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Scents and Incense Ability

23
Feb
2011
 

By Jessie

At precisely 7.23am last Thursday morning, disaster struck at chez Jessie. I was attending to my usual morning ablutions: hopping madly around the house with lipstick applied but hair alarmingly untamed, one shoe correctly fitted (its twin sadly lost amidst a mountain of toys and clothes), when I reached for the bottle that never fails to restore a sense of calm.
 
Then it happened. Drawing back my head to expose an ample expanse of neck, I depressed the pump atop my favourite bottle of perfume and… nothing! No sensuous wafts of loveliness to caress my skin, no intoxicating breath of bouquet to sparkle in the surrounding air. It was empty and I was bereft. I was bland!   
 
Somehow I managed to get out of the house, but later that morning the true extent of the horror struck (ruining my Milk Coffee biscuit). With no birthday or Christmas on the near horizon, and St. Valentine’s Day passed for the year, I could not offload the bottle replacement upon my beloved.
 
I would have to purchase it myself. 
 
Now YouPlayers, I must explain. It was not the thought of the inevitable monetary transaction that set me shaking. It was the knowledge I must enter that garishly lit, noxious reeking, over-crowded cattle hall (beauty section) within the local department store that drove me to hyperventilate wildly into the nearest paper bag. Argh!
 
You see, I always end up wandering round and round, bewildered by a million different choices, never quite grasping the difference between eau de parfum and eau de toilette, before fleeing in a cloud of stinking fumes with a fistful of tester strips that mock me with their elegant designs and streamlined poise. I think I may have perfume anxiety. 
 
So this time - in the spirit of good preparation being the first line of defence - I decided to do some research before hitting the shops (aka “know thy enemy”).  
 
Did you know that perfumes are created much like a classical symphony; with complementary scents from a range of olfactory groups layered together to produce a harmonious whole, like instruments coming together in an orchestra?
 
First there are the Top Notes, immediately apparent on the first spray and which fade quickly. Next come the Middle Notes (often called the ‘Heart Notes’) which contain the essence of the scent, before the rich, deep Base Notes, which cannot usually be perceived until 30 minutes after application, and which linger the longest on the skin.
 
The olfactory scents are divided into the following categories: Aromatic (grassy/spicy scents like sage, rosemary and lavender), Citrus (orange, bergamot, grapefruit etc), Floral (may be ‘fruity’, ‘aquatic’, ‘green’ or ‘powdery’), Oriental (intoxicating ambers, musk, vanilla, incense), Woody (sandalwood, cedar, vetiver) – and something called Chypre, which means ‘Cyprus’ in French (a blend of oak moss, patchouli and bergamot). 
 
Much the same as wine critics rattle on about “aromas of fresh-cut hay with hints of old boot and raspberry brulee”, perfume experts have a vocabulary all their own. Reading a review of a newly-released and very popular perfume I was not sure what to make of: first come the top notes of fig, fruity like a warm summer’s day… the heart of salty caviar unsettles like the smell of fear in sweat before descending into the base of cold, metallic ocean… a beautiful, terrible mermaid with eyes the colour of the approaching storm…a triumph! 
 
Er, I think that means it’s good.
 
It also doesn’t help that being individuals, the chemical make-up of our skin varies, so what smells divine on you may make me reek violently of cat pee. And as amateurs with untrained noses, merely talking about perfume is a recipe for disaster as we all perceive smells and use descriptive language differently. What I might call “warm” or “sensual”, you may dismiss as “overpowering”, “heavy” or “disgusting”. What is “sweet” and “sherbetty” to you may be “sickly” or “cloying” to me. 
 
Actually, you know what? Maybe I’ll just rub an orange on my wrists and hope for the best…
 
Do you like perfume? Do you have a favourite that you wear every day or do you select a scent to suit your mood from a collection to rival the perfume counter at David Jones?  
 
Jessie x
 
PS: WATCH THIS SPACE! Something NEW and DELICIOUS will be launching on YouPlay very, v-e-e-ry soon…

  

11 Responses to

Scents and Incense Ability

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February 23, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Actually, once they stopped using the whale sperm (for preservative, I think) I became allergic to the substitute. So I compromised. I bought the pure perfume oils. As in rose oil, lavender oil,etc. I put a small quantity(about 10%) of oil into a spray bottle of water, shake, and use that. It works brilliantly.

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relle said:
February 23, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Jessie I'm a firm believer in finding your favorite scent & then just stick to it! Mine is Estee Lauder "Knowing" & it's incredible how so many of my friends & family sense my presence just by my scent!

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February 23, 2011 at 9:19 PM

I think the acidic levels of my skin have changed as perfumes that I used to love, now reek on me. As a result, I have been wandering round the perfume section like a lost soul. I think i find one I like and spray some on only to run to the nearest bathroom an hour later to soap up and rid myself of the stench. I am destined to be bland till I discover the one for me...sigh

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February 24, 2011 at 11:39 AM

The substance they used and still do in some countries is not whale sperm,it is called ambergris and it forms in the intestine of the sperm whale. It is described as a waxy grey substance often found floating at sea or washed up on shore and this is the only way they can gather it now since the sperm whale is an endangered species. All that aside I have the same trouble finding a perfume I really enjoy wearing. There are so many to chose from it is just too confusing. I guess I'll just have to wash my clothes in FAB (like the girl on the new add) until I find the one for me..

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February 24, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Another problem is when you become so used to your perfume that you can't smell it any more . . . so you use more . . . and wonder why people around you are fleeing or falling over! I like the sandalwood-based perfumes, and the aromatics. Generally I find that once I really like a perfume it stops being manufactured. I may be a jinx!

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nan6 said:
February 26, 2011 at 12:08 PM

perfume is overrated first you have the smell of softener in your clothes, then the smell of shampoo in your hair, the smell of bath soaps or bath oil or shower wash, then you add deodorant all the smells mix together and then you add perfume YUK.

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February 26, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Try Clinique 'Aromatic Elixir'. Have had many people comment favourably on its smell!

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gogrease said:
February 26, 2011 at 2:13 PM

I have used Clinique Aromatics Elixir for about 25 years now and have always received positive comments about the aroma - from friends, family and total strangers too. It is now, and always has been, my favourite plus only a little of it goes a long way.

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said:
February 27, 2011 at 5:45 AM

My favourite perfume is L`air du Temps by Nina Ricci.Unfortunately I can`t wear any perfume now or be around someone who is wearing too much as it affects my sinuses and I end up with a severe headache.

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morrigu said:
February 28, 2011 at 11:13 AM

My favourite is 'Rive Gauche' by Yves Saint Laurent. Alas, it is quite expensive, but luckily with the discovery of the 'Chemist Warehouse' chain of stores I can purchase it with guilt-free happiness as it is usually discounted by up to 60%.

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Trivie said:
February 28, 2011 at 9:06 PM

L`air du Temps by Nina Ricci brings back so many memories - it was my very first french perfume. I am lucky to have access to duty free scents so try out new ones all the time, however the one I always come back to and get most compliments from is L'eau d'Issey by Issey Miyake Has anyone ever noticed how good cab drivers are at recognising perfumes?