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Heresy and oil

I sent a friend of mine a set of samples recently, because she’s one of the few people I know who’s also interested in smelling perfumes. I sent a Top Hits according to me:
Moroccan Mint Tea from Ava Luxe
Tihota from Indult
24, Faubourg from Hermes
Tocca’s Cleopatra
and The Different Company’s Sel de Vetiver

There’s a “perfume, egh!” sort of a note that’s hitting her in some of the perfumes meant to be sprayed. She smells it in the 24, Faubourg and in the Sel de Vetiver, but not in the Tihota, even though that’s a spray perfume.

There’s a strong possibility that what she’s smelling is something based on bergamot. Bergamot, the most common perfume ingredient, is usually a top note and one that gives perfume its originating bitter/citrus smell, something that tells your nose “Perfume!” There’s for sure no bergamot in Tihota.

It’s also possible that it’s just alcohol. I don’t really think so, again, based on the Tihota (didn’t I send a clever set of test scents?) since of course that is based in alcohol. But it could also well be one of the compounds used in spray perfumes to give them sillage and lasting power.

People complain of the staying power of Tihota. I can put it on to sleep in and still smell it on my wrist in the morning, but it certainly doesn’t last in quite the same way as 24, Faubourg – or Sel de Vetiver. (And Sel de Vetiver is a modern perfume, not formulated quite like 24, Faubourg – even though that is, yes, a relatively recent perfume, tell me that doesn’t smell like it could have been formulated in 1962. Anyway, Sel de Vetiver DOES have synthetic molecules in it – but so does the Tihota, I’m sure of it. Again, I think it’s the topnote ones that are doing it to her.)

Anyway, why am I boring everyone with all this? Because I want to mention that oil perfumes are not just less sillage and longer lasting. Oil perfumes are also often almost topnote-free.

Extrait, the purest form of commercial perfume, also is shorter on topnotes and longer lasting. I cannot stand the topnotes of Shalimar (see previous post) – but I have this in vintage extrait and can almost stand that.

I’ve bought some favorite Ava Luxes both in oil formulations and in her perfume formulation, which she emails me is closer to an extrait than an eau de parfum. And I find I prefer them in the oil formulation. They’re gentler, longer lasting, closer to the body – and usually free of annoying topnotes.

Now here’s for the heresy part –

If there’s a perfume you love in the later stages but which makes your brain hurt as soon as you spray it on, you might want to look for a handmade version of something similar. It won’t be exactly the same. But here’s the thing: perfume compositions aren’t copyrightable. Which is why you find places like The Fragrance Shop – please don’t send me mad emails – making “Poison-type Oil.” They are not a skeesy operation – I’ve been to their storefront, and the shop is glorious and delightful and their products are great. I believe they don’t have access to every ingredient used in a top-notch perfume, nor are they always making blends as nuanced and complex as a really great perfume. But their “in the style of” oils are long-lasting, gentle to wear, and great values.

Or – and here we step out of the heresy, if the heresy is making you uncomfortable – you can patronize those handmade perfumers I’ve already mentioned on this site, most of whom are mixing in and sell oils as well as perfume extraits or EDPs. These are the perfumers you find working on the Banned Perfumes project, or the Purrfumery, Sweet Anthem, Wiggle (on etsy), Sarah Horowitz (I like Perfect Bliss), or the peerless Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. I haven’t smelled all the perfumes of all the perfumers working on the Banned Perfumes project, and I suspect they’re all in this category, but Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is the only one I’ve tried who really delivers a perfume that’s incredibly rich and complex and interesting and long lasting in an oil base.

Me, I’ll keep liking my oils (I cannot get enough of Ava Luxe’s, and there’s still so many I haven’t tried!) but also my alcohol-based perfumes. I’m waiting on my bottle of Caravelle d’Epices! I ordered it almost a week ago! What’s up with that??

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