What Descriptions/Comparisons in Fragrance Reviews Annoy You or Leave You Clueless?

slpfrsly

Physician, heal thyself
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
"fresh" frags: grey vetiver edp or erba bura(super sweet, syrup-like) ... or worse: A*Men(black rubber bottle) or kouros(white bottle) - some people have a strange interpretation of the word "fresh" (for me fresh frags are things like cool water, millesime imperial, versace pour homme - and perhaps semi-fresh: bdc edt, aventus, mefisto, eau de nuit)

"marine": kenzo pour homme (do the seas/oceans smell like that? really?)

"salty" - well, salt has no smell

"oregano" - especially mentioned when describing interlude - is that the herb often used in pizza? if so I don't get any of that(in any frag I tested so far)

vetiver - well, my favorite frag is roja vetiver parfum, but this is very different from original vetiver, and both are different from lalique encre noire - and I'm almost sure there are "other vetivers" (vetiver tonka anyone?) - so I don't think it's useful using this term as it refers to many different things

musk - what the heck is this? on the surface it's in a similar situation as vetiver above: same word applied to many different things... I "think" I know "white musk" but other than that not much... it also has seemingly opposite/incompatible descriptions, from animalic to clean and fresh(what do people mean when they say "musky"?)

Again, I don't think this is the point of the thread?

If you don't know what vetiver and musk smells like, or how different they can smell despite being the same ingredient, that's a "you" problem tbh.

I can see the issue with marine - it's become its own category like aquatics which are more 'impressionistic' than real. Some marine scents now do truly smell like sea air but many of the early ones don't, it's more artistic license, same with aquatics, to reflect the big change in the market and a new direction for something watery.

The salt aromachemical that is being use most definitely smells like salt tastes. If you've ever smelled sea air (I pity those who haven't!) then you know salt has a smell.
 

slpfrsly

Physician, heal thyself
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
The term 'it smells dated'.......quite subjective to say the least....

It is subjective, but only to a point.

Some scents from the 90s don't smell dated in the slightest. Some are timeless. Some still feel bang on trend of even futuristic. Others smell massively dated. If one can break down the component parts that make a scent smell dated - almost certainly a manner of constructing, or combo of notes, or olfactive family that hasn't been used for a while in the market - then that helps. But I don't find this description an issue at all: it's really helpful. Scents from 10-15 years ago can smell dated to my nose - anything heavy in violet leaf, for instance, in that semi-GIT-rip off kind of way. Gucci Pour Homme 2, for instance. Does it smell 'old man'? No. But it is 'of its time and place'.

A bit like any facet of fashion. Skinny jeans still look fine (on the right body, and in the right cut) despite peaking in popularity around 2008ish. However, the fashionable male haircuts from 2008 look massively outdated today. Either a faux hawk or overly styled spiky quiff, or maybe the Lego haircut pudding bowl type Bieber swish fringe (admittedly this is 'white' hair, so forgive me for not being inclusive...). All of those styles look 'dated' in 2020, as they did in 2015. If something is 'of its time' and is commonplace and tied to an era then, yeah, it becomes dated.

Just like 'old man' smell relates to the aforementioned barbershop smell, which is a fougere. Alternatively, old man smell may be chypre esque or a classical eau de cologne. However, by tweaking the construction, many modern perfumers are avoiding the 'dated' associations and producing retro and appealing scents that lean on classical templates - the best of both worlds.

Dated or old man don't HAVE to be pejoratives, in my view. They can merely be helpful ways of conveying something of the essence of a scent. For enthusiasts, maybe we're above and beyond these terms and we can speak more specifically about what it is we find dated or classical but they're shorthand for this, and useful in their own right.

I have no issue with either 'dated' or 'old man' tbh.
 

ccdan

Basenotes Junkie
May 7, 2017
If you don't know what vetiver and musk smells like, or how different they can smell despite being the same ingredient, that's a "you" problem tbh.
If they smell different, they must have different chemical compositions, so they can't really be "the same ingredient" ... only the term is the same... which is not very helpful in identifying the actual smell... as I said... what do people refer to when they say "musky" ??? something clean and fresh? something animalic? what?

If you've ever smelled sea air (I pity those who haven't!) then you know salt has a smell.
Salt is odorless. Whatever you're smelling, it is not salt.
 

Rabidsenses

Basenotes Dependent
May 10, 2019
lol! . . . I gotta say it’s so much fun reading through all these fragrance review gripes.

And just to think, were BN to actually compile a list of all these items as part of a Fragrance Review Descriptor Rule Book how many of us would be absolutely stumped and suddenly without some of our go-to vocabulary. So much would be taken away from the arsenal.
 

Mak-7

Basenotes Dependent
Sep 19, 2019
Chemical/synthetic smell - i use that alot. That describes indistinct cloud of aromatics, that dont resemble any real smell whether its wood, flower or anything else, and on top of that is bitter and throat scratching and causes headache. To me those are bleu chanel, drakar and alot of stuff from random strangers, mainly men, who i dont ask what they are wearing, just move away from them.

Annoying to me are:
Old lady panties - why do people even sniff them?
Animalic - this is too vast of a term, and people dont know how to use it correctly. Often gives wrong impression.
Inability to differentiate aroma, taste and texture in fragrance. Powdery for example, is more of a texture than smell.
When people write poems instead of reviews.
When people give name of painting instead of a review.
 

slpfrsly

Physician, heal thyself
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
If they smell different, they must have different chemical compositions, so they can't really be "the same ingredient" ... only the term is the same... which is not very helpful in identifying the actual smell... as I said... what do people refer to when they say "musky" ??? something clean and fresh? something animalic? what?


Salt is odorless. Whatever you're smelling, it is not salt.

Yes, it is, but you're missing the point for the pedantry. If you genuinely don't know what saltwater air smells like then fair enough, otherwise this you're being deliberately ignorant.

And yes, it's fair to call all vetivers the same ingredient, just like a tomato is an ingredient in a recipe - it doesn't mean all tomatoes are the same or will taste the same.

As I said, there's been a massive misunderstanding of what (I thought) this thread was about!
 

GoldWineMemories

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 22, 2019
When a perfume rushed to market is seen as "oh the perfumer just wants us to enjoy the ride of maturation alongside them! Truly the genius of a master perfumer!"
So you're telling me that a small scale indie perfumer has been through several trial phases with a perfume, with their limited "über rare" materials, testing each trial for a decent amount of time etc etc within the span of 10 months maximum?

Yes I am sure they had a crystal ball too and would have just known how it was going to turn out because their master perfumer nose is that good.

Lunacy.

edit: For the floral=fecal thing brought up, I think that can be explained when white florals come into play, both au natural and accord. Probably down to some being sensitive to indole, which can be perceived as fecal (it is also present in the rear end business, so the association makes sense really).


You talking about Areej stuff? Lol I thought the same thing, how are you guys okay with this? If after 6-12 months of maceration the perfume changes significantly aren't you guys basically paying hundreds of dollars to be guinea pigs -- you don't even know what you're buying is going to turn into. I've read that perfumers will sometimes create a perfume, let it macerate, and then have the scrap that idea, because it smelled good up until a point where it no longer did. They could end up with total garbage.
 

GoldWineMemories

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 22, 2019
If they smell different, they must have different chemical compositions, so they can't really be "the same ingredient" ... only the term is the same... which is not very helpful in identifying the actual smell...


That's not true at all. There's a well known phenomenon in perfumery of mixing two different materials, and the out coming being a third distinct smell completely different than what you would assume from the two materials. That's kinda the whole point in perfumery mixing together chemicals and getting something novel and unexpected.
 

slpfrsly

Physician, heal thyself
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
You talking about Areej stuff? Lol I thought the same thing, how are you guys okay with this? If after 6-12 months of maceration the perfume changes significantly aren't you guys basically paying hundreds of dollars to be guinea pigs -- you don't even know what you're buying is going to turn into. I've read that perfumers will sometimes create a perfume, let it macerate, and then have the scrap that idea, because it smelled good up until a point where it no longer did. They could end up with total garbage.

Although off topic, this is a big part of why I've never really bothered to dip my toe in to small scale artisanal fragrances. Aside from the cost factor, which is clearly an issue, the reliability of larger scale releases is a major success of modern manufacturing.
 

ccdan

Basenotes Junkie
May 7, 2017
Yes, it is, but you're missing the point for the pedantry. If you genuinely don't know what saltwater air smells like then fair enough, otherwise this you're being deliberately ignorant.
So far I only smelled the air of some Mediterranean seashores and the smell(for me) ranged from (approx.) no smell to your typical seaweed & fish - which is not exactly pleasant. I don't know, maybe out there in the middle of an ocean an a boat things smell different. I have yet to experience that. I can(partially) relate Erolfa to seashore smells due to its inclusion of seaweed notes, but not Millesime Imperial(which many call a "salty" frag) or any other frag I tested so far.

And yes, it's fair to call all vetivers the same ingredient, just like a tomato is an ingredient in a recipe - it doesn't mean all tomatoes are the same or will taste the same.
Most tomatoes do actually taste almost the same. Two "similar" vetivers, like the one in Grey Vetiver and the one in Roja Vetiver Parfum are more different from one another than are most tomato varieties among them. Sure, it might be the difference between some part of the plant(eg. root) vs some other part(eg. leaves) but still, there are too many things called vetiver that differ too much among one another.

And musk... what the heck is musk?
 
Mar 16, 2017
You talking about Areej stuff? Lol I thought the same thing, how are you guys okay with this? If after 6-12 months of maceration the perfume changes significantly aren't you guys basically paying hundreds of dollars to be guinea pigs -- you don't even know what you're buying is going to turn into. I've read that perfumers will sometimes create a perfume, let it macerate, and then have the scrap that idea, because it smelled good up until a point where it no longer did. They could end up with total garbage.

Not going to confirm it, otherwise I will be called "libellous" again (kind of ironic that one of the most blind-praise heavy people ended up blind buying the whole collection though).

These days I support indie more often than not, but one or two of these small companies have developed a strange fanbase over the years. You are never actively chased after if you bring up a point or two of criticism, atleast most of the time. But the points are usually glossed over until it is forgotten about so the hype trains can continue chugging. Its just a shame that brands that seem to have an advantage creatively (a less restricted palette) become victims to their own hype train. I'm not gatekeeping here but to a degree a bunch of ignorant praise ("oh my god they performed an industry standard level of customer service!") and strange in-group circklejerking where the biggest critique is "it just isn't my style" can really damage a brand with good potential. You can tell with some reviewers and bloggers sometimes that they try so hard to like it, you can tell by their body language too. They either don't want to hurt feelings or don't want to face that their favourite brand might have genuinely had a "meh" release.

On a semi-related point I'd like to address something a well known blogger said on twitter the other day. They were essentially bringing up the point that they were sensitive to powerful synthetics like woody ambers, and that people that don't have the sensitivity are "privileged" when it comes to critiquing fragrances with high amounts of naturals. What I find really weird about their argument is that they mentioned that because of that sensitivity, some people seek out perfumes with a high percentage of "rare naturals". So um, why specifically "rare" as opposed to..."common naturals"?

I can definitely understand that some people are sensitive to molecules that are labelled as "high impact", but I think they showed a really snobbish side to them with that particular statement. And they also seem to be really trying to love their golden boy brand's new release. Go figure.
 

ccdan

Basenotes Junkie
May 7, 2017
That's not true at all. There's a well known phenomenon in perfumery of mixing two different materials, and the out coming being a third distinct smell completely different than what you would assume from the two materials. That's kinda the whole point in perfumery mixing together chemicals and getting something novel and unexpected.

I understand that, but we are not talking about that. When we mention bergamot or neroli or ambroxan or vanille or tonka bean or rose we know pretty well what we're talking about and what those things smell like(approximately). When we talk about vetiver, we're pretty much in the dark(additional references are needed - and even then, we could be still clueless unless we test it). :)
 

Rüssel

Basenotes Institution
Dec 23, 2010
Yeah, dryer sheets (guess they smell like fabric softener) and bug spray. I know several brands of bug spray now thanks to BN perfume reviews. Raid, Black Flag.
 

Hsx

Super Member
Apr 11, 2020
When they list the notes (or even worst , they don’t) and then say it smells amazing , then go and mention longevity and versatility without describing what they actually get.
Mostly that happens in top (X) fragrances videos.
 

slpfrsly

Physician, heal thyself
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
So far I only smelled the air of some Mediterranean seashores and the smell(for me) ranged from (approx.) no smell to your typical seaweed & fish - which is not exactly pleasant. I don't know, maybe out there in the middle of an ocean an a boat things smell different. I have yet to experience that. I can(partially) relate Erolfa to seashore smells due to its inclusion of seaweed notes, but not Millesime Imperial(which many call a "salty" frag) or any other frag I tested so far.


Most tomatoes do actually taste almost the same. Two "similar" vetivers, like the one in Grey Vetiver and the one in Roja Vetiver Parfum are more different from one another than are most tomato varieties among them. Sure, it might be the difference between some part of the plant(eg. root) vs some other part(eg. leaves) but still, there are too many things called vetiver that differ too much among one another.

And musk... what the heck is musk?

...yet other people understand what we mean when we say something 'smells salty'. Doesn't that strike you as weird? It's not as if we're dealing with salt as a complete sensory non-entity: it's not JUST that salt smells like sea air, it's also that the sea air smells similar to how salt tastes. And, when we get that sea mist on our lips, we can literally taste the salt. Try Oud Minerale or Armani's Bleu Turquoise if you want to smell good examples of the modern salt aromachemical in a fragrance.

I doubt you have enough experience with tomatoes in all honesty if you truly think they all taste the same because, quite simply, they don't. Again, not to get too stuck in the weeds, but I was using the example to demonstrate your (apparent) issue with someone describing a note in perfumery when, actually, your issue seemed to be with fragrances that are named after a note but have lots of other notes that change the direction of a fragrance, using vetiver as an example. It would be like having an issue with someone calling something 'spicy' and saying 'but Spicebomb and Spice + Wood smell nothing alike'. It is, frankly, a bit of a non-complaint. I can't see what your problem is tbh other than, obviously, more detail is needed than merely 'smells like vetiver'. And to really reiterate my point, there are tomato leaves, tomato pulp, tomato juice, raw tomato, cooked tomato, tomato ketchup...

Again, on the musk thing, if you truly don't know then that's something you need to investigate more.
 

ThVH

Basenotes Dependent
Mar 13, 2020
Also, 'synthetic'? I mean what's that all about? Please tell me that none of us are daft or gullible enough to think that all fragrances aren't synthetically achieved? Come on, wake up and smell the ISO.
They are all riddled with aromachemicals and artificial ingredients so stop being such deluded snobs and accept that not everything you dislike is either synthetic (FFS) or trying to copy a toilet cleaner.

It makes me laugh when people winge about so called sythetic scents but then winge again when a (so called) natural scent has poor longevity and then complain about fragrance houses ripping us off etc. Muppets.

With this description (that I‘m guilty of myself), I think people here do not try to hint at the materials used in a fragrance. Most people (fraghead people) probably know how many synthetics are to be found in most fragrances. Maybe it‘s better to use the term “artificial” instead. For example, Gucci Guilty Cologne (which I love) smells extremely artificial. I don‘t know if it also contains a few naturals, but it just comes across “chemical” (artificial really is the better word imo, everything material is in the end chemical). Other fragrances may have just the same amount of synthetics, but do not feel as much like it. Doesn‘t mean a BNer would think they are made of more naturals, when instead they are just blended differently. But that‘s probably why non-fraghead people still think Creed uses only naturals, for example. To an untrained nose, they (and others) smell pretty round and reminiscent of stuff naturally found, whereas artificial smelling ones do not as much.

Nice thread btw, really fun to read!
 
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deltasun

Basenotes Dependent
Jun 12, 2017
I get why those are tried and true comparisons, per se. If they're US-based, those are common household or general items that could remind one of those scents. I don't have too much of a problem with that. I mean, it's like someone in Australia potentially comparing a fragrance with say vegemite. I think I might have actually heard that before, honestly!

Anyway, it's when a reviewer whom you know is not up on their experience with fragrances that try to use those common phrases or comparisons, like "lemon meringue pie" or "the king of spring," etc. Those are the ones who get annoying because you can tell they've watched others and are just regurgitating what's been said before without bringing anything new to the table.

Though one pet peeve for me would be that every time there's a pineapple note, it inevitably leads to an Aventus mention in the next 2 or 3 sentences.
 

ThVH

Basenotes Dependent
Mar 13, 2020
Some random associations from re-reading this thread:

- salt does have a smell. Mix it with a little water and enjoy the salty smell.

- metallic notes, as pointed out before, can smell like coins and the likes. There‘s actually quite a variety with metallic notes. Iron smells differently than brass, or copper, for example. Sometimes, it doesn‘t work with just a piece of said metal. Your brass lamp probably smells like nothing. But warm it, or grate it, or... and you‘ll get it.

- white flowers and feces both contain indoles. Flowers can smell like feces. Plus, every nose sort of “equalizes“ differently (just like every ear), some may find the same mix of compounds more flowery, wheres others find it more fecal.

- tomatoes can taste radically different from each other. Supermarket water tomates - not so much. Still, they all taste like tomatoes. Smellwise, this is true for vetiver (or other aromas) also. They smell differently, but all like vetiver. Additionally, they are blended with different scents in different fragrances. And it is true, A + B can make for C. So, there‘s a lot of factors involved here. Saying that every material has one distinct scent that is always the same is simply not true. We are not talking single molecules here, but complex materials consisting of myriads of chemicals in varying proportions.

- with musks, it‘s even more complicated than what I mentioned above. Deer musk, white musk... different perceptions even of the same musk... and... and... *paging Zealot Crusader*
 
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Beck

Basenotes Dependent
May 13, 2014
At worst, I'll just not finish reading. I don't get annoyed, hopefully.

I really appreciate people writing reviews.

Scanning through the stuff listed above, I didn't see anything that bothered me. I think I'm focused on something else when I'm reading reviews. I read them quickly. I often have something specific in mind, such as another fragrance or a note, etc. that I think might be mentioned.

Right?

People get annoyed so easily. Social distancing? lol
If someone will give importance to all that's said here he/she will never write a single whole phrase again.
 

GoldWineMemories

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 22, 2019
One of the few things that annoys me is when people attempt to name drop chemicals (ISO E Super, Ambrox, Karanal, etc) in an attempt to "prove" their in the know how of fragrances. It's just lame and you probably don't actually know what any of those smell of, nor is the detection of one the indication of a bad perfume.

One particularly bad example is old posts about Une Rose where people kept parroting the "overdose" of ISO E Super, when that wasn't at all what they were smelling.
 

ThVH

Basenotes Dependent
Mar 13, 2020
One of the few things that annoys me is when people attempt to name drop chemicals (ISO E Super, Ambrox, Karanal, etc) in an attempt to "prove" their in the know how of fragrances. It's just lame and you probably don't actually know what any of those smell of, nor is the detection of one the indication of a bad perfume.

One particularly bad example is old posts about Une Rose where people kept parroting the "overdose" of ISO E Super, when that wasn't at all what they were smelling.

I politely disagree. While overdoing namedropping can be a little annoying (I‘m with you there, especially when you consider the vast amount of aroma chemicals - SO many aldehydes, ambrox-xys and stuff out there, just have a look at websites dealing with these), it is really easy to get hold of a sample of, say, ISO. or Cetalox, or whatever, and calibrate your nose to it. Pure ISO, as in Molecule 01, is super easy to detect for me, and I still consider myself a beginner. It’s like saying people name drop lemons,and dont know what they smell like. But, and I‘m sort of with you there again, I find it harder to detect ISO in blends. I don‘t consciously smell the ISO in Aventus, for example. And it does contain it. I get it in CDG2, in Terre d‘Hermes, but not everywhere. Plus, people don‘t name these substances to disqualify a perfume. It is just note detecting, just like when you say “I smell bergamot“. That‘s basically why companies fortunately have started to list aromachemicals in their note pyramids. They‘re just notes.
 

GoldWineMemories

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 22, 2019
I politely disagree. While overdoing namedropping can be a little annoying (I‘m with you there, especially when you consider the vast amount of aroma chemicals - SO many aldehydes, ambrox-xys and stuff out there, just have a look at websites dealing with these), it is really easy to get hold of a sample of, say, ISO. or Cetalox, or whatever, and calibrate your nose to it. Pure ISO, as in Molecule 01, is super easy to detect for me, and I still consider myself a beginner. It’s like saying people name drop lemons,and dont know what they smell like. But, and I‘m sort of with you there again, I find it harder to detect ISO in blends. I don‘t consciously smell the ISO in Aventus, for example. And it does contain it. I get it in CDG2, in Terre d‘Hermes, but not everywhere. Plus, people don‘t name these substances to disqualify a perfume. It is just note detecting, just like when you say “I smell bergamot“. That‘s basically why companies fortunately have started to list aromachemicals in their note pyramids. They‘re just notes.

No what it's like saying is just because you can smell lemons in xyz perfume doesn't mean it's "overdosed" with lemons, or that the inclusion of lemons makes the perfume lesser than or bad which is 99% of the time what people state or imply.
 

NickZee

Basenotes Dependent
Sep 19, 2014
"It smells like sex!" being used to describe a smell that is supposedly "sexy" (think: vanilla, etc.) instead of being used to describe the smell of human genitals and/or activities which involving them.

Yes! This is one of the most pointless, unless the context suggests that it’s meant to mean “really good”.

One of the few things that annoys me is when people attempt to name drop chemicals (ISO E Super, Ambrox, Karanal, etc) in an attempt to "prove" their in the know how of fragrances. It's just lame and you probably don't actually know what any of those smell of, nor is the detection of one the indication of a bad perfume.

One particularly bad example is old posts about Une Rose where people kept parroting the "overdose" of ISO E Super, when that wasn't at all what they were smelling.

I know what you mean and I agree the community can be clumsy when referring to aromachemicals but it’s going to be harder to describe fragrances in future unless we begin trying to understand these aromachems. So we have to start trying. Doesn’t help when houses dump an aromachem on us that smells like burnt rubber and describe it as “amber” or “incense” or “woods” depending on where the marketing material is meant to tie in.

For a couple of decades it has been impossible to accurately describe cheap fragrances without understanding aromachems. While cheap fragrances may have one or two or three recognisable notes, there is often some sort of dominant chemical soup which has no real equivalent in nature.
 

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