How To Trust Your Perfume Reviewer


I feel fortunate that I have been writing about perfume long enough that I don’t think my motives are suspect to others. I have been concerned about some of the tough criticism that many of the young video reviewers have been receiving lately. There seem to be some common themes which recur. Many of them boil down to, “How can I trust this person?” I’d like to address the biggest thing people seem to be annoyed/worried about. Hopefully it will help.

That issue is the receipt of free perfume. If you work hard at giving yourself a presence eventually you will form a relationship with perfume brands. There is a difference between an independent perfumer who is working for themselves versus the large beauty companies. One is by nature more personal while the other is just publicity. With an independent brand you can find the fragrance creators out in the community. With the large brands you must keep knocking on the door until they let you in. It means that most of the reviewers in their early days spend their own money on the large brands while they might receive a free sample from an independent brand because they can make a more personal introduction. The biggest drive of commenting on perfume is content, having enough to make a video or blog post on. The more you do it the more you will start seeing brands reach out to you. This leads to the most important thing you must do; reveal the source of the perfume you are reviewing.

I believe this simple effort is the most important piece of building trust between reviewer and audience. Each person will decide on the style of their content. The fantastic thing is there is a reviewer out there who closely reflects a viewer’s perspective on perfume. I’ve seen a lot of people comment, “the reviewer got it for free they are just a shill.” I can see why that kind of comment makes people shy away from mentioning where the perfume they are talking about came from. It shouldn’t. First rule of doing anything; you can’t please everyone. Second rule; you shouldn’t tie yourself up in knots trying to.

The best reviewers come to it from a deep love of fragrance. That quality is obvious the more time you do it. Once you believe that, it shouldn’t matter where the perfume came from. As long as you share the source with them. That piece of information allows the audience to make up their own mind about whether you are influenced by something given to you for free. If you are genuine the audience will respond by sticking around. It takes a lot of hard work. Nobody builds an audience overnight.

Everyone who makes that first step should know it will get better the more you do it. If you feel like you have something to say about perfume you will be happy to find there are others out there who want to hear you. To build the trust you will need; be passionate, be honest, and have fun. If the reviewer you are watching is doing that. I think you can trust them.

Mark Behnke

3 thoughts on “How To Trust Your Perfume Reviewer

  1. This is what I had to say in rspect to some similar comments under a wonderful review by M Matos for BOGUE PROFUMO's Douleur!:

    "When one receives a bottle for free are you saying that in some way mitigates someone's ability to faithfully and honestly reviewing or evaluating a perfume? In that case everyone needs to strike reviews OF ANYTHING THAT WAS AN EXTRA OR A FREEBIE IN A SWAP you got for free. After all fair is fair, goose for the gander, and all! 😉

    "When sent things for review consideration is is EXACTLY that: you spritz you sniff you scribble…if the Muse moves you to do so. Passion is the driving force behind any art-form and if you can read (and sniff) between the lines you'll get it (hopefully). Brightest blessings and thanks for this opportunity to express myself freely and clearly. Much the same way I call 'em as I sniff 'em…I mean what I say and say what I mean; eventually anyway! Peace!"

    Trust, like most things or any worth in this life have to be earned. It is more often than not a case of "sour grapes" but I like how the author said to me later "DO they really think I would sell my integrity for a free bottle I don't really need?" I don't,but what gets me is why do these people keep watching and complaining if they are so turned off or maybe they just can't believe someone can be honest and grateful simulataneously. To that I have but one salient point to make:

    The Wicked are ever mistrustful.

    Smell swell & be well, and thanks for posting on such a timely topic!
    JR xox

  2. Honesty, clarity, and the giving of reasons for one's opinions, some reflection on why you like or dislike a perfume, are the most important things. If you are consistent in that, then people will trust you. And mind you: the aim cannot be that people will share your opinion, but that they can judge a perfume by it (so far as possile without actually smelling it). I know some reviewers, whom I trust, and sometimes even when they say something negative, based on the justification they give, I am able to tell that I'd probably like the stuff. That is one of the good things that come from being consistent.

    Concerning free bottles: literary criticism works the same way. When was the last time you heard a critic for the NY Review of Books being assailed for not buying those books himself?

  3. This short reflection on the relevance of trust for reviewers and review readers is worth reading. This is certainly an issue for all sorts of reviews (fashion, art, concerts etc.). Yet, the field of perfumes seems to add some specific challenges: The field of perfume reviews is still a pretty recent development. Readers and writers can hardly build on established conventions, categories or even standards. It is a field in flux and still pretty young. Moreover, the special subjectivity of the sense of smell and its deeply sensual/sensational nature is another issue…  Thank you, Mark for sharing your thoughts and your reflective practice!

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