A Case of Perfume Tampering


Post by FeralJasmine


I am a fiend for vanilla perfumes, and will try nearly anything along that line. It happened not terribly long ago that I got a sample from one of the decant houses of a vanilla perfume from an independent perfumer, never mind which one. It was a pretty little perfume indeed, with some jasmine and fruit notes, a bit of bergamot, and a pleasant base of vanilla and white musk. For evening wear I love Tihota, the contralto diva of the vanilla world, but this one warbled along in a pleasant little alto. I decided that it would be perfect for office wear where my stronger vanillas won’t fly, and because I found it online at a bargain price I bought two small bottles.

A Case of Perfume Tampering

Mauritius Vanilla drying PixabayPhoto Stolen Pixabay

Unfortunately, it became clear when the bottles arrived that a rather major reformulation had taken place between the decant that I had previously purchased and the new bottles. Or maybe this perfume is subject to significant batch variation, but whatever the reason, I had two bottles of something that I did not care for at all. The opening was still pleasant and attractive, but the vanilla was rather distant and sour and faded quickly, leaving me with nothing much to notice after the first 30 minutes. Foolishly, I had opened and tried both bottles before I was sure that something was wrong, so there was no reasonable option of returning them.

After some thought, I decided that I had very little to lose, and so I began tampering with one of the bottles. Leaving the opening undisturbed, I added a little bit of vanilla CO2 extract, and a modest amount of a commercial perfumers accord called “vanilla bean accord,” which I obtained from The Perfumer’s Apprentice. After several good shakes, I had something that I could spray and enjoy in a low-key sort of way, and that ended in a lovely vanilla skin scent which lasted several hours. I will be able to use it as a work scent, and eventually will probably do the same to the other bottle. As a bonus, I wore it one evening at home, and my husband noticed early the next morning that it had bloomed into an even more full and beautiful vanilla skin scent.

Perfume Bottle PixabayPhoto Stolen Pixabay

I have read arguments against a simple intervention like layering, with some people feeling rather strongly that the perfume should be worn as created. All very well for perfumes that you like, but this was not one that I would ever have worn exactly as it came to me. And I clearly acknowledge that it would not be in any way okay to give out the name of the perfume, since I have altered it beyond recognition. However, for those of us who have some bottles sitting around that we don’t really care for and will never wear in their present iteration, is it wrong to make some creative changes? I don’t think so. It’s like changing a recipe; you can do anything you want with it, as long as you acknowledge that it is not exactly the recipe that the writer intended.

So I say, if you have aromachemicals and accords and essential oils and absolutes sitting around, and like so many of us you also have some perfumes that you are not wild about, but which have no significant resale value, go to town!

Have you ever tampered with a perfume? Do tell.

FeralJasmine xx

21 comments on “A Case of Perfume Tampering

  1. Jackie b says:

    Confession…I am a tamperer.
    There have been samples but not usually full bottles that I have, er, adjusted.
    But not with other perfumes. Like you I have a shelf of essential oils and some of those accords, favourites like vanilla accord and sandalwood.
    So I mix them up in little 5ml flasks that my husband brings home from work.
    Like alchemy…

    • FeralJasmine says:

      How delightful, Jackie! Wish I could smell some of your alterations.

    • FeralJasmine says:

      I like the idea that perfumers are alchemists and so are we. We alter and transmute perfumes by putting them on our skin, and also in more direct ways.

  2. australianperfumejunkies says:

    Hey FeralJasmine,
    I don’t tamper but I do layer, sometimes with different products to bring nuances to the fore.
    I sometimes wonder if my skin is ever really clear of some kind of scent. Even the alcohol wipes I clear my skin with before testing have a teensy bit of scent other than alcohol. I think all these things play a role in how a fragrance will live on your skin, so maybe I tamper a little.
    Portia x

    • FeralJasmine says:

      I know what you mean, Portia. I on e had the unfortunate experience of sampling a perfume, loving it, and buying it, only to learn that the lovely amber base was really some other perfume that I had thoughtlessly applied the sample over!

  3. Tatiana says:

    I never thought to do this. But it totally makes sense. It seems better to layer, tamper and alter than to throw out a bottle because it’s not good for whatever reason. I do it with clothes. If I try something on (especially if it’s on sale) and think if I just did this or added that to this piece of clothing it would be great. I don’t hesitate to buy and then alter it. Frankly, once something is in my possession, I believe it’s mine to do with it what I please.

  4. Azar says:

    Hi FeralJasmine,
    I really want to tamper but so far I only layer. I have several large bottle of reforms that could use some aromachemical intervention! You have given me the courage to risk what I don’t like in hope of creating something I might love. After all, why let all of those raw materials just languish unused. I also have numerous beautiful new perfume bottles to hold my experiments. Thank you for this fun, encouraging (and just a little bit radical) post!
    Azar xx

    • FeralJasmine says:

      I will warn you, don’t do any tampering with cashmeran. I tried to use it once to add smoothness and plushness, and the longer the blend sat the more pervasive it got, until eventually the whole bottle had to go because it reeked. Commercially, they must use that stuff in nano grams per gallon or something

  5. Neil Chapman says:

    Fascinating. I tamper too. Had to change every bottle of Borneo with more patchouli to get it to how I wanted. I add extra lime and lemon to citruses, not always with good results I might add.

    There is something very naughty and satisfying about it.
    Neil Chapman recently posted…old shower gelMy Profile

    • Mals86 says:

      Borneo with More Patchouli… I’m on the other side of the *world* from you, and I shuddered anyway. I am patch-sensitive, myself; it tends to hijack my nose, so that I’m quailing when everybody else is saying “WHAT patchouli? I don’t get much patchouli out of this at all.”

      However, I will defend your right to a) tweak and b) wear. More power. (offers fist bump of solidarity) 🙂
      Mals86 recently posted…Perfume Review: Byredo FlowerheadMy Profile

    • FeralJasmine says:

      Welcome, Neil! Must say that not all of my results have been good either; see the cashmeran comment above. But I have fun and end up with a scent that nobody else has. Must say that I would love to sniff you in your altered Borneo…

  6. Mals86 says:

    Oh sure, go ahead and tamper. I don’t believe in this whole “not how it’s meant to be smelled/worn” crap, because some of the loveliest things I’ve smelled have been older perfumes which I know for SURE don’t smell the way they did when they were fresh, and yet were mind-bogglingly wonderful. I don’t know that I would bother, myself, but that’s probably just laziness.

    Tweaking beats tossing out any time, I think.
    Mals86 recently posted…Perfume Review: Byredo FlowerheadMy Profile

  7. FeralJasmine says:

    Oh, and Portia, you have got me longing for an emerald-green and gold bottle to hold my new creation! Thanks for the lovely pictures, dear.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      One of my favourite bits about editing all the contributors pieces into the blog is finding the pictures. That is an Olive Oil Bottle from Africa I think.
      Portia xx

      • FeralJasmine says:

        It is very beautiful. And having tampered with the perfume, I feel that O should take it out of the manufacturer’s bottle and put it in something else.

  8. Mark Evans says:

    Hmmm, I’m in two minds about tampering. From a perfumer’s point of view, I would have no problems if someone wanted to play around with one of my creations to suite their needs, go for it, I say. But then on the other hand imagine bringing home an original work of art for the wall and just adding a brush stroke here and there to brighten it up – seems horrifying but I can’t figure out what the difference is. Maybe because perfumes are more utilitarian or maybe because a choice of perfume more closely reflects the wearer, yet a painting on the wall is more closely tied to the artist’s vision? Just speculating.

    Anyway, a quick plug for the Hermitage Oils Australia site for anyone wanting to find small amounts of vanilla CO2 and other goodies to play around with…

    • FeralJasmine says:

      Hi Mark, I am of two kinds about it myself, but I guess that the painting is an art form that I participate in only by looking at, while the perfume is an art form that I actively participate in making by having it interact with my skin and environment. So I feel a little more allowed to mess with the perfume. Not that this makes a ton of sense, and believe me, I’d rather have received a perfume that I would wear as is. But sadly, it didn’t fall out that way.

  9. Undina says:

    In general, I don’t do either tampering or even layering. But there was one perfume which I thought would be much better in EdT (or even EdC) concentration than an EdP it came in – so I added some perfumers alcohol. I think I was right and the it was better but I don’t want to name names either.
    Undina recently posted…Everything Is RelativeMy Profile

  10. poodle says:

    I’d have no problem tampering if necessary. I don’t see it as any different than adding salt or pepper or maybe hot sauce to a dish in a restaurant. I know in fine restaurants they don’t even have salt on the tables sometimes because you’re not supposed to alter the chef’s creation but if something needs salt, it needs salt. Same with perfume, if it needs vanilla, it needs it.

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