I can't smell ISO E Super, blessed or cursed?

du57in

Well-known member
Jun 21, 2014
I recently got a decant of some ISO E Super with another decant I purchased and it doesn't smell like anything.

Now I've read plenty on ISO E, about how it comes and goes, and about how different people smell it to different degrees, but I was honestly shocked at how I could just almost kind of barely smell something similar to cedar on my hand while my SO, from across the room, asked what I was spraying because it was so strong. I asked her if she knew what it was and she said I have a lot of perfumes that kind of smell like that.

That made me wonder, is not being able to smell ISO E a blessing or a curse? Am I missing something from every fragrance I smell, or am I lucky that it doesn't ruin anything?
 

Carl57

Well-known member
Jan 27, 2015
Curse imo. Perfumers include it for a reason, it's part of the creation and your missing out. Not a big deal though
 

gandhajala

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2010
I think Iso E Super is used as much for its effect in a blend as its smell: it often seems to be used to fill in the (larger or smaller) gaps in a composition and add radiance.
Comparing two otherwise identical blends, you'd probably be able to tell which contained Iso E Super and which didn't.
Try putting some Iso E Super on a paper strip, leave it in a room and come back a couple of hours later - you may notice it as you enter.
Or, try diluting it: sometimes it is easier to smell materials at lower concentrations.
 

David Ruskin

Well-known member
May 28, 2009
Iso E Super is notoriously difficult to smell and evaluate. I can smell it but it tires my nose very quickly. Try diluting it, and see what happens. Or leave a smelling strip dipped in Iso E in a room, leave for twenty minutes, return and you should be able to smell something. Also, even if you cannot smell the concentrated material, I bet you can smell its effect in a fragrance.
 
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Meow7

Well-known member
May 13, 2013
I mixed up a very, very small batch of perfume spray (30/70) with this one just to see what would happen; if I could detect the nuances of the scent any better. Out the gate, not much. Just a whiff here and there.
I let it sit for a few months and tried again. All I got was a petroleum smell. No fruit, no musk etc as some have stated. Just petrol. lol.

At this point, don't know if I want to add it to any scent I'm brewing to 'enhance' (as some say it does) a fragrance or it's note(s)!
 

Dorje123

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2011
Iso-e is horrible, the bane of modern perfumery... but I'd definitely want to be able to smell it to make sure I avoid any compositions that use it.

The problem is, I can smell it easily and it dominates the drydown of many frags, which ruins them, and is very difficult to wash off even with soap + scrubbing. Perfumers seem to use it as a lazy way out of composing a decent base, at least that's the impression I get.
 

David Ruskin

Well-known member
May 28, 2009
It all depends on how it is used; like everything. Halston Z14 was one of the first fragrances to contain Iso E; the original Chloe (tuberose) was another. Both are/were fabulous fragrances.
 

Dorje123

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2011
It all depends on how it is used; like everything. Halston Z14 was one of the first fragrances to contain Iso E; the original Chloe (tuberose) was another. Both are/were fabulous fragrances.

Agreed. I'm talking about fragrances that use it in such high concentrations that it is a main player, like TdH. I think this use of iso-e is a relatively recent phenomenon.

But even in frags that use it more sparingly it's often more persistent than any other ingredient, which ruins the drydown. Amouage Honor Man and Memoir and good examples. Nice opening, horrible drydown. The current reformulations are better but the older ones had horrible chemical-smelling drydowns due to iso-e. A large majority of frags that use iso-e suffer from this.
 

rynegne

Well-known member
Jul 25, 2012
I agree completely with David. ISO-E is hard to smell by itself, especially in an undiluted state. Typically, I choose to use ISO-E in relatively small percentages when I can't get a fragrance that's mostly composed of naturals to synthetics to jump off the skin...IMO, ISO-E can make or break a fragrance. It all depends on how it's used.
 

Dorje123

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2011
I agree completely with David. ISO-E is hard to smell by itself, especially in an undiluted state. Typically, I choose to use ISO-E in relatively small percentages when I can't get a fragrance that's mostly composed of naturals to synthetics to jump off the skin...IMO, ISO-E can make or break a fragrance. It all depends on how it's used.

For those who can smell it easily, like me, it is almost always "break". It's truly disgusting crap, and heavily abused by perfumers.
 

Twilight99

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2013
I’m also one that can’t smell Iso E Super. It really is annoying because a great deal of frags is off limit to me. In addition, if I am exposed to lot of Iso E Super, my sense of smell is severely reduced and I can’t smell much of anything. Sweetness is one of the smells I can still detect when clogged with Iso E Super, but not much else. I’m also getting stinging sensations in my nose and my eyes.

For me it is a curse because I never know if a fragrance contains Iso E Super, and if it will affect me. If bottles were labelled if they contained Iso E super, things would be better. Fragrances with less than 20% concentration of Iso E super do not seem to bother me.
 

FiveoaksBouquet

Scented.
Basenotes Plus
Jul 16, 2004
I can't smell it either and I don't feel I'm missing anything. The only thing I wonder about is if others can smell it and it is in my perfume, do I smell the way I think I do? :D That could be a worry. Same with perfumes that contain musk notes. Some musks I can hardly smell. I don't particularly like musk so if I don't smell it, all the better--but are others smelling a musk-reeking person? :huh:
 

dougczar

Well-known member
Mar 3, 2012
Not sure why it would be a blessing to not be able to smell something. ISO E Super smells pretty nice IMO, and can certainly enhance a composition. But, yes, it certainly be overused. But not sure why on earth you would rather not smell it. That's just crazy.
 

du57in

Well-known member
Jun 21, 2014
I tried spraying some on a perfume testing strip, letting it sit for awhile and smelling later. It worked! I could only smell it for the first couple of smells, but it was woody, sweet and smooth. I don't really recognize it from any perfumes, but I think I would probably notice if it was gone.
 

David Ruskin

Well-known member
May 28, 2009
I tried spraying some on a perfume testing strip, letting it sit for awhile and smelling later. It worked! I could only smell it for the first couple of smells, but it was woody, sweet and smooth. I don't really recognize it from any perfumes, but I think I would probably notice if it was gone.

Glad to hear that the technique worked; it usually does. Most people can only smell Iso E for the first couple of sniffs; you have to be quick.
 

magnus611

Well-known member
Jul 16, 2013
Not sure why it would be a blessing to not be able to smell something. ISO E Super smells pretty nice IMO, and can certainly enhance a composition. But, yes, it certainly be overused. But not sure why on earth you would rather not smell it. That's just crazy.


Because it pricks(pungent) the olfactory, especially if you posses an extra keen sense of smell and not to mention I get that concentrated alcohol vibe which denotes syntgethic, is just my imo don't take it personal!
 

Dorje123

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2011
Because it pricks(pungent) the olfactory, especially if you posses an extra keen sense of smell and not to mention I get that concentrated alcohol vibe which denotes syntgethic, is just my imo don't take it personal!

Yup, for those with no problem smelling iso-e it fills rooms, the projection is enormous and there's no escaping it. It's not pleasant at all, more like an industrial chemical that might be poisonous.

Another fact on iso-e... it's used to flavor cigarettes too.

I think we need to start a petition to ban it. ;)
 

Dorje123

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2011
Ellena's trump card taken off? Don't see it happening, the big 4 houses, along with LVMH will never let go off iso e super.

Yes... Mr. Ellena, please put the iso-e super down and step away. Don't make this more difficult than it needs to be. ;)
 

Dorje123

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2011
Maybe we could cede iso-e super to IFRA in exchange for the return of oakmoss...:D

That would be great. Iso-e isn't as safe as they think either, imo... it made me chemically sensitive for a while and I heard the same from at least one other member of basenotes.
 

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