Let’s Play Questions…. Vol. 4 – Traumatic Perfume Experiences

Happy Saturday! I hope you’re all having a good weekend thus far. I thought it would be fun to play another round of “Questions” focusing on the issue of bad perfume experiences. I recently tried a perfume that was so terrible, I can’t write about it for the simple reason that I don’t think I can talk about it in any coherent, objective, rational, sane manner. More importantly, it triggered such a visceral response that I simply can’t bear to re-live it, and it would probably end up being my last review if I did.

I’m not going to name names (so don’t ask), but the issue led me to wonder if you’ve experienced something similar. Have you ever tried a fragrance that almost broke you as a perfumista and almost put you off perfume forever? The name doesn’t matter and you don’t have to name names either if you don’t want to, because what I’m most interested in is the impact of the experience. Did it put you off that type of perfume, everything from the brand, or did it have some other reaction? Have you ever tried something that was such an ordeal that you actually couldn’t bear to think of putting on any perfume for a while? Or did you just get over the experience by resorting to a favorite, beloved comfort scent? At the risk of sounding a little like Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex And The City,” how do you deal with perfume trauma?

[Edited to add:  The Scented Hound brought up another really interesting situation: have you ever had a beloved fragrance suddenly turn on you out of the blue, such that you need a little time and distance before you could wear it again? If so, how long did it take you before you could go back to it? ]

79 thoughts on “Let’s Play Questions…. Vol. 4 – Traumatic Perfume Experiences

  1. I have never gotten to the point of not wanting to wear perfume after having a bad experience. However, I am amazed that sometimes something you love can turn so wrong on you every once in a while. I wore a while back my Rose d’Homme by Parfums Rosine and by the end of the day at work I was so over it and tired of it. I don’t think I’ll wear it again for another 6 months from now.

    • You know, you bring up another excellent issue. I wonder how many people had your sort of experience where, out of the blue, a beloved fragrance suddenly became unbearable on one occasion, to the point where you needed time and distance before you tried it again. Hm, maybe I should amend the post and stick that in there as well. I think it would be fascinating to hear the answers!

  2. Well there was the one that smelled like vomit, that almost made me puke… But it didnät really put me off that brand and it didn’t at all put me off perfume… I blaimed my skin chemistry for the fail and I couldn’t wait to scrub and put on something else! So I guess I really haven’t suffered from a proper perfume trauma yet…

    • Oh dear, that does sound bad, Nadja! But I’m really glad it didn’t put you off the brand at all. That’s wonderful. And, fingers crossed, I hope you never come across a fragrance that does come close to putting you off perfumery, even if it’s just for a moment or two. 🙂

      • The scent that turned into vomit on me came highly recommended so I know other people love it and when I tried that scent I already had about a dozen scents from that brand that I absolutely adored so no, one fail couldn’t put me off that brand! 😉

        • I’m having a small laugh at “the scent that turned to vomit on me came highly recommended.” Really cracking me up for some reason. 😀 😉

  3. I could name names and I’m tempted to just to spare someone else from experiencing the same fragrances. They aren’t big name brands as far as I know. I’m very new to perfumes and when I started exploring I mostly checked out recommendations and I found the fragrances very good overall. And even the ones I didn’t love, I could see why someone else would. I think that led me to believe that I could randomly try fragrances in a general category without getting a stinker. One day I had a string of I think 4 fragrances that i tried one after another covering both wrists and elbows and each was just terrible. The least offensive one had this overpowering burnt smell. The others I would describe as the result of someone without any talent and probably no sense of smell mixing God knows what together and labeling it with a name that makes it sound appealing. That series of 4 scents really made me question this fragrance journey I am on like a blow to the stomach, having the breath knocked out of me. I can still sense the head-spin and stomach churn they gave me. I have the samples segregated in a little baggy together, maybe to remind me. Samples are our friends! Fortunately, I haven’t had any similar experience since. So blogs like yours Kafka are just invaluable, not in giving the absolute answer of what fragrance will work for me, but in educating my nose, pointing to likely prospects, and detailing notes for comparison. Thank you 🙂

    • Oh God, FOUR IN ONE SINGLE DAY???!?!?! That would definitely give me pause and make me take a breath. I love how the villains are now totally segregated into their personal form of olfactory Siberia! *grin* I remember once I tested/reviewed two bad ones in a day, and that sent me into a terrible mood. Four would be a definite ordeal! So, were they all from the same house or random perfume houses? I’m trying to determine if you’ve been put off one brand for life. LOL.

      • I was in a bad mood. Scents have a powerful effect don’t they? I definitely would think twice about getting one of the brands ever again. These were oud fragrances. I’ve smelled many pure ouds in the markets, some I love and some I don’t, but I have little experience with oud as an ingredient. It seems like a dangerous game, like a slippery slope where the fragrance can slide off into stinkersville. And a strong oud stinker can last a LONG time. Ugh. I just took a whiff of the samples again and I’m driven to the verge of a headache. Just freeing up the scent allowed some to escape and latch on stronger than the tick I pulled off my son’s head earlier today! They aren’t nearly as gagging in the sampler as they were on my skin though, they developed in a horrible way. The day of the bad samples, after each sample I thought I would try a new scent to drive away the memory of the last bad one. I mean, what’s the chances of having that many bad ones in a row? Let me tell ya, it’s like playing Russian Roulette. You might win or you might lose or the agony just might be amplified with each pull of the trigger. So, I recommend if you get a stinker, don’t keep pushing your luck, retreat to a safe place with a comfort scent until the stinky ogre leaves.

        • Heh, I would bet a thousand bucks they were Montale Aouds. Whatever the brand, I wonder if the oud was accompanied by ISO E Super as it often is (esp. in Montale perfumes). Headache + Oud = my guess that it has ISO E Super. Of course, I could just be biased since it is the note I hate the most in all the world, but it’s also a synthetic that is well-known for giving headaches. And it’s almost never, EVER listed in perfumes! But I’ll get off my ISO E Super bandwagon, and avoid a rant.

          As for scents impacting mood, most definitely! I find it almost frustrating the degree to which my mood can plunge based upon a fragrance that I hate but am stuck with for the sake of a review. I rarely scrub perfumes off — maybe 1 out of every 30 or 40 or so that I try. And, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, the perfumes you hate the most are often the ones that stay on you the longest!!! Bloody unfair, if you ask me. 😉

  4. Well, there was that time I sat through almost 6 hours of a Very Noxious Fume (it’s famous for it), and although it didn’t put me off perfume per se, I can honestly say I have no urge whatsoever to sniff it again in this lifetime. I’ve also had bad experiences with two celebrated houses – one being a blatant rip off of better-composed fragrances, the other having some ingredient in the base that hates me. Not one out of a large line that worked for me. It will sometimes happen I find a perfume borderline repulsive and yet I can’t stop sniffing – that’s actually a sign I’ll come around to ‘love’ sooner or later. And yes – I once wore a perennial favorite on a freezing cold night when it turned on me. The cold? The perfume? Who knows? I didn’t wear it for another ten months…;)

    • How interesting, especially about the scents that are borderline repulsive and yet, you can’t stop sniffing them. As for the other situation, do you know what the ingredient is in the base that hates you and that never works for you, or is it some mystery note? And 10 months for a perennial favorite — oh dear.

      BTW, I laughed at “I can honestly say that I have no urge whatsoever to sniff it again in this lifetime.” The “lifetime” bit really made it perfect. 😀

      • I’m not sure what it is in the base, but the entire line has it – something to do with proportion, maybe? A friend of mine has the exact same problem with this house. It’s not Iso-E Super, though, I can say that much! 😉
        Ah, the Very Noxious Fume…that was my masochistic perfumista initiation rite. I turned so green, it’s a wonder I survived! 🙂

        • LOL at how it’s not ISO E Super! 😉 😉 The noxious fume…. I have one guess: Fracas? LOL. You can name names, if you want. I preferred not to do so for my traumatic perfume because it’s a small house. A fragrance famed for being noxious from a big house and that is a rite of passage undoubtedly wouldn’t suffer from mention. The more interesting thing to me, though, is this: did the Very Noxious Notorious One put you off the perfume house (whatever it may be) forever or just that one particular fragrance?

  5. I have a number of scents that people rave about that smell horrible on me. I always end up thinking it must be me, but 2nd and 3rd tries don’t ever seem to work. Zelda unfortunately does not work on me, and neither does 24 Faubourg or most of the Hermes scents…or Guerlains either, sad to say. I wish I could experience these rapturous experiences everyone else does, but sadly I can turn even the most beautiful fragrances into bug spray.

    • Oh dear, almost the whole Hermès line, and Guerlain too?! That’s a lot of perfume. You have my full and complete sympathy, my dear. It’s one thing if a single perfume is a bad experience but when it’s an entire brand, and one that so many people keep talking about, then it becomes quite frustrating. On the other hand, perhaps it’s also a little liberating? You know that almost nothing new from them will work, so you don’t have to even risk trying? BTW, out of curiosity, has there ever been a perfume house where almost everything WORKS swimmingly for you? Because I hope the flip-side of the situation happens to you, too.

      As for Zelda, well, you’re not alone….

  6. I find that when you need to scrub it is not an easy process as the ‘fume had blended with your own skin; kind of soaked in and will not leave easily.
    The beloved ‘fumes that turn on me are always ISO-E Super dosed. I need a break but always return. I think alternating fine fragrance with naturals is a sensible idea when you are smelling a lot of molecules. I wonder if molecules carry vitamins, or anything good or bad or if they are all benign?

  7. Bond No. 9 Nuits de Noho turned me off for awhile because my DH literally recoiled when I wore it the first time. He said it smelled like I was trying to cover up, uh, uncleanness. I didn’t want to wear anything for a few weeks after that. The others are invariably Aquolinas; pink sugar and the chocolate one make me gag.

    • Really? He said that? And he rarely objects to any perfume! So, wow…. it must have been some funky note! Now I have to go look up what’s in the perfume. lol

  8. There was one that i tried that smelt like a sweet foody petrol slick which caused some nausea. Unfortunately the brand has a similar base in all their perfumes so i am having a break from the whole line. It is a small stand alone perfumer so I will not name names. Even thinking about the perfume makes me feel a bit queasy.

    • Believe me, I understand about not wanting to name names when it comes to small, stand alone perfumers! I can guess though, judging by what you’ve said because I know the exact base smell you’re describing. All I can say is that your queasy stomach has my sympathy. I know precisely how that feels and, yeah, often the mere memory of a traumatic note is enough to trigger a shiver!

  9. I commented on another blog that a certain oud scent was pretty horrifying to me. I believe I said that if you’ve ever had a mouse die in the walls of your home you have smelled this fragrance. It was truly awful. I can’t believe anyone would want to smell like that. If that had been my first oud I might have avoided the note entirely after that.
    I have a lavender oil spray that I love but for a few days each month it smells like onions to me. It’s a hormone thing I guess and it’s an experience that’s taught me to try perfumes more than once before making a decision.

    • Dead mouse?????? I truly don’t think I’ve ever had a perfume evoke such a horrifying aroma. You poor, poor, poor thing. But how lucky that it wasn’t your very first encounter with oud, or else you truly would have been put off for life. As for the lavender oil, that’s truly fascinating about the change and why. I must say, you’ve now made me really curious to see if there is scientific literature on that and the extent to which hormones can change aroma. For example, just how drastic is it and is it more than a PH issue? Really thought-provoking, intriguing issue, Poodle. Thank you so much for raising the point!

      • It seems plausible when you consider that when women become pregnant their senses of smell are far more sensitive. It might make some sense then that normal hormone fluctuations could have a similar effect.

        • There is a scent that is still on the market that I wore when I was pregnant with my son. To this day, even a slight whiff of it makes me nauseous, and my son turned 15 a couple days ago.

          • You know, you’re not alone in that. I’ve heard LOTS of stories about how a perfume worn during pregnancy subsequently triggered nausea when the person smelled it much later. It’s a fascinating phenomenom. I have to say, I got a big chuckle out of the dry humour in the last line: “and my son turned 15 a couple of days ago”…. lol!

  10. Kafkaesque, yes, actually almost everything Uncle Serge makes is great on me. Also I had great luck with the CSP scents…they had some beauties like Coeur de Raisin and Riziers that are amazing. It’s a shame CSP went so mainstream and jumped the shark, leaving only girly vanillas. Also I am finding many Parfumes Gres are amazing scents that wear beautifully. Have a brand new bottle of Cabaret sitting on my dresser that makes us all happy.

    • Uncle Serge!!! YAY! Well, I’m not surprised that it’s Lutens of all people who manages to be a nonstop hit, when the others have all failed. And what a glorious house with which to have a good success rate! As for Cabaret, I’m glad you have found a new love and a line that works as a whole. (Serge Lutens can be hard on the wallet, so it’s good to have alternatives. LOL) What does Cabaret smell like on you?

  11. I have had a few traumas with certain aromas but not necessarily “perfume” in the strict scent of the word. The first experience that marked me happened quite a few years ago when I was half my age and I still remember it until today. I was an eleven year old child traveling with my parents at the time and it was Summer in Rome, and I remember that we had to take the metro to get from one part of the city to the other. Oh my God! I remember and actually can smell that rank sweat odor as if it was yesterday, just how bad the metro smelled. Stinky, fetid, torturing, piercing through my nostrils that body odor of people (men) that hadn´t bathed or used deodorant I don´t know since when, the smell of their sweat was so strong I started involuntarily to cry, really the odor was that unbearable, believe me I will never forget this experience, it marked me. Otherwise today I had a funny experience with an SA, I went today to buy a Givenchy lipstick and after my purchase I was walking carelessly through the mall when out of nowhere an SA came and sprayed me about four or five times with the new Loewe fragrance she wanted to show me, l entirely out of the blue, I hadn´t even seen her when she suddenly gave me quite a few enthusiastic perfume sprays…hilarious 😛 .

    • You poor thing, that Rome metro experience sounds horrid. I can actually almost smell it from your words alone! (It doesn’t help that I’ve encountered something similar myself in my travels, but never in such tight, closed quarters! Ouch!) As for the new Loewe fragrance, did it smell good? 🙂

    • Yikes, if an SA did that to me, I would have cried FOUL immediately AND ask for THE store manager … that SA would be fired for assaulting me. If anything, that spray would probably get me in the eyes (I wear contacts) and the consequences are dire indeed.

      • Oh my gosh. It was as if that woman was lying in wait! That is actually why I hate going to Macy’s. It’s literally like running a medieval gauntlet!

        • I was just at Macy’s checking out the Prada Infusion d’Iris L’Eau d’Iris and lo and behold, there was NO SA to be found…not a one! Since I had other places to go, I decided to just swing by again on my way out and there was one lone SA and she was helping a couple. I finally had to snag someone from the Elizabeth Arden counter and finally got to sniff the PID’IL’ED’I (sounds kind of dirty, doesn’t it?).

          • Haha! PID’IL’ED’I sounds incredibly dirty!

            You were so lucky. The last time I was in Macy’s, it was like doing yoga as I tried to contort my body to avoid the sprays of Jimmy Choo flying my way!

            Good for you! Did you like it?

          • “PID’IL’ED’I” sounds like the dirtiest word ever! Like some pedophile piddled and…. well, never mind. It’s all Prada’s fault. They should have come up with a name that wasn’t so bloody long to begin with! Sheesh.

        • Macy’s is bad but the SA’s at the Neiman Marcus are just relentless. They won’t give you a moments peace.

          • So true. They are bad at Saks too. So often, they ask me if they can wrap it up as they are handing me the blotter! Let a girl at least smell it first!

  12. I have been pretty lucky in terms of fragrances (knock on wood). I think the more surprising were fragrances that I was scared of for years and when I finally did try them and try them on my skin, I actually liked them. A lot. (Gucci Rush, I’m looking at you!)

    That being said, I know my skin pretty well and I am careful about what I try on my skin. So far, the number of scrubbers has been kept at a minimum.

    The number one smell that I cannot abide by is mildew. You know, that mildew-y smell that comes from the clothes of people who leave them in the washing machine for too long or from towels that do not dry properly? I’m super sensitive to it and once it’s in your clothes, it never, ever really goes away. In fact, it can just bloom all over again if the fabric gets damp. I have been known to leave friends early, change subways cars, and get away from establishments just to get away from the smell. Thankfully, no perfume has smelled like that. But now that I’ve said this, the next one will!

    • Thats how Voleur de Roses smells on me. Mildewed cellar. Yet on other people it’s wonderful. It’s like my skin curdles it.

        • :::::: reminds self NOT to try Voleur de Roses :::::: I’d been highly dubious and reluctant to try this one anyway, since L’Artisan is often a catastrophe on my skin and this one has just 3 notes to begin with, but now I’m even more reluctant. L’Artisan and I do NOT see eye to eye!

      • Ew! More than one person has said that. I haven’t tried Voleur de Roses on my skin, only on paper, but I hear it’s very different on skin than paper.

        Skin chemistry is so weird, right? With so many other scents to try, it’s hard to want to test the one that might put you off altogether!

    • Mildew smell is foul!! And my heavens, there does seem to be a perfume where others have detected it! Have you tried Voleurs de Rose?

      • Only on paper, never on skin! I just smell it and think, “Hmmm, I’ve already found my rose . . . so . . . oooh! Look at the new XYZ over there!” 🙂

        Poodle also mentioned it was mildewy. Bullet dodged, I guess!

    • Since you hate the smell of Mildew something tells me you wouldn´t like Venice, I remember that it had a very strong mildew smell but I wasn´t bothered I took it as part of the medieval charm of the city 😛 , although in general I dislike that smell.

      • Seriously/ Oh no! I have always wanted to go to Venice and was saving it for a special trip! Maybe it’s not so pungent in the winter? An entire city that smelled of mildewy wet towels would do me in.

        • It does have a mildew-y scent, I’m afraid to say. Of course, that could be because I’ve always gone to Venice when it rained. Yes, every single time, it was a complete deluge but they were also all Spring trips, so who knows. Either way, it definitely seemed to bring out all the dampness and mildewed smells.

  13. I’ve tried a few of the Montale Aouds without noticing anything unpleasant, but just today I tried one from another brand that started off smelling like wood with rubbing alcohol, and after a few hours was rubbing alcohol with a bit of wood (and a headache). Iso E Super?

    My nemesis, though, seems to be pink pepper. I’m fairly new to perfume as, let’s call it a hobby, but as I’ve never seen a perfume described as “a suffocating blanket of pink pepper,” I think it must just be me. If I see pink pepper listed anywhere as a note in a perfume, I now will not even try it, no matter how great it sounds otherwise.

    • First, welcome, Laurels! How lovely of you to stop by! 🙂 As for your first question, to me, yes, it does sound exactly like ISO E Super. My nemesis note always shows up on me like rubbing alcohol, but there are sometimes a few alternative variations: medicine anti-vaccination astringent, highly concentrated peppery notes, and/or something that evokes memories of a chemist lab or a morgue. Given your headache, I would bet the amount of ISO E Super was high. Certainly high enough for you to detect it and react. If you’ve ever tried Montale’s Aoud Lime — which has alternatively been described as something that would make a serial killer wince, or cockroaches run — then you’ll know of just how it can combine with oud to create something fairly foul.

      As for pink pepper, I shouldn’t laugh but “suffocating blanket of pink pepper” gave me a huge chuckle! It’s the worst when the note that you hate comes in amounts so walloping that you do feel totally covered! I wonder if all the perfumes where pink pepper felt extreme also had *another* note which — when combined with the pink pepper — sent it over the top. I was thinking of purple patchouli. Because I’ve smelled a few fragrance where the two notes together seemed to make the pink pepper into something almost unbearable! Do you remember the first perfume where you found the note to feel so over the top that it was like that thick, suffocating blanket?

      • Givenchy Dahlia Noir, of all things, which a SA at Sephora talked me into trying, insisting it reminded her of Opium. Also Big Sur by A Wing and a Prayer. The DN does seem to have patchouli, so maybe you’re right about the combination being to blame, at least some of the time.

        • Hm, Dahlia Noir. I haven’t smelled it, but I smelled the new L’Eau version and my head jerked back from the wave of ISO E Super. Almost got whiplash from the speed of my recoil. *shudder* But the Dahlia Noir is supposed to be a patchouli bomb, from which I assume it’s the terrible purple patchouli which is often combined with pink peppercorns, so I’d truly bet it’s *that* specific combination which is so suffocating. Believe me, I sympathize because I know the exact note which is so bothersome!

  14. Dear Kafka, no perfume had ever turned me off perfume altogether, but a number of perfumes had traumatized me to the point of hating specific notes. Since I have no OFF button when it comes to naming names, here goes (please feel free to edit out the names if you feel it’s appropriate to do so):

    1. For my hatred of (gulp) Lily of the Valley, the culprit was Andy Tauer’s No. 11 Carillon Pour un Ange. I know a LOT of people like/love this and have used it as their wedding fragrance — people, you keep loving it…I will still like you if you do. Anyway, my only encounter with it was on the nice plastic bag enclosed card that Andy (or whomever works with him) includes as a thank you for purchases (I had purchased several sets of samples). My first whiff of the card was unpleasant – it smelled like rotting garbage to me. I quickly put the card back into the plastic bag and unwisely left it on my desk and forgot all about it EXCEPT, I kept smelling something foul every time I got near my desk. I finally figured out that it was the card that was stinking up my space. I had to throw the card into my kitchen garbage. Shudder. This experience DID NOT turn me off Andy Tauer’s fragrances…in fact, I love ZETA and it is definitely FB-worthy. LOTV did not fare as well – I HATE it, with passion.

    2. Balenciaga Paris Florabotanica – I liked it on paper and asked the SA to give me a few samples. I’ve held on to the samples for several weeks and finally had a day to try it. OH MY GOD, it smelled like sharp, nose-hair singeing nail polish remover. I had to shower it off immediately. Yikes. On the flip side, I LOVE the bottles and was lucky enough to get an almost empty 100 mL bottle and several 7.5 mL minis.

    3. Frederic Malle…oh how you disappointed me with Dries Van Noten. I had VERY HIGH HOPES. Everything about DVN sounded so YUMMY to me. I LOVE gourmands. When I wore it the first time…I felt like I was suffocating. I decided to take a break for a few days and tried it again…same suffocating feeling. After the 3rd time of the same results, I banished it — it is waiting to be re-homed.

    4. The infamous Etat Libre D’Orange Secretions Magnifiques – this was the only perfume that nauseated me but thank goodness I did not hurl as I was at Henri Bendel.

    Great topic!

    • I love that Tauer but I have to say that it does not in any way smell like LOTV to me at all. Now I’m going to have to see if I can detect a garbage note in it.

    • I have a sample of Secretions Magnifiques and….. well, I’m too terrified to try it. But at least with something like that, you *know* you’re going to be traumatized! It’s as if it comes with full warning, so it seems much fairer. I also have a sample of Florabotanica that I haven’t tested and now I’m wondering if there was ISO E Super in it; from what you’re describing, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were….

      The Frederic Malle Dries van Noten, it sounds like his version of the new, special, sustainable sandalwood went really dry and rotten on you. All I can say is that I *WISH* I’d gotten sandalwood!! Another friend of mine had an experience similar to yours — all sandalwood and no gourmand aspects. Her skin seems to mute sweetness. But for me, as you know, it was all snickerdoodles. The funny thing is that a large number of my friends got that exact same aroma impression too: snickerdoodles.

      BTW, it’s fine to name names, especially for such big brands and houses. I didn’t want to do so for mine because…. well, it’s a new hot release from a tiny one. And, more importantly, I didn’t want it to seem as if I were starting up a thread just to slag off on other perfumes when my real interest was in WHY something was traumatic and in HOW people dealt with it. Does that make sense? Obviously, you’ve dealt with some of your perfume trauma by forever avoiding a particular note, like the dreaded L-word flower. LOL.

    • This will make you laugh: Ari over at Scents of Self actually used her remaining samples of Florabotanica as nail polish remover! Isn’t that hysterical?

    • hajusuuri, I told you that before and I’ll repeat: Carillon Pour un Ange is just Tauer’s interpretation of LotV. For my nose this perfume has nothing in common with the actual flower smell that I know very well. Try Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley or even modern Dior’s Diorissimo before you go on hating the note 🙂

  15. Wow some of these stories are amazing! My worst had to be when I was wearing a lovely sandalwood fragrance, one that smells amazing on my other half, and kept smelling cat pee everywhere I turned. Imagine my horror when I realized that rank smell was me and I had been subjecting people to it all day.
    Kafkaesque, I was drawn to the reviews of cabaret being all dusty backstage lipstick theaters etc. On me it is the opposite, bright rose with spice and an edge…it keeps me sniffing and I am not a huge fan of rose. LmK if you want a decant, this bottle is as big as a whiskey bottle.

    • Heh, I think Poodle’s “dead mouse in the wall” experience may take the cake. But smelling cat pee wherever you turn is pretty bad, too! Cat pee aroma is often triggered by cassis or black currant, and sometimes by super indolic flowers, too. I wonder what was responsible for the note in the sandalwood perfume you wore?

      And thank you for the super generous offer of the Cabaret, Grace. I’ll definitely keep it in mind when I finish plowing through some of the recent stuff I got. I’ve got a few big piles of things I have to get through first, but I’m definitely tempted! xoxox

  16. Before I started my perfume journey, I worked for an OBGYN. One of our patients wore the most beautiful perfume I had ever smelled. I was gaga over it. I asked her what the fragrance was and she told me it was Tova, which I had never heard of. I immediately ordered a bottle and could not wait for it to arrive. It smelled so beautiful until I actually put in on my skin. I shudder now to think of how sick to my stomach it made me. To this day, the thought of smelling that scent makes me what to vomit. I ended up giving it to one of my daughters, but I should have held on it. It’s bringing big bucks on eBay! It didn’t put me off fragrances, but after that, I tended to find a scent I loved and wore it forever.

    • First, a big welcome, Cynpathy. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your terrible experience. You poor, poor thing, it sounds like Tova was horrible on you. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled anything from the line. I’d like to ask you how it smelled on you but I don’t want to trigger another gag reflex. LOL. 😀 So what is your signature fragrance now? 🙂

      • Now a have a huge amount of scents and am too happy with most of them to commit to a signature fragrance. I do have to say the vintage scents are closest to my heart and I also love rose and tuberose scents. I have come a long way since the dreaded Tova!

        • LOL! It’s like that famous line, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” 😉 I’m glad. I’m like you, vintage is always closest to my heart and I have a peculiar weakness for really indolic tuberose. If you love white flowers, you should try the new Le Labo Lys 41. Gorgeous white lilies, stunning tuberose, then jasmine and a little bit of tiaré (that part I personally wasn’t so keen on, but it’s a personal taste preference). So, do you have a particular favorite perfume group, like florals, orientals, chypres, etc.?

  17. Hmmm, I would probably have to smell 5-10 in a row on par with Zafar, which is statistically highly improbable, to make me move away from trying anything at all. I’m not easily detracted by foul scents.That said, Zafar, as you know, is by far the worst. Nothing comes close. Frederic Malle has been the most consistently disappointing. Nothing too horrid (except for Lipstick Rose, WTF is that?!) just nothing good.

    • Well, prior to yesterday, I didn’t think anything could make me want to avoid perfume for a while. If I hadn’t gotten some really fantastic samples of things I’ve been eager to try, I think it would probably have taken another few days for me to recover.

      A big LOL at the “Lipstick Rose, WTF is that?!” Heh. I’m grinning because I’m remembering exactly how I felt while wearing it. And how much I swore at the time. *grin*

  18. Oh, this is a great question. My biggest perfume trauma (although there have been many) was overspraying a Tauer (e.g., two sprays) on a day when I had a big meeting. Everyone in the room was miserable, I was mortified, and I still haven’t recovered. So how do I deal with perfume trauma? Ostrich. Pretend it didn’t happen. Soldier on.

    • Ostrich! Ha! I love it. It would be like a twist on that old allegory about a tree falling in a forest: if a perfume’s notes explode in a meeting but no-one acknowledges it, did it really happen?? 😉 Which Tauer was it, because some can be stronger than others. I think two sprays of Lonestar Memories, for example, might be super intense indeed!

  19. My very first “full size” perfume purchase was a rollerball of Betsey Johnson’s Too Too. It was on sale, and I wanted a cheap fruity rollerball just to carry around in my bag. When I tested it, my review was basically “fruit —> musk. meh, good ’nuff for the price”. When I bought it, the musk came in much faster than I remember it doing when I tested it. Then each time I wore it, it smelled more and more of a hot mess of musk and fruit. Then the last time I wore it, I was actually horrified by how foul it smelled to me. I’m actually afraid to wear it again. Worse, this was a fragrance bought brand new from a perfectly good shop, and my various responses to it happened within a few months of purchase. So, thanks to Too Too, I keep wondering if one day I’ll buy something more expensive and/or beloved, and it’ll be another horror show just waiting to happen. ::shudder::

    • First off, welcome, TheCatApproves! Such a cool name! Second, I shouldn’t laugh at the “I’m actually afraid to wear it again,” but I’ve been there and know what you’re talking about. You have my full sympathies. I’ve got one bottle of perfume that just got fruitier, more patchouli-centered, and sweeter with every wearing, to the point where I don’t know *WHAT* it was that made me like it originally! I am pretty damn sure it wasn’t quite so bad originally. lol

      But I do hope you try again with something else — perhaps without a fruit-musk combination this time, or perhaps just without the musk. I would bet that your skin is amplifying the base notes, especially if there is patchouli in there to make the fruit even sweeter and fruitier. The best thing about buying samples is that you can see how things may progress on your skin over time and *before* you make a financial commitment. 🙂

      • Yeah, I try to be a strict “sample repeatedly before purchase” type of person, but I am a sucker for sale impulse buys which are $10 or less. Sometimes they’re great little risks, but sometimes, they make you want to throw your purchase against a wall. :p After Too Too, I caved and bought a rollerball of Marc Jacobs’ Oh Lola! which is much better at satisfying that “I want a basic fruity-floral” craving. I used up a sample before I bought it, but I keep eyeing my purchase with a “don’t you dare wig out on me” look when I’m not using it.

  20. I have found that any frag that I wear on a daily basis, I slowly grow to hate (despite loving them at first). This was the fate for the original D&G, Givenchy Pi, Hugo Boss smothering me with sweetness too clingey, all the classic Calvin Klein frags, etc
    There are however two exceptions to this rule,
    Donna Karan Unleaded, & D&G By, which I never seemed to get sick of. I think what I hate the most is being clung to, I need my freedom. Thus I rotate from my collection.
    Also when a frag goes “off”, or goes bad. Ever smelled Sandalwood when it goes bad? Leave that bottle of Jill Sanders in the window for a few weeks and you’ll understand what I mean. Its awful.
    There are off putting scents that I have slowly grown to love but hated at first. Bond No9’s Wall Street is one of them.

    • Interesting. Mike, do you think if you rotated your scents more, your feelings would change towards some of the ones which are now culprits? If you gave Pi or Hugo Boss, for example, a 2 month break, then brought them back to wear just once a week or so, do you think you could regain the love? I wonder what it is about Donna Karan’s Unleaded and D&G’s By which makes them an exception to your rule and to your general feelings of claustrophobia (and boredom)? Do you think it may be that they are milder, fresher, and less over-powering than something like Pi, so they’re less likely to overtake your senses and day, less likely to make you feel dominated or bullied by the scent?

  21. My biggest perfume traumas are still etched indelibly on my consciousness, and are:
    Sampling Narcisse Noir and Amarige (you agree on Amarige!) on the same ill-fated day. Nearly abandoned my fledgling perfume hobby on the spot.
    Being ‘necklaced’ by Mona di Orio’s Nuit Noire by a trigger happy SA – eight generous sprays to my ‘decollete’ resulted in a migraine of epic proportions.
    Testing Amouage Homage Attar (or some such). That was the one I dubbed ‘Attila the Attar’. Ruined a perfectly nice day out in Chester.

    • LOL! Two bad experiences in one day can certainly leave an impact and psychic scar!! As for the Mona di Orio, I think 8 generous sprays of ANY of her fragrances could probably knock out everyone in a few mile radius of you. God, the thought of something like that happening with her Vanille one makes me shiver.

      As for Amarige, I’m afraid I don’t share your hatred. 🙁 In that review, I was the voice of the public defender, speaking for her and defending her against the malignment of time and society. I realise it’s a lost cause and the damage has been done, but I have never been one of those who hated Amarige. I thought you knew that I loved it. LOL! After all, I am your Evil Scent Twin on every possible score. 😛 😉

  22. I learn fast from my mistakes so after my first scrubber I learned not to put on my skin an unnown fragrance in the amount that cannot be easily scrubbed off with a soap and warm water. So even though I came across many perfumes that didn’t work for me, none of those experiences were too traumatic.

    But I have to say that for a long-long time, based on my experience at the time, “natural perfume” for me was a synonym of “bad perfume.” Frankly speaking, it’s still is: the ratio of – I won’t even say “good” – not awful natural perfumes to all natural perfumes I tried so far is much lower than that for either niche or even mainstream segment of the market.

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