Why review perfumes? I've been wondering about that lately. I certainly don't do it for money or even for free fragrance. As an amateur guest contributor with no blog site of my own, I receive no press samples or other industry perks. Occasionally, a few comps or gifts of scent come my way via friends, perfumers and fellow bloggers. I tend to review these fragrances before others, but consider my reviews strictly a hobby.
Like any hobby, writing perfume reviews can be more costly than anticipated. I "pay as I play" with time and money, part of my entertainment budget. Believe it or not, it can take several hours to sniff correctly, search a back-story and edit information and impressions into 500 words or less. Hard cash is also laid out for decanting supplies, packaging and the outrageous postage required to send prizes to international destinations. Am I purchasing attention or approval by paying for the "privilege" to sound off about products that already receive more than their fair share of paid advertising? Perhaps, but there are better reasons why I review perfumes.
First of all, I am fascinated by everything related to the experience of fragrance, both in nature and from a bottle. I have an extensive collection of perfumes dating from 1930 through 2016, years as an enthusiastic consumer and a pretty good memory for scent. I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination but, from time to time, I do have something to say.
The second reason is probably the most telling. I write perfume reviews simply because I love to play with words. Decades before personal computers, search engines and apps, during my high school days, I was a member of the National Forensic League (now entitled the National Speech and Debate Association). This NFL was just as competitive as the other one! My favorite league competition was the "extemporaneous speaking" event. Participants drew three current topics and were instructed to choose one. We were allowed 30 minutes to research piles of periodicals and then 7 minutes to give a coherent, logical, informative presentation, without any written notes, subject afterwards to questions and criticism. Ex-temp taught me that, with correct, concise preparation I could talk (BS?) convincingly, about almost anything. I also learned that a presentation could fly or flop based on the placement of a single word. My ex-temp skills also enabled me to write with confidence, on demand, about any subject, interesting or otherwise.
These days, playing with words is an excuse to indulge in my fragrance addiction (or is it the other way round?). But there is a more compelling reason that I continue to write about scent - the perfume community I've discovered online.
Writing posts for Perfume Project NW and Australian Perfume Junkies has introduced me to an entire new circle of friends, intelligent, literate perfume pen pals from around the world with similar interests but very different viewpoints and preferences. I love reading their posts and sharing opinions and comments. Writing reviews has changed my world, opening it up in so many ways. Every day I learn something new, not only about perfumes, but also about gardening, cooking, entertaining, traveling and living!
I have to agree with Azar that talking to people about perfume has resulted in many wonderful friendships and interactions, and I'm grateful for all of them!
[Vintage perfume ad and debate poster from Wikimedia; Woman writing by August Mueller 1885; conversation image by Petrona Viera, early 20th century]