The aromachemical solo

This week has been particularly bad in terms of pollen allergies. I’ve gone through so many tissues, rubbed my eyes raw, and napped. I’d be tempted to move to the desert and escape the trees, but I already know that I’m allergic to something there as well.

Despite my nose being stuffed up, I can still smell pretty well. However, an odd thing has been happening with my fig perfumes. I wore Annick Goutal Ninfeo Mio two days ago and it opened beautifully as usual, with citrus, green, and lavender notes surrounding a hearty fig. This is not an airy fragrance to me, but rather substantial even in its brightness.

About an hour into the wear, I started noticing an aura of a note that had separated from the rest of the perfume and was now taking over. It wasn’t very pleasant. Hedione, most likely. There was another, more peppery, note as well, which I’d never picked up before. I interrogated several aromachemicals that I had, and while the Hedione was not a one-to-one match with whatever was floating in the air, it was the prime suspect.

I’ve mentioned before that when I had covid last year, and a cold a few weeks ago, I stopped being able to smell the background of Hedione and instead perceived the light jasmine. Now, with allergies, I don’t smell the jasmine at all, but the background is enhanced. To me, it’s quite stinky… sticky, plasticky, and a bit like dirty feet. (At least, the dregs that have concentrated in the bottom of my vial smell like that. I just opened a new bottle and barely smell anything.)

In an interview with Denyse Beaulieu, perfumer Isabelle Doyen (who co-authored Ninfeo Mio with Camille Goutal) said, in response to the question “But there is hedione, isn’t there?,” “Yes there is. It’s like cellophane, it acts as a wrapping.”

In my case, the Hedione seems to have unwrapped itself to compete with the rest of the perfume. I reapplied Ninfeo Mio several times to keep experiencing the other notes.

Today, a similar thing happened with Rouge Bunny Rouge Incantation (which was discontinued not long after I bought it). This is a lighter, salty, musky fig which seems to interpret human skin rather than a lush garden. Based on comments on Fragrantica, people perceive a wide range of notes from it. It’s much harder to find information about this perfume, but I am sure it must contain some Hedione. If my guess is right, that’s the aromachemical that detached from the blend, albeit to a lesser degree, to play its monotone equivalent of a drum solo over the rest of the band.

Has that happened to you with any perfume?

6 thoughts on “The aromachemical solo

  1. Yes! There’s one modern ingredient that is used for either tobacco or leather effect. I call it an “ashtray note” and strongly dislike it. Whenever I come across it in perfumes, my nose stops smelling anything else, and all I can think of is how cheap and artificial that note smells.

    Hang on in there! Your allergies will calm down soon. Hopefully.


  2. Hopefully your allergies clear up soon. And yes, I have some sensitivity to chemical notes. It seems to happen with many new scents, especially modern new men’s fragrances. The ambery wood material they use in the base is like fingers going down the chalk board – scratchy and horrible. There are many niche houses too that have a specific DNA that I struggle with. I’m not sure what specific chemicals they use, but I struggle with the way Montale, Mancera, Parfums de Marly, and a few others blend their perfumes.


    1. The forecast says I’ve got at least another week or so of them. I can’t stand scratchy woody ambers either. I’ve never been attracted to those brands you mentioned, probably because the few perfumes of theirs that I’ve smelled were too intense for me; I didn’t try them long enough to find out which notes outlasted the others.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes with many new niche fragrances. There’s a strong chemical note that gets on my nerves. I don’t have an expert nose so I can’t tell you what it is. Lately I have been revisiting fragrances that I wore in the 70s and 80s that are deeply discounted and I am enjoying them immensely.


    1. I get that too with fragrances that don’t feel well blended. It surprised me with these two because I’ve had them for a while and worn them many times, especially Ninfeo Mio, and this note separation hadn’t happened with them before.
      It’s great that you’re able to find your old favorites at a good price!


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