The Feel Good Factor

calesthenics Next spring I will have been at this for three years but have never discussed what is to me, the decisive reason for either wearing and keeping a perfume or letting it go: how it makes me feel.

Just to define a term or two here, I mean does the perfume make you feel healthy? Does it promote a sense of well being? Does it induce that feeling of being at home and happy in your own skin?  Or does it, alternatively, give you an uneasy sense that you may have sprayed on something too synthetic, something just the faintest bit nauseating? 

The small rebellion of the nose, the miniature flinch, the nasal registering of “this is a no-go area” has been the real reason why many fragrances that other folks love have never found a home on my skin. I’ll bet that I’m not alone in this reaction either.

Whole perfume houses have bit the dust in this manner for me.  Guerlain is a case in point. Many of their scents give me headaches, and I approach the house with caution now.  Even the beautiful and supposedly discontinued*Apres L’Ondee gives me a sense that I’m wearing something infinitesimally toxic.  And what do you know? I just can’t rock Apres.  The perfume remains beautifully mauve, while underneath its gauzy heliotrope wings, I turn a nasty shade of puce.

Instead I go for perfumes that make me feel wonderful.  You’d be surprised at some of the candidates here.  One Guerlain stands out from the line-up, Tokyo from the Parfums de Voyage series.   This always clears my head and makes my day.

Another odd but compellingly good choice is Caron’s Tubereuse, the dry tuberose with an earthy undertone, and I love Honore des Pres Love Coco for its comforting roughness and slight vanilla tinge. Several Dawn Spencer Hurwitz fragrances fit this bill.  Nourooz is a marvelous sophisticated fruity incense fragrance that is stunning and natural and lasting.  Prana is her ashram visit of a scent, excellent to sleep in, particularly if you like patchouli (which I do). Maroma Men’s Olibanum Citrus is another fine choice, extremely reasonably priced (49.99 for 50mls at Whole Foods) but a cheerful, sparkling, sinus clearing citrus oriental, more lasting than many natural perfumes, which deserves to be better known.

Another peculiar choice of mine is Idole, Lubin’s masculine which is sugar, rum, wood, and who cares what else?  Idole’s great, and works like a hot toddy if you feel a cold coming on. As to the other scents, a surprising number of old Carons make me feel good too, although I do find that Narcisse Noir has a slightly poisonous undertone to the sillage which is integral to the effect of the scent, although a deal breaker for moi.

A list though is beside the point, because I guess that the perfumes that make one individual feel his or her best vary tremendously, because so do our individual make-ups.  This is a series of choices that are as unique as our tastes in food. One person’s Brussels sprouts are another person’s asparagus.

This all came to mind because I’m doing my annual cleaning out of the perfume cupboard, and that means a reassessment of what every scent does on my skin.  The ones that have stayed are the ones that have made me feel good. There’s not a headache left in any of my bottles.

* This was rumored by a commenter on Fragrantica, but I find no evidence, and Apres is still the Guerlain website.

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6 thoughts on “The Feel Good Factor

  1. It’s the extrait version of Apres l’Ondee that has been discontinued (they couldn’t make it comply with IFRA regs, according to Victoria at BdJ). The EDT just isn’t carried at many places anymore, but, as you say, it’s still in production.

    Will have to give the Olibanum Citrus a sniff when I’m next at Whole Foods — “sparkling, sinus clearing citrus oriental” sounds pretty good to me.

  2. The demise of Apres L’Ondee is sad indeed, and don’t believe that I’ve smelled the extract since the eighties. Certainly seems to go for astronomical amounts on Ebay.

    Olibanum Citrus smells like a variation on Habit Rouge, but more straight-forward, pretty natural, and I think I caught that it was made or the company was based in India. No big surprise that perfume entrepreneurs from the sub-continent are turning out good stuff- considering the length of their fragrance traditions :-)

  3. The frustrating thing for me is that the feel-good shifts from season to season–and when the same season comes back, I don’t necessarily like what I liked last time. This has a dangerous perfume-hoarderingesque effect. :) I think that the only perfume that has always left me feeling good is Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale. It’s not my very favorite–there are several others that beat it out of the top five, though it’s in the top ten–but it’s the one that’s most reliably happy.

  4. Usually trying to suppress my own perfume hoarding tendencies-so I know what you mean!

    You’re right that it does change from season to season. You can always just go with it, to misquote John Lennon, “Perfume is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” :-)

  5. For the most part perfume enhances my mood, makes me at one with myself, and generally adds rather than detracts. That is when I am not extremely stressed, mind you, when nothing will rectify the situation and I forget to wear perfume, and it would probably make me feel worse if I did. The other exception is when randomly testing things I may encounter something a little jarring. And occasionally a scent in my collection has the same effect, which usually means that ‘flittersniffer’ is on the turn / move again!

    • Like the notion of “perfume making you feel at one” with yourself-a good description of the opportune perfume choice!

      The jarring experiences have gotten so jarring, that I now often test solely on paper or cloth, skin I reserve for the best candidates only. I have gotten pickayune, and it’s all to avoid that awful feeling of “scrub that off right now” toxicity.

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