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The power of scent, perfumes and colognes

By Edited Jun 18, 2015 1 1

The power of scent is an amazing thing. An odor can recall a memory more vividly than any other sense. For example, if you hear a song you liked in high school you may remember a pleasant feeling, conversely when you smell a smell you knew in high school, you are instantly transported back in time to the place. I was told once, never to wear fragrance to a job interview for that reason. You don't know what connection the interviewer will make to the signature scent you are wearing. What if it's the same thing his evil stepmother wore, or his incompetent cousin, or the wife that cheated on him? Chances are, you won't get the job.

In your personal life though, wearing a scent, the right scent, can make people notice you. If you wear too much, you might get noticed in a bad way. If people wrinkle up their noses around you or move to the side you might be wearing too much. Cheap perfume is another problem. Some of the ingredients in cheap perfume cause sensitive people to suffer migraine headaches. If you can't afford the real deal, don't buy an imitation perfume. The top note might remind you of the more expensive scent but the after effect is annoying. It enter the sinuses like a drill and causes very unpleasant sensations for those around you.

If you can't afford the real deal at retail prices you have other options. You can buy a very small amount at a drugstore, or pick up a tester vial. You would be surprised how long these last, often longer than you like the perfume! Another option is buy the least expensive incarnation of the scent. For example toilet water is more dilute than parfum, so it is cheaper by the ounce. Hand lotion is cheaper still, and at the low end is soap. However, even a soap, of authentic Chanel No. 5, is going to smell better than a knock off imitation of that fragrance. You can also visit websites that specialize in perfume. The money they save by not having a store front enables them to sell authentic fragrances at a discount.

It's kind of hit or miss, but one of the biggest discounts you can find is under the "one man's trash is another man's treasure" theory. Look for your favorite scent on Ebay. You may find an opened bottle at fraction of the retail price. Most of the time it is because the perfume or cologne was received as a gift. Upon smelling Drakkar Noir, the person thinks, this scent isn't really for me. Knowing that it can't be returned to store they put it up on Ebay. Some people are leery of buying an open bottle. You actually can't tell if the person has replaced the authentic scent with something else. Except most people don't want to go through that much trouble just to rip someone else off. I once got a bottle of Violettes de Toulouse, normally $74 an ounce, for a mere seven dollars on Ebay just because an eighth of it was used. The seller claimed they were selling off of an estate. That was probably true.

Violettes de Toulouse is an old French scent that smells amazingly like real violets. I have found that most of the time what essential oil and incense brands call "violet" is distinctive and yet very remote from the authentic flowery smell. It's kind of like how cherry soda tastes much like cherry pop tarts although neither tastes remotely like a wild cherry. We all get so used to fake tastes that when ad companies market chocolate as "silky" we don't even stop to think of what real silk would taste like. Silky has come to mean smooth, even though raw silk is not particularly a smooth fabric. What we call silky, is really more satiny. And satin, can often be polyester synthentic.

Josephine Bonaparte was famous for wearing a violet perfume that smelled very much like real violets. She had it made for her. The delicate scent was powdery and musky when smelled up close and yet faint and vague to people who stood further away. It was an intimate scent for that reason. There is another famous violet scented perfume called Violetta di Parma Borsari. This fragrance blends the clean scent of grass with the warmth of violets for a more complex aroma. Violet is sometimes blended with the attar of roses or tea roses for a warm smell.

If you want to be known for your signature scent it's kind of fun to wear something no one else is wearing. Buying essential oils and blending them yourself is one way to do this. Experiment with mixing a light crisp scent such as cedar leaf with something warm and strong like vanilla or honey. Some scents such as sandalwood, musk and patchouli are so penetrating that it is hard to mix them with anything else. The scent will stubbornly overpower whatever you mix with it.

Launching a new scent is an expensive endeavor. Everything from the shape and color of the bottle is test marketed. Companies take a risk when they attach a name like Brittany Spears or Paris Hilton to a perfume, what if the older generation, i.e. the women with money would rather not associate with a young celebrity? Few people actually think Jennifer Lopez was in the lab concocting what came to be sold as a scent with her name on it. And yet, fans of Elizabeth Taylor bought White Diamonds.

And what about men's scents? In the 70's a successful ad campaign for Old Spice had a pretty model coyly stating all her men wore Old Spice or nothing at all. A more modern take on the same idea for Axe shows all sorts of women jumping on a man wearing the scent. I caution men with the same advice I give women, don't over do it, and don't cheap out. A soap cake of Polo is better than a bucket of knock off.



Jul 11, 2010 8:12am
Thanks for this article! Some people can definitely go overboard with the perfume or cologne though...in my honest opinion.
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