Linear fragrances - the discussion.

MikeDropIt

Super Member
Oct 21, 2012
Am I the only one here who really loves linear fragrances?

For example, whenever I find a fragrance that smells just the way I wan't it to in the opening and that later changes into crap, I won't buy it, ever.
This happens to me all of the time. I don't know how many times I've been let down by fragrances that smells beautiful in the opening and awful later on. Again, it happens all of the time. Sad, but true. That's why I most of the time prefer linear fragrances.

To have a fragrance smelling the same from morning to night can get boring quickly, that's simply not a problem for me.

On the other hand, un linear fragrances aren't a bad thing, don't get me wrong. If a fragrance changes into something that I still like, I'll buy it. (I don't really know the opposite word for linear, so I'm gonna say "un linear")

Anyone else that prefers linear fragrances over the un linear ones?
 

frug

Basenotes Dependent
Dec 17, 2008
You're not alone. It's a subject I brought up when I first joined Basenotes several years ago.

The “fragrance journey”, which was a historical solution to extending the life of unstable materials, strikes me as irrationally admired, and generally ends with some generic, dull, predictable base note. Give me a linear scent, whose persona retains all its glory and character (and effectiveness as a sartorial partner) until its dying breath, any day.
 
Last edited:

Awakening950

Basenotes Dependent
Jun 16, 2012
I find for me the fragrances that I learn to love are the best in the mid to late stages. Antaeus is a good example of this, the top notes are average and for the first couple hours it's nice but not great. Then it becomes a ten out of ten for another six to eight hours. The modern fragrances seem to have reversed that order and the top notes that are fantastic leave quickly and it becomes less a less than average scent.
 

MikeDropIt

Super Member
Oct 21, 2012
You're not alone. It's a subject I brought up when I first joined Basenotes several years ago.

The “fragrance journey”, which was a historical solution to extending the life of unstable materials, strikes me as irrationally admired, and generally ends with some generic, dull, predictable base note. Give me a linear scent, whose persona retains all its glory and character (and effectiveness as a sartorial partner) until its dying breath, any day.
That's some really nice words, sir!
 

RunSun

Super Member
Oct 12, 2012
I'm glad someone brought this up. The common theme around basenotes is that challenging fragrances are somehow better than linear ones, but quite a few complex challenging fragrances I have tried are interesting, but not something that I enjoy at every stage. Quite a few I even end up not enjoying at any stage.

I agree that linears are an "all or nothing" deal and that is fine with me. With linears you know what you are getting and it makes it quite easy to judge if a bottle is FBW or not. With some complex ones, you may like certain notes in the various phases, but dislike others or the interactions that occur between certain notes. Its rare, in my opinion, to find complex fragrances where you enjoy every stage of the journey. Often I see reviews stating "weird top notes" but "beautiful dry downs", I never quite understood why people would spend money on fragrances which they did not like completely.

Personally, I'd rather spend my money on a fragrance I enjoy 100% of the time rather than a challenging complex one that I may only like 50% or 75% of the time.
 

sjg3839

Basenotes Institution
Aug 21, 2012
It depends on the fragrance. Some fragrances smell like crap at the initial spray and turn into something special through the mid-notes and base. But, if I spray a frag that is excellent at the initial spray and stays that way, I can't complain either.

A lot of times who wants to spray a frag that you don't initially like, to wait hours later for you to appreciate it? Could be kind of a waste sometimes. It's like buying a TV and the TV doesn't work the first week you purchase it, then all of a sudden...ESPN...lol.
 

laph

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 5, 2011
I absolutely understand why linear fragrances are popular but I generally find them boring. I like fragrances that keep me entertained with changes throughout the day.
 

Redneck Perfumisto

League of Cycloöctadiene Isomer Aestheticists
Basenotes Plus
Feb 27, 2008
Stuck on good is good! :happy:

Some kinds of linearity are also very attractive without being simplistic - the ones where multiple interesting and pleasant elements weave in and out of focus easily, but are always present - where there are balances that maintain themselves for a long time. I sometimes find these sorts of fragrances more interesting and worthy of praise, than those where changes over time seem more like skillful and artful surrender to the temporal incompatibilities of certain materials.
 

Miket

Super Member
Aug 8, 2012
I couldn't tell you why although my guess is that it might have to do with material restrictions, but most modern scents with discernable phases are problematic for me. It's a rare one which doesn't dry down to something very generic; some nondescript woody note and a dab of musk for example, or the ubiqitous sweet-vanilla drydown with some sandalwood.

The basenotes in vintage fragrances seem to be far less generic and ho-hum. That said I can and do like both types of fragrance whether modern or vintage. I don't understand why linear is used so often as a pejorative. Especially when so many non-linear fragrances follow such a dull and utterly predictable pattern.
 

laph

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 5, 2011
Stuck on good is good! :happy:

Some kinds of linearity are also very attractive without being simplistic - the ones where multiple interesting and pleasant elements weave in and out of focus easily, but are always present - where there are balances that maintain themselves for a long time. I sometimes find these sorts of fragrances more interesting and worthy of praise, than those where changes over time seem more like skillful and artful surrender to the temporal incompatibilities of certain materials.

A very good point RP. I hadn't even thought of these sorts of fragrances as linear.
 

Sparky

Basenotes Junkie
Jan 26, 2011
It depends on the fragrance. Some fragrances smell like crap at the initial spray and turn into something special through the mid-notes and base. But, if I spray a frag that is excellent at the initial spray and stays that way, I can't complain either.

A lot of times who wants to spray a frag that you don't initially like, to wait hours later for you to appreciate it? Could be kind of a waste sometimes. It's like buying a TV and the TV doesn't work the first week you purchase it, then all of a sudden...ESPN...lol.

No I found Tobacco Vanille fantastic right away, and it is one of my favourite linear scents!! :thumbsup: Hehe...
 

hedonist222

Basenotes Institution
Sep 13, 2010
This is a good topic.

In my head I have segmented perfumes into 4 categories that are exclusive of each other.

Dynamic (changing throughout the life of the perfume spray)
Static (contrary to the above)
Linear
Complex

I enjoy them all.

Encens et Lavande by Serge Lutens is one of the most abruptly dynamic perfumes I've smelled. It literally morphs from lavender to incense in minutes. Whereas other perfumes transition times are in hours this perfume is in minutes. The first hour or so is lavender then suddenly it becomes incense. I'd classify this is as dynamic and complex because it changes and is somewhat complex in composition.
 

perfaddict

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Oct 3, 2008
Stuck on good is good! :happy:

Some kinds of linearity are also very attractive without being simplistic - the ones where multiple interesting and pleasant elements weave in and out of focus easily, but are always present - where there are balances that maintain themselves for a long time. I sometimes find these sorts of fragrances more interesting and worthy of praise, than those where changes over time seem more like skillful and artful surrender to the temporal incompatibilities of certain materials.

Couldn't have put it better!
 

sjg3839

Basenotes Institution
Aug 21, 2012
I agree. I like that one. It's one of those linear frags that has a nice sent and good longevity.
No I found Tobacco Vanille fantastic right away, and it is one of my favourite linear scents!! :thumbsup: Hehe...

- - - Updated - - -

No I found Tobacco Vanille fantastic right away, and it is one of my favourite linear scents!! :thumbsup: Hehe...
It depends on the fragrance. Some fragrances smell like crap at the initial spray and turn into something special through the mid-notes and base. But, if I spray a frag that is excellent at the initial spray and stays that way, I can't complain either.
 

Kagey

Basenotes Dependent
Jan 2, 2011
I have no preference for one over the other. It's hard to generalize, as there are linear perfumes I like and dislike, and non-linear perfumes I like and dislike. One of my favorite things is the way a crisp chypre evolves over time into a warm amber. I also agree with Redneck that a linear fragrance with interesting facets is a wonderful thing.
 

Kaelee

Super Member
Oct 26, 2012
I like linear fragrances, if I like something, I want it to keep smelling the same way. I don't want to LOVE something and then have it turn mediocre or worse halfway through wearing it.

I'm not sure why I would want to wear something that I would describe as "challenging". If it's somehow difficult to wear or tolerate, I'm not likely to wear it.

My favorite fragrances are linear. That isn't to say that I would dislike a fragrance that isn't (in fact I'm sure there are many that I would love) just that, if I can have one that smells amazing all the way through, smells the same and I know what I'm getting, or one that shifts and changes to something else....8 times out of 10 I'm going to go for the one that smells the same after 10 hours as it does after 10 minutes.

- - - Updated - - -

Stuck on good is good! :happy:

Some kinds of linearity are also very attractive without being simplistic - the ones where multiple interesting and pleasant elements weave in and out of focus easily, but are always present - where there are balances that maintain themselves for a long time. I sometimes find these sorts of fragrances more interesting and worthy of praise, than those where changes over time seem more like skillful and artful surrender to the temporal incompatibilities of certain materials.

I TOTALLY agree with this. THOSE would be my ideal fragrances, every changing but still the same if that makes sense. Kinda holographic. :D
 

Profumo Saggio

Basenotes Junkie
Sep 30, 2011
I do like well done linear scents. I think people often get too wrapped up in thinking fragrances all have to have some sort of great progression from the top notes through the heart and then to the base. There are times where simple is a very desirable trait.
 

drseid

Sound Scents
Basenotes Plus
Jun 1, 2003
Many of my favorite scents are linear. While I would not say I specifically prefer linear scents, it certainly does not bother me and would not dissuade me from wearing or purchasing them. I guess in my case if it smells good, it's fair game.
 

mr. reasonable

Basenotes Dependent
Jan 1, 2009
I get a bit nervous if something just keeps on keeping on - I feel like I'm paying for a composition and all I'm getting is a dose of some aromachemical engineered to last forever . . . might as well just order the raw material sort of thing. The few I do have in this category are there for when I'm flying, stuff like Vetiver Tonka and Chergui, or the occasional concert or big social event that is guaranteed to run very late . . . Reflection Man, Taste of Heaven, Back to Black.

I really prefer seeing a story unfold, it seems more natural somehow.
 

gandhajala

Basenotes Dependent
Sep 3, 2010
I'm with Mr.Reasonable.
Excepting perhaps of pure Mysore Sandalwood oil (I have a small supply left from way back when), linear fragrances feel rather 'blocky' or monolithic and I tend to tire of them.
 

Britstuckoverseas

New member
Jul 27, 2021
I find non-linear fragrances untrustworthy. When you smell one way when I put you on, another in 2 hours, and yet another in 4 hours…. You’ve broken my trust. You’re three-faced. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!

But for real I find it limiting and makes people add complexity for complexity’s sake. Eg. every single fragrance on the sun the moment I spray it smacks me in the face with orange or bergamot. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I don’t think every fragrance *needs* bergamot. Why do they add it? Cause it’s a top note and you have to add top notes and it’s most likely to blend with notes underneath it. I just think this is just an outdated way to approach perfumery. I really appreciate fragrances that are complex not because they change, but because they are expertly tweaked to smell good. Your formulation must be far more harmonious. I find them less confusing, and less likely to have too many elements, some of which don’t work together well.
 

Latest News

Whatever your taste in perfume, we've got you covered...

catalogue your collection, keep track of your perfume wish-list, log your daily fragrance wears, review your latest finds, seek out long-lost scented loves, keep track of the latest perfume news, find your new favourite fragrance, and discuss perfume with like-minded people from all over the world...

Top