Monday, February 7, 2011

Mapping the Vocabulary of Scent: What Smells like Nail Polish/ Metal/ Sweat/ Horses/ Hairspray/ Burnt Toast/ Baby Powder/Dirty Socks etc?

When testing fragrances, the average consumer is stumped when faced with the ubiquitous list of "fragrance notes" given out by the company. That they do not accurately reflect actual essences or oils entering the composition is a given: Safraleine does not mean anything to the casual buyer, whereas they're familiar with the smell of saffron possibly or the nuance of leather goods, so the "fantasy" copywriting is preferred for all the obvious reasons. But how can in turn the consumer decipher which "notes" appeal or displease in any given perfume thus? "This smells weird and dry, must be the mastic note" comments one, while another says "I sense it as fluffy, could it be the heliotrope?" When in front of an aromatic stanza, one is often at a loss to describe in words the feelings evoked. But the feelings and associations are undeniably there, so an articulate, knowledgeable vocabulary is sorely missing, in part due to the secrecy of the industry and in another due to the limited scope that smell has on our language. Even perfumers themselves could benefit from translating the impressions of people into a concrete transliteration in perfumery terms. In short, which perfumery ingredients give which effect in any given formula? Let's see the most popular queries in alphabetical order and their explanation in a short guide on Perfume Shrine.

Baby powder/talc smell: Usually based on white musks (see this article on classification/perception of musks and that one on synthetic musks) or orange blossom. The latter due to its ubiquitous use in baby products, imparting a feeling of both freshness and tenderness. For reference the actual Johnson's Baby Powder has traditionally relied on the combination of citrus-vanilla-lavender.

Banana note: A natural facet of some white flowers (particularly jasmine sambac or ylang-ylang), when the effect is an unripe, green banana, unpeeled. It's also common when there is a lot of benzyl acetate in the formula, which is in turn naturally found in jasmine, ylang ylang and tobira blossoms.

Band-Aid note: Usually a synthetic "oud/aoudh" base is responsible for this weird, medicinal effect. 

Blood/metallic note: Due to 1-octen-3-one. Has an odour that is a cross between metallic blood and mushroom (see "cepes" notes in perfumery). Blood can be evoked via two aldehydes as well: decanal and nonenal.

Body Odour: see Sweat below

Caramel note: Usually a combination of vanillic notes (real vanilla pod orchid essence or vanillin).

Bad breath note: Usually caused by trimethylamine, fishy in low concentration, ammoniac in higher. (see also Fish note). Sulfurous notes from grapefruit in scent might also "read" as a bad breath note or body odour. Methanethiol (methyl mercaptan) is a constituent of bad breath and has a fecal scent (it is indeed found in flatus and in "asparagus urine", i.e. urine after eating asparagus).

Barnyard note: Usually there is a strong animalic note such as civet/civetone as well as indolic notes via jasmine or other white flowers. The horse note can be produced by presence of p-Cresol (a phenol) as well. A little hay (as in Chergui by Serge Lutens, the closest to natural hay absolute on the market) adds to the impression of a proper barnyard. L'Air de Rien for Miller Harris is a good example of "barnyard" scent via "dirty musks" and animalic notes.

Bread note: Due to 2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline (this is present in pandanus) and to lesser degree 6-Acetyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydropyridine.

Cabbage note: Due to Methanethiol (also known as methyl mercaptan). Naturally occuring in nuts and cheese.

Cardboard/Old Books note: Due to salycilates (see more info)/"solar notes" and vanilla (the decomposition of wood pupl's lignin ~ a close relative to vanillin~ over time produces that effect natually in old books). Smell Dzing! by L'Artisan Parfumeur.

Cat Pee note: That intense ammoniac spray is due to blackcurrant buds, which have both butyric and sulfuric facets.

Celery note: Due to vertofix, a IFF molecule (methyl cedryl ketone) which smells like vetiver/leathery. It can therefore hide as "vetiver" and musky notes in a fragrance notes pyramid.

Cheese note: Butyric notes, like rancid butter (from βούτυρον/butyron, ie. butter in Greek), coupled with animalic notes such as civet/civetone. Frequent in some intense white florals.

Cotton-Candy (US)/Candyfloss (UK) note: Due to ethylmaltol, as famously used in Angel and Pink Sugar.

Cut grass: A sweet and green scent, usually due to triplal/ligustral (smelling like ligustra leaves) and coumarin (a material naturally found in tonka beans, as well as woodruff, sweet clover and cassia cinnamon). Also cis 3 hexenol smells like grass and is very common.

Curry note: Usually a combination of spices, one of which has to be cumin. It also includes coriander and sometimes "dirty" musks. See L'Autre by Diptyque.

Dentist's office: Cloves, cloves and cloves again! Dentists use clove for its naturally antiseptic properties. Several older Caron fragrances have a clove-y base and most carnation scents are traditionally built on a pepper and clove accord.

Detergent/Fabric Softener note: A great quantity of synthetic musks, especially "white musks" (see index) due to their ubiquitousness in detergents & fabric softeners thanks to their hydrophobicity (i.e. they rinse poorly and thus stay on clothes for long, which is the desired effect by the functional products industry). Cheap ambers such as Cetalox are also used in functional fragrances (i.e detergents), so presence in a fragrance can also give the association of laundry day. If the effect is acrid, it could be also due to dihydromercenol (the ingredient in many fresh aquatic men's colognes, see Davidof's Cool Water for instance) or lily of the valley. Lily of the valley (in the form of synthetics) is commonly used in detergents for the home as well as toilet cleaners thanks to its fresh, clean, green-floral aroma: witness Ajax White Flowers floor cleaner, which replicates the effect to a T.

Doll's Head: A combination of vanillin alongside heliotropin in smaller dose.

Earth (wet) note: This can be due to patchouli being dominant. Also patchouli coupled with oakmoss, but then the note is dryer and more bitter.

Feces/Fecal note: Usually due to indole (a constituent of white flowers, especially jasmine).

Felt-tip pens/markers: This is an effect of p-Cresol. Usually it's done in a "dry" context.

Fish note: There must be a trimethylamine note in there somewhere. At high concentrations, it can be ammoniac-smelling.

Fruity hard candy: Veltol gives a note of berries and caramel-like nuance(it increases the caramel effect and reduces the off cooked butter notes). It increases "creaminess" in both flavours (in lite products especially) and fragrances. You might also find Veltol in chocolate fragrances due to its creaminess.

Fuel oil/diesel: Cis 3 hexenol gives such an effect sometimes, although usually it's producing a green-grassy effect. Consider methyl benzoate as well, as evidenced in the opening of Jicky and Tubéreuse Criminelle.

Garbage note: The sickly sweet smell of rotting flesh/foodstuff is evoked by methyl anthranilate. Naturally found in bergamot, black locust, champaca, gardenia, jasmine, lemon, mandarin, neroli, orange, strawberry, tuberose, wisteria, galangal and ylang ylang. Of course the real corpse smell is due to two other compounds, not used in fragrances, cadaverine and putrescine.

Gas (natural) note: Although gas is primarily constisting of methane, it is the added compound tetrahydrothiophene which gives it its characteristic unpleasant rotten eggs odour.

Glue: This smell is a combination of heliotropin (synthetic heliotrope note with a marzipan facet), coumarin or anisic aldehyde. Styrax also has a faint glue aroma that reads as cinnamon-spicy.

Grape/Kool Aid note: Grape-fruity (concord grapes) is evoked thanks to methyl anthranilate. Dimethyl anthranilate is used to flavour Kool Aid. You might see this masked as a fruity note (berry) in perfumes. Sometimes has musty facets.

Greens bitter: Some pyrazines are responsible: 2-methoxy-3-isobutyl-pyrazine is the main flavour constituent of green bell peppers. Methoxy-methyl-, -ethyl- or-isopropyl-pyrazine increases the potato flavour of a potato salad while 2-methoxy-3-sec.butyl-, 2-methoxy-3-isobutyl- and 2-methoxy-3-isopropyl pyrazine appear in peas.
On the other hand, 2-methoxy-3-sec.butylpyrazine has been isolated from galbanum oil and has its characteristic bitter green odour profile.

Hair (dity) note: The culprit is costus root (do not confuse with cistus labdanum which has a leathery-ambery smell). Now restricted from perfumery, it is quite common in vintage perfumes (see Fille d'Eve by Germaine Cellier for Nina Ricci)

Hairspray note: Usually due to benzyl acetate. Among hairspray brands, some further aromatize their product with other aromata: L'Oreal Elnette hairspray for instance is particularly musky (in a pleasant ~to me at least~way)

Honey note: Either due to natural beeswax absolute in natural perfumery or -more commonly- due to mimosa & cassie absolute as well as cinnamic acid (used in the manufacturing of the methyl, ethyl, and benzyl esters for the perfume industry), which has a floral nuance to its honeyed note. Smell L'Instant by Guerlain in Eau de Parfum.

Horses note: see Barnyard note above

Leeks note: See Cabbage.

Melon/Watermelon note: Usually rendered by the immensely popular in the 1990s Calone aromachemical. (technically: methylbenzodioxepinone) . Unmistakeable, you know it well from Eau d'Issey and Aqua di Gio.

Metal/Cold Air note: Often due to helional, giving an impression of ringing cold air in some Northern steppe. Luca Turin describes it as "sucked silver spoon".

Mold/musty note: Dominant "dusty" variations of patchouli, sometimes coupled with carrot seed (which has a turnip-iris effect by nature). It can also surface in some incense variations with patchouli, such as in Messe de Minuit by Etro. Methyl anthranilate also might play a role, in the context of grape-fruity.

Mushroom note: See also Blood (1-octen-3-one) and look out for it in some gardenia compositions.

Nail polish note: Usually due to benzyl acetate, naturally found in white flowers.

Nail polish remover note: Due to methyl acetate.

"Old-lady" note: Due to powdery notes alongside woody ones or aldehydes (see more on types of aldehydes on this link). Too much iris can also give that effect in certain contexts due to its dryness. This is purely a cultural effect, because these happened to be popular smells in decades past, whose wearers are now "older ladies"! (For this controversial can of worms, read this essay).

Peach: Often due to gamma-Decalactone (referenced as C14 aldehyde, famously featured in Mitsouko). Peachy-apricoty scents can be rendered through jasmolactones too, and are actually preferred due to their fatty-creamy aspect.

Pear drops note (UK boiled sweet): A similar smell is found in ethyl acetate, a very evnescent, low-cost liquid used in perfumes as diluent and a common solvent in nail polish removers and decaffeinated coffee beans & tea leaves. It's worthy of note that it's the most common ester in wine, so the mental pear-wine link aromatically is not without cause.

Play-Doh note: Common lore wants it to be similar to heliotropin/heliotrope notes (affectionately referenced in iconic L'Heure Bleue by Guerlain). Etro's Heliotrope is a good example of this in action. I suggest that the modeling clay note is more wheat-almondy in nuance, a bit like marzipan but saltier, not classic Guerlain. Compare with Hypnotic Poison by Dior or Jaipur by Boucheron. Such a beloved, nostalgic note that it has entered a seperate creation by Demeter, simply called...Play Doh!

Pop-corn note: Due to 6-Acetyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydropyridine, a common flavour used in pop-corn and tortillas.

Rice steam/basmati rice/jasmine rice note: Rendered through 2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline, a common flavouring in said products.

Rice powder/facial powder note: Often due to iris (either due to natural orris butter or violet-like ionones) as well as mimosa.

Rosy apple note: Due to damascones, materials analogous to ionones (which smell of violet/iris). Smell Knowing by Lauder or Coriandre by Jean Couturier to see them in action.

Tar: Due to phenols. Phenolic smells simply refer to tarry ones! Please note that "birch tar" is the pungent, leathery scent associated with Cuir de Russie type of scents (explanation on what Russian Leather scents are here).

Toast/Burnt note: This is due to pyrazines, compounds present in foodstuffs (see Greens Bitter above). Alkoxy- and/or alkylpyrazines can be added to coffee to increase the roast aroma, as well as other roasted foods (even meat).

Tomato note: Due to triplal (green leafy aroma) being overdosed, also green notes/cis 3 hexenal (similar with grassy greens).

Salty skin: Beautifully rendered through natural ambergris. Nowadays often replaced by synthetics.

Socks (dirty) note: Usually due to the presence of costus. Costus being restricted in current perfumery, this will be less and less a concern. The effect is apparent however in several vintage perfumes.

Suntan oil/tanning lotion/warm sand: If the fragrance or cosmetic has a floral-warm odour like the classic Ambre Solaire, sthis is due to salicylates (see this article for info on salicylates). Ylang ylang naturally contains them. You might also find this effect under "solar notes" in a traditional list of accords. If smelling of coconut, the classic Coppertone smell, it's due to gamma-Nonalactone (aldehyde C18) which is traditionally used in suntan lotions.

Sweat note: Common lore wants cumin to smell like sweat, but this is debateable as attested through research (Sweat has naturally sulphurous compounds, such as garlic, grapefruit and onion). Refer to Barnyard and Socks notes as well.

Urinal cake: Due to dihydromercenol (see also Detergent note).

Urine note: Phenylacetic acid is infamous for smelling like honey in large concentrations and urine in dilution. Miel de Bois by Serge Lutens is derisive for a reason...

Warm milk/warm pudding notes: A combination of vanillic notes, possibly with veltol or ethylmaltol if it reminds one of puddings or desserts off the oven. Saffron and mimosa also have some facets which are reminiscent of these, perhaps due to associations with edible notes.

Wine notes: Since ethyl acetate is the most common ester in wine, its presence in a perfume formula (which is common) evokes a wine-like effect (also see Pear drops). Some rose essences also have wine-y facets; witness Ce Soir ou Jamais by Annick Goutal.

There are also some more abstract effects which are caused by specific ingredients
The "nose-hairs burning" effect is often due to synthetic woody-ambers, such as Ambroxan or Karanal, which smell like strong rubbing alcohol when in isolation. The "needles up the nose" effect (very sharp feel) can be due to lots of aldehydes in a very alkaline/soapy context: see White Linen by Lauder for that sharply fresh, sudsy effect. A seeming anaesthetizing of the nose can be due to a preponderance of ionones (violet notes). The too sour, too acid impression can be due to a very citric touch of hesperidic essences (from citrus fruits).
Usually the designation of something as "fresh" is considered a positive one, even though it might not relate to a specifically "fresh" family (such as aqueous/light floral/light fougere/citrus); analogously, "heavy" usually is used to describe a negative effect, again not relative to specific fragrance families but rather to "volume" of perfume, intense projection and radius of evaporation, especially when combined with more potent notes such as lush florals, intense mosses/woods or oriental/resinous notes.

In the end, getting to know the vocabulary of scent not only facilitates a common language reference among fellow fragrance enthusiastcs, but also enriches the experience itself, much like getting to know the parameters of art critique enhances the appreciation of art itself.

If you haven't caught on the Perfumery Definitions series till now, please visit:


  1. This is a wonderful post, which I will definitely be re-reading and bookmarking! Thank you so much for such a helpful reference!

  2. Thank you! This is very helpful.

  3. Prox/A,

    thanks for saying so. Glad it's providing a helpful (hopefully) reference.

  4. K,

    you're welcome and I thank you for your kind words. :-)

  5. What an interesting and well-researched post. Thank you very much!

  6. Thank you very much for stopping by and commenting!
    Hope you're very well and of course most happy with the precious addition in the family :-)

  7. Anonymous19:45

    Hi E!

    That is a great reference guide! Kudos!

    There is one I didn't see and I was hoping you might know the answer. Here it goes.... I sampled a perfume a while ago called The Party In Manhattan and I was really put off by this note that smelled like moldy bread or even moldy breath. It was awful. What note or ingredient causes that moldy smell?


  8. Fiordiligi21:37

    What a terrifically useful and interesting read, my dearest E! Loved reading it; many thanks. It's always helpful to have a reminder of which ingredients are causing a particular aroma or sensation, and this one is especially comprehensive.

  9. This is extremely useful! Thank you.
    I do have to say that some of my associations stem from childhood (I only realized that recently) - when I was in school we used a glue that in retrospect seemed to have contained some almond extract (I don't know if almonds are used for glue?) so today whenever I smell an almondy note in a perfume, it's filed straight away in glue category. :)

  10. Anonymous22:26

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!
    And then again!

    This is such a great reference, I'm sure that I'll come back to it again and again. Who knew cat pee was from blackcurrant? LOL.

  11. Asali22:54

    Great post, very helpful indeed. Pyrazines, hmm? I wonder, is this an component in the new Serge. I'm receiving a sample, and can wait to try it. Hope you'll review it at some point. Thanks for a scentelicious blog.

  12. Rappleyea23:19

    What a wonderful and comprehensive list. Brava my dear, a great job! This will be bookmarked for future reference. Thank you.

  13. Olfacta23:30

    Hi E!

    Fab-u-lous! I'm going to bookmark this. Thanks!

  14. Play doh is one of those weird smells that I love and another one is the hello kitty brand what are the accords in that? Thanks

  15. ElizabethN04:50

    Fascinating, thanks for the info, E.! I've always wondered about many of these notes. Re: the "cat pee" note, can't boxwood also produce that smell? Then again, I used to love the smell of boxwood, but I hate cat pee...

  16. Very insightful, thanks! :)

  17. Hello Dawn dearest!
    Aww, thanks! :-)

    Well, I don't recall if I have smelled The Party in Manhattan actually (I do know the scent by reputation) but I am hypothesizing it's either an overwhelming "dusty patchouli" note (probably allied to carrot seed, which has an iris-turnip note) or agarwood? Although agarwood reads more as medicinal than moldy basement or moldy bread, so I'm leaning towards too much patchouli and carrot seed.

    Is it anything like the "mold"/"mildew" in Messe de Minuit?

  18. D,

    glad you enjoyed!
    Got your email and will respond soon, promise!

  19. Ines,

    childhood associations are among the strongest, probably because growing up with something leaves a "mark", so to speak, to a "virgin" soul. Plus we do create our olfactory palate in the first 3-4 years of life, so it's important that we decipher those references for later on.
    I'm not surprised that kid's glue has an almond smell, it does get aromatized with a synth marzipan smell sometimes, same as with Play-Doh. (the glue smells more acrid though and a little bit spicier)

  20. dee,

    thank you, much appreciated your saying so.

    Yeah, ask the natural perfumers how they coax blackcurrant buds into submission. The original vintage First (and Chamade too) had a distinct whiff of the cat in them thanks to those innocent looking buds!

  21. Asali,

    thank you for stopping by and commenting! Hope you derive pleasure from theese pages.

    I will indeed review Jeux de Peau shortly, so hope you come back and comment again with your impressions!

    For the moment, and to answer your question, yes, pyrazines are ther in Lutens Jeux de Peau; it's to create the toasty smell, a bit like roasted coffee, alongside the caramelic nuances (immortelle).

  22. D,

    thanks for saying so. I do hope such posts provide some small guidance.

    Hope you're very well! :-)

  23. P,

    it's always wonderful to see you around here. Thanks!
    Hope you're on a roll!

  24. Taffy,

    many many people adore Play-Doh (certainly a very lovely product to play with, even as an adult!) so I know you're not alone. It's a wonderful memory of childhood.
    As to Hello Kitty, I need to refresh my memory going to a kid's store and sniffing the erasers and crayons again. I recall the kids' erasers being profusely aromatized with synth cherry and strawberry scents as a child: the same flavourings used in Jell-O in fact! (the same happens with cheap lip balms in those flavours too)
    I will come back and supplement if I find out differently after my sniffing (The SAs will think I'm a weirdo! Wait, maybe I am? LOL).

  25. Elizabeth,

    you're most welcome, glad it's helpful.
    I know blackcurrant buds are used in perfumery. Boxwood is also referenced in notes (such as in Untitled by Margiela or Gobin Daude's scents), but it's more of a recreated smell.
    Funny how our nose differentiates the nuances.

  26. El Shahlab,

    thank you! Much appreciated.

  27. Bernadette10:55

    Great post! This is so helpful especially to those like me who are still "studying" the world of perfumery.

    More power to you =)

  28. Thanks Bernadette, much appreciated your saying so. O hope you find it a useful guide along this exciting journey you're on. :-)
    Enjoy! And thanks for stopping by!

  29. Anonymous12:02

    Thank you very much for that helpful article. I will return to itmany times in the future, I'm sure.

  30. Your blog has always been an education, and this vocabulary is a godsend of information! So much so, I'll save it for later. Thank you!

  31. Anonymous14:53

    WONDERFUL!! I will definitely be back to check the list from time to time.

    I frequently come across a "mildewy-basement" note, a powdery-sour thing, that disturbs me very much, and have been postulating that it is some element of iris, carrot seed, or mimosa. I find it in Hiris, Bvlgari pour femme, and the opening 10-15 minutes of Nuit de Tubereuse - but, oddly, not in Iris Silver Mist. Huh.

    Another accord that I keep running into and can't quite pin down is a shaving cream smell. It seems to be some version of amber that causes this effect, as in Passage d'Enfer, PG Ilang Ivohibe, Ava Luxe Midnight Violet, Pilar & Lucy Tiptoeing Through Chambers of the Moon, and the most disappointing case, Rose Barbare. Can you offer any commentary, E? I appreciate it, thanks.

  32. Good on you! What a great reference...admiring your patience in assembling as well as appreciating benefitting from the result.

    How fun to see you included "suntan oil"...I often wanted to say that L'Origan, especially vintage, reminded me of suntan lotion for some reason. I can't really attribute that to salicylates, though, can I? :/ Hmmm. Now I'm going to dab again and see where it sends me...

  33. Plus...yes! I'm with you on the PlayDo clarification. Or amendment. Or perspective. Whatever to call it. But I agree; more toward the doughy almondy spectrum.

    (Your list is fun and worthy of careful perusal; I keep on skip scanning like a kid at the ice cream counter, trying to pick a flavor... :) )

  34. Asali19:58

    Thank you so much for welcoming me, I really appreciate that. And for your blog; I have derived many hours of perfume pleasure from it. I especially love the incense- and the saffron series, and go back to them often. Wonderfully written, and so inspirational.

  35. Anonymous20:55

    great post! will have to come back to it to finish reading. but i love ellnet, too! i told someone else that i'd love to have it in perfume form - it's an awesome musk scent. i wear the hairspray mostly for the smell. i get whiffs of it all day long and love it.

    are you going to post this as one of your reference articles? it's a great dictionary.


  36. Brilliant post! I always appreciate your writing, but this is piece is particularly special as, yes, many of us will continue to refer to it again and again.

  37. Great post! Apres L'Ondee smells like the glue on envelopes or stamps to me.

    One I didn't see on here that I wonder about is the Band-Aid smell (very close to the smell of scotch -- and, I've heard, insulin).

  38. Totally love this post! How did you figure all this out??

  39. I live for information like this. Thanks so much! Costus is one of my favorite perfume notes. I like to think of it has dirty hair, because to say I like the smell of dirty socks would make me more of an olfactory pervert than I already am.

    This is definitely getting bookmarked and re-tweeted. ;-)

  40. Hi E

    I enjoyed this post so much! Like Perfumaniac, I adore costus, particularly in Fille d'Eve and the fabulous and ever so hard to find vintage Rumeur. Although I suspect that the bottle of Fille d'Eve that I have has Costus Oliffac and not costus oil, since that was banned years ago, wasn't it?

    Also, it's interesting that you describe Ambroxan and Karanol as "nose-hair burning" and aldehydes as "needles up the nose". I don't mind aldehydes, even in seemingly whopping doses such as in the sparkling metallic opening of Le Labo Aldehyde 44. But I have become exquisitely sensitive to some Ambroxan-heavy fragrances, which I experiences as "spiky wood up the nose". Even Portrait of a Lady (patchoulol and ambroxan I believe?), was difficult for me in this regard. A grand and gorgeous scent that I just cannot enjoy.

  41. This is the best post I have read lately. Congratulations!
    It's really, really interesting and of course helpful for us who want to know anything about the perfume universe.

  42. Olfactoria,

    pleased it stroke a chord!

  43. Tarleisio,

    you're most welcome, it was really fun to compile and hopefully a useful reference.

  44. Muse,

    what a great nose you have! Yes, carrot seed and iris have a sort of "mouldy" scent sometimes, that "powder-sour" thing you describe (it's the souring that puts the finishing touch, that's exactly correct). Interesting that you find it in Bulgari pour Femme, I clearly need to revisit, don't recall it.

    The shaving cream effect is very common in fougere style fragrances or those borrowing elements from them, but it's a reverse association: shaving foam especially is directly inspired by fougere scents rich in coumarin and lavender, because it's considered de iuro virile! ;-)

  45. S,

    thanks for saying so, darling!
    It did require a bit of note taking along the way so it should be comprehensive. I plan on adding things from time to time, should the need arise.

    Some of the vintage frags do have salicylates in the form of natural extracts rich in them (such as flowers): try the solar Jean Patou Chaldee for instance. Suntan creams and oils originally contained salicylates (in the first decades of the 20th century) in order to stabilise the formula, but the added odorous advantage made them stay that way even when advances in chemistry did not require such tricks.

  46. S,

    it pleases me no end that you're having fun like in front of a counter with ice-cream! That's a great mental picture.

    Glad we agree on the PLay Doh. Even its name implies...dough. It has a slightly savoury subtext which I find very interesting!

  47. Asali,

    you're so kind to say this. And of course it's a pleasure having you here as a reader and commentator.

    I'm touched you found the Incense and Saffron series pleasurable, because they do touch some places near and dear to my heart. :-)

  48. M/C,

    I'm overjoyous someone "gets" the allure of Elnett!! I love that smell. I have tried many many sprays and always, always return to this one. Funnily enough, both my mother AND my grandmother loved it, so I'm certain it was written in my DNA (and might have contributed to my life-long appreciation of musks in scented products).
    It would be a great idea if someone did take such popular scents (Dove soap is another as is the Nivea cream in the blue tin) and turn them into proper fragrances!

    And yup, added the article on the right hand column in the Index; thought it would be easier to find for folks searching for it instead of using the Google search.

  49. Nina,

    awww, thank you! It's a great compliment. :D

  50. Elisa,

    thanks! You have a valid point there, it does have such a tinge, hadn't thought about it that way before!
    The Band-Aid note...seems like I missed that one. I should add it. Do you smell it in M7 by YSL or Burning Leaves by CB I Hate Perfume?
    Some oud, leathery and immortelle compositions are slightly plastic-burnt too, with a whiff of that antiseptic smell of the original product.

  51. GG,

    what can I say...studying, asking the right questions to the right people and sniffing incessantly. :-)

    Thanks for such a nice comment!

  52. Berbara,

    thank you for spreading the love, much appreciated.

    Oh don't feel bad, lots of us are naturally inquisitive about smells, as weird as they might sound. (Don't feet have a bit of aged cheese to them? Like Kaseri?)

  53. Melisa,

    indeed costus is a rare treat because it is so very weird! I love Fille d'Eve and frankly I don't find it repulsive in the least. The Lanvin scents were also such delightful compositions, it's a pity no one grabs them and ressurects them.

    Ambroxan can be quite pervasive due to its "spreading" the composition so I can feel your pain. I happen to like it in lower doses and coupled with some materials, but sometimes it's just too sharp and synthetic. Yeah, PoaL represents everything exactly contemporary among perfume terms: it's as you say.

  54. Isa,

    high praise indeed, thank you so much and by all means, enjoy!!

  55. Anonymous21:58

    I always enjoy your more technical, take it apart, sort of posts, but I really love this one. And I agree about the missing band aid note which is getting really over used. Urinal cake? Gotta love it! LOL

  56. Anon,

    thank you, happy to see that going beyond the reviews is appreciated. :-)

    I hope to fill in more notes as requested!

  57. Anonymous22:11

    Your reviews are great, but as a hobbyist perfumer, and, I hope, no mental slouch, of a few years, I find that I still learn new things, see new ways to look at old things, and get inspiration from your more techy posts. Thanks for all your effort!

  58. Thanks for the wonderful compliment! Glad it's of use.

  59. Anonymous11:17

    very usefull and rare information about the odors thanks

  60. Anonymous01:04

    Hi, I have a question that I was hoping someone could assist me with. I know that it may not be pertaining to this topic but I don't know of anywhere else on this blog to ask.

    I am trying to make my own fragrances and I was wondering if anyone knew where I could purchase some high grade fragrance oils that smell like their real counterparts. Keep in mind that I am not talking about essential oils or absolutes, but STRICTLY fragrance oils. I chose to go with fragrance oils because they seem to be economical for making perfumes than essential oils.

    If anyone know of any online shops where I can purchase some, please let me know.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Thanks for your comment, glad to be of service if I can.
      I have heard good things about Eden Botanicals in what concerns real essences and I also refer you to (haven't personally tried) because the selection is truly mind-boggling.
      Hope that helps!

  61. I've just finished reading the whole "Perfume Notes" series of posts. What a wonderful resource, the best on the internet imo! Thank you so much for this, I've learned loads and loads about notes and perfume as a whole and I've just started with this blog! I have a couple of questions, who is Helg? She authors some posts but isn't referenced anywhere! :) Also, is peony missing in the notes section or did I miss it buried in another?

    1. Thank you Annette, that's high praise indeed. :-)
      Helg is simply a nom de plume I used to use when I first started posting online. The blog is clearly written by me unless there is a clear indication of a guest writer, which is quite rare here (you'll find this clearly mentioned at the top of the guest written posts). Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy it around here!

  62. Thankyou so much for this, this is so inspiring!


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