Hi! I’m Sophie. I see you’ve stumbled upon my little blog. I’m a designer and developer by training and I work in publishing by day. By night, I’m an amateur fragrance writer and reviewer who also dabbles in DIY perfumery.
When I was little, my favorite game to play was newspaper: making tiny paper stapled leaflets for my stuffed animals, writing short features, advertisements, sports columns… I got older and I started writing the class newspaper. Then I got even older and started working in publishing.
In a way, this blog is my adult version of playing newspaper, designing and writing my own little leaflets. The Scentaur is a blog I’ve designed with that same print newspaper aesthetic in mind: simple and focused on the words and images on the page.
I’m not into email lists, annoying newsletters, endless busy widgets, social media, or stuffing my posts full of keywords in hopes the algorithm gods smile upon me. This is just a place for me to share my writings in the world of scent. I hope you stay a while.
You can find me on Fragrantica (where I am no longer active) and Basenotes @ambergeese.
My Reviewing Philosophy
Somehow, the year is 2022 and they still haven’t come up with a viable Smell-o-Vision system for the Internet. I can’t believe it either.
I’m here to give you the next best thing: vivid, detailed, honest fragrance descriptions. I’ve set out to write the kind of reviews I desperately scour the Internet for myself. I’m not here to sell you anything. My goal is simply to immerse you in a fragrance through the screen.
Fragrance notes are important, but in the complex world of aromatic chemistry, definitive note pyramids are often little more than ad copy. I think that if you can smell it, it’s there, and I go beyond a list of notes, striving to incorporate as many senses and reference points as possible in order to convey the overall feel of a scent. Timbre, texture, color, density… I do my best to shape words in a way that conveys my experience.
My first responsibility is to my readers and myself. I will always write my honest thoughts and impressions. Gifting me a fragrance, while much appreciated, will never guarantee a favorable review, or, indeed, any review at all.
I generally strive to sample scents I expect to like, but I also want to broaden my horizons and smell all sorts of different things. This means I sometimes sample and write about things I don’t like. I’ll always do my best to report my experiences in their entirety and appreciate all the different facets of a fragrance.
I don’t ever want to equate my personal tastes with any objective metric of quality. I don’t use five stars or some other rating system in my reviews because I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to prominently flatten my subjective experience into some authoritative number or score.
I’m writing about my own personal experiences with scents: that’s why this is a personal blog and not an official authoritative encyclopedia. You and I have different skin chemistry, body temperatures, tastes, experiences, olfactory glands, local climates, and quirks. Day to day, we have different levels of hormones and physical activity, different moods, different weather. All of these factors and more shape the ways you and I wear and perceive fragrance. My experience might be entirely different from yours.
That’s something I think is really special about the world of fragrance: the amount of nuance in our experiences, and the challenge of conveying them to others. So much in the world today is put out there as black-and-white, cut-and-dry, objective fact when all of our individual experiences of the world are a little bit wobbly and fundamentally irreconcilable. Even our experiences of something as seemingly objective as seeing colors might be wildly different between individuals. If we’re not even seeing the same colors, who can say we’re smelling the same scents?
All of my reviews are works in progress. Every time I wear a fragrance, I find something new to write about. I always strive to have a thorough understanding of a scent before publishing a post, rather than “live reviewing” here publicly, but all of my reviews will inevitably change as time goes on. Often, I find I like a fragrance much more when I bring it out on a different day, in different weather, with different context. Thus, I try to keep away from sorting things into permanent “like” and “dislike” piles. That being said, I’m only human. My in-the-moment enthusiasm or distaste is inevitably going to seep through in places, accompanied by unabashed ballyhoo or snark.
In Editorial, you will find my opinion, informative, and investigative pieces related to the world of scent.
In my Advice column, I answer reader questions about fragrance-related conundrums. (You can send a conundrum in yourself here.)
In Media, I comment on happenings in fragrance media. This includes books, movies, and other blogs and websites.
Finally, the Causerie is a French phenomenon not well known in the English-speaking world. It is a sort of short essay, usually humorous and often satire, written in a babbling conversational tone. This is where all the miscellaneous bits and bobs on this blog end up. You might read some pieces that are parodical or satirical in nature; these will always be marked by a disclaimer at the end for clarity.
All of my reviews are honest and independent, and all thoughts and experiences are entirely my own.
There are affiliate links on this blog. They’re generally at the bottom of reviews and always labeled.
If you click on an affiliate link and then buy something, I get paid a few bucks by the seller as a “thank you” for sending you to their site. These commissions always come at no cost to you.
I only ever form affiliate partnerships with services and brands I trust and feel good about ethically. That’s why you’ll never see an Amazon link on my blog. I hate Jeff Bezos way too much.
When an affiliate link is present on the blog, I will always clearly mark it as such in the text right next to the link. If it isn’t waving its arms and screaming “I’m an affiliate link” at you, it’s not an affiliate link, just a regular ol’ link that doesn’t compensate or sponsor me in any way.
Why are there affiliate links? Firstly, because I want to help my readers know where to look if they’re interested in trying a fragrance after reading my review. Secondly, it’s an unobtrusive way to monetize this blog, which is otherwise a labor of love.
But people can’t live on love alone. They need food and water and shelter and dental insurance and stuff. Monetizing my blog allows me to spend more time blogging that I would otherwise be spending at my several other jobs to achieve those things.
Most reviews I write are for samples that I bought for myself, of my own accord. If I’m ever reviewing a sample that was sent to me for free by a company, I will make that extremely clear, and I will then review that sample in the same honest and independent way I would any other. Because I’d want to know that before reading a product review, and assume you would too.
There is no way to buy a good review from me. I’m always going to share exactly what I actually think of a product, no matter where I got it.
There are no sponsored posts, paid links, or ad placements on my blog.
Your experiences are different from mine. I would absolutely love to hear about them. I really adore receiving comments and hearing what you think and smell, even when it’s entirely different from what I do. The most rewarding thing about writing publicly is having conversations with you, dear reader. Every time I get to connect with someone through a comment is very special to me, and I’m deeply grateful for each and every one.
If you don’t feel like your inquiry is best suited to a comment, you can also contact me here.