Puredistance‘s newest fragrance is called Sheiduna, a spicy, woody oriental that was created by Cécile Zarokian in collaboration with the company’s founder, Jan Ewoud Vos. It is a pure parfum or extrait with a 27% concentration, and it will launch worldwide at the end of October. I’m afraid this won’t be a proper or full review for the fragrance, because my experience with it was a difficult one.
The press release materials that I was provided describe the fragrance, in part, as follows:
SHEIDUNA is a rich and intense Perfume inspired by the panoramic views and feel of golden sand dunes in the desert during sunset – soft, female curves changing from deep gold to warm, orangey red – embodying a promise of sensual comfort and silent seduction. Wearing SHEIDUNA, one wafts sensuality, and intense colour waves of Persian rugs touch the senses. The perfect marriage between Sensuality and Style.
Ingredients: lemon, tangerine, blackcurrant, aldehydes, Bulgarian rose essence, geranium, clove, vetyver, patchouly, amber woody, incense, benzoin, myrrh, tonka bean, vanilla pods and musks.
Sheiduna opens on my skin with a bucketful of Norlimbanol, the super-strong aromachemical that smells smoky, spicy, leathery, amber-woody, and industrial. Dark, woody, bitter, and earthy cloves follow suit, then woody patchouli, incense, buttery vanilla, and a light sprinkling of lemon, tangerine, and blackcurrant (cassis). It’s a bouquet that is primarily woody, spicy, and smoky, in that order, with the vanilla creamy sweetness and citrus fruits trailing at a far distance.
The cumulative effect reminds me a lot of some fragrances from LM Parfums, where hefty amounts of Norlimbanol are supplemented by other amber-woody synthetics, in addition to spices and smokiness. However, I don’t think I’ve tried any LM Parfums with as much Norlimbanol as there is here.
In fact, I cannot recall the last time I encountered so much Norlimbanol on my skin from any brand. Not LM Parfums, not Orto Parisi, not Nasomatto, and not even one of the low-end Ajmal orientals, Amber Wood. None of them made me feel as nauseous and ill as Sheiduna did.
The quantity is really profound on my skin, and it simply grows stronger and stronger as time passes. Within 30 minutes, it’s turned all the other notes a blurry haze, an indeterminate mix of spices, woods, and smoky woody-amber that have been blanketed to the point of suffocation. The patchouli is clear if I smell my arm up close, smelling extremely dry, woody, and smoky, as though it had been supplemented by some cypriol, but the citruses and cassis have vanished, while the vanilla is merely an elusive, ghostly wisp in the distant background. Everything else is impossible to pick out amidst the billowing gales of smoky, leathery, spicy, and amber-woody aromachemicals.
I tried to test Sheiduna properly and fully because I knew this review would be useless to you otherwise, but I couldn’t manage. The first time I sprayed the fragrance, I had to scrub it after a mere 15 minutes. The second time, I tried to last as long as I could but, after 2.75 hours, I felt dizzy, light-headed, and completely nauseated, in addition to experiencing a bizarre ringing in my ears that has never occurred before with any scent. At that point, I gave up and scrubbed. I had to. Continuing was not an option.
In all that time, Sheiduna’s bouquet did not change at all on my skin. What wafted from my arm smelt as though it were 80% Norlimbanol, with the remainder consisting of an indeterminate cedarish woody-amber synthetic, a bit of woody patchouli layered with cypriol, and a ghostly, elusive wisp of vanilla. The cumulative effect reminded me of Ajmal‘s Amber Wood mixed with a slug of Tom Ford‘s Patchouli Absolu.
I know this curtailed review will be of little use to the majority of you, and I apologise in advance for being so unhelpful. I did the best that I could, but I know it’s not enough. The simple reality is that most people do not have my physical sensitivities to very large quantities of strong aromachemicals. Most of you will have a very different experience with Sheiduna, and I’m very glad for that.
[UPDATE 9/30: Puredistance has objected to my characterization of the woody-amber aromachemical in question and has written to inform me that they used Amber Xtreme in Sheiduna, not Norlimbanol. I stand by my opinion that, on my skin and to me, it smelt like Norlimbanol on steroids. It may actually be worse if they used Amber Xtreme, even if Puredistance argues that it was only a small quantity. Luca Turin wrote a few months ago about the strongest new aromachemicals on the market in a post entitled “Power Tools.” He went through them, seemingly in order of strength, and ended with the Amber Xtreme which he called “nuclear” and said “outguns them all.” He described it as even more powerful than “Ambrocenide from Symrise, one of the most scarily powerful materials in memory”:
woody ambers are now everywhere, mostly in masculines but also used as a sort of fluorescent black light to illuminate feminine fragrances from the inside. The old materials (by old I mean twenty years ago) were not shy. Cedramber, Amberketal and Spirambrene were solidly powerful stuff. Then the chemists got busy and Karanal came along, discovered accidentally by Karen Rossiter at Quest. Karanal took no prisoners, and smelled wrong to a fraction of the people. Edouard Fléchier, a brave man, used it memorably in Malle’s Une Rose, recently reformulated. Then came Ambrocenide from Symrise, one of the most scarily powerful materials in memory, the sort that you can easily smell on the outside of the sealant around the cap of a never-opened bottle. By then every Guido on earth was strutting around smelling of Godzilla isopropanol, and it seemed things just could not get worse. Then IFF released Amber Xtreme, a nuclear-powered woody amber chemically related to Galaxolide that outguns them all. [Emphasis to names added by me.]
Yes, I was mistaken and incorrect in terms of which specific power aromachemical was gushing from my skin. To my nose, it still resembles like Norlimbanol in massive doses. However, the fact that it was actually Amber Xtreme doesn’t make it any better, in my opinion. It makes it worse. It also doesn’t make a difference that, according to the company, only a small quantity was used. Even in small amounts, Amber Xtreme is “nuclear” stuff. Luca Turin described it as stronger than even “one of the most scarily powerful materials in memory,” and he is not someone with my sensitivity to synthetics, so don’t just take my word for it.]
Disclosure: My sample was provided by Puredistance via the Pitti fair. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.