Poor choice Monday: I should have known better

poor choiceI’d heard a bit about Guerlain’s new scent, Santal Royal, but didn’t think much of it since I figured it would be a while before it got to my neck of the woods. So imagine my surprise when on a quick zip through Neiman Marcus this weekend, I saw the rather handsome bottle spotlighted on a stand in the display corner of the Guerlain counter. Well, of course, you know I had to stop and spritz. Ten seconds later and I’m regretting it with most of my being and thinking, “Man, that was a very poor choice there, Annie-girl.”

Because, you see, I didn’t pay attention well enough when I read about it, or I would have seen that its notes included oud. And that, my friends, is what leaped off my wrist and walloped my nose immediately and kept up the barrage even some six hours later. (Why is it that a poor choice seems to hang in there for half a lifetime?) So I really couldn’t get an honest feel for the rest of the scent and the other notes. When I got home I grabbed for my rescue potion, Nuxe oil. That helped for when my wrist got near my nose, but the oud aura was still there, albeit somewhat muted.

It’s so frustrating to have such oud-hating skin. There a number of scents out there that I know I could wear and love if not for the inclusion of oud. I guess I should quit complaining and think of it as money saved and go on my merry way. I’m hoping that Patty, Anita, Portia or Tom can find some love (or like) for Santal Royal and give you a better idea of the scent overall.

And that is my tale of fragrant woe for the day. So please share with me: Have you tried a scent that struck you instantly as a poor choice immediately after spraying? One where you wish you had an instant rewind button? Or is there a note that consistently disagrees with you and plays spoiler whenever it’s included in a scent?

  • maggiecat says:

    Tuberose and I do not play well together – it’s killed more than one otherwise delightful scent for me. I dislike oud as well, though not as strongly. And while I like cedar and patchouli, something about my skin amps both scents up so that the perfume becomes all about that one note, so I have to be careful – especially as my husband dislikes patchouli!

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, dear! Sorry to hear that tuberose is not your friend, but you can usually avoid it fairly easily. I envy you being able to wear cedar; on me it goes a bit sawdust-y, or even litterbox-ish, so I have to give it a pass.

  • Julie L says:

    I also just cannot abide oud….at all. It comes across as tooo masculine, acrid and sharp….. I read the initial reviews and note list for the Guerlain and thought it sounded heavenly as well as the bottle being to die for! In case I ever became rich and famous and could actually order it, I’m glad you waved the “oud flag” to save me time and money. So sorry for your experience! The other notes I’ve learned to avoid AT ALL COSTS are violet, violet leaf, iris, and those in that family. They scream an ugly metallic, almost bleachy smell on my skin. So sad…but if they’re in the powdery family then it might not be so horrible. I just haven’t tried anything or have had enough experience to truly know those that would work on my skin.

    • Ann says:

      Hiya, Julie! That Guerlain does sound heavenly on paper and I guess that’s what bowled me over and had me overlooking the oud “pink elephant” in the room. But please don’t reject it totally on my account — perhaps try a teeny bit first when you can, as your skin might be OK with it, you just never know. Or at least sniff it on paper to get an idea.

  • Sharon C. says:

    The worst testing experience I’ve had so far (knock on wood) was on a hot, humid summer day in Jacksonville FL–picked up an unfamiliar tester with a very generous sprayer, and almost killed myself with the fumes! Could not find a ladies’ room quickly enough, and even restroom soap and multiple scrubbings did little to daunt this scent. Took me YEARS before I would even come close to Angel again, and even now more than a drop is too much.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, dear, Sharon — so sorry to hear that happened to you. I suspect that you are far from alone in your Angel experience. I think one tiny pinhead drop is about all I can do myself.

  • Eloquaint says:

    I don’t usually like fruity perfumes, but the one note that always goes horrible wrong on me is geranium. Smells like festering mint toothpaste, if you can imagine that, and I can certainly sympathize if you can’t.

    • Ann says:

      Eloquaint, I hadn’t thought of that note, but now that you mention it, I have to agree. I have tried and tried to love the Frederic Malle scent and several others with that note, but it’s a losing battle. I guess we’re just not “geranium” people! 😉

  • Lynley says:

    Maybe im just downright easy when it comes to perfume. I like all of those things 😉 I love the dirtiness of oud and cumin and iris.
    But ok, im not THAT easy, i have standards. I cant do cheap chemical frags, or sickly sweet fruity sugary whatever they are that have infested cosmetic counters the world over, or fougeres, or ‘ozone’, or old-fashioned chypres.
    The last thing i sprayed and regretted was AmorAmor. It’s supposed to be a good version of a fruity sugary thing, but tbh, I cant tell the difference. I felt assaulted.

  • Anne says:

    Iris. It smells like rotting that has begun to fester. Every once in a while I will try something heavy in iris and I regret it every time as it turns, even one mild like Love Chloe. Serge Lutens’ Iris Silver Mist on me will make strangers cry and me (tolerant of almost anything) wince.

    • Ann says:

      Anne, sorry to hear that iris disagrees with you; I know that it can be a difficult note for some. Have you tried it in a sweeter scent such as in Guerlain’s Iris Ganache or Hermes’ Iris Ukiyoe? Although those could be iffy, too.

  • rosarita says:

    Violet is a deal breaker for me, even more so than tuberose which also does not play well with my chemistry. Sometimes violet leaf is ok, but the flower is almost always an instant headache and when it’s candied violet, forget about it. Now that I’m thinking about it, berries in top notes can be a killer too – maybe I’m more sensitive than I thought!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, lady! I know what you mean about violet; sometimes it sets my teeth on edge because it reminds me of those violet candies from years back, rolling around in musty, fusty old purses, ha! I didn’t realize that tuberose was not good for you; there’s got to be one or two out there that love you and your skin.

  • Astrid says:

    Hi Ann,

    How about Cashmeran, ambroxan, Iso E, “cedreambre,” allyl cyclohexyl propionate, dihydromyrcenol, calone, every metallic scratchy “musk” chemical ever hatched in a lab, but most of all ethyl maltol/toxic saccharine marshmallow accord.

    Dear Mr. Perfumer, FYI if it smells bad to YOU it smells bad to us.

    • Ann says:

      Yikes, Astrid! Just reading that list alone is enough to give you a headache. Now that you mention those, I’m thinking that my skin isn’t wild about ambroxan or Iso E either. Hope the perfumers are reading/listening!

  • Hi there Ann,
    Yes, it is quite oudhy and the sandalwood opens very eucalyptussy. I also found it linear. That bottle is to die for though.
    Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, dear! Ha, I would have LOVED to have gotten some eucalyptus in there, just to break it up, but nope — that oud had a stranglehold on my skin from start to finish. That bottle is attractive, isn’t it?

      • Damnit Ann, How annoying for you.
        It’s a bit like when CHANEL brought out Coco Noir. Though I did not adore the fragrance the bottle was too beautiful to pass by.
        Portia xx

        • Ann says:

          I don’t blame you for getting Coco Noir; that bottle very nearly tempted me, too. BTW, I got a little CN lotion on the back of my hand this weekend and it wasn’t too bad — better than the juice it seemed. So is a bottle of Santal Royal in the cards for you one day?

          • I am not entirely sure. There is a lot ahead of it on the list, it depends on how weak and rich I am next time I see it. Another motivating factor is that Jin went crazy for it.
            Maybe I will buy it and it will end up on his side of the cupboard.
            To me it is a poor second cousin to Mona di Orio’s Oud, which Jin already has.
            Portia xx

  • Yep! The most recent example I can think of is Nasomatto Blamage. I even sniffed the sprayer before I spritzed, and I knew that it contained that spiky, raspy wood note that just smells cheap to me. But no, I thought, give it a chance. Maybe there’s more to it than that… Nope!! The spiky wood blared from my wrist and overwhelmed anything else that might have been going on. After a little bit I just tried to keep my wrist as far from my face as I could without looking ridiculous in public. I was finally able to tamp it down a bit with some lotion. It didn’t get rid of it completely, but it helped.

  • Sun Mi says:

    Oh no, I feel your pain! Oud can get really loud on me too, and cumin absolutely absolutely hates me! 🙁