Monday, December 13, 2010

Today's Glompls

Christmas smells have come a long way. They have a long way to go, but they have made some strides. I got some wood wick candle today that's green (denoting a pine accord) and called Festive Something. It's excellent. It's right next to the Pier One piney reed diffuser. Which is equally excellent (reminds me a bit of Noel, my fave, which seems to me as if it must have some kind of aldehydic thing going on, because I smell the frankincensism, the cranberriness and the orangitude, but there's something else going on there. I wonder if it's aldehyde C12 MNA, which I only wonder because I know of this compound. It's prolly something else). That, of course, is next to a Fir Balsam candle from Yankee Candle. This last one has been discontinued in favor of Balsam & Cedar, which I think is a mistake. B&C smells much like every other mediocre pine-with-cedar; Bath & Body Works tread that accord into the ground, I'm guessing cuz it's cheap to produce. Fir Balsam smells more like a coniferous tree, because there's this sap note there, which isn't exactly 100% pleasant, but it's very true to nature. And the sap note is easily perceptible. You can still buy it in the stores--it's in the "Treasures" section, or whatever they're calling it--but you can't get the tarts or a spray. Drat.

Anyway, I noticed that all the pine smells I have (for the most part) coordinate really well. Remember when there was only one spray at the drugstore, and it sort of smelled like pine in a weird, very distant way, but mostly was vomitaceous? I do. And when you had a few options of home fragrance pine (I'm basically deploying pine to imply any coniferous smell), most didn't smell very good and some smelled very different from each other. Like a mentholic pine and a weird sort of pine and a cheap cedar. But today there are a lot of choices for a pine scent, and many are quite good. Not all are, but there are at least choices. Now if only people would go a little further in them.

And that reminds me--I can't remember if I've mentioned it, but I smelled the Annick Goutal holiday candle, and it's OK. Competently done, but there's nothing original going on. Someone willing to shell out AG prices for a scent experience deserves better than that. One of the BEST, hands-down, xmas home fragrances out there is still Crabtree & Evelyn's Noel. It's a shame that they still keep trying to put out Noel Part 2. This year it's called Windsor Forest. Capable, well-done like Noel but not as individual or interesting.

And that's it for the xmas smells. The other smell that jumped out at me today was Snuggle Fabric Softener. The white lavender/sandalwood smell. I must have smelled it before, but it felt like I hadn't. Suddenly it smelled like Fleur du Male, all chemical orange blossoms. I was like, "Wow! I have to start using this in the summer!" Their "raspberry hydrangea" is what caught my attention initially, and despite the rather sickening-sounding name, it's quite nice. Berry notes with floral musk. I would guess the fragrance was built around an aromachemical with berry and phenolic floral nuances; because it just seems strange if it started with the concept of raspberry hydrangea. Actually, it may be "black raspberry," which seems to connote a darker, drier fruit tone in consumer products. I feel like some committee was trying to come up with another flavor of Snuggle and someone said, "We could use Ed Shepp Fragrances new captive, "Berryitbitch"--it has a spectacular bright berry tone combined with tropical flower and fresh musk nuances. We could build the smell around that and use fewer ingredients."

Still in fabric softener country, I still think that Downy's Orchid thing smells like Cashmeran. But is that cheap enough for functional fragrances? I guess it is, but who knows...

I think taste might be the future of odor. Meaning, I think the next thing is flavor science. People who are interested in odors and stuff are going to start delving into flavors. Companies which have exhausted the product potential of odors will start branching into flavors. We'll see pop books on flavor come out and there will be a small DIY flavor community. Just a hunch.

But speaking somewhere in the universe of flavor, Lindor (or is it Lindt? Or Lindsor? Too lazy to check) truffles this year come out in Holiday Spice. I'm guessing this is the first time it's happened, because it's the first I've seen of it. They rule. Better than the white chocolate ones, which I like best. They're not quite as good as Godiva's pumpkin spice truffles, but they're an economical alternative to those. And it's about time there was one. For the life of me, I shall never understand why "pumpkin spice" hasn't just taken over as a flavor. Yes, you see it everywhere, and it seems like everyone has tried it, but I've seen it shelved so many times. It seems like it's finally starting to break through in a limited way, but it's astounding how little market share it has.

In another flavor note, Ste. Genevieve Pinot Grigio tastes like garbage. Literally. It's like you're having a glass of harsh wine in front of a dumpster, because there's that "dumpster note" in the finish. It's disgusting. But still better than White Zinfandel.

An d that's the glompls for today.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book review: The Scent Trail

This "author" should be punished for releasing such insipid garbage into the world. Her book is insipid and ridiculous, as I imagine she herself must be. Anyone who doesn't believe that someone can have too much money should read this book. After all, anyone who needs to "travel the world" to learn about a few select perfume ingredients is clearly overprivileged. How she met some of the people in the book and got into some of the perfumeries she visited I will never know. She's not a perfumer. She's clearly not a writer. You would think that somewhere on the book there would appear a reason for anyone to take her seriously as an authority on fragrance, but there isn't.

Full of nonsense (e.g., her bespoke perfumer sends her to someone who "interprets her colors," or some twaddle), myth and terrible prose, this book will, sadly, delight many frivolous "perfumistas." Anyone who actually takes the ideas of fragrance or smell or perfumery seriously, however, should avoid this stale, rotten tripe.

In its way, however, this book could prove valuable--say, if you need to invent a ridiculous, queenly woman character, then you can't find one much better than Celia Lyttleton. In fact, I would go so far to say that this book is a masterpiece of trash, in the league of such drivel as Fabulous Fragrances.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Well, it's Christymastime again, peeps. Sort of. So I'm introducing my Christmas home fragrance for this year: Julmonster, a lush blend of fir, green leaves, clove, leather, firewood and musk.

Listen to the commercial for it here.

If you're wondering how you can get it, well, you can't. Unless you know me, in which case I may send you some with a Christmas card or something. Because yes, it does exist. It was a project of mine--something I've always wanted to do--and I got to experiment with lots of different aromachemicals making it. I thought I might sell it in the end, but its dynamics changed after the first dilution, so short version: it's absurdly strong. And yes, the notes from the audio piece are, in fact, in the oil: ambroxan, Pyralone, Javanol, Karanal..... The story from the piece is adapted from my experience testing it in a friend's apartment, and then later in more open air (but not outside, as it suggests). It might be a good "outside" scent, or possibly a fragrance to gift as "Christmas for the nearly anosmic."

Anyway, it is what it is. And at times I rather like that, in the end, it reflects some aspects of me: It's intense, overwhelming, best in small doses, complicated, evolving..... I'm sure it won't be my last attempt at a Christmas scent (because it is a bit of a "bucket list" thing, if I dare say); but it was a helluva lot of fun making it and learning about aromachems and how they interact.

And that's the Julmonster beep.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Les Heures du Parfum

I happened into Cartier the other day on a walk down Madison Aveune, and noticed their latest perfume offering, Les Heures du Parfum. Apart from Roadster, I typically adore Cartier scents. So, in spite of the gimmicky concept that made me think of that tarot thing that D&G did, I smelled these. And wow, was I pleasantly surprised. (I woulda been a helluva lot more pleasantly surprised if I'd gotten samples, but what'reyagonnado, right?) Oh, and I seem to be missing one, so I don't remember exactly which names refer to which numbers. Alas!

L'Heure Brilliante: This is a bright citrus, olfactively similar to Eau de Cartier, but to me it felt more zesty, more citrus peel. Nicely done.

L'Heure Mysterieuse: This is ambery and has a benzoin-like quality, in which it is similar to Roadster. It's adequate.

La Treizieme Heure (I'm not bothering with accents presently): Phenolic, smoky, quite nice. Nice for layering or when you don't want to be too distinctive. For a smoky scent, I'd go for 2 Man by Comme des Garcons, but this one is nice, and I don't remember it having any of that barbecue potato chips quality that you sometimes get with smoky scents.

L'Heure Promise: Dry orris, almost like paper. This is simply wonderful. One of the Cartier people said it was his favorite, and when I asked him what he thought it smelled like, his response showed that he'd read the description of it. He got patchouli from it; all I got was a light, dry orris. Very, very nice. Subtle.

Naturally, it being a crisp autumn day, I sprayed on Promise, Treizieme and some Declaration.


My Confusing Encounter with the Houbigant Guy

I think we can all agree that in the current moment, with all the books and websites related to perfume exploding, that we should expect those who want to sell us perfume to know more about their product (and expect more from their consumers) than in times past. Am I wrong?

So when someone who works for a perfume house starts spouting nonsense, I get a li'l peeved. This happened to me at Bergdorf Goodman this week.

It began when I passed the display for the new Halston fragrance, which I believe is called Amber, but since I can't verify that in one second by looking at the Halston page, we'll just say it's their men's Amber. (Don't get me started on amber, by the way, since it was the source of another very irritating back-and-forth. Basically someone wrote an article on amber but didn't mention any ambergris synths. One of the things I find most confusing when I read odor organoleptics [hope I used the word right] is the term amber--does it refer to the sweet, resiny amber of, say, Ambre Sultan or the ambergris-type odor (ambroxan, Cetalox, Grisalva...) of Cool Water? I would think one would want to address the fact that the term is used for both, but I'm not getting into THAT again...) The bottle handler asked if I wanted to smell it; I smelled it on his skin--it had dried down, because it basically smelled like ambroxan--then I got a sample. I must have kept yakking, because soonenly I was talking with the person from Houbigant. I think I was asking whether Z-14 had been reformulated because of impending(?) restricutions on oakmoss. And then we got into a discussion of coumarin.

This is where it gets confusing. And if it's confusing for you, well, it was confusing for me.

Basically he starts talking about how Parquet took a "natural extract" from the tonka bean and put it in Fougere Royal. We agreed that this extract was coumarin, but I'm pretty sure it was synthesized. Then he started talking about how it was an extract of the smell of coumarin but was not carcinogenic (the carcinogenicity of coumarin in humans by cutaneous absorption is debatable, I would say, but I'm not a doctor or chemist, so don't take anything I say as license to sprinkle coumarin all over yourself every day).

OK, now wait. Is it the odor principle of tonka or the odor principle of coumarin? Because coumarin is the dominant odor principle of tonka. So Houbigant tells me that it was the odor principle of coumarin, because it wasn't carcinogenic. But it was a natural extract. ...How is this possible? Coumarin is a single molecule. You can't take an extract from a molecule. Or, rather, you might could, but you would be modifying the molecule into a different one (and not an extract, per se, because you can't predict how a molecule will smell from its shape; unless, of course, you can. But you'd have to ask Luca Turin about that.)--by definition that new molecule would be synthetic. This seemed to be the point the guy was making--that in the 1800s someone extracted a coumarinic smell from coumarin that lacked its putative hazards.

If I'm not mistaken, coumarin was one of the first perfumery materials to be synthesized. So come one--it's preposterous that someone could have very specifically modified a molecule back then. It's even more preposterous that you could call any modification a "natural extract." (I don't think anyone's calling Coumane or Bicylcononalactone natural extracts; but they're variations on the molecule; the former cyclopropyl coumarin, the latter octahydrocoumarin.) (And could you really credibly say that ambroxan is a natural extract of clary sage, which would be pushing it?) Basically, the whole thing was preposterous and impossible to follow.

The point here is that in our knowledge-rich world, fragrance companies ought to step it up and start treating their customers as if they had brains (although most of them don't, in the sense of using them to actually think about perfume, so alas......).

As for the Amber scent---eh. It seems to start with a nice clean cedar note, then maybe go into some metallic ambergreasy end. Nothing offensive; nothing particularly interesting.

One last mention of Bergdorf Goodman: Tom Ford people, I love your products, but you really ought to know that cistus labdanum is NOT rarer than oud wood, which you implied the other day. The day after I bought some labdanum absolute at Enfleurage. And it cost far, far, far less than their agarwood. Or their carnation absolute for that matter.

And that's me rant for now.

(The picture at the top of the entry is, yes, coumarin. Again, I'm not a chemist, but I suppose by taking away a ring here and adding an atom or two there you could come up with, say, benzaldehyde. Which would not qualify as a natural extract. Not of coumarin. Maybe of almond. )

Friday, October 22, 2010

Safraline, Myrrh and Tobacco

If I were a more serious writer or haven't had 2 or 10 or so glasses of Sauvignon Blanc (actually, if I'd really had 10, I should arguably doing this as an audio post. Then when people say, "why did you do that as an audio post, when you were all drunk and slurry?" I could say, "Because I'm too beautiful." And if I hit the tone right, and wasn't talking to an idiot, they could see that I had to eff up in my post so that people would feel better about the fact that I'm so beautiful. Or whatever. It's all theory in the end, gootatches. Besides, what pictures do you think history will embrace of you--the perfect-angle, retouched ones or the ones where you look like a regular person? I predict the former. So there.)...... Anyway, if I'd not done that, then I would try to "ease in" to this blog post, like when you're administering semen to some zoo animal (I imagine they do it 'gently'--then again, evolution may have preferred a more 'direct approach'--I don't fucking know! Enough of that!), but since for whatever reason I'm not going to, I'll just launch into it. Here go-eth we...

When I first smelled saffron, years, ago, I hadn't had much experience smelling things. Or, rather, smelling things with concentrated attention, and comparing them against things in my mind which I'd similarly smelled. My initial--and enduring--impression of saffron (the dried spice) was that it "smelled like myrrh." The essential oil. And so it went for several years, as I read myrrh described variously as "toffee-like amber" and "a forest floor." If you'd have asked me last year, I'd have said that myrrh oil had a faint odor of autumn leaves, crushed underfoot recently after a rain. Buy usually I just said that myrrh smelled like saffron.

Sometime later I became acquainted with Safraleine, which plays a pretty large part in the Tom of Finland scent, if you've ever smelled it. Safraleine has a very leathery profile, especially at first, where it has this sort of "chemical" leather smell, something you might expect from a vinyl article that's been replaced with a leather smell. It's not an unpleasant type of leather, it's just a very smoothed-over smell. It's not smoky, and it's not warm and ambery like the leather of Cuir de Russie. It's a modernish leather smell. And it's not enough, apparently, to carry a leather smell. I say this because I've read other peeps' experiences with it. So I presume either upon dilution or drydown it becomes less leathery. Interestingly,, which really does deserve some kind of award for its exhaustive cataloguing of aromachemicals, describes it as an herbal odorant, with leather/herbal/spicy/tobacco/rose ketone facets. I've tinkered with it before, but it wasn't until I my first sort-of perfume "success" that I started to really get to know it.

The success I'm referring to: I got a coconut body spray from Bath & Body Works (I figured coconut would work least intrusively for what I was going for) and tried to make it more of a hay note (or, rather, my idea of hay). I added shit tons of coumarin and octahydrocoumarin, but it wasn't working. So I added tobacco absolute, a new mown hay base and dimethyl hydroquinone. BLAMN! Suddenly I had a great tobacco hay thing on my hands, and sometimes when I smelled it, I was like, "This smells like one of those great tonka/tabac scents that I would shell out craploads of money for IF I HAD IT (but since I don't, I don't buy the Tom Ford Tobacco Vanilla or the Hermes Vetiver Tonka, which isn't really all that great, or the Guerlain thing where they put coumarin notes against heliotrope accords.....)." So I'm pretty much there. I figured I would maybe just add some amber oil for fullness (I don't really care what's in the "amber" oils--surely some synthetic blend of benzoin, vanilla and whatever types---they create a resiny, oily type of amber smell which I like, a "hippie amber" if you will, and that's what I'm after--a prefab note that's nice and dark and oily and resiny and will sweeten the tabac, which I will probably add more of), and maybe helichrysium if it wasn't retarded expensive (I think it might be.). So I was out looking at essential oils today and smelled some myrrh and, since the price wasn't off-the-charts tardo, I got it. Now about this myrrh.....

The first thing I thought when I smelled it: This smells like Safraleine!!!!! In fact, it smelled SO MUCH like Safraleine that I kept comparing it to it in my mind to find difference. I think the myrrh oil is smokier, more herbal, obviously less strong, but overall very similar. Perhaps it's earthier in the drydown. I'll have to compare it directly to the Safraleine later, but it seems very similar. I wondered: could this myrrh, especially considering its viscosity, be adulterated with Safraleine? And then I thought how ridiculous that would be, because I think Safraleine may still be under patent, so adulterating myrrh with Safraleine (even though the retail prices of both in small quantity could possibly justify it) would seem ridiculous. But what I do conclude from this exercise is that saffron and myrrh probably do share a certain olfactory characteristic.

Oh, I should say here or at some point that when I ran into Luca Turin at Enfleurage and mentioned Safraleine, he said that it pretty closely hued to the odor of saffron absolute.

So I take it all to mean that I was right originally in comparing myrrh to saffron.

The takeaway, however, is that I'm finally getting a pinch of success in perfumemaking. In that my tabac fragrance is starting to smell lovely. And I imagine the addition of this myrrh, judiciously applied, should help it as well. I suppose time will tel.

Anyway, that's the gloop for today.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Scent Strip Redux

Behold Evans's feather eyelashes!!!Well, here's a scent strip report for today. The word on scent strips: To me, they always smell better than the actual fragrances. Is there something to that? Discuss. Anyway, today's:

Gucci Guilty: I've been curious about this every since I got sucked in by the commercial for the commercial. And kudos, of course, to Chris Evans for wearing feather eyelashes for the photo. Makeup artists out there: HOW do you DO that thing where you make a guy's beard hair look all sparse, like he doesn't grow much? Is it a Photoshop thing? (Speaking of Things Photoshop, I have to think the retouchment gods for the Healing Brush. w00t w00t for my new favorite tool!) Anyway, so I smelled the scent strip. My first thought: There really is nothing new under the sun in perfumery. I thought the point of all these new molecules the companies are searching for was to give us new experiences. No? The strip calls this a "daring, oriental floral." And is says, in the same paragraph, that it's about breaking social conventions while at the same time speaking to the trendy Gucci woman. OK, whatever. It also says there's a lilac accord in the fragrance. I can actually smell the lilac. Points for at least some part of the smell matching its description. Apart from the lilac, which makes me think of mixing up perfume from oils from Garden Botanika and Bath and Body Works, the scent is a real snooze. Thanks cod for the ad campaign--I guess that's where all the originality in perfume is now.

DKNY Pure: The text implies that the perfume is all about vanilla, specifically vanilla "sourced from Africa, a drop of goodwill..." Did you see what they did there? The word "sourced" is supposed to give you that "good person" feeling that you get from "fair trade" stuff. Spray-on righteousness. Lovely. I wonder how much truth there is to that statement--what are vanillin derivatives "sourced"from nowadays? Guaicwood? Phenol? Did they use phenol ensourcified from something from Africa? Maybe there's exactly .0000000000000001 mL of African vanilla absolute in it? (Am I the only one except for Li'l Kim who likes to pronounce it "Affica"? [source: "You get your diamonds from Jacob, I ain't mad at ya; I get mine straight out the Kimberly goldmine in Affica." Yes, Li'l Kim gets her diamonds from a gold mine. I'll never tire of that one--Je vous promets.] [The French is supposed to say, "I promise you," but methinks the Goog Translate gave me an off result.]) Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand, scene. Now the scent: I thought it would be more overwhelminglier vanillicker. Hmmm, maybe it is vanillic to the extrême, but I don't get that right off, because when I first smelled it, I kept thinking of what it reminded me of. And then it hit me: Dolce & Gabbana for Men! Which I can't wear anymore because, well, it's D&G for Men. And it's used up by everyone and her brother wearing it. I'm sure it doesn't smell exactly like DGM, but it's close enough to make me think of walking around the Upper East Side on a cool, cloudy Sunday morgen, reeking for miles of my fake DGM oil. So it might as well be D&G for Men, because it has the exact same emotional resonance for me. Dolce & Gabbana for Men, but softer and with half the cliché! AND it's "sourced"!!!! So if this fragrance is built to wear on cool, overcast Sunday afternoons walking around the UES and Central Park, it's an unqualified success. Otherwise, it's OK. Inoffensive. And it fits with the other Donna Karan offerings. I guess if you wear lots of DK, you might like this. Oh, and the ad is nice too--all white and grey and earth tones. It looks like Aveda's branding.

Very Hollywood by Michael Kors: This strip is for the "sparkling eau de toilette." This shit I love. I loved the EdP, though, but apparently this is a sparkly, fruitier version. It says there's black current, neroili and mandarin in it, but I just smell sweet fruit floral. It's brilliant--it's like you took one of Escada's yearly fruit drink things and filled it out a bit. (Those are great, too, but they're not for everyone. I'll admit it: I totes don't mind going around smelling like a guava martini. I really don't. It's fun. And if you can't imagine a context in which it would be fun, well, it's not for you.) I love it love it love it. Methinks it's geared to a twentysomething, solidly middle class/lower middle class girl, and it succeeds. I would wear it, though, and I have--I sprayed it on at a mall in New Jersey. A mall with a Sears! But all this talk of class shouldn't imply that I'm speaking sarcastically--I really do love this scent. I will concede, however, that I have to wonder whether I simply like trashy perfumes. I mean, I love Realm for Women specifically for it's topnote accord of berry cough drops and children's aspirin (St. Joseph's, the orange kind), which I suppose you could also describe as Flinstones vitamins. If you like that in a fragrance, snap that shit up, because it was a market flop, which means you can get 3.4 oz for $20 at Loehmans (sp?). Back to VH: It's simply wonderful if you're feeling playful or trashy or whatnot.

That's the beep for now. Flerp!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Today's mixture

Banana (isoamyl propionate) +vanillin +Isobutavan (creamy vanilla cream soda white chocolate) +Jasmatone in a Jasmine perfume I got from CVS = awesomeness.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I have to mention this. I read somewhere that Habanolide has a "hot-ironed fabric" aspect, but I didn't immediately sense it from my smelling. I put it on a paper and followed the drydown, however. It went from a white musk to a musk with a harsh, ambery note, finally to, after a few days...... Fresh-ironed fabric. It's amazing! It really does smell exactly like something that's just been hot ironed with steam. I didn't realize something could smell like that. Amazing.

That is all.

Addendum: Now it smells fainter, and still has a hot-ironed fabric aspect, but also smells a bit like sun-heated dried pine needles. Interesting!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Perfume PREview on

Go read my PREview of Mariah Carey's Lollipop Bling over at

CLICK HERE to read.

I'm sure it will earn me a lot of hate from Mariah Carey devotees. Good thing they changed my description from "abortion fuchsia" to simply fuchsia.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Talk About Gs

I have promised that I will write something for someone, so I'm practicing here by yakking.

Let's talk about Gs. Two Gs, to be exact. First=Galaxolide.

Galaxolide: Wow. I've just been able to smell a 50% dilution of it, and I have to admit that I'm absolutely amazed. I started in my usual way: smelling from the bottle. And I couldn't smell anything. Well, I can't really smell ambroxan from the bottle either. So I put some on a blotter (blotter=torn up piece of paper) and left it to smell later. Verdict with requisite colon: It's incredible! While I knew that White Linen and Tresor have galactic amounts of this musk, I was so not prepared for how it would smell. I just assumed it would be like all the others: powdery, fresh, blah blah blah...... But no. It's very sweet. And bright and floral. And recognizable, if vaguely. It's cool and sweet and all around lovely. It's something I would put with a floral accord. If you haven't smelled it by itself, you really should, because I was amazed that a musk chemical smelled so sweet and fresh. And it just gets better as the days go by. It's been about 5 days now, and it's still powdery fresh and beautiful, and I'm starting to get a fabric-softener feel from it. (Contrast this to Habanolide, which after a few days smelled like a version of that harsh ambery smell in Karanal, except 1000 times less intense and without the body. Ethylene Brassylate, by contrast, smells sweet but recognizably musky.) I can't believe I went so long before smelling one of the basics.

The other G: Grisalva. This is supposed to be "the character of ambergris... in a single chemical." I have no idea what ambergris smells like. Or, rather, I don't remember if I do, because I'm pretty sure I smelled a tiny piece of it at Enfleurage once, but I wasn't sure what to make of the scent. I mean, how would I know if it smelled like "high-quality" ambergris or not, right?! My friend A, however, bought some, and he said it had a certain "locker room" tonality to it. Interesting. Enter Grisalva. For some reason I was expecting to smell something like Karanal or oxyoctaline formate from it, because its odor was depicted as "medium," as opposed to ambroxan, the odor of which is colossal. So I smelled it from the bottle. Interesting! Not at all like Karanal or OF. More like what I'm used to thinking of as ambroxan, but less woody. Put it on some paper. Waited. It started to remind me very much of D&G's Light Blue for women, and I don't like that scent anymore. It seemed citrusy sweet. And of course, it reminded me of a whole slew of men's colognes. More like a class of men's colognes, I guess. And the more I smelled it, the closer to nausea I got. I assumed that this was what ambroxan maybe would smell like if I took the trouble to dilute it to where I could actually smell it. Because it wasn't as 'mineral' or woody as ambroxan had seemed to me. Then it started to seem almost foliage-like, and I thought that this (Grisalva) would go great with sharp, celery-green notes. And then it stopped nauseating me. A couple days later the smell on the paper faded enough to where I could sort of see how it could be described as "animal... leathery." It's much less unpleasant now that it's faded. My verdict is that I'd love to try to make some kind of novelty scent from it, something not meant to be taken seriously. That said, I definitely see the value in it.

That's the beep for now.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Today I was in Target, and I came across two Glade fragrances. And they were not horrible. They're themed in not-ugly "autumn" packaging. (Yeah, I say autumn, phuck you very much. Hmmmm, I just thought to myself, "I should creatively spell the wirty dord, because this is in all-ages blog. And then I remembered that "Tom Ford" is the phrase driving the most traffic here. So clearly I'm not attracting a "family" audience. ...Or I am, depending on your regional dialect. And what church you go to. I'm driving myself crazy with this idea and will stop. Right. Now.) That leads me to think they're new introductions, but I think I've seen the one before.

Anyway, the one I bought is called Cashmere Woods. It's the candly thing that melts in the tray; their attempt to rip off Yankee Candles tarts, making them easier to use (but lower quality). The other one is some forgettable spice number. Forgettable BUT NOT AWFUL!!! That genuinely surprised me, considering that Glade actually managed to screw up a pumpkin-type scent. Anyway, I'm liking the Cashmere Woods, and that disturbs me, to be honest. So I will explore why I might enjoy this fragrance. Here are the hypotheses, none of which I will test:

1) My brain is melting. This is, sadly, likely. But since it's the most intriguing possibility, I will give interestingness and climacticity the finger and not go into it. I'll just say that today I felt like one of Elizabeth Gould's marmosets in the original lab environment. And if you get that reference, PLEASE HANG OUT WITH ME!!!!!!

2) The name confused my nose. Another likely possibility. Because how can you look at something called Cashmere Woods and not wonder if it has Cashmeran in it? Given my nascent appreciation of Cashmeran, of course I'm smelling it there. Does this have Cashmeran? Ordinarily I would say probably not, but I SWEAR I smell it in a Downy fabric softener, so possibly it's cost-effective enough to be used in a Glade fragrance, where I presume the budget is 1/1000 of a cent per unit. Smelling the CW I can't tell. Cashmeran is such a rich and versatile chemical, and to me it smells very clean and chemical, with a pine nuance. It could be in here. Don't know what's backing it up if it is--vanillin? Some superstrong maple chemical (aren't all maple chemicals superstrong? Speaking of maple, check out Homofuronol if you get the chance. It's lovely--bready, caramellic, a bit burnt; kind of a bread pudding nuance)? Maybe one of those mutant super-high-performance woods? Don't know. But that segways [sic] well into the next putative reason...

3) I've been really into woods lately. Ebanol, which is dry and not too sweet, and is less like a wood than a sandalwood presence to me. I adore it, actually. Sandalore, which is creamier than Ebanol and, together with it, supposedly produces a good sandalwood replacement. Okoumal, which I need to experience in massive dilution, as it's harsh like Timberol but in that way that I'm discovering is referred to as amber, as in ambergris. As in Ambroxan, except that you can smell it from the bottle. Ambroxan, to me, smells faint from the bottle, and I think that's because it's odor intensity is colossal, and it plugs up your receptors right away. It's crystals, though, which makes it cool. And it's woody and mineral and interesting and improves just about anything (something I'm sure I'll regret saying in the future). And oxyoctaline formate, which I detest. I thought its odor intensity was supposed to be "medium," but to me it was strong and harsh and not pleasant. Just that amber smell. But it's supposed to blend woods well. I've yet to smell Karanal and Grisalva, and the former frightens me. I may not ever open the bottle. Of course I'll open the bottle. Anyway, all this talk about woods is something that occurred to me in the Target parking lot, and I can't really remember now that I'm typing why it should make me like this scent. Maybe it was because I perceived a woody tonality in the scent and immediately started filing through my brain to figure out what it could be. And on...

4) Glade, or at least this Glade, is improving. This could be possible--maybe aromachem prices are dropping. Maybe the budget is bigger. Maybe not. I'm starting to detect a slight Black Flag-type aftersmell in this Cashmere Woods.

5) I originally had 5 reasons, but I don't remember them now. See reason #1.

And that's that. I guess 'tis brainmelt after allen.

But since I'm here and talking about Cashmere, I picked up Vanity Fair today--because Gaga is on the cover, duh--and smelled a strip for a Donna Karan rehash. I think it's called Cashmere Mist Silky Nude or Nudey Water or Nuder Duder. Something with the word nude in it. You know what? I hate Cashmere Mist, or at least I used to (haven't smelled it in forever), but I loved this stuff. It smelled like fabric. Of course we all know that everything smells good in the scent strip in the magazine, but I would love to smell this in real life. I bet I could even pull off wearing it. It was less floral than transparent musk. Habanolidic, I guess you could say. If you get the reference, let's hang out.

Well that's the glizzp for the moment.

Monday, August 02, 2010


I'm starting to get into musks lately. My favorite, hands-down, is Cosmone. It was the first one I ever smelled by itself, however--that may make a difference. It smells so soft and warm and transparent. Powdery a little, but not noticeably. Just GOOD. With a slight vanilla-like nuance that's barely even there. I adore it. I may have to make a perfume with just Cosmone (apart from the one I made for myself where I just diluted it in water and shook it up before spraying it all over myself. It goes with everything, by the by). Especially since I read that Helmut Lang did the same with

...Velvione (and called it Velviona, if the story is true). I got that at the same time as Cosmone, and smelled it second. It's more typically what I expect from a musk--that cleanish note that we're all more or less familiar with. It's supposed to impart a velvety feel to a fragrance. Hence the name. Cosmone imparts "cosmetic volume." Can anyone tell me exactly what that means?

I used to have some muscenone and ethylene brassylate, but ran out of it before I got enough into musks to notice differences. I remember e.b. having a creamy kind of tone, like it would work very well in a vanilla scent, and muscenone being a bit more animal.

Now I have Animalid, the musk deer reconstruction. It's the typical musk odor. I was hoping it would be more gamey. I also have Exaltolide 50% and Musk R1. Exaltolide--again, a typical musk type smell--clean, maybe a powdery feel. Musk R1 is interesting--for one, it's a crystalline solid, but that's not exactly unusual. Coumarin's solid; so is raspberry ketone. But when I smelled it I immediately though of Fresh White Musk Fantasy, that thing by Coty, I think. I remember when I first smelled that and was completely perplexed, because I thought musk was supposed to smell animalic and even a bit gross. I figured they'd dress it up, but I wasn't expecting the scent to have that particular character. Which we've come to notice as musk. Must R1 smells like it had to be the building block of that scent. It smells just like a stripped-down version of it: cleanish, a bit harsh, a bit oily, perhaps with a woody nuance in the manner of scotch pine (or I'm thinking this because I mixed it up with some scotch pine oil).

If you count Cashmeran as a musk, and I guess most people do, I have that too. But to me it smells nothing like what I'd expect from a musk. To me it smells harsh, sharp, "aromatic," piney, and maybe spicy. I don't get the red fruit aspect from it. And I used to dislike it quite a bit, but it's grown on me. I think it's a smell like no other, and it can work magic in a blend. I'll have to smell Dan Tes Bras again to see if I like it better now that I'm more familiar with Cashmeran. And I'll have to smell that black bottle of Downy fabric softener--I think 'orchid' is in the title. Because the last time I smelled it, I immediately thought, "Cashmeran!"

And since we're sorta speaking about animal notes, I've recently received some of the Civette reconstruction by Firmenich, uncut. WOW. I thought I knew civet, because I smelled it at Symrise. I knew ye not. I must've smelled a dilution there, because this civet doesn't smell like a rotten tooth. This Firmenich stuff smells like an animal's ass. Stinkier than African Stone oil. Not pleasant like castoreum reconstruction. But very useful. And it's always interesting to smell something that's very different from what you're used to. I used to think of civet as a slightly dirtier Lactoscaton, but now I have a whole other appreciation for it.

That's the beep for now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

If I Can't Make A Perfume Then I'll Make An Album

Aiiiight, it's out there on the iTunes, y'all. My aromachemical/perfume-inspired album, If I Can't Make A Perfume Then I'll Make An Album. Go buy it here. To support my struggle. And if you don't buy it for me, then buy it for Mark Baratelli, who improvised the piece called Caramel Furanone 3%. Or Nils Harning, (min fästman, by the by) whose voice is used in Harningal (the theoretical aromachemical that bears his name). Here's the link.

Interesting that after I'd sent the album to CDBaby and all, it occurred to me: "....but I CAN make a perfume!" Not meaning that I'm such an amazing and imaginative perfumer that I could make the next Red Delicious or Fergilicious Eau Fraîche (did you see what I did there?), but rather in this sense: Why CAN'T I make a perfume?* Everyone's doing it; the chemicals are available; you don't need a 100-acre factory in New Jersey and 700 billion dollars in an a marketing budget to introduce a fragrance. You don't need Saks or Bloomingdales or TJ Maxx or anything like that. Not when you have facebook and the interwebs. (to go further--why does it even have to be a perfume? It could be a home fragrance, or, rather, "olfactory art." Not unlike the sonic art I've done. I think you see where this is going. I think people saw where this was going years ago, before I did...) But anyway, yeah. I just wanted to point out what I saw as the ironing there.

A shame I finished/lost interest in the project before I could do Cyclopidene, Cyclal C, Indolene, Koavone or Labienoxime 10%, but hey. That's just how it be happen, yo, 'n stuff. Besides, I have a feeling I'll be making more audio pieces dealing with smell anyway. I mean, how could I go through life without ever doing a piece inspired by cis-3-hexanol or Stemone? Glerp. Yes, glerp indeed.

Now go buy the album. For my struggle.


*Quick note from a regular 30something to any aspiring anythings: If something's important to you, there are ALWAYS going to be people (sometimes everyone you know) telling you that what you want to go can't be done. That it's crazy, that you're living in a fantasy world. I haven't achieved much, but I can't remember anything that I did achieve that anyone believed in but me. Listen to people when they're ripping your ideas, and know that anyone who's attempted anything heard the same. "You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain. I found that quote at the beginning of a chapter in a book by Michio Kaku. A physicist, not a motivational speaker. So there.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Brief Notes on a Couple Bases and some Violets

I love love love love bases. When I love them. I'm still trying to understand Givco's Birch Leaf, but I see how it could be useful. I ADORE Givco's Sampaquita. Tropifruit is nice too--it seems to give a floral effect. And of course I'm gaga for their Castoreum. That's seriously nice.

But let's talk about a couple I've just experienced today. Fir Balsam from IFF. Admittedly, I can't recall what fir balsam absolute smells like off the top of my head. But this base smells incredible. Natural, very Christmas tree, kind of ambery, with what I think is an oily, slightly mossy drydown (but I'm thinking of a synthetic moss, instead of the beautiful, dark, complex odor of oakmoss absolute). Maybe there's a berry note (raspberry ketone?) in that drydown too.

Teak from Firmenich: Fresh, very clean, bracing woody note. If you need a general fresh wood note, this is it. It smells like it just popped out of a mens cologne. If I needed a woody note and didn't want to use an essential oil or build anything from aromachemicals, I'd use this. It almost seems to have a green note to me, it's so fresh. The woodiness of the chemical makes me think of Timberol.

Now let's talk two violets. Orriniff 25% in IPM: I love this. It's that soft, kinda transparent orris note that smells maybe a bit like sap. It's fresh, rather transparent, surprisingly persistent, a bit powdery. I'm thinking this would be something one would use to impart that "high class" orris smell. Perhaps not by itself, though. But it's really quite lovely. I like it very much, and I like it better as it fades on the li'l card I put it on. Now the other: Koavone. This is less persistent than the Orriniff; it's a topnote. So of course it's more intense. Orriniff is softer than this. Koavone has the typical woody-orris-violet-fresh smell, more woody than floral, and a bit harsh at 100%. It's a nice smell, though. Woodsy/outdoorsy/autumny, to me. It makes me think of Déclaration by Cartier. I wonder what it would smell like in a light woody/acorn/leafy/twiggy scent.


Sunday, June 27, 2010


I think I'm getting a better impression of what, exactly, "phenolic" means. Take something I recently got: methyl benzoate. Interesting chemical. Its smell is described as chemical, phenolic, ylang almond tropical flower. It is definitely chemical. But it also has that wintergreeny ylang floral thing going on. When I first smelled it I thought it would be useful to create a type of indolic floral smell, like an imitation of indolic jasmine. I always think of Forever by Alfred Sung when I think of recreations of indolic jasmine. Right or wrong. But then I started to connect this smell with what's commonly called phenolic. I've seen cade oil described this way (that's obvious--cade smells like smoke), but also Cyclopedine, ylang and methyl benzoate. So I've come to determine that phenolic also denotes a particular texture. I would say something like velvety, but perhaps harsher, since velvety is commonly used to describe Velvione (duh) and Cashmeran. So, for phenolic, I suppose I would say velvet-but-harsher. You know how ylang has that topnote that's creamy but also velvet-but-harsher? That's the texture I'm thinking of. Methyl benzoate has it and to an extent so does Cyclopedine. I'm expecting some para-cresyl acetate soonly, as well as some Aurantiol (can't wait to smell that--it's a base of hydoxycitronellal with methyl anthranilate. The latter is supposed to smell intensely of grapes. A lot of descriptors would call it floral, but I think floral is meant in the same way that it's meant of indole--that as a component it can help fill out a floral smell. I have to say that I feel very vindicated that methyl anthranilate is used to create orange blossom smells, because I remember smelling perfume oils long ago that were supposed to be "orange blossom" or "pikake," and thinking they had a heady grape smell, like a deeper version of grape soda. Then later I smelled this spray someone had which she swore up and down was all natural neroli. But it had a pronounced grape backnote, which led me to believe, based on all my experience, that it was petitgrain and a base rich in methyl anthranilate, although I wasn't aware of the chemical name then. ). The para-cresyl is supposed to be animalic narcissus phenolic floral. That should be interesting. The Aurantiol will just be interesting.

The other new thing I got was Nectaryl. Interesting. I thought it would be sweeter. It's your basic peach fragrance oil writ large. Not sweet. Long-lasting, though. A shame I'm not creating anything I'd like to use it in right now.

I have to give props to raspberry ketone, however. While the crystals don't smell strong by themselves and again, I thought it would be sweeter), it really does do something magical to woody odors. Color me impressed. Maybe I'll try it on my face and hair now!

Also in the pipeline: Orris. Specifially, Koavone, which supposedly smells woody/violet/green, and at high levels aldehydic/pine needle; and Orrinniff 25%. Also: the IFF Fir Balsam reconstitution. Every recon I've smelled so far has been Givaudan. And I've also ordered the Carnation and Ylang Ylang key accords from The Perfumer's Apprentice. Gotta say: LOVE them. Love the supersweet carnation accord, and the ylang smells practically nature-identical.

That's the beep for now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Raspberry Ketone

So I'm supposed to get some raspberry ketone soon, and I googled it to see if I could find anything interesting. Well, it turns out that, apart from smelling like raspberry jam, it also may have anti-obesity and hair regrowth properties (and maybe make skin look better too). !


hair regrowth

I googled "raspberry ketone" +antidepressant, just in case it was also battled the blues, but didn't immediately come up with anything.

That's one hell of an aromachemical! I can't believe I haven't seen weight loss-antiwrinkle-hair regrowth fragrances yet. After all, people were producing (allegedly) oxytocin-infused perfumes after the study came out linking oxytocin with enhanced trust. Perhaps I should market a scent in that vein! (NOT!)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Damascenone Total 10%

I just remembered this. If you want to know what this smells like, taste some Beringer's White Zinfandel. I had a glass and immediately thought of my Damascenone 10%. Didn't run to taste the Damascenone, though. It's probably not as sweet as the Zin. (If anyone is inspired by this to buy me some wine, I tend to prefer dry whites. So dry they taste of nothing. I wish I could buy dry whites flavored with faint touches of banana and mango--just enough for the aroma to be there but not so much that it's Hooch or that it tastes like it came from Starbucks. Who can make that happen? Hmmmm???)

Friday, June 18, 2010


...Could I have a new favorite aromachemical??? Right after I decided that methyl diantilis was the smell of happiness??? (And right after I sent my perfume album, with the aromachemical pieces, to CDBaby. Hmmph!) Well, let me tell you what I got today.

I got four new aromachems, just in sample size: Amyl vinyl carbinol, Cyclal C, methyl phenyl acetate and Cyclopidene. And I'm pleased to admit that I love them all! I have to admit--you never know with aromachemicals. Sometimes they don't smell to you like the descriptions; sometimes they're very useful in blends but not something you find pleasant alone (qv Cashmeran, which I smelled at 10% and wasn't fond of it. I think that it can work magic in a blend, though). And sometimes you just love them. So here's what I think after briefly smelling what I got:

Amyl vinyl carbinol: Nicely earthy, after a few hours smells still earthy but a bit more like food. Kinda green, I think. I have to smell it again. It's supposed to smell like mushroom, but I'm not quite sure what that smells like. (I hate it when descriptors I don't understand are used. Examples: Phenolic, thujonic. I think I have an idea what phenolic means now, because I smelled an old cleaner that had phenol in it. Smoky, acrid. Very smoky. Thujonic I looked up, because I don't know what thujone smells like, or if I do then I don't remember what I might have smelled it in. Apparently it's cedarleaf/mentholic. Is that right?)

Cyclal C: Wow. Nice green note. I LOVE green notes (cis3hexanol, Stemone, isocyclocitral...), so it's no surprise that I love this. It's green but also has a sweetness that kinda reminds me of cinammon. Very interesting. I wish I could say more, but these are just first impressions. It's very natural, and I could see it coming in handy.

Methyl phenyl acetate: Holy honey! Wow! This was described as honey like and very intense. Intense? Very, but I smelled it 100%. I know you're not supposed to, but I just can't wait and don't want to have to think about diluting things at this point. I'll see how they behave later. Honey? Hmmmm, probably, but it's not how I perceived it. For me it is definitely a strong floral note, but it smelled a bit like hyacinth at first, without the intense greenity. (Can we all start using this word I just made up, y'all? Greenity? I just like the way it sounds.) But then it started to smell more like a floral note that I can't quite define. Like something I used to smell at trade shows as a kid, when my parents were in the nursery business. I want to say azalea for some reason, but since we have craptons (another word I'd like to get enbirthed) of azaleas en Floride and they also at FSU, I can tell you that azalea flowers, as I know them, have no scent. I wish I could pin it down. I will say this: it's incredible. And I just rubbed a piece of paper with a bit of it, left the room and came back about an hour later, and it smelled the entire room. It's loverly.

Cyclopidene (which I can never remember how to spell, so maybe I'll start referring to it as tuberose acetate): If methyl diantilis is the smell of happiness, then this is the smell of ecstasy. It's floral, sweet, strong and slightly minty. It definitely has a tuberose-ylang type smell. If any of you ever smelled that tuberose oil they had at Sephora when they had the perfume organ, it smells a bit like that, like candy. Smarteez candy, to be specific. It has a fruitiness to it too. But what's most interesting about it is the mintiness, specifically a wintergreen (methyl salicylate) type mintiness. Have you ever smelled a flower that had a wintergreen note? I've smelled a fragrant orchid once, and it had that aspect. It's sort of like that. Imagine ylang with wintergreen. Take that and make it brighter, louder and simpler (remove the softness and the creaminess). Add in the smell of Smarteez candy. Then you have Cyclopidene. The only sad thing about it is that, despite its descriptor as a middle note and an estimation of 18 hours substantivity--which I think would put it at a middle-top note, right?--it doesn't last. At least not on the piece of paper I have. I guess that would definitely make it the smell of ecstasy, right? Since it can't last... (Maybe that would also make it the smell of XTC--no, wait. I think that's methyl benzoate. Or benzyl something. A note they use to train the drug dogs. See that book What the Nose Knows. Cocaine apparently smells like benzaldehyde, if I'm right here. And I think I'm mixes up. Marijuana smells like sesquiterpenes.) There's something else about this chemical, though--something it reminds me of that I can't place. Maybe it was used in one of those spicy air fresheners that I used to adore back in the day. It smells familiar, but I'm not sure what exactly of. Anyway, it's loverly. Wouldn't it be?

That's today's aromachemical report.


Saturday, May 22, 2010



Every time I touch your bottle, I end up with fingers that smell ice creamy, like a creamsicle without the orange. Full strength, you have a weird glue-like note; but diluted, you smell incredible. Like ice cream/cream soda/white chocolate/all the descriptors listed for you, except the apricot, which I haven't gotten quite yet. I love you I love you I love you!!!!

Now let's see if your influence is as strong on a blend as it is when I just touch your bottle.



Damascenone Total 10 %: Tell me, you all, what are your experiences? (Tell them in the comments, purleeze.) (Full disclosure: I'm drunk at the moment.)

I received some recently, and was very impressed by the fruity (in the plum/prune/berry way) character of the oil but also the dry rose character which I smelled the second time. Then, I added it to a couple blends, not in crazy amounts, and this is what happened: It seemed to sort of "sheer out" the fragrance; almost like they turned into rose scents with slight backgrounds of whatever else was in the scent. One had a heavy clove note that nothing penetrated, but the damascenone seemed to turn it into a rose scent, and this was a concentration of 10%! It's prolly my imagination, because, in truth, I don't actually like rose scents all that much, but the concoction needed a rosy floral note; So maybe I'm just smelling the rose tone because it stands out to me.

What are all y'all experiences with it? I love the fruity character and the rose impact; I just don't really know how to use it.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Aromachemicals Series

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn't mention the nascent collection of soundpieces that's been spilling out of my brain onto my computer. I'm referring to it as The Aromachemicals Series, and it looks like it may grow into an album, which would allow me to use a title that I thought up some time ago: If I Can't Make a Perfume, Then I'll Make an Album! We'll see how it develops.

So I've been posting them as they come along. So far I have three:

  1. Isocyclocitral and Unhappiness
  2. Caramel Furanone 3%
  3. Calone 1951: A Tribute to Aromachemicals that have Defined Their Time

So far I've just been putting them up on The Neld Adventure, so go there to hear them. But I suppose I'll put them on music sites or whatever eventualish.

Ed Shepp

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quick Notes - Isobutyl Quinoline and Isobutavan

I just got them today, along with others.

IBQ: WOW. It's not what I expected. Except: what you've heard about it being strong--that's all true. So open it outside or in your lab. But about the scent--amazing. I thought it was just going to be inky or smoky or just dark, or maybe unpleasant. But I quite like it. From my brief encounter with it today I perceived it as earthy and rooty, similar in a way to vetiver. But it reminds me (like isocyclocitral) of playing in the backyard as a kid. We were fond of digging holes for a while--maybe it's similar to that dirt smell. (In case you're wondering, isocyclocitral reminded me of the leaves on the trees in the yard, or possibly a combination of the leaves with pinecones. Kephalis smells a bit like potting soil to me--my parents had a big nursery/greenhouse when we were growing up, so I think of "peat" when I smell Kephalis.)

Isobutavan: Well, after smelling bicyclononolactone, methyl laitone in dilution and coumarin (I think all these are lactones--I don't know me chemistre), I expected it to be rather mild. At 100%, it's stronger than I expected. Its profile is something like "white chocolate/cream soda with an apricot nuance, lends a thickening rather than a powdery effect." OK, sounds cool. Anyway, at 100% on a piece of paper, it smells like paint. But I get the creamy/slightly fruity tone behind it, and as it evaporates and weakens a bit, it definitely smells much creamier. In that "damn, this smells delicious!" creamy kind of way. Incidentally, I also got some ethyl vanillin today, and it's fantastic. Love it. Knew I would.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010


So I was at that witch store in the East Village over the weekend--I can't remember the name of it, but it's the one that has the civet that smelled just like the stuff at Symrise--and I thought I'd see what some of their other stuff smelled like. I ended up getting a heliotrope-type oil and a ylang ylang type. Both reconstructions. I don't know how close the heliotrope is to smelling like either heliotrope flower or heliotropin, but it does smell interesing: very cherry, creamy almondy and a bit plastic. And not unlike Play-Doh. This gels with what I expected to smell. Of course, it's also almost sickeningly sweet, but interesting. More interesting is the ylang ylang, which I got specifically because it's a synthetic reproduction. The fidelity to the natural flower is astounding. It has the creaminess and spiciness, and when you put it on your skin, it doesn't fall apart right away. I compared it to my bottle of natural ylang, and while the natural one seemed a bit softer, not quite as sweet, maybe "oilier," the reconstruction still smelled fantastic. A touch brighter and lighter. There was also a slight fishy tone in the synthy one, but I'm almost positive that was something else I was smelling, or maybe something I perceived after smelling something else. I definitely did not get a fishy odor in the store, and I doubt it would have gone from perfectly fine to rancid in one day. Even the crap on the street doesn't do that. So yeah. That's the buzz on the stuff from the witch store. I'm still surprised by how good their synth accords are--the tuberose was nice, the civet good, the ylang practically nature identical.... Their tonka is not a good likeness of the natural absolute; I'm curious about their plum.

Monday, February 01, 2010


Wow. Isocyclocitral. This is probably one of the best odorants I've ever smelled. IFF calls it green/aldehydic/herbal, with a sharp, leafy note. I don't catch the aldehydic part, but admittedly I'm not well-versed in aldehydes. But it is hella-green. The immediate impression that I got when smelling it was "Conifer! It's the perfect conifer top note!" And thegoodscentscompany says it's a pine modifier, so I guess my instinct was on. But as I smell it, I'm thinking of this tree in the backyard of the house growing up, and how I'd break the leaves and what that would smell like. I think it smells like that tree, which may or may not be deciduous (I grew up in Florida, so it might've been, but it didn't lose its leaves in winter; some, like dogwoods, do). Of course, there are also craploads of pines in the backyard, so it could be more conifer than I'm thinking. Essentially, it smells like home.

So now I've smelled cis-3-hexanol, Stemone and now isocyclocitral, and I adore all of them. I'm getting to the point where I could paraphrase what someone said over the weekend about color: "I have a thousand favorite smells, and they're all green!"


Friday, January 29, 2010

Raw Materials

Why am I not yammering on about all my new raw materials purchases here? Why am I boring people with all kinds of facts about my latest acquisitions??

I thought this yesterday in the tub (I get the best thinking done in the tub), and thought that maybe I should experiment with "bottling up" all my fragrance talk and putting it all here. Then I could talk all I want about it without worrying whether people are falling asleep. Because on the Internet, you can always just go to a new website if you're bored. Glorp!

You know what I realized, also, in the tub? Every since I've been getting these new aromachemicals (and I love this world we live in where you can order aromachems off the net and be sure what you're getting. I would hate it if my aroma palette had to consist only of oils I could find retail--with names like Amber, Arabian Sandalwood, Sex on the Beach and African Love. Who knows WHAT is in those things?! Not as if it's going to be dangerous what's in them, but the point is that you don't even know what you're mixing. Anyway, back to my other realization: I haven't bought any actual fragrances in forever.

OK, that's not exactly true. I've bought two very recently: Realm for Women and Fleur du Male. Both because they're very, very cheap due to having been commercial failures. But I adore them. Realm has topnotes of orange-flavored Aspirin or Triaminic and berry notes similar to cough syrup or Flintstones vitamins. That's what I treasure about the scent. Seriously. After that is a warm floral drydown that's kinda tangy at the end. And it has an "aftersmell." Spray it on a card or on your hand. Then exhale and quickly inhale again. An aftersmell. ...And then there's Fleur du Male, which really feels more like a perfume base than a proper fragrance. Just blazing, blistering powdery orangeflower. That sweet note in Joop! but filled out a bit; not so chemical. Don't get me wrong, though--jpgfdm IS pretty chemical, but not like Joop! or (thankfully) Le Male. It's supposed to have fern and hay accords in it too--I don't smell them. I only smell a floral BLAST that's strong and long-lasting. It's fantastic for layering, especially with other bright florals. And you really don't want to hear how I layer, because you would probably retch. On some occasions, I'll actually put a few drops of a base or an aromachem (like a 10% Calone solution I have) on my undershirt or in my shoes. Actually, doing that in my shoes is probably on the whole something good for humanity. On my shirt--probably not good either for me or for peeps who, for example on the subway, have to smell me up close. To those people, I have to say, "I'm sorry if my fragrance is bothering you; you're welcome to go fuck yourself." In a way, it's kinda like smoking: "Excuse me, your possibly hazardous layering of aromachemicals is bothering me." "Well, it's killing me, bitch."

So let's talk aromachems! I have to say, I've gone a bit overboard since I ordered my first ones. Since I discovered that you can order small quantities from The Perfumer's Apprentice, I've been doing so constantly. I got some for Christmas, and then got more after. I can't remember the last I mentioned, so I'll rattle off a few names, some of which I can't remember exactly: cis-3-hexanol: perfect sharp green grass fresh cut leaf; Stemone: green, vegetable, tomato leaf, excellent; coumarin: lighter than I expected, but still lovely--faint cherry almond herbaceous; Kephalis: smells to me a bit like peat, but also woody, maybe tobacco-like, quite nice; Cosmone: my first musk--HEAVENLY, smells like I don't know what--powdery, sweetish, not much of a recognizable character, but soft, velvety, I ADORE it--I'm thinking of making a perfume out of only the maximum amount of Cosmone--it's that good.

I think that was most of two orders ago. The last order was about two things, mostly: carnation and bases. I got a carnation accord. It smells wonderful, but I adore carnation. Does it smell like the carnation absolute at Enfleurage? No. That smells like some combination of carnation, honey and lots of earthy, hay like , strange smells and a powderiness. You wouldn't connect it with carnation in your mind if you smelled it. The carnation accord from PA: bright, sweet, spicy, very much what you'd expect from something called carnation. Not exactly "natural smelling." In some ways hedonically superior to the natural. And this brings me to one of the most interesting things I've ordered: The Sampaquita base from Givaudan. It's supposed to smell like jasmine sambac, I think. I have smelled the natural J. sambac abs, and I find it extremely pleasant (I had Pseu Braun smell a dilution of it, however, and she said "it smells like ass. Literally, like ass. Must've been the indole...). The base does not accurately re-create the smell of the absolute. It creates a different impression. They smell very clearly similar, but the base is brighter and more gleaming. At first there's that fertilizer-like smell that I thought was indole in the natural, but curiously, it fades. And you go through a number of synthetic floral smells, one of which is noticeable as the prominent note in oils called "pikake" and "orange blossom." Methyl anthranalate? Not sure. At points I felt like the base would work great in a shampoo or something. It's really bright. If the natural absolute is a warm 15-watt incandescent bulb, the base is a 100-watt halogen. Which is better depends on what you need. I won't really go into that, because there are lots of reasons to use bases. I guess one good question is this: if I were to create a jasmine perfume, which would I use? The answer is easy: both. The base for its radiance, freshness and economy, and a bit of the natural for its odd, animal/earth/green notes and roundness. But remember, folks: I'm not a perfumer. Don't try this at home. I also got PA's tobacco accord. I had the tobacco absolute already (stunning--fruity, hay like, earthy, with maybe even a hint of manure, heavy, versatile), so I could compare the two. The PA accord is definitely lighter and brighter, and ironically smells more like tobacco, as in the dry tobacco you'd fine in cigarettes. Safraleine is part of the accord, and I can detect it. Maybe because I know it's there, but I also have safraleine, and I really like what it does.

Back to carnation: I also ordered methyl laitone, which smells fantastic. It's definitely one of my favorite materials, up there with cis-3-hex and Cosmone. It smells to me like the floral not that you buy ylang or Stargazer lilies for. Amazing. Floral, but also spicy, somewhat like gingerbread. Someone else smelled smoky notes in it, and said it smelled like heated wood, like in a sauna. Interesting. I also got some methyl laitone, which at first started out nicely tonka-like, but then became that coconut milk smell you encounter in "Arabian sandalwood." And a bit urinous. I also got some bicyclo nonolactone, which smells spectacularly like tonka. I like it very, very much.

Oh, and I got some dyhydromyrcenol, to have as a reference chemical. It's just something you have to be familiar with it. It's not entirely pleasant. It smells "functional," like a cleaning product. Sort of citrusy in a vague, grey way, sort of lavendery, maybe a bit of wood. You can definitely smell that it's been in a lot of colognes.

In the upcoming order: Helional. I can't wait to smell this. It's supposed to be ozonic/metallic with a hay and cyclamen tone (what does a cyclamen smell like???!) and maybe an almond cream nuance. I'm not sure what to expect. Turin says it smelled like a silver spoon after its been sucked. Also, hydroxycitronellal, another reference material. Bases: Kumquat Givco and Lindenflower Givco. The Kumquat is supposed to be a headspace reconstruction--should be interesting. And isocyclocitral, which is supposed to be a green note. I've adored all the green notes I've gotten so far, so I'm excited about this one.

That's the beep for now.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Neld Adventure

Not exactly about fragrance, but we'll get back to that inna minnut. For now...

Aiiight, everyone go look (now! not later!) at The Neld Adventure, at

For the more digestible introduction, check out Nils's Introduction in Nine Parts (which should have shown up first, but I couldn't figure out how to make the draft thing work). The picture below will sweep you there:

For the longlongLONGLONGLONGLONGLONG-ass prose introduction, which I don't think I have to even say is mine, click the beautiful picture below.

Here's to one helluva 2010.

Ed Shepp

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Another perfume article...

I hate this page here. It's some article from Real Simple about winter fragrances. And it's the same old tripe. Since the "amber" scents are the ones I'm mostly familiar with, I'll comment on that page.

The author says:

Amber, a resin with a rich, powdery scent, is the base note of these fragrances. Each has a hint of sweetness.
I suppose it's debatable whether amber refers to the fossilized tree sap, but I think today it refers to a blend of fragrant resins that tends to be rich, thick and sweet. I wouldn't expect an amber-type fragrance to be powdery. And I would expect any amber fragrance to have a helluva lot more than a "hint of sweetness."

Don't know the Byredo one, and I don't really know the Gap one well either, but I can say from my experience of every Gap scent is that none are appropriate for "a night out." Unless said night includes going to the mall, hanging out, hanging out at the mall and doing a little hanging out. At the mall. If that's your idea of a night out, however, then you're probably not ready for perfume. Unless, that is, if you're hanging out at the perfume counters smelling everything, comparing, learning. But that would make you a perfume geek, and you would have already realized that no Gap scent would work for an occasion of any gravity.

Fresh Tobacco Caramel Eau de Parfum, $75

Sweet notes of caramel, honey, and rich tobacco flowers make this eau de parfum girlie and gutsy. It was created for men and women. You can splash it on or lightly spray it.
The author didn't smell the fragrance. I did, and I'll tell you this: it does not smell of honey, caramel or tobacco. I'm not sure what tobacco flowers smell like, but I know what tobacco leaf and proper tobacco scents smell like; and it's not this. And to me, that's just disgusting. What could be easier to create than tobacco caramel? Just throw in some tobacco absolute or a tobacco base and some lactones, and you have zillions of versions of the idea. Am I wrong? How does everyone mess up these kinds of perfumes? I mean, caramel lactone, anyone?? It's such a strong chemical--it would HAVE to be economical to use, and it produces a perfectly acceptable maple/caramel effect.

C.O. Bigelow Chemists Perfume Oil in Amber, $15

Bohemian but fresh, this is one of the best versions of amber around. Just a dab of the potent oil will do. Or add a few drops to your body lotion for an allover scent.
I think I remember this being acceptable but uninspiring. Or maybe it was more of a "sporty" amber--can't quite recall. Clearly it was unmemorable. If you want a good hippie amber, just go to Whole Foods or any such store, spend a few bucks and get anything with the word amber in it. I prefer "amber paste"--I forget who makes it, but what's the difference with these things? Don't blow $15 on the C.O. Bigelow brand; get a cheap one with a fake-Indian sounding name. Especially if it touts how the ingredients are "all natural," because typically those oils have probably nothing natural in them. Because really, how can you make "Egyptian White Musk" or "Lily of the Valley" naturally? Puh-leez.

Estée Lauder Sensuous Eau de Parfum, from $29.50

Subtle woodsy notes give it a sultry undertone, while orchids and magnolia make it feminine. A light spritz works well for day; layer on a few more for night.

I like Sensuous, so I can agree a bit with this, even though the "orchids and magnolia" phrase makes me involuntarily roll my eyes. And I wouldn't call the woody (no, not "woodsy." Woodsy refers to the smell of a forest or wooded area; woody refers to the smell of wood. That's my pet peeve, and even if I'm wrong, I stand by it. Dammit!) notes subtle. They're very much evident throughout the fragrance. I like the scent and have worn a tester of it, but I'm not sure that I would ever buy it. It just kinda feels to me like a low-calorie version of Youth Dew or Shalimar.

Antyganoo, that's me rant. Blerp!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

My Aromatic Christmas

Well, Christ's moose has come and gone, and I thought I'd report on the aromachemicals I got, since I know everyone is DYING to know. (The picture oon the left, by the way, is me enjoying a day after Christmas in beautiful Mount Dora. At present I am pining for Mount Dora's fantastisk vinter clime. Sigh....)

Firstlene, I should say that I was surprised I got any at all. I mean, who asks for aromachemicals, right? It's WEIRD. But hell, I'm weird. I'm a mad scientist artist andallthatjazz. So I do, that's who! There! Anyway, I got three, from Mom. I guess they were at the top of my list.

Allyl amyl glycolate: I was really glad to get this, since I believe I've read it's the engine behind those huge 80s fragrances like Giorgio Beverly Hills and her sisters. I expected it to smell intensely strong, pineapply and galbanum green, from the descriptors I've read. From my experience so far, it smells like a sweaty pineapple. Very sweaty. And there's a galbanum-like greeness there too, but not as much as I'd hoped. Granted, I think I'm smelling it at 100%, and I ought to be smelling it as 1%. I plopped a bit in something, and it took it over. If I'm to be an ersatz perfumer, however, then I must learn to use this. Because many of the materials say that it "adds a modern sparkle to any fragrance." But I heed Luca Turin's warning from The Secret of Scent, I believe: that any concentration above 1% may compel the wearer to rush out for a copy of Olivia Newton John's Physical. Lastly, this compound is an ester.

Berryflor [berry hexoanate]: You know, I still can't really smell this much. I get the berry nuance, the anise nuance and maybe some of the jasmine floral nuance. I thought it would be stronger. Perhaps it needs to be diluted. Interestingly, it smells just like this oil I discovered from Bath and Body Works, which was from their autumn line, called Harvest Berry. I can confidently say that Harvest Berry smells, to me, like a great cassis (as far as I've been exposed to cassis; there are a couple cassis accords I've gotten before that I've really loved--one by Bare Escentuals and another from a place called Soaps 'n Suds. Or something. I really liked those, but, of course, who knows what's in them..... I may have smelled real cassis from Enfleurage, but I don't recall the smell except that it was very different from the accords I'd been exposed to before) with an anise tone to it. I mixed it with some clove oil and ylang, and it was magic. It overpowered the clove a lot more than I expected, and the ylang made it smell a bit like Christian Dior's Poison. Well, that with the berry. I've experimented less with the Berryflor so far. I'm thinking that it could be very useful.

Benzyl salicylate: I unequivocally LOVE this smell. Luckily, it has a low odor strength, meaning that you can open it in someone's house without it smelling up the whole place, and mix with it too. It's supposed to be a great fixative too. To me it smells like a piece of a carnation interpretation--the light, greenish part, but with floral and maybe spicy accents. If I were bold enough to attempt them , I could probably use this in innumerable floral compositions. I haven't a doubt it would go with ylang and any carnation accord; jasmine and surely orangeflower as well. Of course, it's indelibly associated with carnation because of its high use in the carnation perfume L'Air du Temps; it was what really made the fragrance (it may have since been replaced). (Tack to this blog for the paper which I linked to in the previous sentence.) So if you're in the market for a fragrance chemical, and one that won't make the entire neighborhood smell, pick this one.

What? Whose birthday is coming up? Oh right! MINE!!! I guess I should say which aromachemicals I want now, then! Well, I will, but not because I'm fishing for someone to give them to me. But here we are: I really want some Cosmone since it's supposed to be a really amazing musk; I'd love any kind of coumarinic lactone, or even just coumarin; I want some more tonka absolute, because I methinks I'd like to try to make a quick-n-dirty hay/tonka/tabac scent; Iso E Super, because it's in everything, and I really ought to be familiar with the smell; one of those really grass-green hexylenes, Galaxolide because it's a classic chemical; acetoin because it's intriguing, and maybe some bases like Sampaquita, Kumquat, Star Jasmine or an orangeflower one. Oh, and a good hay absolute. That would be a dream.

Anyway, happy new year, glerps! 2010 is the year that everything MUST change. So make a change! I've already changed my underwear TWICE this year!!!! Yes! TWICE!!!!!!


postscript: My li'l pine/firewood/leather accord finally came out well. I think the Cashmeran enhances the freshness of the pine without making it more mentholic; more Safraleine helped punch up the spiciness, and a crapload of cade gave it a more smoky nuance. My sister said she liked it, but she may have just been humoring me. She said it smelled like firewood but also like incense in a church. I can see that. I didn't actually add any olibanum, though. I thought about it, but I can see how other chemicals, perhaps the ambroxan (which, though surely in a huge "overdose," made it "bloom") or the Timberol. Maybe the castoreum accord, which I think tends to give things a "used," old smell. Anyway, it was a success. Maybe I'll make a better one for next year. Maybe I'll use real oakmoss. Maybe I'll do a fruit-spice. Maybe I'll do a fantasy floral. Or maybe I won't do anything at all. Who knows what Christmastime will bring this year anyway---this is the year that EVERYTHING. MUST. CHANGE.