Thursday, 28 January 2016

Let's Talk about Scent

I've probably tried about ~400 scents over the last two and a half years of beauty blogging, and I think it's time to end the experimentation of trying dozens and dozens of scents. As fun as it is to play around with new scents and new releasea and limited editions, the reality is that I have shifted away from enjoying the process of acquisition and testing to desiring a curated collection. Or as curated I can ever be - I don't think that I will ever be the signature scent type, or even someone who has a sane number of perfumes, but it needs to be less insane.

Part of my attraction to scents has been that of using them to reinforce memory. I've talked a bit about how other senses fill in the gaps when one sense is not longer as strong as it could be, and while I tend to think that my hearing has done most of the heavy lifting, I have noticed that my sense of smell has strengthened quietly, over the past several years. I don't think that I have an exceptional sense of smell, but I do seem to pick up on things more strongly than my friends and family. When I first started exploring indie perfumes, I realized that one of the things that I enjoyed was wearing  scents that matched my mood or plans for that day or put me in the frame of mind that I needed to be. Linking scents to memories has been one of the more rewarding things about exploring scents: I can put on a perfume and be instantly transported to another day, and then I can build on that.

I lead a pretty unremarkable life, but there are still plenty of things that I want to remember and perfumes have helped me to do so. 

However, scent is not enjoyed equally by all. For the most part, places that I tend to go to are scent-free (buses, schools, malls, basically all public buildings). This doesn't make it easy to be a perfume lover, and I prefer to err on the side of not trying to be obnoxious with scent - so basically, if I know I'm going to be somewhere scent-free, I don't wear perfumes. I don't wear perfume to work. I try to be respectful of everyone else around me, when it comes to scent. I don't need to wear perfume. I love it, but I don't need it. 

And this brings me to the current state of the collection.

The present hoard.

As fun as it has been to explore scent, and try piles of new things, I have decided to move to a new era in my perfume journey. I want to curate my perfume collection and talk more about the interesting science-y stuff behind perfume (what good is my ability to search if I don't use it for myself once in a while?) and different notes and comparisons and stories and really dig in and enjoy what I have. I have found myself, in recent months, being paralyzed by all the choice that I've given myself. Not good. Not what I want or need right now.

So you will see fewer new releases here (months after that fact...). You will see more introspection and more in-depth reviews of scents as I acquire them, and revisiting of older scents. 

I feel like I'm joining in on the recent flurry of people taking a step back, realizing their consumption has grown beyond what they wanted, and are now taking steps to curtail that. And as whiny and hipster-y as I can be about these sorts of things, this is a trend I can get behind. But I will not begin to love Marie Kondo, do you hear? 

And now back to the fun of perfume. I swear I will shake off my exhaustion from working a standard work week soon (seriously, I have no pets or kids or hobbies outside of the house right now. Transitioning to adulthood is hard.)

The drawer of good-byes. Soon I will be looking to rehome these.


  1. First-time commenter hello! I collect and wear perfumes for EXACTLY the same reason. I started wearing perfume before I even got into makeup, because it was such an easy way to project and embody different feelings and (in my precocious imagination) identities. I still feel that way, if to a slightly less enchanted degree.

    Sadly, I don't collect perfume at the rate I used to because my sense of smell is permanently damaged. Not that that is going to stop me from reading all of your Arcana archives...

    1. Hello and welcome! I'm sorry to hear that about your sense of smell. But yes, Arcana...magnificent. I'm enamoured with her work!

  2. When I was working in big law firms, they started posting signs in front of women's washrooms telling us to stop wearing perfumes. There were no such posters for the men, so I kept wearing mine because the dudes and their nasty colognes/aftershaves were killing me. The fragrance-free thing kicked me in the face during a hospital visit though, so I try to be more respectful and mindful now.

    How do you plan on parting with the unwanteds? I have a box full of makeup to put up on eBay but can't summon the energy.

    1. Perfume oils are pretty easy to offload, so I'll start with my friends and then anything they don't want, I'll sell in the Reddit indie perfume community.

      Makeup is harder, so I'm going to try the same with it and then probably just give the rest to my partner's little cousin to have. She's going on 9 now, so it's getting to that time where she'll start wanting makeup. Anything left...I don't know. Maybe mix some of the loose shadows with clear nail polish?


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