Friday, April 1, 2011

Keepin' it real

My latest On the Scent column is up! It's all about natural materials in perfumery, once the norm, now the exception. Here's a quick excerpt:
Fuzzy or downright untruthful marketing claims to the contrary, the majority of commercial perfumes in the “fine fragrance” category (that is to say, not fragrances added to otherwise functional products like soap) combine natural and synthetic components, if they contain natural components at all. An all-natural perfume would stick out like a sore thumb at the perfume counter in a department store, as they smell and behave in a fundamentally different way and lack ingredients found in the majority of commercial fragrances (such as synthetic musks, dihydromercenol, and Iso E Super); perhaps counterintuitively, it’s usually synthetic chemicals that make a contemporary perfume smell “fresh.”
I also reviewed a selection of scents from some independent perfumers creating all-natural or mostly natural perfumes.

Stay tuned for future columns covering scented deodorants (not an April Fools joke!) and vintage classics.


  1. I'm glad your deodorant column is not a joke! Some smell so horrid, especially one a coworker has taken to wearing. It's baby powder-scented and it fills the room! I'd rather she wear one that smells like teen spirit.

  2. Yes, it's for real! I'm planning to rub the deodorants on my forearms like perfume for testing -- my wrists won't be sweaty at all!

    I just read your "full disclosure" post, by the way -- and I definitely don't think you're crazy. :) Hope to see you on Twitter again now and then!

  3. Did I post this already? What are your thoughts on La Vanilia and Demeter and some other "mass market" "natural fragrance" folks.
    PS Was the "Blond Tabac" anything like Caron's "Blond Tabac?"
    PS The Cooking Channel had a show on celiac and food allergies! Now, if they only had a recipe and tip show every week...

  4. Demeter isn't all-natural. You can tell by looking at them (they're all clear) but also the smell. I'd guess the same for La Vanilla but I'm not super familiar with them. I tried one of their lotions (vanilla coconut) and found it too sweet, which is actually saying a lot for me, because I like sweet.

    Do you know the blog Bois de Jasmin? She just did a great post on the differences between current and vintage Caron perfumes. I'm not familiar with either version of Tabac Blond, but Caron has always used synthetics so they're probably pretty different.

    Did they say anything good?

  5. Oh, I see, Demeter just has an all-natural line within the larger collection. I haven't tried them, but my guess is they're very watered down (or alcoholed down, rather) to make them affordable, so they probably last for about five minutes. Might be a great five minutes though!

  6. Some are better than others. Pretty sure La Vanilia makes a lot of claims about their natural-ness, free of etc etc. I like their Vanilla Grapefruit best of the collection, and it doesn't make my usually-perfume-allergic husband sneeze. (How can I be married to someone who is allergic to perfume? I have a closet of perfume! I used to have a job as a perfume seller! Bah! I guess he could could I be married to someone allergic to wheat? Oh well.)

  7. I'll try them next time I'm at Sephora.

    So do you not wear perfume around the house? Tragic!

  8. Oh, I do. I just try to spray it when he's not around.
    Other perfumes he's not allergic to include Chanel's Coco, Cartier's Panthere (something to do with the base notes, here? They're kind of similar.) He seems to have problems with vanilla and citrus scents especially. (I don't really wear many florals, except Petite Cherie, which is one of those "good pear" scents.)

  9. I think citrus is a common allergen. Vanilla surprises me more -- I'd expect Coco to have some vanilla. That's a good one to be able to get away with!