Her scent stayed with me until Friday noon


The title of this post is from an alternate version of a Prince song that you’ve never heard called, Crucial. I figured I should explain since my titles tend toward the…how do you say…obscure.

I’ve been on the hunt for a scent. Something I’d want to wear every day, that would become, like, my thing, you know? My signature. But trying on different scents is not really a one-day affair. It takes a minute.

I’m using the little testers you can get from most brands. They’re more than enough for the evaluation of a fragrance. I mean, you don’t need more than one spray to know you don’t like something. I’ve made my way through a few commercial scents, the DK, YSL, Cartier, Coach, Herrera type things, but nothing in that world is quite what I’m looking for.

So I’ve ventured off into “boutique” fragrances, like Le Labo and Byredo, in search of the magic whiff. (Estée Lauder owns Le Labo, so I don’t know how “boutique” they really are.) My lovely friend Justine also kindly sent me some For Strange Women scents to try on.

I can’t really take in or evaluate more than one scent a day. It’s been interesting living with each of these for an entire day (or as long as they last). So far, the Le Labo Jasmin 17 has been the standout. Ayin likes it too, so that’s important. I can’t go around smelling like someone they don’t want to smell all day.

I also really like Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique, and Bibliothèque. I wouldn’t mind smelling like either of those every day. Or if not every day, often. (Spoiler alert, the picture gives away what I ended up buying.)

The thing about Bal d’Afrique and Jasmin 17, in particular, is they don’t smell like other perfumes, that’s why I bought full-sized bottles of them. It seems like there are only so many perfume ingredients that have a wide enough appeal to be made into perfume. As a result, many scents can be a little…reminiscent of each other.

But Bal d’Afrique doesn’t smell like anything else I’ve got here (or anything I can ever remember smelling). Jasmin 17 isn’t quite as wow-what-the heck-is-that? unique, but it’s unique enough. And it suits me, which is the point of this search.

They aren’t all winners, though. Today I’m marinating in Le Labo Patchouli 24, but it smells more like Head Shop 1969. That’s the downside of really trying them and not just spraying them onto a piece of paper or something. When you go all-in and wind up wearing one you don’t care for, you’re stuck with it until it wears off.

It’s funny, hormone replacement therapy has really changed my sense of smell. Or maybe I should say it’s given me a sense of smell. When I received the For Strange Women scents, I hadn’t started hormones yet, and they all smelled the same to me. Ha ha. That is definitely not the case anymore, so I’m in a better position to go on the hunt for the perfect aroma.

These small-label perfumes are more spendy than the big-name brands, though, that’s for sure. 100ml of Coach or Herrera or one of those name-brand scents is about $100. At Le Labo and Byredo, you pay close to $300 for 100ml! Le Labo has a refill program, which is about $40 less than buying a new bottle. But any way you slice it, you have to pay more for the less common scents.

I’ve discovered in all this that I (and Ayin) favor Jasmine-based scents, which is good to know (even though the Byredo scents we like don’t contain Jasmine). Honestly, while my smeller is a lot more sensitive than it used to be, I still can’t pick up all the ingredients of these perfumes. Like “Red Apple”? Sorry, I don’t smell apples. But it’s the same for me with wines or spirits. “This bold Cabernet has notes of ancient clay pots and tree bark.” Does it? Okay, if you say so.

I also learned that a perfume extract is much different than your run-of-the-mill spray perfume. I got a sample of Byredo’s Vanille Antique, and it’s wonderfully dense and super long-lasting. I love it. But it’s also super expensive. Still, I think I might have bought it if I hadn’t already bought the Bal d’Afrique. Next year, maybe.

The world of fragrances is kind of low-key fascinating. Low key meaning it isn’t something I want to become too immersed in or spend a lot of time on, but I find the voodoo of ingredient blending to evoke different feelings interesting. And that’s what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it? How these things make us – and the people around us – feel.

Don’t we all want to feel like love? I know I do!

I also want people to think, “Dang, Hannah always smells good!” 😉 That’s pretty vain, isn’t it. Ha ha. And I understand that my “good” will be someone else’s “Oh my god, I can’t stand that!” But what can you do?


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