Something Seems … Different

First off, I got a lovely email from Amrita Kaur at Tigerflag, saying a huge THANK YOU to all of you, and that she was overwhelmed with orders for the attars in her very small business, and that she’s getting them out as quickly as possible, so if you ordered something, please have patience.    As I emailed her back,  I have no idea when I blog on something whether it’s going to generate much business, and I’m happy for her.  (Also, as I hope is/was crystal clear: I don’t know her, I got my sample in a swap, and I bought and paid for my recent order just like the rest of you.)

Second, for anyone who ordered the Majmua attar – I accidentally wore it the same time I had on a shirt spritzed with Nuit de Tubereuse, and SHAZAM!!!!!!!!!!!   EXCELLENT combination.  There’s something about the vegetal/earthy aspect of the majmua that balances beautifully with the creamy florals of NdT.  Just sayin.’

Finally, I’m preparing for Wednesday’s post on another tuberose, Honore des Pres’ Vamp a NY.  So today instead of a review there’s a question for debate.

I’ve been wearing my lovely decant of L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse, which – remember – is from my third source, after the teeny two-drop vial samp from Denyse in April, and then the spritz from a friend’s bottle more recently (which made it clear to me that I needed the decant.)

The friend’s bottle-spritz lead to my review revisit because the topnotes were weirder than I first detected with my two-drop sample.  This is not unusual.  In fact, I’ll wager, after hearing these sorts of complaints regularly on the blog, that the biggest sample fail people have is: they test something on their skin with a couple drops from a vial.  Then they buy a decant or a bottle and – whoa! It smells different!   And unfortunately, that “different” is usually not in a good way.

Spritzing on my decant of NdT smells different than my heavy spritz from the friend’s bottle, although in my case in a good way – I get a lot more of that sharp/vegetal smell of unripe mango, which I personally love.  But what happened?  Why does my decant smell different to me?  Is it because I’ve had multiple times to try it?  Has my nose become better at picking out the top?  Does it actually smell different than Friend X’s bottle – more mango-ish?  I have no idea.

I think I can de-cloak Musette, who sent me a small samp of her share of a split of Le Labo Aldehyde 44 because she keeps getting (of all things) cumin from it.  Cumin. Now, cumin is a great note, and Musette loooooves her some cumin.  She’s new Femme’s Number One Fangirl.  But cumin in Le Labo Aldehyde?  Yecccccccccchhhhh. Who wants cumin there?  And her decant, as you can imagine, was not inexpensive.

So she sent me a sample, and I told her the good/bad news:  it smells exactly right to me.  It smells like a big ol’ slightly soapy aldehyde, and it’s glorious, and I’m not getting any cumin.  (And if there’s cumin to be found in a scent, btw, I usually get it.)   So there’s nothing apparently wrong with her split.  We’re both praying to the cumin gods, asking them to stop haunting her skin.

At the same time, I’ve decided, having received my large-ish decant of L’Artisan’s L’Eau de Jatamansi, that I am glad I didn’t spring for a ginormous 250ml bottle, even though I’ve sprayed it on several times at the boutique and loved it.  (Notes: grapefruit, cardamom, bergamot, sage, jatamansi, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, incense, gaiac wood, Indian papyrus, Australian sandalwood.)  Sometimes it’s perfect — clean and sharp and herbaceous, the way I think the inside of a fancy, relaxing spa/yoga joint should smell.   Other times it smells very barber-shop shaving-cream to me – that citrus/cardamom smell that’s nice enough but I don’t want to wear it like perfume.

Throwing it open to you:   Have you ever gotten, say, a bottle of something after falling in love with a sample, and thought, ugh?   Do you think it was a problem of dab vs. spray?  Or do you think the perfume (from two different places) actually smelled different?   I’m always begging people to spray before they buy, because I do think that makes a huge difference, and to live with/work through a decant of it first – but I don’t always follow my own advice either.   Or have you tried something from a bottle, having tried it previously from a sample, and discovered that with a proper drenching it was loooooooooooove?

image: Hecate at my dad’s today on Father’s day, modeling a fright wig and a matching snake she found in the toy stash.  Can u feel the naughty? No, I have no idea why she’s wearing that.   Except that she’s Hecate.

  • Pimpinett says:

    I got a sample of Agent Provocateur somewhere. First decided that it was too obvious and Jessica Rabbit for me, then found myself wearing it rather a lot, so I though I’d get one of those little purse sprays, at least.
    Then I went on a sniffing binge with a friend, sprayed some on to wax poetic over how glorious it was – and the thing in that tester bottle was nothing like the armed-and-dangerous femme fatale of my sample; it was a weak, measly little thing, a simpering miss in comparison! So now I daren’t buy it, at least not without trying every tester bottle in town, and I haven’t really felt like that.

  • minette says:

    other factors that alter my perceptions of scents – humidity/air conditioning, hormones (hello, vc&a first, which smells horrible right before my period and fabu at other points), and body lotions.

    i just walked out into the heat and humidity for a few minutes to thaw, and as soon as i returned to the freezing cold office, i found my john varvatos floating around me beautifully, hours after i’d sprayed it. now that i’m back to room temperature, i can barely smell it.

    i think i sometimes get the fullest and truest perception of a scent as i step into the shower, right before it gets washed off. at least, i always find new facets in those few seconds. it’s one of my favorite times of the day and a great way to try new things – live with them a few hours, then take a shower. steaming your perfume – awesome.

  • minette says:

    with l’artisans especially there is a discrepancy between dabbing and spraying. those little carded samples they give out just don’t do their scents justice. which is why i am not one hundred percent sure how i feel about nuit de tubereuse, even though i already think i like amaranthine much better. i won’t be able to say with certainty whether or not it’s FBW for me until i get to spritz it on.

    i like to buy testers whenever possible because i seem to get better results from them. not to say they water down their regular product (perfume makers in general, i mean), but i do think they put their best feet forward in their testers.

  • Tamara Jackson says:

    Ok so you guys are freakin me out.
    I do understand and believe in the spray versus dab,
    I mean how can you tell if it’s something you’ll love if you can’t have the full on effect?
    I only get 5 ml. too,
    but yes it does get very pricey to do it this way.
    So I have ordered FB of T.C. Alahine and Guerlain’s Vetiver and Keiko Mecheri Loukham Eau Poudree
    AND Cuir de Lancome AND a micro mini vintage Bandit parfum but will they be the same as my decants????
    I’m trembling in anticipation
    but also steeling myself for dissapointment.
    Who knows? I hope so, it’s a gamble I guess.
    And I’ll admit that I love the courtship of a scent that beckons me and entices me slowly, (I almost give it the boot!) but in the end fully succomb to it’s charms.
    Here’s to hoping that these live up to the dream!
    Love this damn blog so much<3

  • Tara C says:

    BTW, one more comment about the NdT – I was surprised that after putting on several big sprays all over that it did not last as long or have as big a sillage as I was expecting from the intensity of the dabbed sample. Not a bad thing, I’ll just drench my poitrine a bit more next time. 😮

    • March says:

      I think NdT has a lot of presence, and it has good lasting power, but it’s not anywhere near the sillage monster that say Fracas or the Kilian is.

  • Leslie says:

    CdG Kyoto was my Transformer. Mostly about the garden when dabbed, but the smoke just POURED in when sprayed from a decant. So, I dab, and in very sparing fashion. That 5ml decant will last a seriously long time this way.

    I bought a sample of Nuit de Tubereuse last week, and on my skin, I smell almost exclusively pink pepper and mango. I can smell the flowers in the little vial, but they are getting lost on application. (I think I will try a little bit on paper, just to see what happens.) I’ve no idea what would happen if I sprayed the stuff, but it would be interesting to see the tuberose come out to play…

  • sweetlife says:

    P.S. Hecate is quite definitely your child. 😡

    • March says:

      Yep! That kid is totally mine. Also, amusingly, she looks so much like her big sister at that age that we’ve had funny arguments about who is in a photo.

  • sweetlife says:

    Nodding along to everyone else’s posts, especially about dab vs. spray, and differences in weather–I find humidity and ambient scent can have some pretty extreme effects. Just want to piggy back on Carmencanada’s post to say one more thing about “perception.”

    Remember that fateful day when you read a devastating review of your favorite perfume, and the clever reviewer described it as having a hairspray note? And then, defiantly, you went and put it on, and there it was–hairspray. And it never went away, goddammit. (Robin posted a little news piece on NST once from a scientist who had a name for this phenomenon, the effect that a description can have on our scent perception–will have to go find it…) Probably it was there all along, but you called it something like “that screechy moment,” to yourself, and were fine. But once you smelled it clearly…

    I think sometimes this happens without any $#@! help from other people’s descriptions. We wear it for awhile at full strength, and catch something clearly that flew by before, and then we get hung up on it. Sometimes, it even happens with things that aren’t supposed to be there, like Musette’s cumin. Our minds make the leap for us, and conjure up a phantom, and then it can’t be unconjured…

    • March says:

      The hairspray note I’ve made peace with. /:) But you know what happened that has, I think, ruined it forever for me? L’Artisan Safran Troublant. I never noticed the rose until LT mentioned it. Now it’s all I can smell.

    • Musette says:

      I’m beginning to think I’m confusing some note in the soap. It teeters juuuust on the edge of cumin/sweat and that’s all my feeble vocab can conjure – cumin. Though it could be the Ivory Soap Accord.


      The worst thing is I could’ve sworn it smelled 180o diff than what I smelled when it was on tour in Chicago. If it comes back I’m ON it!

      xoxo >-)

  • MsAnon says:

    Ah, my very first bottle of perfume. I fell in love with a small sample of Aimez-Moi–so minty, violety, and fresh above the amber.

    Then I bought a bottle of it online, and when it came, it smelled like warm Sprite. Absolutely no top. I didn’t know if it’d been reformulated, or if the bottle had turned, or what.

    I really want to try another sometime… I’ve smelled the tester bottle at a local store and it does have some of the top notes. But I’m afraid of putting down full price and having it not work out. Maybe the person I got the sample from just has a magic bottle!

  • Geordan1244 says:

    Seldom poster, here.

    I loved the sample of Dyptique Olene that I got through luckyscent, but since buying the bottle, I’ve become very disillusioned with it. It could be that I’ve come to love Carnal Flower so much that all other florals pale in comparison, or it could be that the quality ingredients of CF are just way beyond that of Olene. Anytime I wear Olene now, I smell chemical bug spray (very dissapointing because I loved it). Because of this experience, I start at sample size, try one or two 5 ml decants and then buy a full bottle if my love for the fragrance lasts through the decants. I also try to use the decants through different weather and seasons to see if my appreciation will continue throughout.

    • Suzy Q says:

      A lesson here is our taste changes, perfume changes and, unfortunately for some of us, our small perfume budgets don’t change.

  • mariekel says:

    Oh lord, the number of times this has happened to me…the latest example was a month or so ago, when i went to Macy’s for a bottle of Azuree. I spritzed the counter tester (yes! it was actually ON the counter instead of under it!) and was a bit taken aback by how much sweeter it was than the sample sent to me by the lovely Jana. I wrote and asked her how old her bottle was and she told me a few years (and then sent me 10mls of it just because she is so fabulous).

    Could it be in that time that the gorgeous citrusy-leather I know and love as Azuree has turned to brown sugar mush? Or was it a duff bottle? I so hope the latter…

  • ScentRed says:

    I liked Bigarade Concentree when I dribbled and dabbed a bit on my arm from my sample vial. Now I have a small decant with a sprayer and it is LOVE. I’m surprised to find that with a good spritzing the longevity is much better. From the vial I got an hour or two. On my hubby (whom I originally ordered the sample for) a small dab from the vial lasted about 20 minutes and then *poof*, gone. But I’m not letting him spritz; keeping my little decant all to myself 😉 Now I need to get more so I can spray with abandon. And speaking of cumin, yes, I get cumin in the drydown. I sometimes wonder if others will smell it the same way I do or in the BOish way that others describe.

    I’ve had a mysterious relationship with Feminite du Bois. I have a small bottle of the EDT and it’s never really lived up to the dreamy sexiness of the sample. I can’t figure out if it is because the juice is older, or because it is sprayed vs. dabbed or maybe I had a sample of the Serge Lutens one or EDP formulation instead of EDT. Dunno. I still enjoy wearing it, but I’m not as passionate about it as I was when I first tried it.

  • maggiecat says:

    I’m always glad to know that others have experienced these sensations – when something you love becomes something vaguely annoying, when something you found “meh” suddenly turns into something you can’t live without. Even without the dabbing vs. spraying issue (I found I prefer Jicky dabbed, rather than sprayed), there just seem to be times when my nose reacts differently to scents, and I pick up on things I missed before, for good or for yuck. I guess that means that scents – and our delightful offspring – will continue to keep us busy and guessing – and definitely not bored!

  • Nava says:

    Remember last year when we spritzed Narciso Rodriguez Essence from the tester and then thought the samples smelled totally different? Freaky…

    • March says:

      I’d forgotten that. And you’re right. And also PS I’ve been told more than once that the reason I can smell it so strongly now is that they started using a different musk, since so many people like me were anosmic. The way it smells now I can’t believe I EVER couldn’t smell it!

  • Kate says:

    The other day I had the last drops of Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus in my tiny decant bottle. I’d sprayed it all over from full bottle (as I am wont to do–unless its a uber-patch scent as I do not want gas out coworkers). So late in the day I dabbed the last of the decant and it had dried a bit and was very concentrated. So freakin’ beautiful. I might re-fill the little decant bottle and try for this intense dried effect to see if I can repeat it.

    Damn cute kid. I adore the boa effect. She must’ve made your father’s fathers day!

    • March says:

      I do wonder … do you think they concentrate as they dry? Seriously. Because I have a teeny spray decant of Champaca that I SWEAR has done the same thing!

      Yup, the menfolk swooned over wacky little Hecate. She loves her grandpa.

  • Style Spy says:

    I distrust the dab. So much that I bought a passel of those little 2 ml spray bottles and will transfer a sample from a vial into them to spray if I’m intrigued by the scent. Granted, I have to dab first, but if it’s even a little interesting, I’ll spray. I find one thing that helps with the dab is to make sure I get good whiffs of it from various distances, if possible — my nose right up on the skin, an inch away, six inches away, etc.

    I live religiously by the sample-decant-full bottle rule, except when I don’t. Most recently, Manoumalia caused a golden, narcotic haze to descend over me and when it cleared, Lucky Scent was packing up a bottle. No regrets.

    • Melissa says:

      I like that! “Distrust the dab!” It sounds so ominous. >:) :ob-(
      But I do the same thing with the 2 ml sample spray atomizers. If I do bother to buy samples at all (rather than decants) I usually buy 2 of them in order to have enough to put into the 2 ml atomizers for a fair try.

    • March says:

      Yes, I think your 2ml sprayer idea is a fabulous one! Certainly anything relatively expensive for a purchase is worth spraying on vigorously, if that’s how it’s going to be applied.

      Heh. I have ANOTHER samp of Manouthingy sitting here. When i’m done with Vamp, it’s next. I didn’t have a great outing last time.

      • Melissa says:

        I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who didn’t instantly love the great Manamou! It sat on my skin smelling like rubber. And not in a good way. :((

  • furriner says:

    Dabbed, Dzing! disappears on me in an hour. Sprayed, it lasts all day. If I had gone merely by the small sample I had I never would have bought it.

    On the other hand, Gris Clair… smells better on me dabbed than sprayed for some reason. At least with SL there is the option to not spray.

    • March says:

      Dzing sprayed or dabbed is a wonder .. so sad they’ve axed it. I think. (?)

      Gris Clair, funny you mention that. I too like it dabbed. It’s much much too lavender-ish sprayed.

      • Oh no, it’s still alive and kicking. Spoke to Pamela Roberts, ex-L’Artisan, who art-directed it. She was furious when The Guide came out because it repeated the rumours on the web about it being axed, and neither Tania nor Luca apparently bothered to check with L’Artisan. It all started back when Marina from PST was working at L’Artisan in NY, and the 50 ml bottles were discontinued: she was afraid that Dzing was being discontinued. It’s NOT, repeat, NOT. In fact I got a bottle a couple of months ago.

        • And, while we’re on the subject, Luca also claimed in the first edition of the Guide (don’t know about the later one) that Mûre et Musc had been reformulated and the musk changed. It hasn’t.

        • March says:

          Here’s what I was looking for! Dzing! Thanks, D, for straightening me out on this one. I wasn’t overly concerned about it being D/C’d only because it seems to me they’re still available forever. But the idea that they’d ax this one made me sad!

          So I’ll stop mongering the rumors. 🙂

          Also I like Mure et Musc very much, and was kinda delighted to hear that my bottle is up to snuff. The only thing I’ll say is referring to your comment up above — I wonder if people with “vintage” bottles of MetM discover that at this point it smells different just because it’s old. Not that it was made differently.

          • mary says:

            Happy you all are back– March, I am convinced that perfumes can evolve and mellow over time, just like a wine. If they mellow over the course of six weeks of maceration, the process has got to continue over the course of the years we keep it in a drawer. I think some formulas age better than others. And, I think that aging process likely accounts for a lot of the sniffy “reformulation” kvetches in the “Guide” and elsewhere. I am not the most experienced consumer of perfumes, and it could very well be my lack of expertise, but the new bottles of my old favorites (I’m talking about my beloved Carons) smell. exactly. the. same. as they did in the 80’s, when I made friends with the Caron SA at Magnin and bought a new bottle every paycheck. But, my 26 year old residue of Tabac Blonde smells, well, like the incredibly aged and fine material it is– the new bottle smells great, but like a young, un-aged version–which it is. Does that make sense? Think I’ll wear it today, even though it’s warm out . . .

  • waftbycarol says:

    This has happened to me , and two of the examples were from l’Artisan scents !
    I recieved a sample of le Haie Fleurie du Hameau in a Sniffa gift bag and abolutely loved it ! Very dark jus , rich and realistically floral . When finally I purchased an FB , 100 ml the following winter ….ugh ….plasticky , watered down , the jus was not nearly the same color . Very disappointing . I figured they had reformulated .
    Then , I sniffed a “pre-bottle” ( as someone else called them ) of Havana Vanille . Got absolutely NO VANILLA at all – hated it . Smelled like under=roasted coffee . Then I accepted a decant in a swap , and it was vanilla-y and tobacco-y and great…
    This has probably happened to me other times too , but those stand out the most . Fascinatingly , both L’Artisan’s , which I never thought about before .

    • March says:

      Ya know … is it my imagination or is L’A coming up more often in this topic? Because I notice variations in their stuff. Also SL and AG. That’s so odd about Havana Vanille. And how sad about Fleurie!

  • Silviafunkly says:

    Ahhh, the March effect !!!
    I also succumbed and acquired some Majmua and beeswax at the w-e, now have to work out how to put them together, which could be interesting… but look forward to trying the result alone and with NdT.
    Thankfully my NdT bottle is every bit as wonderful as I remembered when I first tried it and the atomizer diffuses beautifully so I can do the walk into the cloud thing and be covered all over. I am seriously in love with the stuff.:)>-

    • March says:

      Wait, you got the beeswax? We can get further lessons… my little sample is almost gone and I like the solid texture of it so much I might have to learn how to do the melted beeswax/jojoba dealie.

      That NdT is all over almost everything I own at this point that hasn’t been laundered this week. So me too!

      • SilviaFunkly says:

        I got a little block of beeswax from lovely friends who keep bees. They suggested melting some of it in the oven at 100 degrees celsius, which I did tonight in a tinfoil cupcake thingy. I then added almond oil (for lack of jojoba) where I had dissolved the majmua, swirled around and poured into a little pot. Best results were actually with the stuff left over in the foil, which I scraped off and smoothed with my fingers into a paste. This spreads more easily than the stuff I had poured which is quite hard (but I probably didn’t have the right proportions of wax/oil). I definitely want to play around more, was great fun. Mandy Aftel’s book “Essence & Alchemy” has a useful section on making solid perfumes, which of course I read after my experiment.
        And I second the NdT + majmua combo :d

    • Note: the one Silvia tried is the one March tried, from my first-ever batch.

  • karin says:

    I have a dabbing tip for those of you who’d rather dab than spray from a spray bottle – spray the scent onto a synthetic cosmetic puff (not cotton), then dab where you want. It’s a fantastic way to distribute scent to different parts of the body without having to spray on each (which may prove to be too much with a strong scent).

    This tip may be moot, however, cause for the life of me, I can no longer find synthetic cosmetic puffs!!!! Where did they go??? Cotton doesn’t work – it absorbs the scent. But the synthetic ones were perfect cause they would trap the liquid without absorbing it. Used to be able to find them at every drugstore, but now they seem to have vanished – and I can’t even find them online. Frustrating!!! If anyone has a source for purchasing these, do tell! And if you have some puffs hiding in a cupboard somewhere, do try this method, and let me know if you’re happy with it. AND, if anyone has another method that works well, let us know!

    • Elizabeth says:

      I suppose you could try using a wadded-up piece of nylon or polyester fabric…?

    • March says:

      That’s funny, I used to use the faux-cotton balls all the time for makeup, wonder where they went? I hadn’t noticed! And I like your idea of spraying them to dab something on.

      • Musette says:

        they’re terrible for things like removing nail polish but great for perfume! I haven’t seen them either, though I haven’t looked. I live in the boonies, though, so if they’ve been removed for PC/environmental reasons we may still have them (Central IL is a lot of things – PC/enviro ain’t one of them).

        xo >-)

        • March says:

          Yeah. I mean, I used to have to look extra hard for the ACTUAL cotton balls, they were all synthetic. But I haven’t looked recently for either. Will take a gander at the CVS.

  • sybil says:

    I bet it’s mostly dabbing vs. spraying. That’s what I’d attribute it to. Also I think greater familiarity with the scent makes different stuff come out. The one I remember best is one of the PG’s, Iris Taizo…the first time or so I tried it, I was stumping for a bottle, but the decant made me cry. I was getting some weird cat pee vibe off it when it was sprayed.

    Hecate is beautiful, and my guess is, if that’s how she looked, it’s how she WANTED to look.

    • March says:

      I do think the spraying vs. dabbing is huge, and I do what someone else on here mentioned — if possible, I dump a sample, no matter how small, into an atomizer so I can spray it.

      Hecate’s a slice of strange dessert that you’ve never had before but somehow want more of.

  • Masha says:

    I bow before your superior perfume power!

    • March says:

      SORRY EVERYONE — kids are home from school this week, there’s lots of little people underfoot and related things that Need Attention.

      Louise has perfume-eating skin! Or used to…

  • Tara says:

    I think the dabbing v. spraying makes an enormous difference. I have a tiny sample of Eau D’Italie’s Sienne L’Hiver which when dabbed I thought was stunning so I bought a very large decant. I have to say that sprayed I find it utterly headache inducing. It’s so different that I am not even sure they are the same fragrance (almost like Musette’s experence with Aldehyde 44).

    Just as Joe does, now I try to only 5ml spray decants so I can get the true (I think) fragrance experience.

    • Masha says:

      Some perfumes are so much better dabbed. I would never spray Norma Kamali’s Incense, for example- haha! (And those who’ve tried this perfume are surely nodding their heads right now.)

      • Louise says:

        um, I spray my NK 😮

      • Tara says:

        I have always wanted to try NK’s would you describe it (other than strong) ;-)?

        • Louise says:

          Resinous, smokey, deep, glorious :d/

          • Tara says:

            Wow..the PC here I come!!

          • March says:

            Deadly. She forgot deadly.

            Also you might order some DK Ceremony while you’re there. It’s a little less … less …. it’s more meditative.

          • Tara C says:

            NK Incense… whoa. That one blew me away, and not in a good way. I dabbed it from a sample vial and had to scrub off within fifteen minutes.

            My “mistake” was Cuir Mauresque. Dabbed from a vial I loved it, when I got my bell jar and decanted into a spray bottle, I hated it, it sucked all the air out of the room. I figured my tastes were off so I put it away. Then one day I took out my sample vial and dabbed it again, and I loved it. Voila! Can only wear that one dabbed, but it’s magic when it works.

    • March says:

      Hm. Well, I am too askeered ever to go back and smell Sienne, but I will take your word for it. And some scents just seem better as dabbers.

      • Gretchen says:

        Most of the samples and decants I’ve had come in dab-only vials. . . then when I fall in love with one and buy a FB, inevitably the manufacturer only makes spray bottles, and I discover that I don’t like the fragrance sprayed. Happens all the time with edt and edp strengths, so unless I can commit to testing and buying extraits I’m shot down. Even if the scent doesn’t change its nature from one application method to the other, I really much prefer dabbing, because that allows me to apply as discreetly as I deem necessary.

    • Kitty says:

      Tara – I had that same issue with Amouage gold. A dab was perfect, but even the spray from the sample bottle gives me a headache!

  • dinazad says:

    Ormonde Jayne Ta’if – I collected samples and small decants and loved it to pieces, and then I bought a bottle. And swapped the whole lot away within a week.

    But then, when I have a small amount of something, I usually just test it on my wrist, whereas I dab or spray all over myself when I have more. Which might account for some of the difference – a small amount quite a distance away from your nose doesn’t grate on your nerves as much as a smallish cloud surrounding you, and you only smell your wrist when you feel like it (and are more inclined to like what you smell), not all day.

    Hecate looks great in blue!

    • March says:

      Ta’if I love dabbed. Sprayed from a bottle would kill me. But I have had the sample/decant love and still had the bottle fail. 🙁 And we do learn quickly not to overspray with certain frags.

      Hecate looks great in chocolate smeared around her mouth, too, which I just noticed. :d

  • Ok, so, about Nuit de Tubéreuse: no change in the formula from pre-launch to launch, but bear in mind that:

    1) When a fragrance has a decent proportion of naturals, there are slight variations from batch to batch, deemed acceptable by the perfumer.

    2) A fragrance starts changing the minute it’s blended, and continues to do so at every second (though minutely), so that something that’s just been blended will go on “moving”, but smell differently from something that was blended a month ago.
    I actually did the comparison between the freshly blended NdT that came from the lab and the original test batch. It’s normal there’s a difference.
    That’s why the Le Labo mixing with alcohol at the counter always struck me as a gimmick: the product has to stabilize for a month at least.

    3) Dabbing is different from spraying, definitely, in that it gets a much smaller, more concentrated in one spot amount of fragrance on skin, and the molecules don’t evaporate in quite the same way. This is even verifiable with small sample/decant atomizers vs. a full bottle: the latter sprays a larger amount of skin and change the dvelopment.

    4) Our perceptions of a scent do change as we wear it, compared to when we test it, because we’re not necessarily focusing on the same stage of development — our attention wanders. So it’s normal to notice quite different things. No to mention ambient humidity, temperature, hormones, etc…

    5) It’s quite possible that the decanting process affects the fragrance by exposing it to air more than it would be if kept in its original bottle. Also, if mailed, we don’t know what temperature changes it underwent during its journey. I would suspect a sample/decant to be more vulnerable because of its smaller volume.

    Hope your dad had a great Father’s day, I suspect he did!

    • Masha says:

      Thank you for clarifying that! The parallels between perfume (particularly the more naturally-based ones) and wine are quite numerous, aren’t they?:-?

    • Olfacta says:

      I wonder about that too. How does a 1 ml sample resist molecular changes when subjected to 95 (F) degree heat like we’re having now? Sitting in vans, trucks, mail carts, etc.

    • Shelley says:

      The molecules respond to the heat the same way, whether there are umpteen of them, or umpteen umpteen. 😉 I wonder, too, but I also wonder if the fact that many perfume folk are rather, um, enthusiastic in their packaging (THANK YOU for that, btw), that some of our samps/swaps/decants are better protected when being shipped in extreme weather than shipments to vendors that sit in non-climate controlled warehouses.

      Point being, so long as whatever the amount is protected from extremes, it should be okay. That said, I do cringe a little when the weather shifts dramatically and I know I have something in transit.

    • March says:

      Hey, D, thanks as always! And I owe you a longer email, he and I had a great discussion tangential to you. And he did have a nice Father’s day.

      So. On here already, I said that it makes sense to me, the more I think about it, that there SHOULD be variations. Given the materials and the process, why shouldn’t there be slight variations, batch to batch and year to year? And perhaps the scent might change as it ages, year to year, even if kept in a dark, cool place. I’m really loving the mango I’m getting now, but there are so many variables, who can say precisely what’s different?

  • Masha says:

    The NdT conundrum is really interesting, March. I believe my bottle was a “pre-bottle”, got it a month before the actual launch, and Carmencanada might know if the early bottles were formulated slightly differently than the later ones?? Because I could not understand how people weren’t getting that massive top note blast that I was, but you noticed it, too, so maybe I don’t have a brain tumor after all? Small houses might well have batches that are tweaked a little differently, or they might be using different batches of a certain ingredient, or they might get early feedback and change the formula a bit? Does that happen? Anyway, I’m going to try my NdT with my majmua, too!

    • Masha says:

      An Update: Majmua layered with NdT is thoroughly amazing! I can finally use my bottle of NdT! Thanks, March:d

    • March says:

      I know you saw the message below. And hey, I’ve sniffed enough multiples of bottles to think that they occasionally have slight variations, even when they’re new. After all, when one considers the raw ingredients and the process, we should probably be surprised there isn’t MORE variation!

  • Madea says:

    Habanita. It smelled sort of smokey sweet on me from the vial and sharp and baby powdery from the spray. Having accidentally let the bottle get a tad overheated, I’m shocked to discover that the scent morphed into sweet, smokey leather with a hint of apricot. Weird, but good weird.

    Other than that, I haven’t had that problem.

    Hecate is very cute, by the way.

    • March says:

      HAH. I too tried Habanita the first time by spraying on two or three huge sprays from one of those atomizers. I thought I would DIE. And I was at Aedes and nowhere near a shower. I’d have taken one if I could have.

      So it sounds like the bottle just needs to be overheated.

      Hecate is cute, thanks! I keep reminding myself that her natural curiosity will someday be a positive trait.

      • Kitty says:

        I’m wearing Habanita right now – I love the leather dry down. I love it, maybe because it was my first weird step away from florientals. March, I think you and I discussed FM’s Noir Epices. I loved it from the spritz at the store, but the small(ish) sample that I bought sprayed out something very weird and not so great smelling. Another store check told me that my sample was right on point – It must have been my nose that was off the first time.

        p.s. great picture! At her age I was running around in a black wig trying not to be a redhead. hmmm….

  • Melissa says:

    I usually get decants before I commit to a full bottle. Or I give myself a good dousing from a tester bottle. Because I really believe that dabbing from samples doesn’t cut it. Dispersing a scent from an atomizer is a richer and more fulfilling way to try a fragrance, in my opinion.

    Even so, I’ve certainly had the experience of suddenly detecting an odd note after I’ve bought a bottle of something that I thought I loved. Occasionally, I’ve attributed this to variations in the scents. I used to own two bottles of Douce Amere that smelled distinctly different, though both were recognizable as that fragrance.

    But more often, I think that I’ve had expectations of a fragrance in my mind during the initial wearing(s). And as I grew to know it better, it smelled subtly different. Maybe I hyped it in my mind based on pre-release blog info or early reviews and I thought that I detected what I read in the first wearing or two? Then reality set in. Sometimes the difference is okay, but sometimes I regret the purchase.

    • March says:

      See, your Douce Amere is a perfect example. They’re sitting right there, next to each other, smelling different. And to me, with any fragrance that has a higher portion of natural or somehow unstable ingredients, this makes sense. Why shouldn’t they be like wine vintages? Maybe this year’s batch is different. Plus they change ingredients and don’t tell us.

      I do think, though, that your last para is correct. If I love something and wear it often enough, I feel like I pick up on subtleties, parts I notice and love. If it’s something I grow to dislike, it’s often the same process — the teensy note of rose or cumin or whatever begins to annoy.

  • carter says:

    I’m sorry…vat was the qvestion? I can’t seem to tear my eyes away from the spectacular Hecate. I love her. Please wrap her up and ship her to NYC immediately. Thank you.

    • March says:

      No school this week. I’m stuffing her in a Priority Mail box, she’s on her way. She’s already broken three things accidentally this morning.

  • Maha says:

    This has happened to me! I purchased my full bottle of Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan after falling in love with a decent-sized spray sample. This was in the early stages of my ongoing perfume education, and I bought the sample thinking I wouldn’t like it; it was an afterthought that I threw in with a bunch of flowery things, thinking I should have a better sense of various notes and genres. While the other samples remain unfinished in a box somewhere, I loved the SL sample so much that I absolutely had to have the whole bottle. But the spray sample, which I came by in America, definitely smelled different from the full bottle, which I purchased in London. The sample smelled distinctly more caramelized, with none of the balance provided by those signature AS dry spices. (My guess is that, if not geography, age might have had something to do with the difference, either on the particular bottle of perfume, or the formulation from batch-to-batch–the sample was from an older bottle, and the full bottle was newly purchased from Harrods.)

    I’m now glad to have the full bottle I do; it appears to be the standard, as it smells like other bottles of AS, and I think the fragrance might be too candied and a bit toothless without the spices. At the time, though, I was a little surprised and disappointed at the difference between the sample and the full bottle. That said, who knows if my beginner nose would have taken to the perfume if the sample had smelled right? So, in this case, the difference may actually have been a useful bait-and-switch, kind of like putting your dog’s medicine in peanut butter.

    More shamefully (and also in the early, bumbling stages of being into perfume), I’ve definitely tried things casually, filed them away in my mental wish list, and snatched them up much later on discount, only to wonder, “How could I have ever wanted this?” For me, the switcheroo has coincided with my lowest moments in perfume buying, like snapping up a large (and not inexpensive) bottle of Eau d’Issey (when I hate aquatic notes!) at Nordstrom Rack. When I put it on later, I was convinced I’d smelled something different the first time I tried it on–but I think it was just my untrained nose, not really being able to tell what I was smelling, and thinking that something I came to find, meh, merely pleasant was actually terrific and, indeed, full-bottle-worthy.

    I have, though, passed along the Eau d’Issey (and all those similar newbie mistakes) to my mom, who happily wears them and always smells wonderful. So there’s another example of the perspectival shift that accompanies the “Wait, is this the same perfume?” moments in this hobby–I like them on her, if not on me!

    • March says:

      I do wonder whether if you just let that bottle age, would it smell right? The way you wanted? And a number of folks have commented that bottle to bottle comparisons of SL and other scents smell different. Having had that happen to me, with something I couldn’t sniff first, it’s a disappointment. It’s not WRONG but it’s not what we wanted.

      And hey, for almost everything we hate, there’s someone to love it!

      Except for SOULGASM. So far.

  • Natalie says:

    Ooooh, yeah… I fell in love with a sample of Heeley Cardinal, bought a big decant (not a bottle, granted, but I was really poor at the time), and now it smells nasty and sweaty. I think this is a dab vs. spray problem, but quite honestly I haven’t had the fortitude to try it again to find out.

    The other biggie was Incense Rose… I still like my original sample best — it’s missing the big citrus opening that my bottle has. I don’t dislike that note (it’s basically Orange Star on me), but I find myself twiddling my thumbs waiting for it to burn off so I can enjoy the smolderingly sultry scent that’s left.

    Love Hecate’s look — I’ve been toying with the idea of dyeing my hair hot pink (I think it’s a midlife crisis thing), and I’m taking her blue wig as a sign from the gods that it’s an excellent idea.

    • Masha says:

      Quite a few German women of middle years go bright pink or blue, and so do quite a few German grandmas, and you know what, it looks great! I say go for it.

    • March says:

      Hecate DEFINITELY thinks you should dye your hair pink.

      And another Tauer example. Some of my Tauers have in fact changed over time, I’ve assumed it’s something he’s using in the base. As they still smell good, I’m not complaining.

      Heeley is sweaty? Hm. (off to find sample) 😉

      • Natalie says:

        An OK from the German grandmas and a thumbs-up from Hecate is all the justification I need — thanks!

        Heeley evokes lady sweat on me, not cumin-y, hairy-armpit guy sweat. Oddly enough, in perfume I prefer the hairy-armpit variety.

  • Louise says:

    Hecate is glorious 😡

    I’ve had the “huh-waz this?” experience several times with various perfumes. A few have been vintage brews, so it hasn’t been surprising that various samps, decants, sniffs and bottles are quite different. I can easily imagine that the ages are different, or that some have been reformulated, or that time has affected the juice and specific notes in unpredictable ways.

    But this also happens with new ‘fumes, too. My bottle of Nuit de T. is different than the sniff in Paris. It, too, is less mango, and this morning seemed to sprout a bright top of aldehydes :-\” Several of my Tauers vary from samp to samp, decant to bottle. Ditto with two of my Amouages.

    So-my guess is that the perfume itself may vary, from batch to batch. For me it all just adds to the wild excitement of perfumery. ‘Cept when my portion smells bad b-(

    • March says:

      Yes, the vintage stuff I generally expect wild variations on. And why not? But you’re right, I swear the new scents can vary too. I get my share of pre-release samples, and I am often suspicious that they smell slightly different when the “real” thing rolls out.

      With the Tauers (and other small-batch perfumers) this makes sense. But the big companies … you’d think they’d be more consistent?

    • sweetlife says:

      Louise, I think I know what you mean by the aldehydes in NdT–to me that’s the supercharged buzz of the pink pepper in the top. I lurrrve it (and usually don’t like aldehydes at all), but I don’t get it all the time. Mostly, when I’m generous with my spritzing.

      • March says:

        Headscratching. I don’t get that at all. I’d like to.

        • sweetlife says:

          Maybe my pepper buzz is your green mango? I often wonder, reading the blogs, if it’s a language thing as much as a skin thing…

          • No, the green mango accord is different from the pink pepper, which represents a whopping 10% of the formula. There are certainly aldehydes too, though it’s mostly the pink pepper that creates that fizzy aldehydic-style effect.
            The green mango is an accord. I’d say there’s probably cassis bud in it (for that sulfurous, slightly cat-pissy notes all tropical fruit share) and probably some lactone (for the milkiness of the mango).

  • Shelley says:

    Yes, this has happened to me. No, I don’t remember with what…when I do, I’ll comment on myself here…but I am afraid that this does demonstrate I have my maternal line’s ability to turn a remarkably blind eye toward that in history which causes pain to be remembered. /:)

    There are others that have gone back and forth–hello, Diorella, I’m looking at your GORGEOUS! to> WTH–something’s rotting!!! to> GORGEOUS! self, as I tried you various times–but, since they are currently in the yum-yum camp, I seem to be able to recall names.

    I’ve not only wondered if it was spritz vs. dab, I’ve pondered time since last shower, what time of month, and what I’ve eaten as causes. Oh, and whether the litter box needs changing. 😉

    I’ve gotten VERY good at decant first. Though I will admit to taking into account whether or not I know there will be people happy to take it if it doesn’t work for me…this is why the world should be happy that Evil Scent Twins exist… :d 😡

    • March says:

      Man, all the old Diors are like that to me! I have yet to fall radically in love with one, although I understand why people do.

      At some point, I think most of us get sick of 90+ bottles of stuff we won’t even wear.

  • Musette says:

    Ha! I’ll de-cloak myself! Remember the PAIN :(( of Drama that is Nuui? The Pain Nuui? Luckyscent’s little sample was so sharp and green and laser-mean and I drove you and Shelley in-effin’-SANE with the “I love it – should I buy it?’ crapola (that was when I had NO simoleans to rub together)….and I finally caved and bought it and ……….:( b-( :-&


    Suddenly the whole world was the inside of a musk’s musk! To this day I don’t unnerstand – and I think I no longer have my little LS samp – so who knows? But there wasn’t a drop of musk in the samp because we know I >:p musk. At least that particular musk.

    I am now particularly careful with samp v decant v full bottle. Too many transitional disasters! I’m going with the 12 ml rule (or thereabouts). So far it’s working just fine.

    xoxo >-)

    ps. Hecate is just gorgeous and I love that little >:) in her eye. The wig is fetching, too!

    • Joe says:

      Could you have amped up the DRAAAAAAAMA in that a little more? :*

      Little did you know you helped me pick the SOTN. Ahhh… 1001 Jasmine Nights. I’m not sure exactly what musky musk in there turns 8-x for you, though I’ll admit this isn’t a focused laser-green all the way through. Oh well… crap happens, eh?

      As for the 12ml rule: 5ml spray decants are practically my new “sample vials.” Yes, it gets pricey, but often it saves me from expensive buys, and in many cases, by the time I’m done with 5ml, I’ve had enough and am ready to move on to the next one. Because I’m like that. 😮

      • March says:

        Joe, I totally agree with you on the 5ml vials. Except. As those seem to be the ones that evaporated most rapidly in my half-arsed survey of my samples and decants, now I feel like I should go back and electrical-tape all of them around the neck. :-w

    • March says:

      In theory I should never buy anything but decants in the first place, since I almost never work through a bottle. But I succumb (the bottle’s pretty, the price is great) and … well, it doesn’t always work out. The DN I do remember! But I think that worked out for you (didn’t Joe buy it?) 😕

      • Musette says:

        No, S and I swapped Lord Knows What (we do a bit of that) – and I took 5 ml to see if I could work through it. :-&

        All in all, it worked out fine, including the fact that you, she and Joe are all still talking to me! [-o< btw - I think the elec tape is an excellent idea. It's easy to remove and reuse and now comes in pretty colors (or you can go on Amazon). I keep the tape on all of the vintage decants I have, just in case.... xo >-)

    • Flora says:

      Oh, Musette, you sent me some of that, LOL – Musk does not begin to describe that baby! I can take it to a degree, but wow, that was some serious musk OD! On a positive note, I think it made the neighborhood tom cats happy. :d