note evaluations: the floral family


I am not naturally drawn to florals, never have been, unless they are very exotic which usually translates into very expensive.  I don’t know, there’s just something about the florals that screams commonplace; whenever I see Rose as a note ingredient, I roll my eyes and think, “Oh, God, not again!”  And yet I must explore, even though my mind wants to convince me that I already know what Rose smells like, that I already know everything about the olfactive landscape of Rose, I must recognise it as a prejudice that does not work in my favour, push it aside and let curiosity lead.

My favourite floral notes, two of which are not part of the course, are: Osmanthus, Tuberose and Jasmine.  The florals on my future “To Buy” list are: Frangipani, Blue Lotus, Jasmine Sambac and Gardenia.

On with the evaluations:

Ylang Ylang III: sweet, floral, a garden. Out of the right nostril it smells even sweeter, warm tender and creamy.  I even get a soft green note hiding there.  Ylang Ylang III dries down to a soft green, warm sweetness.  I can smell tobacco together with this!  Volatility: mid to low.

Ylang Ylang Extra: this note is much more piercing, almost medicinal and herbaceous in quality. Strong, green impression, more complex than the Ylang Ylang III, sweet. It dries down into a much softer version than the III less green although it retains its floral outlines; it is much more floral in the dry down.  Volatility: mid to low.

Jasmine (grandiflorum): opens with a heavy, rich, sweetness; feminine and flowing even though a bit dark.  Lighter and more penetrating, summer soft and happy memories, kindness, round and voluptuous, comforting.  I love this note!  Creamy and deep.  6 hours later it is still warm, bodaceous, sensuous, thick, creamy and rich.  Jasmine is a woman with curves, it’s the Monica Bellucci of florals. Volatility: low volatility.

Geranium Bourbon: opens sweetly, sharp, thin and light.  That’s interesting, I assumed that all floral notes were thick in quality. Slightly herbaceous, light, Lichee fruity, fruity, floral, creamy, trance-like quality, it pulls you in.  It dries down to a much brighter feeling than the other florals, green, fresh floral, vibrant! Volatility: mid to low.

Phenyl Ethyl Acetate (PEA): a natural isolate of ylang ylang, narcissus and champaca and occurs naturally in narcissus and jasmine sambac.  It opens thin and metallic, light and to my nose a hint of mint. Peppermint, floral petals, vaguely rosy and sweet.  6 hours later and it’s still soft , still metallic in quality, sharp, very present.  Volatility: mid-low.

Rose Absolute: enters like an “O”, round, dry, sweet but only with a faint gesture of rose.  Thin, garden, grass, green, rummy(?), gentle, soft, downy, creamy.  The dry down is definitely rose heavier now, even woody and it has an intoxicating quality.  Volatility: low.

Aldehyde C14: a natural isolate of peach which occurs naturally in fruit and fermented products.  Opens creamy soft but to me, one dimensional. Bright, powdery, floral, I only get a few sniffs of this and then it becomes invisible to my nose.  The dry down is much more floral but still singular, not complex, softer a bit heavy. Volatility: low.

Linalol: a natural isolate derived from citrus but naturally occurring in citrus, rosewood, aniseed and geranium.  Opens light and airy, summery and breezy, lavender.  Fresh pungent, green, transparent and lemony. After 6 hours there is a vague scent of lavender, and vaguely herbaceous.  Volatility: low.


building a powder accord



You get the idea. The whole exercise is to allow you to narrow things down to the best one.  But what does best mean?!  The one that’s the most harmonious, the most deftly juxtaposed, the one I like the most? What?!

There is definitely fear around creating your first perfumes. I think it’s all about a fear of wasting precious materials, or maybe it has to do with undue attachment to our creations, maybe a fear of failing.  Or worse still – a combination of all three! Oh, the initial agony!

Right. So perhaps I should fill you in a bit.  The exercise for class was to create a base accord around the Nature ID ingredient Ionone Blend which on its own smells soft, of talc and of Irises. I thought I wasn’t inspired because the powder family really doesn’t attract me much but I was in for a surprise because when I actually sat down to formulate I was awash with ideas.

First I had to choose two ingredients — but which two?! The initial choices are crucial because, like quantum physics, each choice made eliminates a host of other suitable marriage prospects, effectively narrowing your focus. Add them to the Ionone Blend, wait a day for it to mature, evaluate and add anywhere from another two to howmanyever you wanted. This choice was a bit easier as I became more serious about the direction and therefore the choices.  Add these then wait a day and evaluate.

I like all of them but test #2.  With test #1 I pushed my limits with the florals and it dries down to a beautiful, round curve. Test #3 and #4 are the ones that dry down the best.  But my final choice is #3: crisp, clean and clear this formula is more refreshing, more apt for a cologne. It comes and goes this one, like hide and seek. 3 hours later it is a very light floral that’s barely there, just below the surface, you think there’s nothing going on and you want to set it aside, dismiss it, but just before you do it reveals another side of itself.  Yes, it’s definitely floral but the Labdanum and Cedarwood lend the whole accord depth and character.

The formula is really simple:  Ionone Blend (1 drop), Rose Absolute (6 drops), Cedarwood (4 drops), Labdanum (3 drops), Vanilla Absolute (2 drops) and Ylang Ylang (5 drops).

Answer to my own question from earlier. My fear lies in letting them go.  My goal moving forward then is to learn to be more detached about my creations, which I’m sure will give them greater freedom of expression and wings to fly.

Happy Thursday!

note evaluations: the green family

greenToday I’m evaluating the Green Family: galbanum, rose abs. (yep, believe it or not it’s also got some pretty cool green aspects to it), hexanal C6 aldehyde & proprionate for class. I have other raw materials within this family but these are the ones that came with the study materials so I have to stick to these within the context of the course.

Don’t get freaked out by the names, they’re just natural isolates. The course I’m following only uses naturals or natural isolates, no synthetics.

The first stage of evaluation was just about getting to know all of them, getting the nose acquainted with a new scent. The objective this round is to evaluate them with 3 criteria in mind: Volatility, to further imprint the olfactory impression upon the brain and to get to know the chemical components.  Here are my impressions:

Galbanum: starts off green, piercing, bright, golden, light, summer, innocent, paper undertones, crisp, clean, honest, it sort of jumps up and slaps you in the face, doesn’t even ask permission.

Proprionate: this is a natural isolate found in mango fruit.  Off the top I got rose (!), floral, bright, limpid, pink (this could be the way my nose interprets the fruity aspect at this stage in my olfactory training), lush, sleek, almost abstract.  I did get, the green aspect too, laced with an edgy, aggressive quality.

Rose absolute: started off light, greenish, floral of course, like a spring garden, delicate and creamy.

Aldehyde C6: a natural isolate of Angelica seed, but also occurs naturally in artemesia, ginger root, guava fruit and rose otto.  I got fresh, green grass, pungent, pear, leafy, watery, water(melon), cucumbery.

I’m letting each dry down for 6 hours before evaluating for volatility, but these were my first impressions.

The scentual collage I included sort of looks like an exclamation mark and though it was not intentional it is so fitting.  The green notes for me are like an exclamation mark, used to exaggerate another note, I can see these really needing restraint.