Monday, October 21, 2013

Perfume oils in my collection

Coming soon: thoughts and images from my trip to China, and the earlier trip to Greece, and from the Gothenburg book fair, where I met three wonderful Filipino colleagues.
But first, some text that I already have on hand. I'm beginning to notice that, every time I think to update this blog with something I've already written, it turns out to be some frivolous stuff about perfume. Testing new perfumes and writing reviews about them is a great hobby -- something I devote more hours to that I'm willing to admit. In Scandinavia it's also a bit of a vice -- the culture here could even be described as anti-perfume, with "fragrance free" being the selling point for loads of bodycare products and makeup. I hardly wear perfume when I go out, for this reason.
Anyway, the perfume aficionado website to which I belong has a message board. Here there's been a slew of posts about perfume oils, how long they last compared to alcohol-based fragrances, how best to apply them, and how they smell. There's a whole range of perfume oils from the Middle East and India, where the use of alcohol in products is unpopular for religious and/or cultural reasons. Western-leaning perfumistas are only just discovering them. 

The chief attraction -- to me, at least -- is that they smell weird.  They are lush and over-the-top. Many of them have oud (synthetic in the cheapest), a component that Western designers are just discovering and exploiting. I'm one to be intrigued and excited by strangeness, and to me the strangest of all is that the same heavily floral- oriental- woody perfume is marketed to men as well as women.

My own experience with perfume oils is modest. Last year I bought a score of 6ml roll-ons from al-Rehab, and added to my collection of "inspired-by" oils available on a British website (which, by the way, thanks to tighter Royal Mail rules, no longer ships outside the UK, so that's the end of collecting for me). Here, some reviews of a few of the al-Rehabs in my collection, for those who may be interested in this brand. Their products sell for very little, by the way.

Now, my reviews.


It is a light floral fragrance (mainly a transparent sort of rose) overlaid with some very disconcerting and very pronounced synthetic oud. I associate oud with heavy, sweet, woody or ambery scents, so the treatment is quite different here. The oud is the first thing you smell, even from the bottle, and it remains a definite presence the entire time the fragrance lasts, even though the rose eventually takes the fore. An acquired taste. Just outside the borders of my comfort zone, but I wouldn't mind my closet smelling like this, with the scent lingering on my clothes. EDIT: This lasts quite a while. After washing my hands, I could still smell the somewhat lemony rose, but not the oud.