Saturday, 30 August 2014

Perfume Saturdays: DKNY Be Delicious - A tale of skin chemistry

Back from my mini-holidays, with a review of a fresh summery scent that does not agree with my skin chemistry at all.


Untrained nose description: Fresh, fruity and summery. Not sweet at all. A little linear, but that's OK for a summer day scent. Apple, a hint of lemon, fresh soap (the clean-smelling type, not the oily type) and cucumber (or is it green melon?). Maybe some green tea. Would be a good shampoo/shower gel scent, as long as cucumber/green melon does not turn rancid and weird on your skin.

Bottle: Round, apple shaped, with apple green transparent lower half and silver upper half, spray-bottle, 50 ml. Simple and aesthetically pleasing.

Price: Mid-range. It was a gift. Seems to be going around 50-55 euros on department stores (the 50 ml bottle size).

Status:Still in production, originally from 2004.

Manufacturer:Donna Karan, USA?.

Sillage and longevity: Projects to arm's length, not sure how long it lasts as I scrubbed it off after an hour.

Personal opinion: Does not agree with my skin chemistry at all. Turns weird and very unpleasant on me. Cannot wear it. :(

A long time ago, I used to go swimming at the University (that long ago). Back then, I used to like a Garnier shampoo which smelled of green apples and was marketed for children. I would come out of the swimming pool shower smelling like fresh chlorine and apples, and it was rather nice. This is how I expected this fragrance to smell like.

I received DKNY Be Delicious a few years later. A friend of mine must have noticed how I smelled back then and was reminded of me by the promise of green apples this simple, beautiful bottle contained. And the first time I sprayed it to the air, I thought I smelled green apples and happily stashed it for summer (it was just after Christmas).

Summer came, I tried it and it was awful. Gone was the beautiful green apple. Instead, an awful artificial smell reminiscing of bug spray, something like synthetic cucumber overpowering all the rest and an unpleasant hint of ammonia. I hated it and could not understand what had happened.

Today I tried it again just after showering and solved the mystery: melon/cucumber notes turn weird on my skin.

I applied it after drying myself from the shower and it actually started OK. Finally I could smell again the green apple and a hint of lemon, and the cucumber was soft and not offending. A little soapy too. Not what I usually look for in perfume (more of a shower gel scent, or shampoo), but pleasing in a simple way.

Unfortunately, as my skin warmed up and started smelling like me (and I like my natural smell very much), the cucumber note turned weird, overpowering, synthetic and rancid.

My chemistry and this scent do not mix well. But I see that this scent could be nice on a different skin.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Be right back!

I'll be on a small week-long vacation, so no posts in the next few days. Really need to rest! When I'm back, I plan to keep investigating fragrances and reviewing the ones I own.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Nose in training: what you learn when you start noticing fragrances

(in the style of the famous 7 Quick Takes)

This week's Conversion Diary's 7 Quick Takes talk about fragrances! I cannot afford a set of essential oils like that "Oils of the Bible" one, but I have some samples/imps of BPAL's oils to be tested and some may have the notes/oils referred.

The "Oils of the Bible" are: 1) Aloes/sandalwood (Santalum album); 2) Cassia (Cinnamomium cassia); 3) Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica); 4) Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens); 5) Frankincense (Olibanum - Boswellia carteri); 6) Galbanum (Ferula gummosa); 7) Hyssop (Hyssopus officinallis); 8) Myrrh (Commifora myrrha); 9) Myrtle (Myrtus communis); 10) Onycha (Styrax benzoin); 11) Rose of Sharon/Cystus (Labdanum/Cystus ladanifer); 12) Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi).

Basenotes and Fragrantica are great sources of information. I have been taking notes of the classifications (floral, oriental, chypre, etc) and notes they refer in fragrances I have. The idea is to retry the perfumes with that knowledge and try to find the notes and understand the perfume family in a olfactory way, not just an intellectual way.

Speaking of Basenotes, the people in the forum are very helpful! I haven't tried the Fragrantica forum so that I do not overwhelm myself :)

So many smells in real life are more complex than they seem, if you pay attention! This week I ate an apple (I ate several, but this one is special) while paying attention to the olfactory experience. This particular apple is of a variety I hadn't eaten in a long time (this variety only exists in the summer as it doesn't keep well like other varieties).

Well, when biting into it, as I just cut the apple skin and the apple juice isn't yet coming to be tasted, I stopped. It smelled like dried mini roses, those very perfumed ones! Afterwards, when eating the apple, the perfume of the apple flesh (which in this variety is not so green, more of a warm fresh apple) covered this dried rose note, but if I bite slowly, there it is, just before the strong apple smell.

Other varieties of apple I tasted since then do not have a skin that is so fragrant, though.

I vaguely remember that in my mind Chypre (spelled like this or with an "i") has always been related to perfumes, specifically with high-end soap. Probably one of the "good soaps" that were used to perfume woolen clothes and avoid moths. I am sure we later used them as soaps. I am now curious about perfumed soaps, even though I am now a bit limited on their use.

The thing is: I have sensitive skin and in some skin areas I must be really careful on what I apply. I am lucky that it is not allergy per se, so as far as I choose the non-sensitive areas (I usually perfume my wrists now) I am OK.

In the matter of perfumed soaps and bath gels, unless they're specifically formulated for sensitive skin (and even in that case I have to test them carefully) I can only use them on my arms, legs and lower torso. My face, neck and upper torso (not all upper torso, just the front and back decolletage) are sensitive and lots of products that I can use elsewhere make me itch or make my skin red and scaly if I use them in those areas.

I miss being able to use perfume in my face and neck as I could before my late teens, when my skin changed a lot. But this is both an opportunity to enjoy perfume in a more deliberate way (wearing it on the wrists means I am not always smelling it, so I can re-smell it as it evolves with a "cleaner" nose) and also an opportunity to look into other sources of fragrance. And an opportunity to enjoy the very few perfumes which I can actually wear on my face and neck :)

Tricks I've learned from the few times I tried perfumes on my sensitive skin areas:

- The face is the most sensitive place, and the one where I've completely stopped using soaps and perfumes. I am lucky that some of the (expensive, alas!) face creams and specific gels and non-soapy cleaning bars have wonderful, non-sensitizing, natural perfumes. They usually do not last long (up to 30 minutes, except one or two cases which I can use as long as my skin is not breaking red, just the normal dryness and pinkness), but they do smell natural and great.

- I am also lucky that I like the smell of zinc oxide-based cosmetics (when my skin is better I could wear normal foundation, but I am lazy; when it is worse, it has to be mineral dry foundation and a spritz of chamomile water to set it).

- On my neck and decolletage I can sometimes wear alcohol-based fragrances, but the safest bet are usually oils or, even better, solid fragrances. I rarely wear any perfume there, though. But it is not impossible.

- I can wear perfume safely on my earlobes, but not always on my hair (some perfumes make my hair sting my upper back!).

- Finally, when you start using mostly unscented (the less-expensive products for sensitive skin are really unscented) products in an are so near to your nose, you start noticing your own smell. In a good way. I like my natural (clean) smell. And I found that in the summer, as long as you don't let sweat sit for too long and get rancid, it actually smells nice.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Perfume Saturdays: My first signature smell: "Don Algodón" EDT

My first review: the fragrance I wore for most days of my teens and until my early 20s, when I stopped wearing fragrance every day.


Untrained nose description: Floral and feminine. A girly smell that does not feel sickly sweet and is not out of place in an older (late 30s) woman. Not very sophisticated, uncomplicated, innocent but not too childish either. Does not smell of "shopping center perfume" (I wish I knew how to explain better).

Bottle: White glass cylinder with a blue round plastic cap and a blue plastic ring, splash-bottle, 100 ml. The bottle I had before had a white plastic cap and blue plastic ring. It was also a splash bottle in a smaller size.

Price: Cheap. Can be found in drugstores for a couple of tens of Euros. The shower gel and body lotion smell similarly and are also cheap, but sometimes cannot be found. A cheap "luxury" for myself.

Status:Still in production, seems to smell the same as in the early 1990s.

Manufacturer:Myrurgia, Spain.

Sillage and longevity: Projects to arm's length, does not last much (two hours, I guess). Good day/office fragrance, and when it disappears you can wear something more mature as an evening scent.

Personal opinion: Still enjoy wearing it. A comforting smell for me. Makes me feel calm :)

Before losing the habit of wearing perfume, in my early teens I went through a phase when I wore fragrance every day. This was my signature smell and the first I wore that was bought specifically for me. My mother took me to a perfume shop and the lady helpfully gave me some fragrances to smell. I took 2 samples home to wear and decide, and chose "Don Algodón". (I wish I knew what the other one was. It was a green, grassy smell which was delicious for Summer but not warm enough for Winter, so I did not choose that one.)

In my mind, it's like one of the baby fragrances of the early 80s had become grown-up. Not a very complex fragrance and even an untrained nose can see that it's not a high-end perfume. However, it does not smell of that horrible artificial volatile note (I wish I knew its name) that many of the perfumes being sprayed on paper samples in shopping centers since the early 2000s have (and that makes my stomach turn a little). It's simple, sweet and girly but not too babyish nor too candy-sweet either.

Suggestion for comments:

Anyone else wore it/still wears it? What are its notes? Any other reviews online?

Hello, World!

First posts are difficult to make interesting, so I won't even try.

Here I am: late 30s, woman, European, usually not a wearer of perfume/fragrances. Completely untrained in notes, smells and all the olfactory vocabulary I find in perfume blogs. Unwilling to spend fortunes in learning this language, yet curious about it.

So, I will try to learn a little and at least investigate the fragrances I have or know personally. In time, hopefully, I'll find out what I like and how to discover more perfumes to enjoy.