Monday Question – What Bugs You About Perfume?

What is your pet peeve when it comes to perfume?

Is there anything in Perfumeland that irks you?

Are there certain fragrances, houses or marketing techniques that set your teeth on edge?

Is there something about the world of perfume that bothers you? Irritates you? Makes you angry?


My Answer:

What I hate when it comes to the world of perfume these days is the massive overload of products. Too many launches, too little quality, creativity and character in the juice hiding behind a wall of marketing, publicity and business strategy.

Endless trends mindlessly copied (I need only three letters: oud), indistinguishable juice as characterless, bland and unidividual as a Borg drone (Hey there, fellow Startrek Fans!), naked ladies smiling vacantly next to a bottle bearing a very long, but utterly senseless name and finally there is the third flanker of a flanker of a flanker.

Maybe not a very positive way to start the week, but a little rant can be good for the soul. 😉 So please share yours!

What are your fragrant grievances?


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83 Responses to Monday Question – What Bugs You About Perfume?

  1. judith dm says:

    The sappy stories invented to ‘describe’ the fragrance, to market it, or the intent of the creator or company! Some are laughable!

  2. judith dm says:

    Celeb fragrances! I guess someone is buying them! Good grief! Well, have those two out! Other than these I could sniff and sample all day, everyday! I love living in a fragrant world!

  3. Tatiana says:

    The lack of quality in most newer fragrances bugs me. Not sure if it’s the lack of quality ingredients or if the manufacturer’s are so intent on making a buck that they think we won’t notice the difference. Also the idea that we need to be protected from allergens, so they ban or limit ingredients that add depth and soul to fragrances. If they’re so worried about it, put a label on the box that says this product contains ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction, please do a patch test first and discontinue use if irritation occurs.
    Also the endless reformulations that are cheaper smelling. And the sales associates insistence that nothing is changed and the perfume is the same. Yeah right.

    • Undina says:

      Yes, please, can the Surgeon General (or whatever equivalent they have in France) just warn us about the dangers and be done with it? It works great for tobacco, alcohol and peanuts – all the much more dangerous stuff.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Yeah right indeed. I hate to be thought stupid as well and things like that make me feel like I am taken for a ride.
      So with you on the warning label!!!

      • beautycalyptique says:

        poor ingredients are just what happens when art becomes industry! a sad picture…

        and regarding allergens – yes, those lurk pretty much everywhere, but they aren’t the biggest problem in reformulations. several perfumers told me it’s due to the fact that most of the ingredients have never been checked for toxicity (not just allergies, mind you), and so really harsh stuff can hide in a bottle. thus the suggested warning label should actually read “can cause nausea, headaches, fainting, or infertility”.
        GROSS 😦

        I believe that real artistry can thrive on a tox-free ground just as many good examples show.

  4. cookie queen says:

    Oh yeah ……. great question. Over-priced, mediocre crap (can I say cr*p??), marketed as the best thing since whatever. Those that call themselves niché, hoping for cool customers, those who launch fragrances with more money than talent. Gorgeous bottles with blah perfume. The gushing reviews that often accompany the releases. I call it The Emperor’s New Perfume Syndrome. I could go on but I have dough to make!
    Bussis. xxxxx

  5. Jordan River says:

    That so many of them smell like bug spray.

  6. I think you have covered all of mine very succinctly! I agree with everything you say, especially the nonsensical names, and the sheer overwhelming amount of it all. It would be easy to get jaded, and I am very I am not a beauty editor writing copy for some magazine like Marie Claire, where you utter nothing but mumbo jumbo about what it essentially usually just a load of old rubbish.

  7. Undina says:

    I can deal with almost everything getting just mildly annoyed – endless new releases, flankers to seasonal flankers, poor quality and taste (with all those supersexualized ads) and beating that oud horse beyond being dead. With what Dior did with their iconic Miss Dior I still cannot come to terms. Not only they stole the name from the original beautiful perfume and gave it to the third derivative of something that might have been interesting many years ago. But now in their ads they shamelessly say that this abomination’s history started in 1947 (! And I’ve already met several people who had no idea that there was any other Miss Dior. This bothers me a lot. I hate when people rewrite history on any level.

  8. Azar says:

    I am partial to the vintage and the discontinued because most of what is new or what survives is simply cr*p (thank you, Cookie) that smells like bug spray (thank you, Jordan) or hair spray or nail varnish or fruity shampoo or fabric softener or…… Reminds me of the old saying “All you have to do is lift the lid to know that the can is full of garbage”.

  9. annemariec says:

    So many good comments already. To which I will just add: Le Labo city exclusives.

  10. Ines says:

    My greatest peeve is prices. It seems they are going up and the quality/creativity is going down.
    Not for all brands of course, but this is a general idea I get.

  11. Dubaiscents says:

    I completely agree with what everyone has mentioned but, I will add a couple more of my own. The fact that samples are getting harder and harder to come by. Instead of being offered as a way to try something new they are given (and often begrudgingly) as a “gift with purchase”. At least over here, the SA seem to guard them as if they are their own children. I guess when a brand launches a new scent every few months and has to spend millions on the celebrity ad campaign there is no money left for samples. Also, the trend of offering “limited editions” at much higher than the already very expensive normal line. I am very guilty of falling for this one but, that is not to say I like it 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Oh yes, thanks for mentioning the samples. I hate when I get a look of mild headshaking amusement when I dare ask for a sample, as if that was a completely foreign notion.

    • Alice says:

      Agree completely – it’s an insult to our intelligence that they seem to think we are more likely to be swayed by a celeb advert, than by a chance to try out the product with a sample. If the product is good enough, the sample would be all that is needed.

  12. poodle says:

    Too many new releases of perfumes that all smell alike, lack of companion products for layering scents like lotions or creams, and poor longevity. If a perfume has low lasting power and a high price it really makes me mad.

  13. Alexandra says:

    The only thing that is really bugging me at the moment in perfume world is the British Postal systems approach to perfume. I haven’t risked sending perfume since the restrictions were put in place and I miss it – I miss the fun and excitement of swap events!

    Oh and the hairspray note – whatever it is my skin loves to amplify it and I hate it.

    Oh and I completely agree with the warning label idea – we are all grown-ups after all (most of the time). Hummm maybe I had a few after all!

  14. Alice says:

    The gender stereotyping in the branding and advertisements!
    Sales assistants that hover over me when I’m hoping for a quite few minutes of spraying and sniffing
    And I dislike and boycott firms that only sell in large, expensive, bottles, (especially combined with a mean samples policy – do they really expect me to buy 100ml without having given it a good trial run at home?).

  15. Mihaela U says:

    Oh… this is a question with so many answers.

    What bugs me?
    Launch after launch, after launch and another launch….. who can keep up with so many new launched perfumes? I know I gave up! Usually because it is nothing new!
    It bugs me that most of the perfume launched recently or launched in the last years are fruity-floral, it kills me when I walk into Sephora and I am greeted with the launch of a less floral and more fruity perfume with no personality. It bugs me that the only perfume who will survive in the mass market that are not fruity florals will only survive because they are iconic and have a history like NO.5 or L’Air Du temps. Why do I say this? Simple, because I started discovering vintage perfumes and it is very striking how different vintages are: chypre, green chypre, aldehydes, heavy florals, compared with “bubbly” fruity-florals that almost smell the same. Many of these vintages are now discontinued or reformulated for good, so I will get to enjoy them for a few years but I will be stuck with a market full of bland fruity florals for so many years to come.

    The names and the marketing annoy me. Lets copy Flowerbomb Eau de Toilette, make it louder, sweeter and very annoying and call it “La vie est Belle”, lets pay Julia Roberts to represent it, so older audiencences will believe they can also use it even if it smells like a perfume for very immature teenagers. And this is just one example. The marketing tricks bug me so bad, using a celebrity, to help sell a new lauched mediocre product is so bad.

    Flankers? Yes Sir! I remember the days when Thierry Mugler used to launched an interesting flanker for Alien. I thought they will stop at some point, but no… the flankers keep coming and they are sadly lacking in quality. In my personal opinion the Queen of Flankers is Givenchy, because they are launching flankers for the already launched flankers!

    What bug me the most are: reformulations and good perfume that have been discontinued. These are the issues that bug me the most. Good perfumes like Baiser Du Dragon, Blonde, Organza Indecence and others are off the market for good and mediocre perfumes are here to stay.

    I apologise for the long comment…. these are just a part of the things that bug me.

  16. haefennasiel says:

    What Judith dm said – there are way too many celebuscents being released nowadays! Even some of the local soap opera stars in my country have them! What makes it worse is a majority of this stuff have become money-making schemes for these so-called “celebrities”. >=P

    • Olfactoria says:

      Right, money is all that there is to it, what is actually in the product is completely irrelevant as long as somebody buys the bottle with the smiling face of some 5-minute celebrity on it.

  17. Sassa says:

    It would be interesting to hear things from a perfume provider’s perspective. I wonder what the SAs have to say about us, the consumers. Or the marketing perspective. I recently read an interesting interview with Andy Tauer, where he spoke about perfumistas and their influence.
    Sorry, didn’t mean to throw everyone OT with my musings,,,,,

  18. masha7 says:

    Two things– the silliness of “niche” right now, and functional scent vs. fine perfume. I cannot detect the difference between most “niche” and department store ‘fumes these days. Indie artisans are the only ones who have surprised me at all for several years now. And the second, the blur between functional products, like laundry dryer sheets, and “fine perfume” is now total. No difference. I am working on my first bespoke perfumes for friends for their wedding, and it’s been frustrating because the bride wants to smell like a laundry dryer sheet and the groom, who has interesting perfume tastes from years of world travel, wants to smell like a more masculine dryer sheet so he won’t offend his bride! So I’m working on a “dryer sheet accord”. The scariest part is that they equate “clean scents” with “natural”, but natural scents like real jasmine or oakmoss make their noses wrinkle in disgust. Macrocyclic musks are anything but natural. Yikes!! Maybe modern American brides should simply line their white gowns with dryer sheets? It would be more economical….

    • Olfactoria says:

      Argh, the dryer sheet problem! Horrible, but unfortunately it is taking over. I want to congratulate you on making bespoke perfumes, but the style that is requested is not really what you love to do, I believe… I’m sure you’ll make them wonderful laundry scents though. 🙂

  19. Jackie b says:

    I am just watching a TV interview with One Direction, and agree with everyone who has posted above about celebuscents… who have no interest and no idea about fragrance, it is just another product of merchandise. I just want to smack them upside the head…oh oh, child abuse!
    And does this feed into the un-education of people who think they should smell of dryer sheets?
    (I have never smelled these actually, not having a dryer.)

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hahahaha, child abuse! 😀
      I don’t know what it is with the obsession about those dryer sheets either (I never smelled real ones either, but I can imagine, I think…)

  20. lucasai says:

    I don’t like the idea of perfume “geolocalisation” when certain scents are assigned to be only available at a certain part of the world. I’m looking at you Le Labo City Exclusives and all lines launches especially for the Arabian countries.

  21. janeykate says:

    I can’t bear the smell of ‘Angel’ perfume by Thierry Mugler, purely personal. Or vanilla base to a perfume, I find it too sickly sweet. Again, purely personal.
    Jane x

  22. The way that good floral perfumes are gone. No lilac (except for Roja Dove’s and that is waaay expensivo) not much carnation, and freesias are gone too. Are they too expensive? Don’t smell like Coco Mademoiselle? What’s up with that?

    • Olfactoria says:

      I don’t think they are too expensive, but just out of style? I think Soliflores are seen as somewhat quaint and old-fashioned at the moment, which is really sad.

  23. Dionne says:

    A lot of what everyone has said already, but another one that goes beyond bugging me to actually making me wonder if there’s a conspiracy: naturals being banned all over the place but the new synthetics have a go. Like Kafka mentioned a while back, real oakmoss is only allowed if less than .1% of a formula, but isoE can be up to 21.4% of a formula. Really??

  24. Vanessa says:

    I think most of my peeves have been mentioned already, and can be summed up as:

    Puff and nonsense
    Inflation (price and image)
    Trepidation (the postal nonsense!)
    Obfuscation (of ingredients principally, and whether adulterated)

    I could go on, but am filing this from the optician’s chair!

  25. beautycalyptique says:

    well, well, a rant on a monday is just right to get us all going 😀

    what bugs me as a perfume aficionado is surely some of the above (marketing voodoo; silly gazillion launches a year; idiotic stories; reformulations from hell; celebrity scents; fake stories à la “we’re a manufacture”). and I think I haven’t read “discontinuing”? but this is really annoying. you find a great juice, and then they go and stop it.

    and if we think further, isn’t it just a bit creepy how the fragrance industry is taking over artistry? perfumers create scent recipes and hold them on stock, just waiting for a client to pop up and say “I want something for an urban woman who likes fashion and high heels”. the result is then marketed with another hot sauce story. but not many brands have a real in-house nose anymore.
    (the aforementioned fragrance industry of course shapes the things we eat, wear, and drive as well; but that’s another can of worms.)

    • Olfactoria says:

      Discontinuation is a major point of contention, thanks for mentioning it!

      Hermès is one of the very few houses still employing an in-house nose, maybe that is why I love it so. 🙂

      • beautycalyptique says:

        yes, monsieur ellena sure knows what he’s doing. I have also never experienced dizzyness, nausea, or headache with their juices as of yet – and I’ve had so many of them, all “men’s”, several “women’s” and three (or four?) hermessence.
        (re my other comment on toxicity)

  26. ringthing says:

    Oh, what a great topic! I agree with everyone else about everything! Someone else may have mentioned this already but it irks me no end when established mainstream brands introduce “prestige” lines that are generally no better than their regular stuff, just even more expensive. The high cost of the juice, samples, shipping is esp annoying since I have no access to brick and mortar perfume shopping.

  27. Bee says:

    I guess I’m repeating what you have all already said: too many new launches, too many celebrity scents, too many sexual innuendos in ads, more money spent on packaging than on the scent, too many ignorant perfume sales assistants (sorry: there also are some very knowledgable and charming SAs: you people stand out – congratulations),new launches of tantalizing scents in some continents and not others…

  28. Hannah says:

    The quest for “inoffensive”. The ads can be soft porn, the copy reading like a harlequin, but when it comes to the actual scent, it seems that the goal is to smell of… nothing, really. Laundry musk, light florals, faint woods, impressionistic gourmands, etc. I’ve always seen perfume as something of an acceptably hedonistic pleasure, something designed to be truly sensory or sensual. Now there’s such a fear that having a personality may offend someone that the perfume’s personality is cut out. Sensuality is traded for the thin veneer of photoshop “perfection” . I fear that this mentality has taken over our cultural mindset in general, this praising of uniformity over individuality. If I think about it, though, similar sentiments have been expressed throughout art for a couple hundred years at least. Perhaps the only way to combat it is to personally communicate appreciation for the imperfectly lovely?

    “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion” – Shakespeare

  29. Santa says:

    My pet peeve is perfumers who only sell their stuff in bottles of 100ml or more. I am sure there are very good reasons (from their point of view) why they do it, but I just don’t need that much of anything. If everybody offered 30ml bottles, I’d be buying more of those and fewer decants.

  30. sherapop says:

    Well, since all of my grievances have already been aired, perhaps I’ll be the devil’s advocate and say: perfumistas who seem to think that the perfume industry owes them something–or anything!

    My fragrant friends: these are BUSINESSES, and the people who run them are out to make some money. They will do whatever they think will help them to achieve that goal. (See: all of the above grievances…) 😉 Decant-hoarding perfumistas are not these people’s paramount concern, needless to say…

    • Olfactoria says:

      Well, I think as a consumer I do not have to care for the business side, I care about the product. And if a business is only out for the money it will invariably show in the product and it is my choice not to hand over my hard earned money for that. Thankfully there are a few companies out there whose ideals range a bit farther than “How can I make a fortune while investing the minimum?”. They understand that it is not only about business, but about being proud of what you do, of what you create and being able to stand behind it. It is my honest belief that in the long term this attitude will prevail.
      You may call me naive. 🙂

      • sherapop says:

        I do hope that you are right, but I cannot say that I’m optimistic. The dryer sheets comment, above, is very telling: consumers are being trained to believe that home cleaning and laundry scents are true perfumes!

        Once the the pre-Y2K crowd (those of us who cherish “old lady perfume”) has expired, who will be left but persons whose concept of perfume was forged by the abstract juice being pumped out from factories and peddled all over the world in decorative bottles with bows on top?

        For now, we can be happy that there are a few hold-outs, and they should keep us well-scented as the larger perfume world continues to move inexorably ahead, removing (as far as I can tell) all natural essences from mainstream and some “niche” perfumes as well.

  31. fleurdelys says:

    I second all your grievances, and will add one of my own: Perfumers who are disdainful of perfumistas/perfumeos. You would think perfumers would be delighted that there is a passionate and ever-growing crowd of educated fragrance consumers. But no, they are so used to working behind a veil of mystery (and very often b.s.) that they resent perfume fans who have the audacity to want to know what goes into the product, and worst of all, to critique fragrances and their often- questionable ad campaigns. There is a don’t-worry-your-pretty-little-head-about-it attitude (Francis Kurkdjian, I’m looking at you) that irks me. We are their customers, and if they were smart they would be encouraging our interest and taking note of our critiques rather than insulting us.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Fleurdelys, I couldn’t have said it better myself!
      I competely agree with you. I’m tired of hearing that we don’t matter, that we shouldn’t have any ideas in our (pretty, little) heads about being even remotely relevant. It is Kurkdjian and there are others too and frankly, I’ve had it. This is something that really puts me off perfume.
      Sorry for the mini-rant, you hit a nerve! 🙂

      • fleurdelys says:

        No need to apologize! There’s nothing that makes me livid like reading yet another perfumer disrespecting the very people who keep them in business.

        Coincidentally, I just read a related post on Now Smell This:
        “The fragrance industry is one of the stupidest industries I’ve ever encountered. It is almost uniquely predicated on taking the customer for an idiot. Apple doesn’t sell its products on the basis that you and I are stupid. But the fragrance industry does.”
        — Luca Turin, quoted in A Talk With Luca Turin at

  32. Laurels says:

    I’m fairly new to this obsession, and still a bit starry-eyed. (Still downright excited to smell oud!) What bothers me is the sense I get that prices have risen and quality has fallen significantly in just the past few years. I feel as though I’ve arrived late to a wonderful party that is just breaking up.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Oh Laurels, I’m sorry you have this feeling, but all is not as bad as it sounds in this post. We are ranting a bit after all… 🙂
      There are still so many wonderful things to discover and fall in love with, it is not as bad as all that. Enjoy your journey!

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