The Skinny on DSH Perfumes Special Formula X

Several of us have been wondering how to interpret this fragrance, which Ms Hurwitz uses as a diagnostic tool.  I sent an email asking for more information, and this is what Dawn has kindly sent me.   Please note that this information is copyrighted to DSH Perfumes, and I am merely sharing it. 

The formula that I developed to “test” my clients’ skin types in order to get a better impression of
their chemistry. SO many have remarked, “I love THAT… I want THAT!” that I have decided to
give it you. I feel this is my ULTIMATE skin scent! It truly (and simply) amplifies your own skin and
reflects it back as soft clean skin.
It’s YOU… only better!
Now, you can use my DSH Special Formula X at home to test your own skin (and your friends! ) to
see which skin scent you have and get a better sense of what families of fragrance are best for you.

How to use DSH Special Formula X to analyze your skin scent at home:

– Try ‘Formula X on your wrist or forearm.
– Notice how the scent changes from a super light, slightly musky aroma to either a more floral,
powdery, warm- woody, creamy sweet, acrid, bitter, green (grassy) or salty – musky type of scent.
(* If there is no noticeable change in the scent then you have a “neutral” skin type. This means that
you can wear most fragrance families with relative ease. You have the greatest number of choices
when finding a perfume to suit you.
(some of the most common) SKIN TYPES:

Powdery-sweet: With this skin type, be careful of perfumes that are too sweet or floral as they may
get too powdery or cloying as they wear. Fresh Citrus and green scents may be the best families of
fragrance for this skin type.

Creamy-sweet: Be careful of Gourmand and Fruity fragrances with this skin type as they may be too
sweet, syrupy and heavy. Light florals, citrus, green and ozone-marine scents are recommended for
this skin type. Spicy Orientals can also be worn.

Floral-sweet: This skin type should be careful of too heady- tropical floral scents such as Gardenia
and Tuberose. Light, fresh florals, light fruit scents, citrus and warm, oriental scents tend to work
best for you.

Woody: Woody, Conifer (piney) or too fresh scents tend to turn either dull or spiky (too sharp) on this
skin type. Warm incense, oriental, spice and citrus scents work best for this skin type. Gourmand
scents can also be worn to good effect.

Green: With this skin type, be careful of too fresh,grassy-sporty scents as well as acquatic-ozone
scents as they tend to be sharp and cloying. Soft florals, warm – woody scents and rich orientals are

Acrid: This is a more unusual skin type, unless you are a smoker. This imparts a slightly burnt aroma
to the skin. Simple citrus scents (lemon or bergamot), deep incense, spice or woody scents are
recommended. Be careful of floral and fruity scents as they tend to ‘turn’.

Salty-musky: Light fresh citrus, green- sporty scents , conifer, woody and spicy oriental fragrances
are recommended for this skin type. Be careful when attempting an acquatic-ozone scent or fruityflorals
as they tend to overpower and become cloying.

Bitter-sharp: With this skin type, light fruity florals, soft musks and even sweet gourmand scents may
be best. Fresh scents, spring green florals and woody – conifer scents tend to become too sharp or intense.

copyright © 2005 DSH / PARFUMS des BEAUX ARTS LLC ~ All Rights Reserved

Okay, this is me again.  I’m not really finding “my” skin up there on Dawn’s list.  Am I neutral?  I can’t tell, because a) in the sample vial, Special Formula X doesn’t smell like anything at all to me, and b) what it does smell like on my skin isn’t described.  What it smells like to me is clean sun-dried linens, with some florals waaaaay off in the background.  It’s a lovely quiet smell.  I suppose that the “super light, slightly musky” smell that neutral skin gets might be closest, because “Floral – soapy” is how I’d describe what I’m getting.  It could simply be a difference in semantics that’s throwing me here.  Remember that discussion on scents that smell like floral soap?  Well, it’s basically that.  
“Floral-sweet” isn’t quite right as to what SFX smells like, and I adore the heavy white florals that this skin type is supposed to avoid.  “Powdery-sweet” isn’t right either, and neither is “Creamy-sweet.”  In fact, it’s fairly floral but not sweet at all on me.  It could be “slightly musky,” assuming that “slightly musky” means reminiscent of laundry.  It certainly doesn’t smell like the scents that come to mind when I think of Musk – Jovan Musk for Woman, Skin Musk, or Serge Lutens Clair de Musc – SFX is much, much lighter on the musk aspect.  But I’m thinking that Neutral is closest to how SFX behaves on me than anything else.
What I find really interesting about this list is the categories of scents each skin type should avoid.  Again, though, I don’t see the fragrance types that bother me anywhere on the list: citrus, balsams, and herbal-woody (like the dreaded patchouli, which I would swear on a stack of Bibles feeds on my skin and grows, the way yeast feeds on sugar).
Anybody have any thoughts?
Image is “Cupide430 testing” from opacity at Flickr, some rights reserved.  Seems that the photographer was at Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs, sniffing with friends (you go, girl!). 

16 thoughts on “The Skinny on DSH Perfumes Special Formula X”

  1. I’d guess a laundry association must be due to a musk — maybe it seems so light because you’re anosmic to something in the mix?

    My thoughts: It seems just as plausible that this scent diagnoses the tendencies of your nose as your skin type/chemistry. In other words, the way it smells to you may be a factor of which materials you’re more and less sensitive to. If it contains very small amounts of each material, the one you’re most sensitive to may stand out.

    It would be interesting to put it on and then ask a bunch of other people how it smells to them (on you) and see if you get different responses.

    But with a very subtle scent, it seems that vocabulary would get in the way — people who aren’t perfume nuts don’t always know how to describe what they smell…

    Interesting stuff!

    1. Yep, I have to assume that Laundry = Musk here. Funny enough, though, it doesn’t smell like what I’ve been calling “laundry musk” in my mind. I know what THAT smells like.

      And as I’ve pointed out before, my mother is a nut for clean-smelling perfumes, and she used to wear, among other things, Jovan Musk. This just is nowhere near as warm and skinlike a scent as any musk fragrance I’ve smelled before.

  2. Elisa’s addition of the nose variable to the puzzle is timely, because I feel sure that the reason for variation in people’s appreciation/perception of scent is partly down to how we smell it.

    I would be squarely in neutral territory according to Formula X, which is straight up light musk on me, and yet as you may recall, I have timorous skin, which shies away from almost all strong scents, especially urinous leather chypres a la Cabochard, and things containing the dreaded civet. But too much spice / white floral / leather / woods / tobacco / sweetness / anything is all uniformly bad. So my own personal reading of the test was that I am most drawn to gentle scents exactly like Special Formula X, and this is so. You will never hear me complain that a scent is too subtle or “quiet”. Scents like Vanilla & Anise, APOM pour Femme and Lys Carmin are pitched just right.

    1. I also think part of the reason scents smell different on other people is because they are farther away. When I wear a scent that has a note I’m sensitive too, it smells nice from a distance, but if I put my nose right up to my arm, all I smell is that one note. But I might not even notice that note on someone walking by.

      So far, the only things I can have “too much” of are aldehydes, woody amber, and spices. But I’d hate to be told I should avoid an entire category! I want some of everything.

      1. Distance might play a part.

        Although I notice that when I hug my aunts, winding up with my nose practically in their necks (they’re all taller than I am), they smell wonderful. We’re long-huggers, too – no wimpy ten second hugs going on in my family, God forbid. And yet if I smell the fragrances they wear, either on myself or on a scent strip, even the briefest sniffs are vile.

        (Aunt Doris wears Beyond Paradise, Aunt Becky wears Tresor, and Aunt Cindy wears Knowing.)

        I’ll take aldehydes all day long, but you can keep the darn peru balsam…

    2. FS, I think it must be true that perception plays a part in this. You might remember that I frequently whine about the annoying “shaving cream accord” popping up out of nowhere, in things that I wouldn’t have associated with shaving cream based on the notes…

      I think I may have identified the issue. My father always used Old Spice products: deodorant, talcum powder, aftershave. It contains, as well as spices and woods, a heaping dose of some certain type of AMBER. That’s my culprit, I believe, and the Old Spice’s proximity to Dad’s shaving-cream-covered cheeks must be causing some sort of olfactory hallucination to occur in my brain, despite the fact that I haven’t been within fifty yards of my father while he’s shaving for thirty years.

      Perception again, I’m sure of that.

      And what did Mr Bonkers say about SFX? Sounds like the sort of thing he’d like.

      1. Re: distance … it might also be how long it’s been on their skin. Like if you can’t get through the opening of a fragrance, you can skip that when someone else puts it on then shows up a few hours later.

        But isn’t it the base in Lauder fragrances you hate? Or do you hate them the whole time?

        Too bad about Knowing, it otherwise seems like your style.

      2. Well, my guess is that I’ve known my aunts long enough, and seen them frequently enough, over enough varying and lengthy circumstances, that top-heart-base isn’t going to make a difference. I don’t remember hugging an aunt and being repulsed by her scent at any point. (I’m 42. Been around them a LOT. 🙂 )

        Most of the Lauders are disgusting to me all the way through. Knowing I can manage for about an hour on my skin (on paper, it’s almost immediately nauseating).

      3. I wonder what they are doing to those Lauders that makes them smell so good!!!

        Speaking of Lauders, I just tried the new “noir” version of Sensuous, and it smells a LOT like Un Bois Vanille!

  3. I am always amazed at how much perception plays in the way a scent is received. A while ago a few friends and I were passing around different vials and sniffing without wearing. The comments were so different on the same vial.

    Then when we all tried the same perfume, it was hard to believe we were all wearing the same thing once body chemistry took over.

    I keep thinking I’m going to head to Dawn’s website and order some stuff, but then get there and began wading. So many choices. Perhaps just some Special Formula to get started…

    1. And we all have different ways of not only perceiving, but expressing, what we smell! Affected by background and experience…

      … and body chemistry too, I’m convinced, P:TG be cursed. I bought my mother, the No. 5 fan, a small bottle of Eau Premiere last year, and she spritzed a bit on me and then a bit on herself. I was with her all day, doing sniff checks every half hour at least, and at *no point,* not even six hours after spritz, did we smell even vaguely alike. How odd that is.

      I feel like a kid in a candy store at DSH. You could try some of her samplers, to start – or pick a fragrance type and explore that way. I started a couple of years ago with all her carnation scents, and then with a later sample order tried several roses, and since then I’ve just flipped around trying various things for fun.

  4. Interesting post. I must admit I have no idea where to start with DSH perfumes and look forward to checking them out in person in a couple of weeks.

    For me, the right patchouli matches perfectly with my chemistry. Hence, the Borneo addiction. I also do very well with herbal scents and some aquatics.

    There’s the issue of the Changing Nose. Perhaps one’s skin makeup changes as well as we shed cells and grow others.

    Looks like I might fall into the Creamy Sweet category (how precious am I).

    1. Oh, do report back after you visit DSH! Would love to hear what you sniffed, and what you thought. (I’ll bet we pick COMPLETELY different things to sniff, though.) I thought it was interesting that you mentioned Borneo being like your skin smell, only more intense… I’m having a hard time imagining that – probably because patch hijacks my nose.

      So does the “Creamy-sweet skin people should avoid these things and try those things” description seem right at all to you?

  5. Yes, primarily because the avoidance of fruity-floral and gourmand applies to my skin type. Both are overly sweet on me. However, some orientals work very well. Dune – which is both aquatic and oriental – is a good example.

    Borneo does seem to intensify my own smell, as weird as that sounds. LT describes it as ‘Angel in reverse.’ That may be true, because Angel is awful on my skin. Too sweet, too gourmand…syrupy/cloying/nasty. The dry, woodiness of Borneo’s patchouli – and the non-sweet chocolate aspect – is simply perfect.

    I’ll give you a report on DSH when I get back. My first exploration will be her rose perfumes – I suspect dirtyRose will appeal to me.

  6. I have now tried Formula X (regular) on Mr Bonkers and – surprise, surprise! – he couldn’t smell it… : – )

    I call that a result. And right before the DSH test, he also sniffed PG Bois Naufrage on me and declared it to be “the least offensive thing you have put in front of my face in a long while”.

    And interestingly, it didn’t even smell of soap.

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