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.