So, you’re a perfume lover. That does impress me much, so am I! As one, you must’ve heard a lot of Frequently Asked Questions regarding your perfume love, hobby, passion, its financial consequences, your taste…and some strong opinions, mostly unrequested.
I know that I did in the course of time, and as much as I truly support the idea that there are no silly questions, only silly answers – there are some questions/statements that (still) make me cringe.
It’s not the question itself, actually. Mostly it’s the intention behind it. I honestly have thoughts about writing down and memorizing respectful answers for a few that are often heard and repeated. I decided to share these with you, and yes, your feedback is more than welcome!
There are also quite a few good ol’ perfume related myths and misconceptions, repeated every now and then.
I couldn’t help myself – cringe, again, and each and every time I read something like that. Recently I ran into an interview featuring a certain new luxury fragrance brand (thank Heavens they are not calling themselves niche anymore!) and its owner that left me with strained eyeball muscles after intense roll-eye movements.
This Perfume Nerd FAQ issue is the reason why I conducted a little survey called “Things Not to Ask a Perfumista” in a Facebook group that has more than 11,5 thousand members from all over the world – Facebook Fragrance Friends, asking “What type of questions/statements regarding perfume do you find most irritating?”
Here are the Top 15, ranked by members’ votes and my ready-to-go answers should I ever hear them again. Again, it all depends on the intention of the person asking this:
1. Why do you need so many perfumes?
– I don’t need any at all according to the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, on lower levels. For me, perfumes fall into “Self-actualisation” or even “Transcendence” levels. Therefore, I need perfumes, and different ones too. “Many” is relative. Everything is relative.
2. Isn’t that for men/women?
– Perfume has no gender, never had any. If you still feel that way, I’ll simply say that my current SOTD matches well masculine/feminine/animal/whatever energy in me.
3. How much did you spend on all this?
– How do you feel while asking me a quite unpolite question?
4. It’s for younger/older people.
– Perfume has no age. If you still feel that it does, I’ll say that it matches perfectly my Inner Child/Old Lady feeling-of-the-day.
5. I’m allergic to all perfume.
– Sorry to hear that you are allergic to perfume, but wouldn’t you say that “all” is exaggerating things a bit. I’m sure that you could find perfumes that you could wear if you devote your time and energy into finding something that’s right for you. Perhaps I can help.
6. Naturals smell better. Naturals are healthier.
– Earth is flat, there is no such thing as climate change, and vaccination is the work of Devil.
7. Which perfume will get me most compliments?
– Authenticity, to start with. Perfume is a bonus.
8. Good perfume=strong perfume.
– May the Force be with you.
9. What should I wear to hook up girls/boys?
– Authenticity, to start with. A great aphrodisiac, perfume is just a bonus.
10. I hate perfume.
– Honey, you’ve got bigger issues than perfume.
11. Name some good perfumes.
– Let’s talk about “good” first. How do you define a “good” perfume?
12. Why would you want to expose people to toxic chemicals?
– Don’t worry. Perfumes won’t kill you. Other stuff you consume on an everyday basis might. Perfumes sold on EU market ARE regulated!
13. Can you guess which perfume I’m wearing? (sticking a wrist under my nose)
– Do I look like a walking example of head-space technology equipment? (Note: sniffing each other is perfectly OK and great if it happens between two perfume nerds, that doesn’t bother me at all!)
14. B-but how will you ever use up all of those bottles? Don’t they go baaaad after 2 years? What a waste of money.
– a) I probably won’t. Will you ever use up your jewelry or fancy dinner plates? b) No, they won’t if stored properly. c) Now that last bit sounds judgmental and rude at the same time, and how do you waste your money?
15. That perfume can only be worn in _____ (fill in the season).
– Sure. You do that, and I’ll wear whatever I please whenever I please.
Media have their share in spreading over and over again quite a few often heard perfume myths and general nonsense: just recently I read the above-mentioned interview, thinking just how many people will notice all the misconceptions served as facts: this really started to bother me.
I’m really impressed when someone starts up a perfume brand. I really am, because I know what it takes, how risky it all is, and how hard it is to succeed. I respect honest perfumery. I can even stand each and every possible marketing trick if a fragrance is attention-worthy, something unusual or very creative (I have a degree in Marketing and love it, just to be clear).
Call me an idealist, but I really think that if you are a perfume brand owner – you should get to know well the field you are playing in, terminology, and wider (general) knowledge about the trade you’re aiming to be a part of on an international scale, play honestly, and respect all stakeholders involved.
The interview I’m talking about featured these statements:
– The brand owner of the brand in question explicitly stated that she creates perfumes.
It would be great if this were the truth, but I sincerely doubt it. This is not an artisan, indie or niche brand owned by a perfumer. Moreover, this brand never mentioned perfumers that sign their line of perfumes. OK, even this can be tolerated but serious brand owners do not claim that they’ve created perfumes. Being an owner and/or creative director of a brand and choosing from perfume samples made upon a brief is not the same process as creating perfumes. I consider pushing forward such nonsense as very misleading.
– Fragrance creation and experimenting with perfume notes last for months because there are 40.000 different fragrance molecules in the world.
40.000 of what??? Perfume ingredients are not “molecules”. Raw materials are not “molecules”. Maybe this is supposed to mean man-made components? Or just – ingredients? And where did this number come from?
– If a perfume is long-lasting, that is a sign of high-quality components usage. 38% of perfume oil used in some of the perfumes means superb quality.
Not necessarily, this is nonsense. Strong perfume=good perfume? Take a look at the above-mentioned FAQs. Higher oil percentage = quality? No, and “lasting” depends on base components, big fat molecules used and their quality. The percentage of perfume oil has nothing to do with quality.
– I tend to use mostly natural ingredients, those that do not react with the skin, and this is why I choose only certified and high-quality components.
It makes me happy that you are using certified and high-quality ingredients. Bravo. IFRA documentation is a must if you intend to sell on EU market anyway, so good for you. But saying that “naturals don’t react on skin” is a nonsense (or maybe this was supposed to mean that if you use naturals, you have lesser allergic reactions?) If you are referring here to essential oils, these can be even more potentially dangerous than nature-identical components, and it certainly sounds like suggesting that “non-natural”, man-made components are causing skin irritation, which is not true.
My informed guess would be that a certain Lab creating perfume formulas for this brand (including complete production, bottles, packaging and everything needed for a finished product) is using mostly nature-identicals, and that the brand owner is “selling” the story as if pure essential oils were used, playing it “natural”. Well, that piece of sales pitching is such an old trick. I checked out some of the perfume notes listed and came upon Fresia, Musks, Pineapple, Peach, Violette, Vanilla, etc.- just how “natural” can these be? Based on samples I tested myself, that Vanilla never saw fields of Madagascar.
– Layering of perfumes is a recent trend in Europe and it implies the use of so-called dual-perfumes.
Oh, please? Recent? OK. Let’s say that for some people it is. That’s just fine, we discover new things every day. But to limit layering options and to preach that it’s only possible with perfumes coming from the same brand or only brand-suggested or “dual perfume” combinations? This is not true: play with your perfumes, try out some new combos. Why not? Maybe you’ll find an ideal combination, one that no singular perfume could offer to you.
– Perfume is to be applied to pulse points and without rubbing, which is the greatest mistake people make. Top notes are felt for 15 minutes, heart notes for 30 minutes and base notes last in average 5-6 hours, sometimes up to 24 hours.
Now we have a perfume development time-line precisely defined. Wow. The whole industry should stick to this definition, especially the 24 hours part. I hope that this rubbing thing doesn’t imply that “molecules are being broken” because the wrist-rubbing thing could really be potentially used as a source of sustainable energy if it leads to breaking molecules, atoms, and so on. Pure green energy, coming from perfumed-wrists rubbing! When you rub your wrists, you do not turn into an atomic-power plant: you merely warm up your skin and this might cause top notes to evaporate more quickly. You don’t want to limit yourself to pulse-points either.
Iva Scented Shelf, a fellow perfume blogger from Croatia pointed out that some of these claims are prohibited, according to “Guidelines to Commission Regulation” EU No 655/2013 laying down common criteria for the justification of claims used in relation to cosmetic products”, described in Annex II under “Fairness” (screenshot photo), but these are only suggestions – not legally bounding. It might help to lessen quantities of blahblahs a bit if we all share and quote these guidelines that Iva pulled out:
“Claims for cosmetic products (perfumes included) shall be objective and shall not denigrate the competitors, nor shall
they denigrate ingredients legally used. Claims for cosmetic products shall not create confusion with the product of a competitor (ref. Article 6 of Directive 2005/29/EC and Article 4 of Directive 2006/114/EC)”
“A claim ‘contrary to product X, this product does not contain ingredient Y which is known to be irritating’ shall not be made.”
‘Well tolerated as it does not contain mineral oils’ is an unfair statement towards other products which are equally well tolerated. ”
Thanks for reading my thoughts&musings, feel free to comment, add, ask!
I’ll never stop asking questions about perfume, just not these ones! 😀
Have a great day and enjoy your SOTD!
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Stockvault, Pexels, Picwizard