Sunday, May 29, 2011

Perfume Sampling 1 of 14: Juliette Has A Gun "Not A Perfume"

Some time ago, I decided to be more venturesome and ordered perfume samples from LuckyScent. I'm happy with the perfumes I have, but once in a while it's fun to test new things without committing to a full bottle or being blasted with sprays by enthusiastic sales associates at the department store. This is when sites like LuckyScent become extremely useful.

I rarely shop online because it's so easy to push a button and start piling things in the online cart. As someone who gets carried away doing that in person, doing so online would be extremely dangerous for me. Also, I simply prefer to look at the product in person. Seeing, touching, smelling and applying the cosmetic allows me to make better decisions all around.

However, certain things are not available in my city and sampling perfume is a rather harmless activity, so I said to myself. I intended to get only 5-7 but ended up with 14 to justify the shipping charge. Here's a list of my samples:

I've never even heard of half the companies and there's only one brand that's actually sold near me, though they don't have this particular perfume. It's the one that I'm going to focus on today, which is Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume EDP.

I've long been charmed by the name Juliette Has a Gun and discovered the brand while perfume sniffing at Holt Renfrew. The two that are sold there are Miss Charming and Lady Vengeance. One thing I'm really drawn in by are the names and descriptions of products. In the case of perfumes, the bottle matters quite a bit as well, since designing perfume bottles is an art and an industry in and of itself. How the perfume smells on me is of primary importance, but the hook and bait for my attention is definitely in the name and look of a perfume. While I was definitely interested in Lady Vengeance, I wasn't totally crazy about how it smelled on me back then. When I browsed LuckyScent and realized there were other perfumes in the Juliette line, I had to sample another. Not a Perfume sounded exactly like my kind of perfume, so I checked first at Holts to see if they had added it to their collection since my last sniff visit. No, they had not, so I ordered the sample from Lucky.

The size of the sample is quite small. It's the same size as the samples that are distributed by the mainstream brands in department stores. Each sample costs anywhere from $2.50 to $7 or maybe even $10, depending on how rare and expensive the perfume is. Most of my samples were in the $3-4 zone. This one cost $4.

Hefty price for a tiny vial, one might think. Opinions will vary depending on how much you love perfume and how much you love the joy of exploring that untread territory. I can't call myself a huge perfume lover by any means, and you'll see throughout this sampling series that I lack the proper language to do justice to descriptions of perfumes (relying mostly on the LuckyScent or brand websites). However, I so love trying new products, especially if they're unique and unknown to the people around me.

Here's the description of Not a Perfume from LuckyScent:

Along with today’s minimalist trend, Not a Perfume follows suit and adds extremity, irreverence and conceptual characteristics to deliver a true art form. You have now stepped into a new and elegant form of perfumery. With Not a Perfume you get exactly what you want from the scent: it does not evolve; it is not a composition, but rather a particular fragrance that is very strong & lasting on skin. Just like the white packaging it’s housed in, its makeup is fresh, clean, and clinical. This brand new concept from Romano Ricci is a modern day fragrance that is 100% synthetic and created without allergens.

Not a Perfume is made of 1 single synthetic ingredient – Ambroxan. Ambroxan is a molecular creation that comes from the organic research. Developed by Firmenich in the 1950’s to replace Ambergris, a very rare natural secretion of whales, Ambroxan comes in the form of white crystals. It is usually used as a back note in perfume composition, even if its smell is curiously quite far from its original inspiration. 

I found that the effect of Not a Perfume is extremely similar to one of my all-time faves, All That Matters by Anamor. At the heart of both perfumes is the same nearly indistinguishable musk. Neither smell like anything in particular, so it's really difficult to try to explain when I'm terrible at describing scents in the first place. As far as I can tell, All That Matters seems to be more complex while Not a Perfume lacks layers and notes. Not a Perfume is a simple scent that work with your body chemistry to produce something replicating a sense of comfort and cleanliness. It seems to me that lines such as CLEAN and Leslie Blodgett Perfume Diaries are attempting to produce similar clean and subtle scents, but they fail spectacularly because their perfumes are just too overpowering and not subtle at all. What Not a Perfume and All That Matters accomplish is a subtle art. It's like comparing SpaghettiOs to an authentic Italian pasta dish prepared with the freshest of ingredients.

This isn't exactly a smack down on SpaghettiOs or CLEAN. Sometimes I get a craving for and indulge in stuff like Taco Bell and Kraft Dinner. It is possible to like them all, "high" or "low." What I am saying, however, is that there is a world of a difference, and it's a part of my journey to discover all the differences in between the multitude of products out there.

So, would I buy a full size of Not a Perfume? I think yes. Currently it's about USD$40 cheaper than All That Matters, and I'm not bothered by the difference between the two to spend extra money on All That Matters when Not a Perfume accomplishes what I set out to look for when I found All That Matters. I'm not going to make a purchase any time soon, as I still have half a bottle of All That Matters to work through, but I'm glad that I sampled Not a Perfume and found a slightly cheaper dupe.

Are you into perfume sampling? Do you have a signature scent or shop around like I do? I had a great  experience with LuckyScent and have purchased from them twice now, but I am open to also hearing about other great online perfumeries or retailers. So drop me a comment or a tweet to share your knowledge and expertise!


  1. Sounds like you're having fun with your samples! I don't have very good luck with the JHaG line, but there might be another for you to try in the Ambrette seed/Ambroxan vein: Le Labo Ambrette 9. Ambroxan has been a big trend in perfume over the past couple of years, but is now waning in popularity for reasons you already brought up, it's one-note. Some aromachemicals are thrilling, like Iso E Super (woody), but some people can be anosmic to some of these chemicals, which occasionally makes it hard to fully appreciate the perfumes they are in. Le Labo also makes yet another Ambroxan-based perfume called Another 13, which is a special edition made to celebrate Another Magazine's anniversary or something like that. I find Ambroxan to be a sort of pale ingredient, but it can be wonderful in the right fragrance. The trend used to be to use Ambroxan practically alone, which offers very little depth to the perfume. Also in that vein: Escentric Molecules 03.

    Am I boring the heck out of you yet? :)

  2. I have a love/hate with perfume. I find that I can't wear them as many places b/c some people are so sensitive to scents. Having said that I was on the hunt for a new scent this past winter. I am in love with Guerlain's Mandarine Basilic right now. Oh and I've read about as a good place for samples, but I haven't tried it :)

  3. I second Tracy's recommendation of The Perfumed Court, it's my favorite place now to get samples and decants. I don't know what their shipping rates are for Canada, but they do ship internationally.

  4. I have a couple of hundred perfume samples, at least - both commercial and hand-made (Etsy and the like). I've never bought any from Lucky Scent - not sure why, actually. I think I looked into it once and they either didn't ship internationally or the shipping was really high. (Must check it out again, I think.) I get a lot of mine from The Perfumed Court, and most Etsy perfume sellers have sample sizes to try before you buy.

    I don't have a signature scent - I'd get bored. I like something different every day.

  5. I've never heard of this sample site. Kinda' cool, and this scent sounds really interesting. I will definitely look into this. I learned something new today!

  6. @Carrie - Not boring at all!!! I love learning about this since I'm so new to it. Le Labo sounds great and I've considered getting a sample of Escentric Molecules 03 before but it sounded too sterile. Ambrette 9 sounds more up my alley. Or even better, one of my sisters! I'm bookmarking it for the next round of sampling. Thanks for your advice!

    @Tracy D - Mandarine-Basilic is my fave summer perfume! We have a no perfume policy at work but the perfume lovers pretty much ignore it. I apply fairly sparingly so that people would have to be in fairly close proximity to be effected... hopefully that doesn't offend a lot of sensitive noses out there. Thanks for reminding me about Perfumed Court. Completely forgot about that one!

    @Dee - I've never bought anything from Etsy and didn't even know they sold perfumes! I think I get a little overwhelmed by Etsy because I don't know where to start looking. (And I have trust issues there, as you posted about not too long ago.) And when you say you have a couple of hundred samples, suddenly my 14 doesn't sound too bad! lol

    @Tracy - Hurray! I think you'll love it. I think I read an older post of yours where you said you like to smell differently from other people. This is definitely one way to make that happen! :D

  7. I have never heard of a perfume sampling site like this, I think this is a cool concept. I have been in love with and using the same perfume for years as I can't seem to find anything better! I should look into this!

  8. What's your perfume? I'm "nosey" like that. ;) You should definitely try it out. It's a whole new world.

  9. Oh wow. I love perfumes, so I feel like I could get into big trouble on a site like this. $4 is low enough for it not to seem a big deal to add another to the cart but big enough to add up quickly.
    I'm not sure how I feel about 'clinical' being a descriptor for this, but I'd still be interested to give it a whiff if I come across it.

  10. You're right, they do add up quickly. But a dozen samples will give me half a year of endless variety. :)


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