What makes "Not a Perfume Superdose" so divisive?

santeripe

Basenotes Member
Nov 28, 2021
A significant minority of people describe this fragrance as smelling of rubbing alcohol. They find it unbearable, scratchy, or even smelling of toxic electronics smoke. When I tried it, it did sting my nose in a way no other fragrance has at first. But it was very pleasant soon afterwards. It reminded me of a robust peppery-synthetic base I'm familiar with from many designer fragrances. Not even in the same scent family as rubbing alcohol.

I have a theory that it's Cetalox, because this comment also comes up often for Le Labo's "Another 13". It has a simple formula focused around Cetalox. But doesn't Aventus also use a large dose of Cetalox in place of regular Ambroxide? Aventus never ever gets rubbing alcohol reviews. Ever. Someone with GCMS information could sink or help confirm this Cetalox theory.

I've never read a review describing Molecule 02 as rubbing alcohol. It's pure Ambroxide in the isomer form that occurs in nature. Cetalox is a non-natural form of the molecule (as far as I know). I may be on the wrong track blaming Ambroxan though. It's funny how often people blame it and Iso-E Super for everything that's wrong with perfumery, yet the reviews for those molecules solo are either positive or underwhelmed. Maybe it's some excitary superamber. I'm just interested by the things people find offensive in fragrance.
 

santeripe

Basenotes Member
Nov 28, 2021
If someone smells alcohol when sprayed, that means that the scent doesn't have topnotes to cover the alcohol.
If this perfume is (nearly) completely basenotes, then you would smell the alcohol strongly.
That would be the obvious explanation, if the fragrance didn't smell like rubbing alcohol to these people even when others were wearing it. Like strong projecting rubbing alcohol for hours and hours. These people find it unbearable to be in the same room with someone wearing the fragrance. Also, proper perfumer's alcohol will never smell permanently of rubbing alcohol on skin, even if you're not able to smell the fragrance itself. Many people can't smell Molecule 02 at all. But not a single person has claimed it to smell like rubbing alcohol.

As an extra tidbit, the original Not a Perfume doesn't seem to do it. Only the Superdose version. Whether that's up to an added superamber or pumped up Cetalox, I'm not sure.
 

Septime

Super Member
May 31, 2018
Paul has a point, but there may be an additional factor.

The entire 'amber' genre of molecule is polarizing in part because hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity are both common, so that perception of them varies more widely than usual. E.g. apparently to some Karanal is powerful and resembles amberketal, to others it is weak and resembles Iso E Super.

And to some people, the entire family smells of isopropyl alcohol. Or to put it differently, to them isopropyl alcohol has a mild woody-amber scent and that's what they recognize when they smell an amber molecule in a fragrance with nothing else to disguise it. (Turin and Sanchez appear to be in this party, and mention it in some of their diss reviews.)
 

mnitabach

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 13, 2020
Paul has a point, but there may be an additional factor.

The entire 'amber' genre of molecule is polarizing in part because hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity are both common, so that perception of them varies more widely than usual. E.g. apparently to some Karanal is powerful and resembles amberketal, to others it is weak and resembles Iso E Super.

And to some people, the entire family smells of isopropyl alcohol. Or to put it differently, to them isopropyl alcohol has a mild woody-amber scent and that's what they recognize when they smell an amber molecule in a fragrance with nothing else to disguise it. (Turin and Sanchez appear to be in this party, and mention it in some of their diss reviews.)
To me, karanal is super strong like norlimbanol, and amberketal/Z11 is even weaker & harder to smell than IES... 😹 😹 😹
 

santeripe

Basenotes Member
Nov 28, 2021
And to some people, the entire family smells of isopropyl alcohol. Or to put it differently, to them isopropyl alcohol has a mild woody-amber scent and that's what they recognize when they smell an amber molecule in a fragrance with nothing else to disguise it. (Turin and Sanchez appear to be in this party, and mention it in some of their diss reviews.)
Ooh, so the association happens because people smell Isopropyl Alcohol "wrong", and not because they smell the aromachemical itself "wrong"? I personally smell nothing relating to woody-amber in rubbing alcohol. Just a very harsh stinging odor that's only describable as alcohol.

Paul's explanation would work great if people also had this complaint for Molecule 01 and 02. Most people have trouble smelling anything at all in them. But I've never come across a single review describing them as rubbing alcohol. Ever. Rubbing alcohol is a very particular term that comes up for some fragrances that have Cetalox as a listed note, like Not a Perfume Superdose. Which is probably the biggest offender of all. But Cetalox is maybe not the actual cause.

I wonder if this divisiveness is taken into account by perfumers. Can a perfumer trust their own nose when using a controversial superamber? Not great press to have 20% of people absolutely despise your creation and think it smells wack lol. Would the perfumer for Not a Perfume Superdose have formulated it differently if they knew?
 

Alex F.

Basenotes Junkie
Nov 29, 2019
To me, karanal is super strong like norlimbanol, and amberketal/Z11 is even weaker & harder to smell than IES... 😹 😹 😹
A while ago I went looking for that note that smelled so horribly like glass wood and the idea of pain to me (the first strong whiff I got of it was in Eau de citron noir by Hermès). Cedramber - partially, but not quite. Norlimbanol - horrible, but still not quite.
Then I read about Z11 (supposed to quite the same as Amberketal). "Dry, woody and ambery notes, with a strong trigeminal effect. Z11 is a molecule alive with a thousand sensations. Its dryness, tenacity and sleek elegance call to mind a precious wood rimmed in shining metal… unforgiving in its strength and designed for pure performance." (Source). So I thought, that's got to be it. It wasn't. No painful wood there. Just a rather weak (but lasting) powdery/dusty wood. Karanal is a different story.
 

santeripe

Basenotes Member
Nov 28, 2021
A while ago I went looking for that note that smelled so horribly like glass wood and the idea of pain to me (the first strong whiff I got of it was in Eau de citron noir by Hermès). Cedramber - partially, but not quite. Norlimbanol - horrible, but still not quite.
Then I read about Z11 (supposed to quite the same as Amberketal). "Dry, woody and ambery notes, with a strong trigeminal effect. Z11 is a molecule alive with a thousand sensations. Its dryness, tenacity and sleek elegance call to mind a precious wood rimmed in shining metal… unforgiving in its strength and designed for pure performance." (Source). So I thought, that's got to be it. It wasn't. No painful wood there. Just a rather weak (but lasting) powdery/dusty wood. Karanal is a different story.
Maybe it's a superamber accord that smelled like painful glass wood? Combinations of things can explode off skin and boost each others's smells, don't see how that wouldn't apply to offensive smells as well. The best example is probably Sauvage, which is expertly crafted with superambers and ambroxan to have massive projection. I could smell one tester spray wafting from behind my back while I was walking forwards. I bet changing the formula's proportions by even 1% would make it less easy to detect in the air. Terrible news for those who find its superambers offensive lol
 

polysom

Basenotes Junkie
Apr 4, 2021
Paul has a point, but there may be an additional factor.

The entire 'amber' genre of molecule is polarizing in part because hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity are both common, so that perception of them varies more widely than usual. E.g. apparently to some Karanal is powerful and resembles amberketal, to others it is weak and resembles Iso E Super.

And to some people, the entire family smells of isopropyl alcohol. Or to put it differently, to them isopropyl alcohol has a mild woody-amber scent and that's what they recognize when they smell an amber molecule in a fragrance with nothing else to disguise it. (Turin and Sanchez appear to be in this party, and mention it in some of their diss reviews.)
Maybe this also has to do with the quality of the material. My first ISO E Super was from a seller which doesn't sell original materials from Firmenich, IFF, Givco... It was a no-name Iso E Super. And this one really smelled like isopropyl alcohol. Then I've ordered some IFF ISO E Super, which smelled very different. Not like isopropyl alcohol at all.


To me, karanal is super strong like norlimbanol,
Same to me.
 

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