Perfumes: The Guide, Spring 2009

Russian version - click here

The guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez is for me more a perfumery manual than a collection of reviews. Luca not only judges the fragrances, he also explains some interesting and unique aspects of perfumery art aesthetics as well as facts about raw materials and the structure of fragrances. Not as detailed as I would personally prefer, but still informative.

The third newsletter is out! So, it’s always interesting compare the experiences.

Seven egocentric fragrances by Ego Facto are evaluated by Tania and she is pretty critical about them – none got more than three stars. Histoires de Parfumes seem to make a better impact. Twelve fragrances came up with an average four stars and a topper 1740 – the only one with five stars called leather immortelle.

The most shocking review for me was the evaluation of my favourite Thundra by Profumum – Luca gave it just one star, called it sour patchouli describing it as “dissonant, loud and tenacious as hell.” Oops…

La Petit Robe Noir by Guerlain gets… four stars. Luca finds this fragrance perfectly close to the decorated French tarts. Four stars might surprise some Guerlain admirers who were a little bit disappointed with this perfume. But if you read the review, you understand what Luca really thinks of it.

Reviewing the French Lover by Frederic Malle seemed to have a dramatic outcome for Turin-Sanchez couple. I hope they didn’t have to review their relationship root and branch… But they were obviously not agree with each other on that one. Well, all of happy couples, be aware when French Lover shoves in oar!

It promises a lot of reading and sniffing pleasure. Not without surprises and funny. As always.


Thick eyelashes are serious business!

This weekend I spent with my female friends who came to visit Amsterdam. As we all were interested in perfumes, it was nice to visit perfumery shops, sniff the fragrances and share the experiences. But… almost each perfumery sales cosmetics and make-up too…

It was pretty interesting to explore a new area. Sometimes I was glad I was not a woman and could miss a huge expense item in my budget (well, I spend already enough for perfumes). But when I was standing there observing how my friends were glad by trying on all those make-up staff and creams, I felt like a child who couldn’t join and play. There were so many different “gadgets”, colours and other “appliances”. Like mascara with a vibrating brush… amazing and funny. And what about all those creams and treatments making your face younger, your lips thicker and your eyelashes fuller?

Buy the way, thick and full eyelashes are serious business! Do you think that new super mascara would be just enough? No way! Look at Eyelash treatment. You’ll find at least five products for the eyelashes treatment and none of them is mascara. Well, I can understand that such a treatment might be very important for someone with eyelashes thinning problem. So, personally I am glad that my eyelashes are just fine and I don’t use mascara and I don’t have to have at least two care products for each part of my face. But from another side – it’s always fun to try out all those new promising products and try to follow the changes they make.

Yesterday I left the perfumery shop with anti-fatigue crème under my eyes, tonic gel on my face and spots of a cover stick here and there. Girls had fun. Me too.


En Avion by Caron

Image from http://www.hrharmer.com

Russian version - click here

En Avion (launched in 1932 by Caron) seems to be a sequel to a story of emancipation initiated by Tabac Blond. The valiant women who dared to fly a plane inspire the nose behind the fragrance – Ernest Daltroff. The website of Caron mentions the names of Adrienne Bolland, Hélène Boucher and Maryse Basti, the first women conquered the skies.

This fragrance is also reconstructed, probably somewhere in 1995 and probably by Richard Fraysse, the house perfumer of Caron for the last 30 years. Tania Sanchez is milder in her judgment to this one (compared to Tabac Blond). En Avion gets two stars, but called an anisic floral.

The opening of En avion (modern version, parfum) is a bit close to the one of Tabac Blond, but without herbs and angelica nuances. It reveals a note of dry leather on a background of carnation and violet. A bit foreright and not too subtle it reminds that sky is not for fancy pants. Although the leather note flies away pretty quickly, a clash between the carnation-violet wall and orange blossom trying to break through still gives a good illusion of being on a plane – it gives that unique smell I can’t describe well.

Carnation and violet combination seems not to be the best background for orange blossom to bloom. There is too much contrast that looks more like a fight. But isn’t it a reflection of what happens in our society when woman tries to interfere with the “man’s business”? And isn’t it a nice representation of transformation that takes place when a female aviator takes off her rough uniform and puts on an elegant gown?

Although orange blossom cannot easily compete with carnation and violet accord, it is pretty powerful finally to soften the fragrance and finally to win. Sometimes it comes together with a bit candy like lemon note and other times it has more soapy nuances. But on my skin En Avion can’t find the point of balance. No problem – I never cherished a dream to become an aviator.


Guess Suede for men

“Talk perfume” is a new website that has an intention to become a new platform for perfume related talks. At least, I guess so judging by its name. The website is quite new and needs to be filled up with content. You can visit it at perfume blog
Well, good luck and and let's see what it becomes. My own contribution is a small talk on a modern version of soft leather accord called Suede.

Searching for leather fragrances I found this one at a local perfumery. Guess Suede for men is created in 2007 by a Givaudan perfumer Ellen A. Molner. Fresh and fruity top notes of tangerine, pineapple and bergamot are combined with herbal and spicy heart of lavender, sage and nutmeg build on woody base of vetiver, sandalwood and mahogany. Osmoz classifies it as an oriental fougère.

What can I say? It's not easy to find suede behind a powerful fruity cocktail. Honey melon and overripe exotic fruits are combined with fresh citrus. It makes an interesting top note that dominates the whole fragrance. A bit too loud and too persistent. Herbs and spices in combination with woody notes are in contrast with the fruits, but they seem to be too weak to compete. It’s like an illusionary idea of suede.

Anyway, the luscious fragrances based on exotic fruits and sweet musks are very popular nowadays. Guess Suede for men will find its fans. To me this fragrance is rather a tribute to modern aromachemicals than a modern interpretation of a soft leather accord.


Tabac Blond by Caron

Tabac Blond by Caron is often referred as The Leather Scent, a monster fragrance, “weird and edgy”, “dark and totally unpresentable” (Ch. Burr). What else can you expect from a creation that was meant to honour those daring woman who smoked – a shocking habit in the begin of the past century. Created in 1919 by Ernest Daltroff it was the only feminine perfume with the tobacco notes.

The modern version of Tabac Blond created by Richard Fraysse seems to give a different interpretation of femininity, according to Tania Sanchez. In Perfumes, the Guide written with Luca Turin she gives it one star, calls it woody floral and regrets the reformulation. Well, such a frustration is easy to understand when a very good fragrance looses its character. I never smelled the original version of Tabac Blond. And may be I am lucky – I have nothing to compare and to regret about.

The modern version of Tabac Blond is a perfume with character, although is easier to approach than Knize Ten. It starts with dark deep spicy leather surrounded with herbal notes of angelica. I recognize neither smoke nor tobacco there – just smell of leather of old books, travelling bag and woods mixed with drying herbs in a room of lonely hermit. A transient apparition that fades giving place to a spicy carnation note, a smell of glorious flower. Supported with violet-iris note (that probably comes from ionone) it sounds loud and persistent for a while and slowly gets softer turning into a smell of oriental rose. This one is a difficult accord that mostly doesn’t open well on my skin and turns into a rosy smell of cheap incense sticks. Unfortunately… It looks like Tabac Blond is not my perfume – the leather note is too short, carnation is too loud and persistent and the rose is too cheap. Although on feminine skin of my perfumery fairy Tabac Blond opens much better. Well, no problem, I still have Knize Ten. What I have written above is about perfume extrait. The EdT version has a fresher and sharper start with more prominent herbal notes and less deep leather accord. Carnation stadium is shorter and you can easily smell the rose through.

Image from Perfumes Caron

Fragrant palette update

There are several new raw materials in my fragrant palette suitable for a leather accord:

Safraleine – is an aromatic molecule from Givaudan and is described as alternative to the spicy notes resembling the natural saffron with warm, powerful leathery and tobacco facets and rosy floral aspects. To my nose it smells exactly like leather – a very recognizable smell of a shoe store or leather department of a clothing store. For a good leather accord, safraleine is a perfect molecule to build around. The molecule is very versatile and can be used in spicy accords as well. Although the leather smell of the molecule is obvious, it can’t be used just on its own without support of Castoreum, Birch Tar, Patchouli, Quinolines and other leather building blocks. I was so in love to this note that I started making a “Rose in Leather” perfume around Safraleine. But I overestimated this aromachemical and didn’t support it well with other leathery notes. So, the comment from my perfumery fairy was: “Hmm, smells like a overripe cucumber.” But in the current, the third version of “L&R” is much more leathery. Fragrances containing Safraleine are, for example, Tom of Finland by Etat Libre d'Orange and Pi Neo by Givenchy.

Castoreum blend by Givaudan (aka Castoreum Givco 116). It is s a mixture of aromachemicals made to substitute a natural Castoreum. It has a sweetish odor of decay with animalic and leathery undertones. It’s a perfect background for a leather accord reminding about the true origin of leather. Attractive and repulsive at the same time in its pure form it turns sweetish warm, musky, slightly spicy when diluted and becomes a good fixative for leather, tobacco, chypre and fougère accords. Perfectly supports Safraleine and extends tobacco absolute.

Tobacco leaf absolute. In its pure form it’s a thick dark brown semi-solid mass – a difficult one to use. Fortunately it dissolves good in alcohol that makes it easier to use, although it keeps its dark brown color and powerful odour, so you can’t use too much of it in perfumes. The smell is very close to cigar-tobacco – like you put your nose into a bag with hand-rolling tobacco. It’s reach and honey sweet with leather aspects as well as intensively herbal with warm spicy nuances. It gives fullness to leather accords, enriches and gives naturalness to tobacco accords and brings interesting nuances to fougères.

Guaiac wood. Well – I have written about it recently. What should I add – indeed it becomes liquid when heated in hot water, but it hardens quickly by cooling down – this is in contrary to what Wikipedia says. I made a 20% solution in alcohol that forms a clear liquid without lumps. I am still fascinated by its combination of smokey note with dry plums. I even find that it shares some herbal fruitness with tobacco leaf absolute too. I think I’d use it in my “Rose and Leather” version four as a good bridge between leather and rose.


The Gift of the Magi

Picture from Wikipedia

“The magi, as you know, were wise men – wonderfully wise men – who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones…” – it’s a beginning of a novel “A Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry (penname for William Sidney Porter, American writer). It’s one of my favorite novel I read many times in my childhood. It’s about gifts and love and sophisticated humor of the fate and finding the real values in life.

What happened to me last week is completely different story than described in that novel, but “The Gift of the Magi” could be the proper name for it. I have won a give-away at Roxana’s blog and could choose extra mini-perfumes next to the sample trio I’ve bought.

Roxana calls herself “an artist working in the visual & aromatic realms.” Her fragrances are made from natural ingredients like essential oils, absolutes, tinctures and she calls them botanicals. You’ve probably read about her creations on several blogs. Roxana’s fragrances are more than just perfumes – they are like magic potions composed with a certain intention and wisdom. Roxana is not just a perfumer – on her blog she combines writing about perfumery and its components with alchemy hidden within them and simple wisdom of life. Sometimes I think she is one of those Magi :o)

So, what is “The Gift of the Magi”? When I won an extra sample I asked Roxana to choose one for me and she suggested a Q perfume – a fragrance from Californica inspiration devoted to the glorious Coastal Live Oak growing at Roxana’s home place. The one who understands the energy of sacred Oak tree knows that it’s about strength and endurance. Those are the qualities I need in this period to bring to life the plenty of ideas I have in my head. So, I am really looking forward to get them in a potion of a Q perfume. And of course I am very curious to her other creations from the sample pack.

Reviews of some of Roxana's fragrances:



First time Guaiac oil

Today I've got a package with some essential oils. One of them is guaiac oil. The only essential oil that is solid at room temperature. It is obtained by distillation of wood snips of Guaiac wood from India.

Well, it looks a bit like snot. But it smells wonderful - like smoked dried plums. The fruity notes are reminding those from rose essential oil or jasmine absolute and also osmanthus. In perfumery it's used as a good fixative in rose formulae. A warm summer evening, smell of open fire, dried fruits delight served in a garden, exotic decorations, regularity, quietness and warm friendly conversations till the midnight.

I am really wondering how you can use this oil... Wikipedia says that it smelts at 50 degrees and remains liquid for a long time after it cools down again. We'll see...


Jasmine liqueur

Russian version - click here

When I had my last obsession with jasmine it was not enough just to smell it in fragrances. So, I bought a jasmine tea and was also wondering if such thing as jasmine liqueur existed. Thanks to google I I could find a recipe of jasmine liqueur made from scented tea. The recipe is very simple:

1 pint, dark rum
1/2 cup, jasmine tea
1 cup, sugar syrup

Mix rum and jasmine tea and infuse for 24 hours. Than filter and add sugar syrup from 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. That’s all. I decided to use honey instead of sugar and enhance the liqueur with one drop of jasmine absolute.

Well, the problem is that tea gives this liqueur too strong flavour and you can’t drink it alone. But it was a perfect essence to “jasminize” other drinks. I tried one or two tablespoons of this liqueur in a glass of different juices, soft drinks and cocktails (like rum-cola). It always gave a surprising exotic nuance. A perfect enhancer of tropical fruit juices to surprise your guests at Hawaii party.

Another solution to soften the strong tea flavour is to use less tea or to shorten the time of infusion. I am also wondering if it’s possible to make this liqueur without tea at all – just rum, honey and a couple drops of jasmine absolute… and may be orange blossom water and some lemons or oranges. I am very curious if I end up with a liqueur or an eau de cologne.


A private dilemma

Well, after a year of blogging I have understood several things about myself. First, I found that I like to write about perfume and perfumery. But it looks like I also like to write about other topics too. My inner critic in a duet with a teacher in me both seek for a bigger area of self-expression. And my materialistic Taurus would like to investigate if writing reviews can be elevated to a more professional level and be used as a small source of income.

Other topics I love to discuss are: myth busters, health (especially alternative medicine), being a critical customer, some aspects of magic, Tarot and astrology, wisdom of life etc. Shall I put it all in one blog? No, I still want AromaX-on-line to remain a perfumery blog with fragrance related information and sometimes a couple of personal thoughts. So, I decided to create another blog – Essences by VirtuMax where I can put my non-fragrant thoughts on everything and let the time and experience to crystallize my points of interests.

You’ve might also noticed that I turned the Google Ads on again. First I wanted my blog to be completely ads free. But now I want to give it a try – in both ways – to see if the ads are really relevant and can be useful as well as to see if it indeed works as a small extra source of income.

Another change is that I want to try myself in commercial review writing. So, next to my usual fragrance-related entries you might find posts written to promote a website or to review a product. I am aware, that reading of an advertisement is not always interesting. So, I do try also my commercial posts to be funny, useful or in any other way interesting for the readers of my blogs. A good mood of AormaX’s readers is important!

I am still thinking if I should combine my blogs or keep them strictly independent. Anyway, time will show.

Web Hosting: where to start

Webpages… it becomes an important attribute of our digital identity. Once you decide to share information on yourself, your hobby or your occupation with the world you need to create a webpage. Making and maintaining the webpages become easier and cheaper nowadays. But what do you have to know about it and where to start? Fortunately there are some websites where you can find both – comparison of web hosting providers and information helping you to understand what you should consider when choosing a provider.

Here I would like to review a cheap web hosting website. What I do like a lot about this website is that information there is well organized – you see everything you need just on their first webpage. It starts with a Top 10 Best Hosts 2009 – cheap, but professional providers under $10 a month. Than you can see Best Web Hosting Awards Winners of 2008. Enough candidates to choose from. And to help you to make a right choice there is a section of useful articles and guides. They are not for very beginners – you should already know what are the domain name and web hosting and be aware of how big is a Gb. But they highlight some certain points you should think about before you put your website on-line. Like how much disk storage space you need, what bandwidth you’d need, programming tools, operation system and support – see their guide for further information: WebHostingGuide

Although I already have a website and the only reason to visit WebHostingGeeks was to write a review about them, I would keep their URL in my Favourites map and definitely visit more often – they provide a lot of useful information and facts on web hosting I wasn’t really aware of. Like what threats are there and how to make my domain secure.


Cooking in water is not the way to make a natural pefume

Internet is a nice thing – you can find a lot of surprising, unique and rare information there. But you don’t always know if what you found is true. On some blogs and websites (and may be even in some books) you can find a receipt for making of natural perfume from fresh flowers.

You are advised to collect fresh fragrant flowers, cook them in water, filter and bottle. Let me explain why you can’t make perfume this way.

Technically, natural perfume is a solution of pleasant smelling essential oils of flowers (and other plants) in a suitable carrier. This solution should be preserved from decomposition. Essential oils are extremely volatile and evaporate easily when herbs or flowers are heated or boiled. So, making natural perfume by cooking of fresh flowers is impossible – because of three main reasons:

1. Essential oils are volatile – they easily evaporate from fresh flowers by cooking. Remember – distillation is the process of yielding of essential oils from plants based on volatility of essential oils, but to get fragrant material you should be able to catch and condensate the water vapour and not the decoct of flowers. So, when you are cooking of fresh flowers in an open pan, you have all the essential oils evaporated and decoct without any fragrant materials left.

2. Water is not a suitable carrier for making perfume, as almost all the essential oils, their components and other fragrant materials of flowers are not water soluble. It’s not possible to saturate water with fragrant materials enough to make a perfume. Of course, there are rose water, orange water etc, but they are the products of distillation and not just cooking.

3. A decoct of fresh flowers without any preservatives in it can easily get decomposed by mean of mould or bacteria in a couple of days.

So, a strange smelling brownish liquid with the greyish green mould lumps would probably be the result.


Colour therapy

The best remedy after the winter depression is a combination of aromatherapy with colour therapy. And the best remedy from our Mother Nature is... Hyacinth. Beautiful colours and wonderful smell giving new power, inspiration and cheerfulness.

And the yellow hyacinth is a best tabernacle to keep the concentrated spirit of the Sun.

Wake up from a winter sleep and enjoy your life !

Halloween Costumes: I want to be a perfumer!

Someone told me that it’s never too late to think about your next Halloween Costume. The more time you have before the Halloween – the longer you can anticipate about your shocking appearing… Well, it’s always nice to dream about. What costume should I choose? Personally I thought about being a perfumer, but is there a costume for? I couldn’t find any searching for the word “perfumer” at the http://www.costumecauldron.com. There was also nothing in their Miscellaneous section. See Biker Halloween costumes

But as a perfumer you should be creative and ready to improvise. So, let’s see if I can find anything suitable.

Perfumer #1. A modern perfumer wearing a lab coat. A couple of test tubes and a bunch of smelling strips in the pocket would complete this image. And the finishing touch - it might be sweet fruity smell of woody violets - the smell of methylionone that is the most common for perfumery labs.

Perfumer #2. Another option is Prince Charming. Actually anyone from the French Court could wear it - it might be Prince Charming, but it also might be a personal perfumer of Louis XVI of France. You can complete this one with a belt where little perfume vials can be attached and take a small retort in your hand. A perfume with smell of Frangipani would be a nice finishing touch (remember "The perfumer"?)

Perfumer #3. A funny perfumer presenting his own creation. The only thing you have to do is to put a label of your own product above the tequila. No accessories needed. Finishing touch? Well... something sweet and fruity?

Perfumer #4. Wow, personally I like this one a lot. It looks like devil, but if you take off the horns and don't use that much red for the face... Wait a minute - I even recognize a modern perfumer with the similar style. Accessories? No way! It should be in your eyes - the look of seducer who makes those tempting potions and bottles illusions to tempt and seduce.

Which one should I choose? And I am thinking - shall I use it not only as a Halloween Costume, but also as my routine uniform?

By the way - if you'd like to shop at the Costume Cauldron, then there is an Eastern Egg on their website. You get a discount code if you click on the brown comma. You find it in the text "Our Store now has over 10,000 masquerade items for you to choose from!" on the right side somewhere in the middle of the page.


Sarrasins: a dark forbidden fruit

Picture from Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

Russian verion - click here

If A la Nuit could be called a reference jasmine representing the smell of real flowers, then Sarrasins can get a title of reference jasmine in fragrances. Although the most jasmines are just represented by their fruity and narcotic notes, Sarrasins is a clever combination of fruits and dark indolic depth. In many reviews it was called dirty, heavy, indolic or animalic. That’s true if you compare Sarrasins to those innocent indolless creations, but if you know what jasmine absolute or a real flower smells like, you definitely recognize it as is in Sarrasins.

In contrast with A la Nuit that seems to be a representation of a real flower, Sarrasins is more like a jasmine shaped jewellery, where each part is thoroughly faceted. The dark animalic and deep note of Indole is supported by Castoreum giving a pleasant leather accord. The fruitiness of jasmine is mostly undefined (unless you’d define it with a corresponding aromachemical benzyl acetate), but in Sarrasins it’s a fully developed accord of apricots. And in the middle of the clash between leather and apricots a beautiful jasmine is born.

There is some resemblance between Tubereuse Criminelle and Sarrasins – they share a sweet narcotic note and a wild character – they are both not easy to tame, but jasmine is more appeaseable. Its soft, ripe and sweet orange apricots slowly come after leather and remain to be the most prominent on my skin.

This potion has a deep dark purple colour that stains fabric. The message is clear – it’s not supposed to be used on fabric – only in intimate contact with your bare skin.

According to the creator himself, Sarrasins is “a sumptuous jasmin which smoothes its fur... a sigh of time.”
Developed by Christopher Sheldrake and launched in 2007
Notes: Bergamot, Jasmine, Carnation, Woods, Musk, Coumarin, Patchouli