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.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


I am a sample junkie – I admit that I enjoy using samples much more than the full size of anything. I have thousands of 1-ml vial perfume samples, and quite a lot of skin care and cosmetic samples. For some reason the samples always seem better than the full size, and my theory is that alternating and rotating is much more effective and enjoyable than finding a “favorite” and sticking with it. I know some people use samples as a means to the end of finding the one fragrance or other product that they will commit to using continuously, but to me, samples are an end in themselves.

I recently acquired some samples of various make-up removers and face cleansers, some of which are (in my opinion) better than others. Here’s my report:

Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover: This comes as two phases, a water-based blue one at the bottom and a clear oil-based one on top. Basically, it’s just water and oil, which, when shaken up temporarily mix together as a suspension and can take off both water-soluble and oil-soluble makeup. It works effectively on eye make-up, but not as a complete face wash. It costs $14 for about 7 ounces, so is not prohibitively expensive.

Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover: Almost identical to the Sephora product except for the fact that it appears to be colorless. It also comes as two phases (oil and water) that have to be shaken together before using.  It takes eye makeup off effectively, but is not meant to function as a complete face wash. At $19 for 4.2 ounces, it costs about twice what the generic Sephora product does, so I see no advantage to using it.

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser: This is a strongly cucumber-scented runny gel that has to be squeezed out of a tube and plops in odd places if your hand isn’t under the mouth of the tube to catch it. It doesn’t really work as a night-time remover for eye makeup or any other type of makeup, so I use it in the morning in the shower where it basically functions as a shower gel for the face. It works OK in that context. It doesn’t foam at all, but it does seem to clean my skin. So does soap. The sample tube doesn’t seem to contain much product given its size, but I’ll give the full size the benefit of the doubt and assume that it is completely full. At $38 for 5.1 ounces, it doesn’t seem worth it.

Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Melting Cleanser: My favorite of the bunch, this is a gel that melts on the skin to function as a complete eye makeup remover, general makeup remover, and face wash. It comes in a jar, so it’s easy to control how much you use. A tiny dab scrubbed around on the face really does remove everything from waterproof mascara to just plain dirt. It has a light citrus scent, does not end up particularly oily, and simply rinses away with water, leaving my skin feeling clean, but moisturized. It’s great for quick makeup removal at night. I really like it. It seems kind of pricey at $34 for 4 ounces, but a little goes a long way, and the convenience of a single product that does everything justifies the price. My small sample is lasting a long time, so when it runs out I might just spring for a full size.

[Sample photo is mine, others are from a retailer's website] 


  1. Hi Ellen,

    Because of numerous allergies I have been "alternating and rotating" foods for as long as I can remember. As a result I am always hoping for some stability in, at least, my skincare. Sadly, I'll try a sample, like it a lot, purchase the full bottle or jar only to find that it doesn't live up to the sample or worse, I develop an allergy to it before finishing the full size product.

    So why don't I just gather lots of samples and use them? Simple. I hate the little envelopes that most are packaged in. When samples come in tiny jars or tubes I am much more likely to try them. I keep the envelope samples and use them as packing material when I send out gifts or prizes.


    1. Azar, I don't mind using those little envelopes. Most of them have at least several applications in them. Of course, tiny jars or tubes are better.

    2. Yay! I'll take any samples you want to get rid of!

  2. I've got a sample of that Fresh cleanser too and find it useless. I love samples but after having a pretty nasty reaction to a Kate Somerville product I really use with more caution than I ever did before.

    1. Poodle, sorry to hear about your allergic reaction. I guess caution is always in order when trying new products of any sort.