not the most popular in this context), etc.   You may think it does that for you, and you might be willing to pay a few hundred dollars for a 50 ml bottle because of this, but it doesn’t work that way for me, so keep in mind that not everyone has the same personality, background, etc. (and even if a scent could be evocative in one of these ways, why should it be worth that much to others? – this brings up differing priorities/value systems, yet another factor).

There are of course memories that might be associated with a scent.  For me, it’s my grandfather’s Brut (he passed away several years ago), but I still assess the scent as a scent.  I’m not going to wear it or not wear it because he did.  When I apply it I might think of him, but then I’ll move along with other things I want to do, and the scent will be assessed based upon how much I enjoy it.  So, does that mean that Brut is more than just a smell to me?  Well, I wouldn’t keep a bottle around if I didn’t like it; if I didn’t, I might recognize it on someone else and that would remind me of him, but how could I know if it wasn’t another scent that smelled similar?  When I first blind bought Sung Homme, for example, I thought to myself, “that smells exactly like my third grade teacher,” so he must have been using it.  The problem?  It wasn’t released until two or three years later!

So what do we then say, to keep this argument from sinking?  That a certain type of olfactory formula concocted by a major fragrance company is more than a smell?  Well, to them it is, meaning profits (if they get it right), but it certainly isn’t to anyone else, unless that person wants it to be.  I knew one woman who had a doll that she more or less viewed as her child.  It got lost during a move and she was really upset, and still thinks about it from time to time (as if it’s a child who died!).  Anyone can “cathect” to an object – this has been known for quite some time, and you don’t need a Ph.D. in psychology to realize this occurs with some people, if not most.  But to tell someone else they should cathect one particular scent because you do strikes me as absurd because it suggests the person doesn’t understand that not everyone feels the same way about all the objects in this world of ours!

How many new releases are there each year?  Should I be required to sample all of them, year after year, just so someone I don’t know can say that I have cathected with it, even if I have not?  One person on that BN thread said that scents are like food, so they must be more than smells.  Again, scientifically this is not true, because if you ate certain diets that you enjoy you might become nutritionally deficient and even die, whereas if you never use one of these olfactory concoctions you might be healthier than if you do!  And just because you are wealthy doesn’t mean you will prefer the “finest” caviar to a Big Mac.  Saying such things just shows how much some people have been influenced by socially constructed values.  Undeniably, more “care” or “quality” has been put into some scents, but we can only guess about which ones, because even some niche scents can smell like “chemical nightmares!”  However, some people really seem to buy into marketing campaigns aimed at getting more than a few people to cathect their scents, and so what can one say to such people?

NOTE:  Some like to argue that there is “art” involved with some scents but not others, though that is basically a philosophical claim, and as those of you with philosophical backgrounds know, philosophers have argued with other philosophers for their entire adults live without resolution, nor with hardly anyone else in the world being interested in their debates.  Of course, when one begins to learn about the industry and samples a large number of scents, one may get the idea that some are crafted or designed in a more thoughtful or unique way than most others, but how does that change the fact that these are just smells, unless for one reason or another a particular type of concoction gets cathected in our minds?  Obviously, we wouldn’t be talking about these scents if they were all literal; how many people argue that cedar essential oil is “better” than eucalyptus essential oil?  Clearly, that would be outright ridiculous!  It’s all about context, and your context is not likely to be exactly like mine, and it may not even be all that close.

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