What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I did not intend for today’s post to be a rant against malfunctioning perfume sprayers. Unfortunately the little sample sprayer that Xerjoff’s Dhajala came in was broken or malfunctioning, so I struggled with it, finally managing to coax out a few uncontrolled dribbles to test. This is why I hate sprayers, especially the crimped or crammed ones. With a malfunctioning screw-top sprayer, the top can easily be removed to dab the perfume, or the sprayer cap can be replaced altogether. The Xerjoff samples are in the cram-top sprayer vials where the sprayer is pushed tightly down over the vial, making it really difficult to remove. Crimp-top sprayers are even worse because it takes manly tools to get them off if they break. A more civilized way is to remove the spray top and try to get at the perfume through the top of the tiny piece of tubing that feeds into the sprayer, but that’s not very satisfactory. Sprayers almost seem like planned obsolescence. Sprayer breaks, throw away 100 ml bottle with remaining 90 ml of perfume and buy a new one. Surely I’m not the only one who has encountered a faulty spray bottle or vial.

This leads to the whole issue of the best ways to package and apply perfume. Many times I read comments on the forums indicating that people are squeamish about dabbing with their finger because they are afraid of contaminating their perfume with microorganisms, skin cells, or some other unspecified, unspeakable, unsanitary things. Really, folks, how much filth do you have on your hands? How much of it will actually get into your perfume bottle? Do you know that 95% ethanol will kill and sterilize almost anything that might make its way in, including those poor little stray skin cells that are dead to begin with? Is a dipstick or rollerball really any better, since it touches your skin anyway, probably much more vigorously than your finger would, and simply gives the illusion of being dainty and “hands-off”?

I will concede that some things are better sprayed, like eau de Cologne, some eaux de toilette, and anything that’s so weak that you have to saturate yourself with it to get a decent effect. Annick Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien comes to mind as a perfect example. For those sorts of preparations I would use a sprayer, not caring how much I dispensed or where it landed since it will not have much smell to begin with and will be gone in an hour anyway. Otherwise, I really prefer to dab perfume. Sprayers almost always dispense too much, too erratically, in a shotgun approach. They malfunction and shoot out much more or less than intended - usually more, so I end up reeking or scrubbing. They break. This is why most of my collection is samples or minis - they generally come in open containers that I can dab from in small amounts. I hate rollerballs with a passion, just because they’re a pointless and unnecessary barrier between me and the perfume.

In deciding how to package my perfumes, I’ve come up with a sort of compromise based on my own likes and dislikes and what I know the general public is used to and wants. There will be no rollerballs. The pure perfume will be in small “splash” bottles for controlled dabbing, since it’s strong. The EdP concentration will be available in both splash bottles and spray bottles, so customers can have their choice. The spray bottles are all screw-top, not crammed or crimped so that if a sprayer should malfunction there is still easy access to the perfume, and the sprayer can be replaced (I intend to provide replacement parts, should this happen). The sprayer can even be refilled if the perfume is used up. It will be interesting to see which packaging formats are most popular.

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