Wearing Perfume: Different Ways of Testing


Post by Tina G



I’d like to talk a bit about how fragrance application can have a pronounced effect on how it presents on your skin. It is one of the reasons that it is usually worthwhile to test a fragrance a few times to get to “know” it before making judgement calls.

Wearing Perfume: Different Ways of Testing

Burlesque by Maria Candida Gentile 2015

Burlesque Maria Candida Gentile FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Blood orange
Heart: Iris pallida, rose
Base: Incense, patchouli

Maria Candida Gentile – Burlesque is a case in point. It was put onto my fragrance radar by Tara from A Bottled Rose, and it sounded like my kind of thing, so a sample was ordered.

On my first two spritzes I held the nozzle close to my arm with a heavy application. And the results were horrifying. All I got was an insipid limp wet patchouli with a hint of smoke in the background. I quite like patch, but there was nothing nice about what I was smelling. It was less ‘Burlesque’ and more ‘fetid water nymph’. One of my written notes was “try a lighter spray”. So I did.

A gentle swish of a spritz at a distance, and wafting my arm through the residual aerated fragrance was a totally different result. At once I could smell a warm rounded orange, which was totally absent previously, and it came through with a fab sexy powdery iris and sweet pink rose. That brought a smile and a nod – so that is what this fragrance is all about! It was balanced very differently, warm and inviting with the patchouli grounding it instead of swamping (good word, actually…) and the pale smokiness bringing an interesting dimension to the whole picture. Really gorgeous and very wearable.

There are some fragrances which are better dabbed – for me most of the Serge Lutens work really well like this, even though they come with sprayers. Of course, be really wary of spraying Parfum strength *anything*. I’ve done serious (temporary) damage to my nose trying this approach. Unless it is a Vero Profumo in which case they are designed for spraying. (and if you’ve never tried any of Vero’s fragrances, drop everything and order samples NOW).

Chimaera by Paolo Terenzi for Tiziana Terenzi 2014

Chimaera Tiziana Terenzi  FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Black pepper, lemon, saffron, leather, tolu balsam, thyme, bay leaf, soil tincture
Heart: Iris, red pepper, carnation, peony, honey, magnolia, sage
Base: Patchouli, cashmere wood, labdanum, benzoin, caramel, agarwood (oud), tobacco, canadian balsam, leather, pine tree

Another worthwhile trial is to give fragrances a run through in different seasons. Something which does not work for you in summer may be altogether fabulous in winter. Tiziana Terenzi – Chimaera is like this for me. In winter it is complex and kinetically marbled with a lemon and honey keeping a weaving thread through leather, bay and basalm. I found at four wonderfully distinct stages during dry down – so exciting! In summer, on my skin it turns into a gourmand thick with caramel and saffron, the honey and lemon are still present but it is much more linear and to my nose not so interesting.

Have you had any successes or failures with your fragrance testing? What have been the lessons learnt?

Tina G xx

25 thoughts on “Wearing Perfume: Different Ways of Testing

  1. On me, Burlesque went on like a sweet incense and powdery, but the final lasting drydown is too much patchouli for me though it is soft.


    • Hi Gina, I could have easily written a whole review just on Burlesque alone, its a lovely fragrance. Nice to hear that it had that sweet incense & was powdery you, sounds great apart from that last bit of patch in the drydown. I’m starting to wonder about fragrances which I love but have trouble with some final dry down notes – sometimes I get the same issue with patch, or a certain vanilla in the base which might not agree with me – maybe wear it as long as I enjoy it and scrub the last bits off? I’m not sure…. Thanks for your comment.

      Tina G x


  2. Yes, Tina so true! I had a similar experience with Burlesque – so strange. Thank goodness it was okay on you in the end after purchasing a sample because of me!

    I have a rule to test 3 times (at least) which has been invaluable, but trying in different weather conditions can make all the difference too.

    Totally agree about dabbing SL’s especially the orientals. I like to dab aldehydic frags too. Vega is fabulous dabbed. The Cookie Queen gave me that tip.


    • Hi Tara,

      Burlesque was lovely, I’m really glad I picked it up and kept persisting through the overapplication issue! It had me so confused… after hearing all good things, how come this wasn’t working for me? haha! I had a lot of fun hunting it down after your recommendation so thanks for that.

      Testing 3 times is a good rule I think. and I’m definitely starting to dab more. 🙂

      Tina G x


  3. Hey Tina!
    I have a bottle of Burlesque. Do not spray it.
    Ever. I also dab all the Lutens I own. Serge himself said they are created to be dabbed.
    I hope you can try Vero’s extraits when you are over here. I am sure it can be arranged.
    Nice post. ❤️


    • Hey Val!

      Dabbing the Lutens is something I’ve only just started recently. I picked up a bottle of Daim Blond and its fabulous dabbed. I now have replaced the sprayers with the screw caps on all my SL bottles (“all” – I have 3) to encourage dabbing.

      I enjoy Vero’s work so much. When it comes to “slow” perfume, and listening to what it is telling you, they have a wonderful story & personality. Would love to try some with you.

      Tina G x


    • Haha!! 🙂 I know there’s loads of people who just simply adore their fragrance spritzed with abandon – a few come to mind (Scott, I’m looking at you!!) and I guess that’s the other things – wear it in whatever way works for you. For me, playing around is they key – different frags work in different ways on my skin.

      There are reasons for me not to overspray like having to scrub a perfectly amazing fragrance due to working in a close office environment. Has happened a few times… my fault. and I probably shouldn’t have respritzed Borneo 1834 in the office. sigh.

      Tina G x


  4. Hi Tina,

    I have rejected so many frags over the years because of my habit of simply relying on a sniff of the nozzle or the top. If not repulsed by this first sniff then I would do a dab or spray away from my body. If all was still OK after that, an all out spritz. About 70% of the time this has been my cautious procedure, especially with vintage. I tend to be braver with the newer offerings.

    I know I should not rely simply on the first sniff, especially from the bottle, but, too often, one tiny whiff is enough to scare me off. I also know I should give the fragrance a chance to develop on my skin or mix with air, etc., but, seriously, I’m afraid of headaches, asthma attacks or of simply smelling bad for hours. It is a wonder I have full bottles of anything. It often takes a review like yours to give me the courage to try something again that was initially rejected.

    Azar xx


    • Hey Azar!

      Ah…. reactions like headaches and asthma are definitely something to be cautious about and I can perfectly understand your hesitation. It goes back to doing what is right for you – it sounds like you’ve got a good balance particularly if there’s a high risk of it going wrong and suffering for hours.

      Your strategy of first sniff from a bottle is a good one, it’s a great way of getting a first impression – quick sniff of the cap is sometimes enough to make a yes or no decision as to if it should be put on paper or skin.

      What do you use for scrubbing fragrances? If you’ve got a combination which works well and quickly, it might be a good back up for those frags which just simply smell bad.

      Tina G x


      • Azar – I use baking soda around the house all the time – its fantastic but never thought to try it for scrubbing. What a good idea…

        Most of the time when I’ve been testing it is only the back of my forearms or hands which nead cleaning.

        I use a pot of cold cream (Nivea) which when rubbed on thickly and wiped off with a tissue gets rid of most scents. For more stubbon fragrances I’ll throw myself in the shower and gently use an exfoliation mit + soap.


    • Hi Fazal,
      Oh, beautiful! Perhaps my experience might lead to some application experiements & see whether the fragrance varies with a little more air, or not. Enjoy!!

      Tina G xx


      • I hope I like Sideris. This will be my first sniff of a MCG creation. I have heard many perfumes from this line share a vibe as if MCG has a particular style.


  5. Hi Tara,

    What a great post – I wish that I could have a systematic way to try everything – sniff, dab, spray (or something to that effect) – if only all the samples we came across were both dabbable and sprayable. :/ I often wonder how much I miss by only being able to dab or spray something. 😦


    • Hi Sun Mi,

      What I have done is purchase small 1.5ml spray decants, so I can dab a fragrance then pop the rest of the sample into a spray to try. Some companies do different size samples, and in different formats. Just depends if you’re wanting to get a quick idea of a fragrance or have a play and see how it varies.

      At the moment I’m completely swamped with samples, I went a bit crazy with ordering over the Xmas period, so I’m just testing by dabbing to try & get through them all.

      Tina G xx


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