A while ago Kafka (Kafkaesque) wrote in one of her letters:
Question: just how much must one torment oneself with a perfume that one really dislikes (but doesn’t rise to the level of TOTAL revulsion) before one says, to hell with the review, I want this off me? Normally, I scrub only when in agony and with a headache, but I have much less patience these days and this White Cristal makes me feel as though I’m in a hospital and they’ve just rubbed antiseptic on me.
With her permission I decided to answer the question here.
My knee-jerk reaction was: you shouldn’t suffer at all through testing a perfume you do not like, scrub it off immediately and forget!
But then I stopped myself and looked deeper.
I think it boils down to one’s intent. If you’re looking for the next perfume to like, buy and wear; or you’re writing only about those perfumes you like; or the extend of the negative writing about it in the blog will be: “Here are the notes and the pedigree; tested but it didn’t work for me; next!” – then of course, off it goes after the initial half-test. After all, it’s just a hobby and not a paid job to work through whatever comes your way.
But if you take it upon yourself to write both positive and negative reviews, it comes with some responsibilities. Of course, people are free to do it on their blogs any way they see fit. I’m talking strictly from the moral prospective, how I see it.
While it doesn’t really matter that you write an ode to a perfume you’ve just met, I think chastising a perfume requires a longer courtship. I always remember that negative images and characteristics might be very powerful and much stickier than positive ones. Go and try to shake off the “bathtastic“, “fancy Axe” or an image of Birgit relentlessly checking her son’s diaper.
I’m not saying bloggers shouldn’t do that; I enjoyed all the above-mentioned snarks and, if anybody, those brands can definitely withstand a dozen of such “hits” without even registering their occurrence on the PR seismic scale. But with smaller players it’s important to be mindful.
My position is: we, bloggers, shouldn’t write bad reviews for small niche or indie brands because even a single bad review will represent non-proportionally large segment from the total exposure whereas it’s very subjective and might be influenced by a writer’s mood, weather, stress level and hundreds of other factors. What can come from a subjective positive review for a “bad” perfume? Ten more people decide to pay for a sample and figure out on their own if they like it or not. Most people will not give it a chance after reading a bashing review – even though they might have loved the perfume in question.
But if bloggers want to write negative reviews, to be fair they have to go through at least several testing sessions, no matter how much they dislike the perfume. We are not doctors but since perfumes are our passion and we care about the industry I think we should follow the same principle: Primum non nocere.
Images: my own.