Should a guy get insensate if sprayed with a “feminine” scent ?

Image result for charlie chaplin modern times

I’ve found it interesting how some “veteran” members of Basenotes seem to think there is a sharp “gender line” with these olfactory concoctions and that the friendly people in control of multinational corporation X, Y, or Z know exactly where that line is drawn! Some others, such as Luca Turin, argue that these gender distinctions mostly involve top notes. And of course, most aficionados know that if you toss in a lavender note that is quite noticeable, you can turn a “feminine” into a “masculine,” especially these days, with so many super-sweet “masculine” scents on the market. I have come to conclude that while such generalizations are interesting to ponder on an abstract level, these aren’t all that useful in practice.

Instead, I prefer to think about actual scents, and one that immediately comes to mind is the 1993 release, Insense, by Givenchy (I’ve only worn the original formulation, I believe on three occasions separated by more than a month) . Turin and others seem to think this was too “daring” for its time, but is it less daring today? And is it daring in terms of the actual smell or the marketing? After all, plenty of aficionados will buy a “feminine” scent with a strong leather note, such as Cabochard, for instance. Another notion is that a “masculine floral” is highly problematic, though plenty of aficionados seem quite positive about Amouage’s Lyric Man. Is it the case that if a scent is clothed in the garment of “niche” it’s acceptable to be “floral?”

I could not understand the appeal of Insense. The florals are strong and sharp, as is a fruity/citrusy quality, which I don’t enjoy either. After that it slowly dissipates over time, with a resinous quality becoming more and more obvious, though it never distinguishes itself. Fragrantica.com lists thse notes for it:

Top notes are aldehydes, black currant, lavender, mandarin orange, bergamot, lemon and basil; middle notes are magnolia, lily-of-the-valley and iris; base note is fir.

The reviews for it on Fragrantica are quite interesting. Few mention the “feminine” element, at least one person calls it “delicous” (this is the opposite of delicious to me!), and most talk in abstract terms. This one is interesting:

Top notes are horrible. Acrid. But after 10 minutes, it transform into a floral for men. Strong sillage, longevity is also good (around 5 hours). I was actually imagined I was taking a nap under a shady tree beyond the yellow meadow field…

What is a “floral for men?” Is it that there is a fir/resinous quality that is a bit stronger than it might be in a similar, yet “feminine” scent? If so, that is strong evidence for the claim that these notions are entirely due to “cultural conditioning” (including marketing efforts). In any case, fifteen years later David Yurman’s first scent is released, with these notes:

…mandarin, and fresh green notes of black currant leaf and petals, followed by floral notes of peony, water lily, rose otto, patchouli, exotic woods and musk.

To me, though the compositions are not the same, the underlying idea is. That is, you get the fruity quality that is not especially “feminine” and the sharp florals, though these are not as sharp in Yurman (which is an improvement, IMO)., to begin the proceedings. Then over time a base that is at least “unisex” comes forward. In Yurman, this is a woody/oudy and somewhat chemical-smelling accord. Yurman has more of a watery than fruity texture at first, but what I dislike in both is the strength of the lily-of-the-valley type notes. Also, if I want that fir/resinous quality, I can opt for vintage Ferre for Men or Nino Cerruti’s 1979 “masculine” offering without having to deal with strong florals (I generally like florals as supporting notes or to counterbalance another strong note or accord).

In Yurman, the florals eventually are balanced by the woody/oudy element, but I can’t say I enjoy this combination all that much. It’s interesting, but not all that enjoyable to me. However, I do look forward to wearing the Yurman scent again, when I think I am really in the mood for it. I don’t intend to wear Insense again (I have a small decant right now), but since my preferences have changed multiple times, I’ll keep an open mind. There are quite a few reviews of Yurman at Fragrantica, but other than mine, I’m not sure if any others were written by men! And this is just one “feminine” scent that I happen to come across at a big discout – I have no idea how many others might be similar, at least in some significant way, to Insense! In other cases, I have found some scents one might consider clearly “feminine,” such as the 2010 Mariah Carey release, Lollipop Splash Vision of Love, to be more “masculine” than Insense. Here are the notes for that one:

Top Notes: juicy mandarin, coconut and star neroli. Heart: French macaroon, purple jasmine and white peach. Base: sandalwood, vanilla infusion and creme de musk.

I’m not sure if I’d wear any of these in public, but that’s simply because I have so many to choose from there’s really no reason to do so, as I’m not a “statement-making” kind of person, at least when it comes to things like clothing, hairstyle, and fragrance. I’ll conclude here by saying that it’s likely the case that those who have convinced themselves that the good folks at multinational corporation X, Y, or Z know what they should smell like, at least in terms of “gender” (has there been a scent released that was marketed to the “trans” community yet?), are not going to sample a scent like Yurman or the Carey, but that won’t stop me from trying to “open some minds” with this blog !

NOTE: For those who don’t know, the general idea behind Insense may be said to date back at least to a number of mid/late 1970s scents: Halston’s 1-12, Devin by Aramis, and Nino Cerruti’s 1979’s “masculine.” All feature some sort of strong “green” element (galbanum and/or fr/pine), along with citrus up front and obvious florals (usually jasmine and carnation), with the usual lavender as well. And in 1992 Salvador by Salvador Dali was released, again with a similar idea. Yes, Insense goes further than those, but it’s certain not a composition one should associate with a perfumer who lost his mind! For me the problem is “wearability,” not taking “gender issues” into account, as Insense is harsh at first but really doesn’t do anything better than the others mentioned (and it’s not especially complex, which doesn’t help).

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The designer scent that’s a failed attempt at niche.

Vetiver Essence Ferrari for men

You may have heard the phrase, “a designer attempt at niche” before, but I often find it not to be applicable or to be at least somewhat misplaced, though I think this is the perfect way to regard Ferrari’s Essence Vetiver (though not successful, IMO).  Fragrantica.com lists the notes as:

…Calabrian bergamot, red and Sichuan pepper and cardamom. The heart includes aroma of coffee, orris root and essence of vetiver. Patchouli, tonka and hazel wood form the base of the perfume.

The first time I wore it, a dab sampling, I didn’t smell much at all, so the second time I decided to go with four sprays to the chest.  There’s an orange-ish quality that’s a touch sour and sort of bounces around at low volume, which is more odd than irritating or pleasant.  My review included the following:

… I can’t say I smell an obvious vetiver note but it does smell like an odd murky composition. Yes, it seems that spice, patchouli, etc. and even coffee is present, but it’s sort of like taking bright oil paints and blending them together until you get a medium brown color with just hints of the original pigments. So I do find it interesting but not all that enjoyable. It’s not sweet, nor animalic, at least not yet. I’ll update if anything changes. The dull color of the bottle certainly seems appropriate!

And it didn’t last all that long either, which was another disappointment.  If this was a typical Lutens with the same notes I would be really interested in sampling it, and I would be surprised if I didn’t like it.  Most likely it would have a heavy amber, patchouli, and/or tonka base, but this one just peters out over time, never really smell more than somewhat interesting.  Here’s another Fragrantica review that is similar:

Down right disappointing 😦
Nothing in this fragrance smells genuine!
Not the vetiver (what I bought it for.. no wonder people say “not for vetiver lover”), not the cardamon (silly me, hoping for something like Voyage d`Hermes), not the bergamot (I just smell something sour and fresh-ish green), and definitely not the potentially gourmand hazelnut and coffee (one can only hope)…
However, it does deliver the sharp peppers [opening] and the patchouli [drydown], which doesn’t help -_-
Interesting maybe, but overall a pretty messy cheap smelling commercial type

I wish I had perceived strong patchouli with the drydown, and I didn’t get the sharp pepper he did, but it does give me an idea!  Next time I should apply a strong patchouli scent underneath where I spray Vetiver Essesnce.  If and when I do that, I’ll update this post.  Otherwise, my experience is that these “niche-like designer” scents are really “hit or miss.”  Franck Olivier’s Oud Touch is really great for the $15 I paid for 100 ml, by contrast.  There were some very positive reviews, though, such as:

I really enjoy this fragrance, everything works well together and it’s almost like nothing I have smelled before, least in my neck of the woods. Drydown is amazing. Like what you like and wear it, I do…

And there was also the idea that it’s a good “starter vetiver” scent, but I got so little vetiver that I can’t agree with that notion.  However, I did pay less than $18 for 100 l new, and so if you like the note list and can sample it, I’d certainly say try it, but as a blind buy I can’t recommend it.  Even if you like the scent you might be disappointed with the longevity and/or projection.

 

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You just can’t satisfy some people!

Image result for sliman covered in mud

The title refers to the frequent one reads about generic scents.  I have no problem with that criticism, if it seems to make sense, but then you can’t turn around and say that this or that scent is too weird or vile.  There are only so many things the average human in the world today is going to like, and there have been thousands and thousands of scents released in the last decade, so how much variation can there be without word getting out that a whole bunch of them smell weird, vile, or whatever?  They are mostly “variations on a theme” at this point, with perhaps a new aroma chemical providing a slightly different take on one of those themes.  If you want to complain about a weird or vile scent, why don’t you take a moment to tell us what you think a really unique scent would be like?

I decided to write this post specifically after reading reviews for Horizon Extreme by Davidoff.  No, I don’t think it’s anything special (for me), but it is a bit distinct.  Some seem to think it’s another kind of  type scent, for example, here’s one Fragrantica review of it:

I wish it could be exaggeration when I say this smells absolutely fecal off of the skin. stick to davidoff horizon (the non extreme version).

Even if this were true, why smell it up close?  It’s clearly not going to smell that way from a distance (a company like Davidoff/Coty wouldn’t market such a scent in their mainstream lines). The listed notes at Fragrantica.com are:

…top notes of grapefruit, ginger and rosemary cross into the warm heart of cedar, cypriol, leather and nutmeg. Accords of amber and creamy sandalwood are to be discovered at the base.

Here’s my review of it:

Fecal? Heavy leather? Vetiver? Fireside warmth? No, not for me. I can understand how one might detect this or that note, but none are strong. In any case, what I think this does well is to recreate those “old school” scents like Van Cleef & Arpels for Men, but without the lavender. I first did a dab sample, and after a while I could smell leather clearly, but then I wore it again, two sprays to the chest, and it’s mostly a “masculine” blend. At first I got something orangy, and the musk is there for a long time, first aiding with a dry/herbal quality and then after a couple hours it’s a bit powdery but otherwise quite blended. It’s never sweet and I never got anything fecal. Also, if you like the old school scents I doubt this one will be too much for you in any way. In fact, it might be a bit underwhelming. Now if I had used five or more sprays it might “bloom” differently. One person, I think at BN, said this was a dirty/oud type scent, but I have no idea where that perception could originate. I agree with the person who said there is a “coolness” to the drydown, and so I could not categorize this as an oriental. Overall, at a low price, it could be worth a blind buy for those who know what they want.

Just the diversity of the review suggest they were on to something with this composition, but when you go beyond generic you run the risk of not making enough sales because too few buy these concoctions for uniqueness!  Another scent of theirs, The Game Intense, also is anything but generic.  The notes for that one are:

Top note is gin; middle notes are orris and blackwood; base notes are labdanum and patchouli.

And here’s my review of it:

I agree with those who say to give this one some time and then it’s special. And while there may be a touch of this or that aroma chemical, it is blended very well, so that it’s not obvious. If you think you’ll like this, I’d say a blind buy is to be considered, but don’t think you are getting J. Bogart type strength here; instead, you are getting subtlety (something you don’t get with JB scents). Prices at the moment led me to a blind buy, and this is the kind of flanker that might not have been produced in large quantities, so waiting to find it in a bargain bin may not be wise! Also, as far as naming and marketing a scent is concerned, for me this would be best situated in the Varvatos Dark Rebel line; how about Dark Rebel Chain Smoker?

UPDATE: After several hours the chemical nature is apparent (though not strong), but it’s still a “dirty” scent with a touch of something sweet, and overall it holds together rather well, especially if price is taken into account (that is, comparing this one to similar niche).

So, if you want to complain about generic scents, then why don’t you tell us which ones you find so much more interesting and wearable?  At least then we would have a sense of your preferences and we could assess your reviews accordingly.  The same things goes when you say a scent is some sort of horror show.  I applaud Davidoff for releasing these two scents.  The original and Zino may not have been all that novel for the time, but both are among the all time greats, IMO, and while I don’t like Cool Water for Men, it certainly was a new kind of composition when it was released.  How many recent “masculine” designer releases are similar to 1 Million, Invictus, Bleu de Chanel, etc?  What would be the point of another one of those?  Truly novel releases are often related to new aroma chemicals, or at least the decision to use a huge amount of an aroma chemical that had previously been used judiciously.  Today, you can buy the aroma chemicals and more or less try to do it  yourself, if you have what you believe to be a unique idea that would work well.  But if, like most people, you’re not going to do that, don’t expect something incredibly novel and pleasant-smelling from mainstream designer lines.

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The “technically incompetent” scent.

A couple of recent “super cheapo” didn’t work out to well for me.  Now it’s one thing to outright dislike a scent, because then you can swap it, sell it in a lot of others you dislike, or give it as a gift (or to charity).    But what happens when you read about the notes and some decent (or better) reviews, and you like the scent, but can barely smell it, and it doesn’t seem to matter how much of it you spray on yourself?  This is quite irritating!  And it’s what I consider to be due to technical incompetence, because at this point we know that these kinds of scents are all rather inexpensive to create (the liquid portion), and so one has to ask why these kinds of scents are marketed when a few cents more would make them strong enough to satisfy a lot more people.  Why take the risk of turning people off to an entire “house?”

The worst example of this I’ve encountered so far is Swiss Army Rock.  The price was low, about $10 total for 100 ml, and the notes sounded great (other than the lavender, which I find to be too strong in many “masculines”).  Parfumo.net has the following note list:

Top Notes Top Notes Artemisia, Caraway, Lavender
Heart Notes Heart Notes Nutmeg, Cedarwood, Frankincense
Base Notes Base Notes Patchouli, Leather, Benzoin

Other than the lavender, I was also concerned that a nasty “white musk” might be used, but the musk is actually one of the few good things I can say about this one.  I could say it’s not woody, nor sweet, nor is there much if any patchouli, etc., but when I wore this (3 full sprays to the chest!), my thought was, What am I smelling here?  And then my next thought was, How can anyone release a scent like this?  Interestingly, it is similar (in terms of this quality) to another scent I’ve mentioned on my blog, Club Intense by Sergio Tacchini.  But compared to Rock, CI almost seems technically competent!  Now I have have some luck with recent blind buys; Playboy VIP Edition Black is great (about $7 for 100 ml), and not just for a super cheapo (though of course it might not be to everyone’s taste).  Bogart’s One Man Show Oud Edition is not too far from Dior’s Leather Oud (though after a while I do detect a little iso e super peeking through).

And speaking of iso e super, another blind buy that went wrong is Wild Forest by Armand Basi.  This one had a few reviews, which sounded good.  The notes for that one are:

Top Notes Top Notes Pepper, Nutmeg
Heart Notes Heart Notes Violet leaf, Cedar
Base Notes Base Notes Vanilla, Frankincense, Leather, Patchouli, Ambergris, Musk

There was talk of wood, frankincense, pepper, and violet leaf.  Someone (at Fragrantica.com) mentioned.  One person compared it to Armani’s Privé Bois D’encens:

I use it as a more economical alternative to my Giorgio Armani Privé Bois D’encens. I love the frankincense note, really masculine.

And the bottle looks great (if you don’t mind that trees get destroyed for this purpose) – even the cap is wood and has some heft to it.  But while there was a hint of a kind of sparkling green quality at first, it soon became a weak iso e super “nothing scent.”  Despite coming across as little more than iso e super, it was so weak it didn’t bother me at all.  I had to use my hand to waft it up to my nose in order to detect the iso e super.  Is this supposed to be “nouveau minimalism?”  What a great idea (bottle, name, and concept) ruined by an apparent attempt to put almost nothing that can be smelled into the bottle, other than a hint of iso e super.

And while I would be the first person to say, “perhaps my sensitivity is just really low now,” this has not been happening with other scents.  In fact, a couple days before I wore Rock, I wore Unlimited, also from Swiss Army/Victorinox, and it was not only strong enough with one spray, but I was also able to detect the mild patchouli in the base, which imparted a subtle but great “dirtiness” to the scent.  Now that is the kind of dynamism and note contrast I enjoy!  This leads me to think I should “quit while I’m ahead” in the blind buying game.  There were a few others I could have bought at really low prices, such as One Man Show Ruby Edition, but the reviews held me back.  I’m thinking this may be part of a trend, and I don’t want to waste any more money on it!

I think we need a new designation for these scents.  And while “pre-formulation” would be something a jaded aficionado might suggest, I think nearly everyone would agree on “light musk” (I don’t think “light chemical” is going to work, though that’s what I got from Wild Forest, essentially).  That way I know that the notes will be blended nearly into oblivion, but that I will at least get a pleasant, though almost imperceptible scent as a musk that will emanate in wafts (and last quite a while).  For all I know, a lot of people want exactly this kind of scent!  And I should mention, as I have in past posts, that these kinds of scents can function well in layering combinations (as Club Intense has for me), but that doesn’t make it technically competent as a “personal fragrance,” IMO.   As things stand, if you say the scent is an Eau de Toilette and list notes such as the ones for Wild Forest or Rock, you are going to look quite bad when people compare them to scents that might even cost less, such as ones by Cuba, Playboy, Bogart, Lapidus, Jovan, etc., and possibly even some “our impression of” type scents (I really like Dark Flower and Slam, by Dorall Collection, for example).

 

 

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An update on Halston 1-12 formulations.

Halston 1-12 Halston for men

I wrote up a long post about my perceptions of changes in Halston’s Z-14 and 1-12, which you can read here:

https://bigslyfragrance.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/the-disintegration-of-the-fabulous-halston-brothers-z-14-and-1-12/

The other day I had an opportunity to buy an EA formulation of 1-12 at a good price.  That’s not uncommon right now, but what was is that it was in a box with the “short list of ingredients.”  I did some research and found this in a review of 1-12 at Fragrantica.com:

It has, without a question been reformulated. The result is a lot thinner, weaker, less ‘gutsy fragrance’. The boxes look similar except for the fact that evernia prunastri (oakmoss) and evernia furfuracia (tree moss) are not listed as ingredients on the new box. Also, Benzophenone 2 ( a UV absorber) is not on the new box, while butylmethoxydibenzoylmethane, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, ethyl salicylate are new ingredients listed. The first two are something to do with absorbing UV (they are used in sunscreens) and the ethyl salicylate smells like wintergreen. It seems that the Benzophenone 2 was removed as it is not approved for use in US sunscreens as it is a possible hormone disruptor.

I hadn’t sampled an older EA formulation of it, so I was curious, but after reading the above and also having learned that the short list of ingredients means the scent was made somewhere between 1998 and 2003 (or so many claim), I thought I’d get a “vintage” formulation.  The batch code is 3HA, and one of the batch code sites says 2013, which likely means 2003, because some companies reuse them every ten years.  Benzophenone 2 is listed but butylmethoxydibenzoylmethane, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, and ethyl salicylate are not.

This does indeed smell like my “true vintage” bottle, with strong galbanum.  It may be at touch less complex, rich, and/or strong.  Prices on ebay can be great if you just have patience and wait for a listing that is “vintage.”  Other information about this box/bottle (125 ml size):

On the front of the box it says Natural Spray Cologne Vaporisateur.

The label on the bottom of the bottle says French Fragrances, not EA Fragrances, but it was sealed in plastic so the seller likely would not have been willing to open it up to look, though it may not matter.

The most important thing seems to be to find a box with the “short list of ingredients.”  This one has five items listed in total.

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The “nothing fragrance.”

Jil Sander Man Jil Sander for men

First let me make clear that what might be a “nothing fragrance” for me, might be a “masterpiece” for you, or vice versa.  As you might have guessed, this 2007 release, Jil Sander Man, is one such scent for me.  But what’s interesting is the glowing reviews for it.  Before I get to those, let me me disclose the notes (from Fragrantica.com):

Top notes are lavender, violet and bergamot; middle notes are sage and vetiver; base notes are cedar, myrrh and russian leather.

Just as Fragrantica alone, we can read reviews that include the following:

…a remarkable fragrance.

…Rubbery? Yes. Smoky? Yes. Unique? absolutely.

…It opens with an aromatic flowery phase (bergamot, lavender & violet – one of my preferred flowery notes) then switch on a bitter rooty-spicy one (sage & vetiver). In the drydown, when the sweet woody-incensy combo arises (myrrth & cedar) it feels very smooth, elegant and also a bit leathery.

…I use this only at special occasions when I want to feel this wonderful smoke and leather.

…This is one of the most delicious scent I have ever felt!

…basically a woody-leathery violet scent with vetiver and cedar (“pencil”) notes and a slight smoky fog.

…It is too heavy sweet and without interesting individuality. Seems even unisex because of that sugar sweetness.

…Love this! What a nice smoke, vetiver, wood combo!

…This is such a overwelaming scent ! Truly a Masterpice.

…Very much like Cacharel NEMO, about the same sillage. Also, there are a few aspects of this fragrance that remind me of Vintage YSL M7. The biggest is the AWESOME powdery drydown, not a talc, but a wonderful leathery powder. It is just awesome!

…The drydown is good and surprising. Do not let the opening fool you.

…Truly a hidden GEM ! Dark…sexy…masculine…mysterious.

My review is:

For a while I was thinking, a smoother Rochas Man, but without a coffee note (or one that is very mild). However, there is also a “fresh” element (“old school” style, not a bunch of powerful/nasty aroma chemicals). I’d say the sweetness is moderate, and it’s not a strong scent overall, perhaps an “office friendly” version of Rochas Man. I’m not getting a smoky quality, as others have, and I certainly wouldn’t call it a remarkable scent, though I can understand how some might really enjoy it (“dark,” “sexy, or “masculine:” I’d say a “big no” to those descriptions). Don’t expect to clearly smell some or even most of the listed notes – this is more of a “classy” designer blend scent. This is not the kind of scent I’d wear often, if ever really, because when I want at least some of those notes I want them to be more obvious or stronger.

To be fair, there were a few reviews that included comments that I agree with, but overall I was thinking, “how could such a ‘meh’ scent be described in these ways?”  In some ways, I’d say this is a good example of a scent that was blended “into oblivion.”  But I can’t say anything else “bad” about it, other than it may have been a scent of its time (or perhaps the time had passed it by before it was released).  The youngsters would likely say it’s too “old” or “mature,” and it’s not what I would call an aficionado or “niche crowd” scent.  It certainly could be a good “office scent,” but only in the sense that it’s weak and nondescript, at least at this point in time.  Since it was released the same year I first started reading about fragrances (and in my case it was at the very end of 2007), I can’t say it was perceived as an “office scent” with a bit of an edge at that time.  However, I purchased a bottle as part of a lot, so I’m not too disappointed.  I’ll likely move it out by swap or sale soon, but I’m almost regretful that I “wasted” a day wearing it when I could have worn something I’d have enjoyed!

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Viking’s “naturalness:” let’s ask an expert.

expert-advice

This post is a continuation of the last one.  First, I’ll mention that the point is to address the claim that 80% of the non-perfumer’s alcohol content of a Creed Viking bottle is “natural.”  The “problem” is that this is not consistent with “modern perfumery,” which relies on synthetics to provide potency to these concoctions.  Without these, one is very limited in terms of the kinds of compositions one can create that will satisfy consumers’ expectations of longevity and projection.  And what makes the 80% claim especially ridiculous, IMO, is how powerful Viking is, and it doesn’t smell at all natural to me (the wood notes in particular seem highly synthetic), unlike some other Creed scents, which are impressive in terms of blending the naturals with the synthetics.  What percentage “natural” are those?  Perhaps a reader would like to contact Creed and ask them how natural this or that scent of theirs is, relative to Viking.  If nothing else, that might provide some humor.

The fragrance chemist I interviewed for a post on this blog a while back was willing to speak to this issue, and here’s what this person said:

I have not had the chance to try it yet, and the claim about being 80% natural is akin to the legal notion of being within the scope of the law but not in keeping with the spirit of the law. Technically they could be telling the truth because so many aroma chemicals are derived from natural sources, but to use that as a selling point is somewhat lazy and disingenuous (like saying that cheetos are made of whole grain, etc.) Also, it’s a very low stakes claim for them to make, because you’d need to do a great deal of leg room to disprove it (and would need some expensive equipment and a fairly deep knowledge of chemistry) so they clearly don’t mind casually throwing out claims that sound impressive to the average joe.

That said, Creed is known for their truth-adjacent marketing, so you’re right on the money to be skeptical.

It’s very rare that a company would use most of the naturals found in one of these blends for any commercial fragrance (or for the parfum in a functional product), for a number a reasons:

1. Cost. Most naturals have synthetic counterparts that are cheaper. Easy enough.

2. Sourcing. It’s very hard to ensure consistent quality when dealing with naturals and is very costly (see reason 1.)

3. Regulation. The rules on safety are tight (and getting tighter every day) for cosmetic products. A place like the perfumers workshops sell their stuff as educational tools and not functional products, which allows them to sidestep the testing you’d normally have to undergo to put a product to market.

4. Technical aspect. Naturals, while often providing a nice finishing touch to a composition (in small doses), can interact with each other in weird ways and tend not hold up as well over time (this applies mostly to high volatility stuff, hence why your vintage perfumes top notes tend to go off.) For companies looking to create a product that can sit in warehouses for years, this is not an ideal setup.

However, as perfumer Chris Bartlett points out, in the industry, a natural ingredient means:

Aroma chemicals isolated to various levels of purity from natural starting materials by means that do not involve chemical transformations. Also in this category are individual aroma chemicals produced by means of bacterial fermentation.

https://pellwall.com/product-category/ingredients-for-perfumery/natural-ingredients/naturalisolates/

So as I’ve said before, if Creed could produce Viking this way, they have done nearly the equivalent of deriving a pound of gold from a few pounds of lead!  If they haven’t had a major scientific breakthrough at their lab, then the list of ingredients on the box may help us out here.  For Viking it is:

alcohol, parfum (fragrance), aqua (water), limonene, linalool, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, ethylhexyl salicylate, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, geraniol, eugenol, coumarin, cintronellol, citral, cinnamyl alcohol, farnesol, isoeugenol, benzyl alcohol, BHT.

Now this may not mean much to you, but I think that if we look at the labels of other scents, ones that are “mass market” and with no claims to 80% “naturals,” things might make more sense.  For example, the ingredients for Calligraphy Rose by Aramis are:

alcohol, parfum (fragrance), aqua (water), butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, cintronellol, ethylhexyl salicylate, geraniol, linalool, benzyl benzoate, coumarin, cinnamyl alcohol, eugenol, benzyl cinnamate cinnamal, benzyl alcohol, citral, limonene, isoeugenol.

Generally, the list of ingredients can provide some idea of what the scent smells like, but more importantly in terms of this blog post, such a list tells us that it’s likely the was made the way other mass consumer scents are.  My guess is that polysantol or another powerful sandalwood synthetic (perhaps more than one) was used in Viking, but that would not be listed unless it was considered a potential allergen, from what I understand.  And remember, there is something called “natural perfumery;” here is what one natural perfumer stated on his site:

As Luca Turin explained, mainstream fragrances simply cannot afford anymore to use them because of their price: “The big six perfumery firms are aroma chemicals manufacturers, and it is in their interest to keep naturals, with their attendant problems of price and quality fluctuations, to a bare minimum.

He discloses exactly what he uses to make his fragrances:

Absolute as defined by ISO 9235
Alcohol natural
Animal Extracts and tinctures: (civet, Castoreum, Hyraceum, Ambergris, Honey bee).
Concrete: as defined by ISO 9235
Essential oils: as defined by ISO 9235
Extracts: as defined by ISO 9235
Propylen Glicole (PG) (with my cocoa extract only) 
Resinoids
: as defined by ISO 9235
Tinctures: as defined by ISO 9235
Water

https://attarperfumes.net/guaranty-of-naturality/

Why can’t Creed tell us how they define natural?  If you are interested in natural perfumery, there’s a New York Times article about it that mentions this perfumer:

NOTE:  I have no affiliation with this or any perfumer, other than a small number of  messages exchanged with Chris Bartlett quite some time ago through the Basenotes.net message service, though that’s not an affiliation, as far as I know (and I also disclosed obtaining samples and a bottle from the M. Cross company when I reviewed his offerings).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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