Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Makes You Hate A Perfume?

Patty and Anita from Perfume Posse posted a hilarious list of what they consider the Worst Perfumes Ever Made. This, of course, is a very personal subject. I can clutch my pearls as much as I want, but to Patty's nose Shalimar is an abomination and no one can argue with that. Reading and chuckling ("The official perfume of Mordor") made me ask myself what makes me and others react so badly to certain perfumes.

"Hate" is a strong word. I smell a lot of dreck on a regular basis, and my tolerance and willingness to sniff and resniff have actually increased. There are many perfumes I wouldn't mind not to wear ever again, but I usually stop caring after a good shower. Thus, I wouldn't classify my reluctance to wear them as hatred. The fragrances I do despise, though, make me react in a very different way, bordering on anger. So, what makes one hate a perfume?

It can be an unpleasant association. A painful memory, a person from the past who used to wear a certain perfume. I'm thankful that the worst boss I ever had didn't wear perfume (as a matter of fact, all I remember from this mini-Satan is her sharp B.O.). Now that I think of it, this particular category of hated perfumes is completely empty in my case. Somehow, the truly evil in my life went scentless.

Then there are the perfumes that simply smell bad (to me). It's not anything in particular; they just do. Smelling someone wearing Angel makes me want to throttle her. No, Dear, you don't smell yummy. You stink. The same goes for Giorgio Beverly Hills. Another total stinker is Secretion Magnifique.  I never met anyone who wore it and I hope to keep it that way, as blood and dirty laundry water do nothing for my disposition.

Another category is the Evil Note. I have a dear friend who hates patchouli in almost every form. The husband is ultra-sensitive to cumin (hello, Serge Noire and L'Artisan Oud), my sister cringes when I wear anything with lots of oakmoss, and I abhor melon notes and 99.9% of anything aquatic. This includes Hermes Un Jardin Apres la Mousson, Parfums DelRae Emotionelle, L'Eau d'Issey, Calvin Klein Escape, and the majority of the men's counters at Macy's.

And Diorissimo. There, I said it. It's that particular muguet note that gets to me in the worst possible way.

The smell and feel of cheap low-quality materials is another reason I may hate a perfume. I get angry every time I pass by a Victoria's Secret fragrance/body product display. I know the brand is not really responsible to all that's wrong with the American market, at least not singlehandedly, but it's a glaring reminder. Of course, what screams "cheap!" to me is not a universal thing. Some people, my mother included, will tell you that my beloved animalic notes on their dirty facets smell cheap to them. There's a reason Tabu got its reputation (personally I love it with all my heart), and many will probably list it in their "hate" column.

I save a special place in perfume hell to modern thin and generic fragrances that have a pretentious label and/or an utterly undeserving price tag that reflects  the cost of advertising, marketing, and over-the-top packaging. Some of By Kilian's most recent offering fall into this category (Asian Tales, Garden of Good and Evil). Just as infuriating to me are major fashion designers who slap their labels on inferior juice. Michael Kors Very Hollywood is just one bad example of many. I'm sure you can all come up with more.

Those were the main reasons that make me deeply dislike a perfume. What are yours?

Photo from Flash Gordon, 1940.


  1. I really have an aversion to perfumes that smell, at least to me, like bubble gum and fruits. A lot of the popular perfumes smell like that to me. I also don't really like scented products that smell like food. I don't want to smell like cranberries, peppermint, gingerbread, vanilla, chocolate cake, bananas, etc. or any combination thereof. I swear it's a subliminal encouragement to eat too. Yes obesity in America is due to food scented soaps, lotions and body washes! lol

  2. I don't mind the usual suspects: Melon, aquatic (I actually like Cool Water!), and strong gourmands, all are okay with me, even though I rarely wear them myself.

    Which perfume do I hate the most? Juicy Couture, no contest. It's the fake-smelling, thin-yet-sharp tuberose that I can't stand. And I swear I smell pickles in there too! Just vile. And it's sadly popular, which means that I have to endure it everywhere,
    Pleasures is a close second. It may very well be made of high-quality materials, but to me it's flowery laundry detergent.
    So I suppose I find artificial-smelling floral accords especially offensive.

    PS: I completely agree about Secretions Magnifiques. Upon trying that one, I very nearly retched all over the floor at Henri Bendel.

  3. I HATE ANGEL!!!!! It is the perfume equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

    1. Oh god I despise it. My stepdaughter douses herself in it. It makes me want to scream. I can smell it on everything đŸ˜©

  4. There's only a couple of perfumes I actively dislike. Hoewever, Youth Dew smells so bad on me that I can't leave it on. Also, to my mind, it smells nothing like youthfulness! Shouldn't such a perfume smell greener?

  5. I guess slutty smells good on me? Because I adore Marc Jacobs perfumes. I hate Tresor. With a passion. I know there are loads more but that one stands out most. Seriously dislike the Lady Gaga one too.

  6. I hate almost all fruit accords - totally agree on the new Killians, they smell so cheap. Red beeries deserve a special mention here. Melon and water accords kept me out of perfume and into aromatherapy for a decade, until I find you guys. Also hate the so-called laundry musks. JL Glow is the worst thing I have ever smelled.

  7. Most, if not all, "fruity", "candy" and "gourmand" notes make me gag. This is closely linked to the fact that even as a child, I disliked candy and sweets (I only ate ice cream). I didn't even eat chocolate until I discovered dark chocolate. Also, some florals rub me the wrong way too (I love L'Eau d'Issey but it makes me sneeze; I must be allergic to something in it).

    Predictably, once I really got into perfume I progressed quickly to the "scary" stuff. Wearing MKK today and absolutely loving it :D

  8. I'm into Oriental scents and especially dislike Aquatic scents and fruity scents. Overly flowery scents too. Also, I know I lot of people who love Bath and Body Works and Victoria Secret. I can stand the smell, barely, but I wouldn't be caught wearing it

  9. I can't stand a chassis, plum, or berry note in perfume. No matter what, it ruins every other not. No matter what the other notes are, it becomes all I smell. Also hate cumin, it stinks on me, adds a b/o note to the scent.

  10. Tuberose makes me gag, and I can turn orange blossom into cat pee... Well, the last one I couldn't scrub off fast enough : Ellie Saab!

  11. There are a lot of things I don't like in a fragrance, but the one that really turns me off are big, loud, white florals. When Giorgio was all the rage, I worked in a law office that catered to the upper classes of society in my area. When the wives came in, they had just BATHED in the stuff! When they went into the conference room and shut the door, the scent continued to ooze under the door like an evil spirit. When they left, it would linger for hours and hours and hours. I realize that big white florals are the thing for a lot of perfumistas, but my nose just turns them rank.

    However, I will give everybody a hint about the much-hated Youth Dew - well, first of all, you can't spray it on - you have to do a tiny dab. But my favorite thing is to put a tiny drop of the bath oil on a cotton ball, let it dry and then put it in my purse. Then whenever I would open my purse at a checkout, the cashier would usually look around and say *What smells so good?* The smell would be nice and soft.

  12. I'm as old as the earthy smelling hills and I'm angered every time I smell what they are now passing off as my old favorites. The teenage fragrance spritzers that rattle off the notes of my old (new) fragrances from the aisles of department stores wouldn't know oakmoss if it snuck up and bit them. I haven't bought a "new" fragrance in years, maybe decades. I've been so disappointed in the trends, I just don't bother anymore. I'm still mad that Donna discontinued Chaos. Where I live people (men and women) are still dousing themselves in patchouli in attempts to cover a lack of cleanliness. The result is the nauseating combination of patchouli and body odor. Anyone would take that vanilla, berry cookie water from Bath & Body over that. Oddily I seem to dislike fragrances that come in purple/lavendar bottles. I hate them even before I smell them. Call me a snob, but I also wouldn't even give an inch on my wrist to try a "celebrity" fragrance. Sorry, but I was "born this way". . I don't like the trend that feminine fragrances should be comprised of fruit, vanilla, chocolate, berries, candy and all things nice. Give me something full of leather, vetiver, moss, old rose, booze, spice and then snuff out a cig in it and I'm happy. This usually takes me to ebay, antique malls and the men's fragrance section if I'm wanting something new....or old.

  13. I hate aggressively fresh laundry musks, fruit/candy/cupcakes/bubblegum accords, and whatever is in chypres that feels like a stiletto being poked up my nose.

  14. Cloying celeb sweet perfumes - Britney Spears Fantasy comes to mind.

    Cheap musk - J Lo Glow, BS Curious and some Hilary Duff perfume my little sister wore.

    Angel really is hell in a bottle - a girl sitting in front of me in work wears it.

  15. Cloying candy smell - Britney Spears Fantasy

    Cheap musk - BS Curious and J Lo Glow

    Angel - its just so bad!

  16. You know, I used that word "hate" a little loosely. Part of my drama queen nature. :)

    While there were a lot on that list that I really just don't like smelling, my hate is reserved for mainstream companies that make enough money off of a bottle of perfume to put some decent raw ingredients in it instead of a bunch of cheap filler that most people are now identifying as a generic "perfume" smell that they want banned in the workplace, in more public places, and that trend will continue.

    I want to tell them, hey, so do I! The mainstream perfume industry seems quite content to kill itself off by continuing to alienate people who really don't hate perfume - they just hate perfume made of cheap ingredients that all smell the same and pollute close-in airspace.

  17. I mentioned over there that I hate Lutens Clair de Musc. It remind me of Mom's basement laundry room and the horrible cheap powdered detergent that she used. And beyond that, the smell brings me back to that incredibly dreary room and the fact that Mom never, in the (lemme do the math here...) thirty-five years that she was in that house, did or tolerated even one little thing to make it - "it" being not just the laundry room, but the house and to some extent her life as a whole - any less dreary.

    That's a lot of memory for one little perfume to carry, so I suppose it explains why I hate it. :) It smells like opportunity lost and joy resisted.

  18. @chickenfreak : I think we grew up in the same house. The reason why I love the sheer beauty of perfume is it combats memories of my dingy childhood...AA

  19. My husband tells a story of going on a first (and last) date with someone who is a fond acquaintance of mine and she looked great but was wearing Eau d'Issey which to him was like "cat piss" and he couldn't be near her! I just love it that it is really supposed to smell like "nothing" and she is a professional minimalist! I don't share his hatred of scents like that, but the chemical laden "girl" smells mentioned by so many here, as well as anything fruity and sweet sends me running. Additionally Fracas makes me want to throw up.......i imagine that the original wasn't like this at all, anyone have a vintage version??? Tuberose in most versions (synthetic?) has this effect on me, but not Aftelier's natural Cepes Tuberose which I love! Go figure!

  20. My personal dislikes (I also hate the hate word): Giorgio, Fantasy by Britney Spears, almost all of the J-Lo perfumes, and Obsession for women, I actually like Obsession for men. There are also some perfumes I originally disliked that I now like such as; Tresor and Carolina Herrera.


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