Since starting this blog, the Moth Woman has been on a steep learning curve regarding perfume oils. One of the lessons she has learnt, one that has been repeatedly driven home by experience, is the importance of resting oils bought online before evaluating them.
She was introduced to this idea by the kind folks on the Fragrantica and Basenotes forums. Travel can cause resins and heavier elements to settle out of the mix as perfume oils are less stabilised than alcohol based scents. Furthermore, low oxygen environments and freezing temperatures in cargo holds of airplanes can badly effect oils, so if the scent has had international air travel between you and the sender, it is significantly more likely to need to rest.
Case in point: a fragrance called Efrum*. It was an extreme blind buy from a seller in Sweden. Few reviews of Efrum exist but those that do, hold it to be a medicinal, band aid style oud. As soon as the parcel arrived, the Moth Woman excitedly opened the bottle. Involuntary wincing ensued as it singed her nostril hairs. Oud based mixtures are often nicer on the skin than sniffed from the bottle, so she cautiously applied it to her wrist. The faux leather couch she was sitting on began to melt and she could hear the neighbours down the back screaming about the terrible chemical smell. Eventually the Moth Woman’s eyelashes caught on fire... This is clearly hyperbole but you get it. She put the bottle away planning to pitch it when she could cope with going near the bottle again (serious this time).
Flash forward a month. The Moth Woman is ferreting around in her perfume stash and runs across into Efrum again. Remembering the repeated admonishments to rest oils, she thought she would risk retrying it before throwing the bottle away. This time, instead of being confronted with a chemical monster, what the Moth Woman got was a nice aftershavey thing with unusual floral aspects. It smells amazing on the Moth Man and he stole the bottle.
As a rule of thumb, two weeks resting is a minimum, a month average, more if there is a lot of resins in the mix. The Moth Woman has even heard of a couple that performed miraculous transformations, Efrum style, after six or seven months. A significant number though, will be perfectly fine, lovely and wearable right off the bat; the remainder will morph badly during transit. As a guide, if the fragrance smells nothing like it was described or is a lot weaker than expected on first meeting, it likely needs to be rested.
Floral scents are supposed to be exempted from the rule due to the nature of oils used to compose them. The Moth Woman has found this to be only partly true; about 85% will be fine. Based on a lot of universally excellent reviews, the Moth Woman bought a floral scent, Tisira*, She actually let this one sit a couple of days before testing this time. The first moments were pleasant, slightly rosy and then WHAMMO, an effect not entirely unlike being doused in a bucket of rotting lilies. A week on though, and Tisira is now a charming but somewhat conventional floral scent.
The moral of this story seems to be have patience. If you get perfume oil you do not like, rest it before disposal. It may well be a hidden gem.
*Names changed to protect the innocent perfumes.