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The Perfume Challenge

Do you have a box full of perfume vials and/or a vanity covered in perfume bottles? Are you the Goldilocks of perfume, just looking for the perfect signature scent? Do you want an opportunity to post daily about how your perfume of the day smells oaky and smoky with hints of blackberry and currant, like a cigar in a whisky barrel rolling through a Mediterranean orchard on a breezy summer morning?

 

If you answered yes to any of the above, or you just want to hop on board for the ride, join us for a 31 days of perfume challenge starting January 1st! Some of us from the 25 days of lipstick challenge wanted to continue the fun and exploration, and since many of us have so many perfume samples, we thought this challenge would be perfect. If you don't have 31 perfumes or hate everything that doesn't smell like Meyer lemons and fresh goat cream, that's fine--we're just aiming to use the neglected perfumes we have laying around and incorporate them into our perfume rotations.

 

And if you want more perfume vials, there's no better time than now to take a peek at Sephora's samples section.

 

Edit: Anyone can join in at anytime! We're here to support, live vicariously through, and encourage everyone in their olfactory adventures!

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@Samtian Sorry this didn't work out for yoU! But at least with a name like that you could be prepared!

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@pocketvenus Yep!

Re: The Perfume Challenge

I recently tried Zoologist Sacred Scarab and Cow. At the same time (on either arm), which is a dangerous way to test any Zoologist fragrance buuut I was impatient. 

 
Sacred Scarab was an aldehydes bomb on me for the first 30-60 minutes of wear. About 5 minutes after application, I noticed a mossy scent breaking through. Around the 30 minute mark, I smelled plum and lotus in the moss. About the wine note, well 
Spoiler
I’m always annoyed when a house lists “wine” as a fragrance note. Anyone who’s deep into wine knows it doesn’t all smell the same, what with so many varietals and terroir impacts. Each wine has its own set of fragrance notes. I can’t find wine in Sacred Scarab (and I searched hard for it) because I don’t know which varietal, or even which type of wine (red? white? rose? Eh, red I suppose, since Sultan Pasha researched Egyptian fragrance making to create Sacred Scarab), is in there. 

Sure, I could attribute the moss scent to some sort of red wine, but I suspect that’s not the connection I’m supposed to make. Plum and lotus are a closer connection. But if you tell me there’s a wine note, I expect to distinguish that from plum notes. Especially when plum, lotus, and wine are listed as separate notes. Seriously, "wine" can smell like anything: pencil lead, roast duck, a well-worn leather jacket, violets, plums, blackberries, cherries, grass, a horse stall, petroleum... all these scents mark wines made of different grapes. I don't know what type(s) of red wine ancient Egyptians drank, but I'm curious enough to find out. That's the good part of this annoyance: things like this are what keep me 20+ browser tabs deep in a rabbit hole at 3 AM. 

And see, this is what years of wine tasting do to you: make you so cranky fussy about a fragrance note, you spend hours learning yet another aspect of a different topic (wine). Maybe this is how some folks feel when someone (including me) describes a fragrance note as simply “floral." 🤣 Do fragrance houses simply list "flowers" as a note? No they do not. But anyway. 
I did smell raisins, though not strongly. There was also a very light vein of funky civet in the moss; not nearly enough to knock anyone over, but just enough to add some interest. The aldehydes persisted with incense-softened edges, letting the lotus shine. And of course there was no escaping the amber—but not a super sweet vanilla amber, thank goodness. I never got a lemon top note, but that might’ve had something to do with the other fragrance. 
 
Cow was on my other arm. In the first 60 minutes of wearing both fragrances, I laughed each time I sniffed each arm. Something about the contrasting fragrances was hilarious… Sacred Scarab’s all dark mystery wrapped in black silk pajamas and cloaked in velvet, kneeling on a plum-slathered cedar plank in a patch of moss beside a lotus pond. And then there’s Cow in a different universe: warm contentment in a cotton sundress, lying face up beside a bucket of creamy milk in a grassy field near sage and an apple tree (a combo that smelled a lot like star anise in frothed milk for the first 10 minutes of wear), watching animal clouds drift in the sunny sky. 
 
 
I need to wear Sacred Scarab again—on its own next time—before casting final judgement. I think I like it. I can say the same for Cow, which was more straightforward than I expected. Eh, Cow might've been overshadowed by the other fragrance. 

Re: The Perfume Challenge

Lol to this scent story@WinglessOne 😆Your descriptions are so detailed but so honest and funny,  thank you for the laugh today 💖

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@CynthieLu  Glad I could brighten your day! 😂 

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@WinglessOne Love your descriptions! Velvet cloak is totally the vibe I got from Scarab as well, just the feeling of being enrobed in the scent. I agree that there's an important difference between "florals" or even "white florals" and say jasmine, which does not smell like tuberose, which does not smell like neroli, which does not smell like lily of the valley! I don't mind when houses do this however, because sometimes an accord is too abstract to be related to the actual thing. I also might just have to try Cow 🙂

 

As an aside, I think my personal pet peeve is listing a cannabis note! I feel like houses stick that in there to be "edgy" - and here we can ask why it's used to market a product as edgy and who gets to be edgy while using cannabis and who is deemed a criminal - and these fragrances never smell anything like weed. The closest I've tried is the Akro one and it's still way off.

Re: The Perfume Challenge

Thanks @pocketvenus ! I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on Cow if you try it. 

 

Ugh, the cannabis note... I'm not anti-weed but I haaaate the smell of it. Makes me nauseous. I realize it doesn't all smell alike, and I wasn't always so sensitive to that general scent. But for the last 20 years, I've been unable to stomach that smell. (That's been especially fun since Illinois legalized recreational weed.) So when I see it as a fragrance note, I avoid that fragrance. Then again, I usually think a cannabis note in a fragrance is just a marketing gimmick: the actual fragrance is likely "an interpretation of" cannabis, not a straight-up weed smell. If a fragrance truly smelled like weed, no one could safely wear it in certain states that still call weed illegal. Still, I'm not willing to try one and see if it makes me lose my lunch. 😂 

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@WinglessOne I'll be sure to tag you if I get my hands on a sample! I believe @ChristalM bought Cow and I seem to recall she enjoyed it?

 

Yes, no one wants to smell like a skunk, that is for sure!! I've grown to have a positive association with the scent, including when it gets really skunky, because you'd smell it all over downtown Toronto, even before legalization. You'd have a time in Toronto now with stores all over the place. I even have neighbours growing plants in their garden and you know immediately when you walk past their house from the odor!! So I guess the smell reminds me of home 😂 Having said that, the skunk population in Toronto has gone up and when they spray you're like, ok, that's definitely way worse!!

 

I'm ambivalent about fantasy notes. Sometimes they help you understand what someone is trying to convey but so often it is marketing fluff as you say, even if it's a real note. The number of "oud" fragrances that are just really raspy woods 🙄 But I single out cannabis because I think if companies are going to slap it in all over commercial goods like perfume, at the very least, those incarcerated for non-violent cannabis charges should be pardoned. It's absurd that possession of an ounce of pot is still a felony in some US states while certain Sackler family members sold opiates they knew to be dangerous and none of them went to jail.

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@WinglessOne Do you want to write all my reviews for me lol? I like the sound of plum and lotus, but the rest oh no. 

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@Samtian  🤣 

 

A friend who tried Sacred Scarab told me it smells mostly soapy on her, especially in the beginning. She gets mostly plum and lotus soap with moss and bergamot mixed in. For her, the moss ruins the whole fragrance. (She hates mossy scents, and I resisted the urge to ask why she bought a sample of a fragrance with "oakmoss" listed as a note.) 

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@WinglessOne Haha that's something I would do! Hoping it was something I wouldn't end up smelling. Now her combo I could handle that. 

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@WinglessOne I love your detailed descriptions!  You paint such great pictures in my mind to accompany each scent.

Re: The Perfume Challenge

Thanks @CookieGirl1 ! I try to describe fragrances the same way(s) I describe wines. I'm glad it's helpful! 🙂

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@WinglessOne The only person I can speak to in detail about fragrances who isn't into fragrance is someone who has studied wine tasting! There's so much overlap.

Re: The Perfume Challenge

Love your review, @WinglessOne !  I so completely agree with your feelings about wine as a scent note in fragrances (or any one-size-fits-all term). 💖💖💖

Re: The Perfume Challenge

Thank you @Titian06 ! The "wine" note listing is one of my biggest fragrance pet peeves. I haven't seen it often (that I recall right now). But when I do, I usually want to contact the house and ask if they'd ever just list "flowers" as a note instead of calling out individual flowers. 

 

I don't mind much when consumers describe "a floral note" or "a red wine note," or "a woody note," in fragrances. Some folks haven't smelled enough flowers, wines, or even woods to be able to identify individual scents. I totally get that. But when a fragrance creator does it—someone I assume can tell the differences—then it's very annoying. 

Re: The Perfume Challenge

34521_f

 

Testing Naomi Goodsir's Nuit de Bakelite, ostensibly one of the best tuberose fragrances to be released following Carnal Flower.

 

To be honest, I don't consider this a tuberose soliflore, although tuberose is an important note, and I wouldn't include it on lists of the great tuberose classics like Fracas, Tubereuse Criminelle and so on. I read a review by Kafkaesque that described this as tuberose-adjacent which is more accurate.

 

Opens with dark green foilage and cut woody green stems first, followed by a stunning cardboardy, starchy orris. The fragrance then continues to shift between emphasizing different notes. There's leather, then flesh, then ash. The tuberose eventually emerges but it's not the diva one would expect, it's just one note among the others in this fascinating modern chorus. And it's actually quite tame. No skanky indoles, no devastating cream, no icy menthol, just that baby softness. Eventually, as the scent dries down, this baby soft tuberose comes to the fore. Remarkably, it doesn't become candied and harsh like a lot of tuberoses, including vintage Fracas, can become on my skin. Just a sweet and gentle dry down.

 

I quite enjoy this. It's mature, complex, bewitching yet very wearable. I'm curious about the rest of the house.

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@pocketvenus This seems like a super interesting fragrance, almost an experience vs. a scent. Seriously would LOVE to try this one out, I love complex fragrances. ❤️ Thank you for sharing. 

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@QueenMarceline Anytime! ❤️

Re: The Perfume Challenge

Another one that you like!  You're on a roll now, @pocketvenus ! 🤣

Re: The Perfume Challenge

@Titian06 Yes, they're making up for the dreadfully marked up Maison Crivellis ha ha. I will try to finish off that sample box though! 

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