What happened when I let AI pick my perfume | plmubl.com

What happened when I let AI pick my perfume

Scent is such a personal experience. I’d never trust anyone else to nail my signature perfume, and yet, I let a robot pick my fragrance for me.

AI perfume may sound so sci-fi and space age that it feels far away, but it’s much closer than you’d think. In fact, it’s reached the high street. That’s how I found myself stood in The Fragrance Shop’s flagship store on Oxford Street, while a machine mixed together three bespoke scents in front of me.

The fragrance retailer has partnered up with EveryHuman, an algorithmic perfumery library and the world’s first AI guided scent creation platform to offer shoppers the chance to blend a personalised fragrance based on their history, preferences, personality and style.

Getting to know you

After scanning a QR code, the process starts with a questionnaire of 22 in-depth questions designed to work out how you tick. The multi-choice Q&A covers where you grew up, your favourite activities, your style, the colour that best represents you, how talkative, shy and outgoing you are, how rude, forgiving and trusting you are, how original, curious and inventive you are and a range of other inquiry’s. You get to play an active role in the outcome by choosing how sweet, floral, fruity, woody, green, citrusy, leathery, powdery, earthy and fresh you want the fragrance to be on a sliding scale. Likewise you can pick where on the dial you want your scent to fall in terms of its simplicity vs complexity, how modern vs classic it is and how masculine or feminine you’d like it. It gets a little meta towards the end and probes you into disclosing your approach in answering the questions. Were you as honest as possible, challenging the system, impersonating your favourite character, or chasing your dream alter ego, for instance?

The algorithm takes all your answers into account and gets to work creating three different scent expressions based on what you input.

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How the machine works

There are over 48 glass vials holding individual notes like “pepper” “sandalwood” “metallic” “peach” “black musk”. It gives the algorithm endless scent combinations to play with. The platform generates a code with your three scent profiles, which you input into the computer at the scent station. This tells the machine exactly what notes and percentages to mix to create your fragrance. The machine gets to work dispensing each note before its mixed at the end, labelled and released to you to sniff.

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The scents

My first scent surprised me, it was a lot more ambery and oud-y than I was expecting and challenged the softer, more feminine answers I’d given. Instead, it leaned more into the classic, vintage fragrance that I was chasing. The platform allows you to click into each scent to see the breakdown of notes. Number 1 brought sheer notes, white musk, spicy musk and blonde woods together with bergamot, amber, blush and oud, plus a tiny amount of grapefruit, fig and rice milk. Because it includes percentages, I could see that amber made up 7.3% of the scent while oud accounted for 5.2%. It gave me a scent I aspired to – bold, powerful, commanding – but with some of my signature faves, like sheer and blonde woods, softening the edges.

Number 2 gave me a gentler, clean-girl scent with a more simplistic scent profile of just 5 notes (neroli, sheer, sandalwood, white musk and woody amber). It was an easy and personal skin scent that felt like a natural fit. Pretty, subtle, delicate and perfect for everyday.

Number 3 fell somewhere between the two, it was clean and creamy, but with a sweep of resin-y depth that smelt a little more mysterious and old-money. Looking at the scent DNA though, it was hard to see where the sweeter, creamy note was coming from. Metallic made up the biggest proportion of the scent (30.9%). I was surprised by how much I liked it – it was so close to perfect – but the resin caught a little bit in the back of my throat.

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Once you’ve sniffed all three, you have the option to tweak one, amping up certain notes, while dialling back others. I couldn’t resist tweaking number 3 to make it more feminine. I added in a big dose of vanilla and peach and rolled the resin and woody-amber right back. It moved the scent away from the heavier heritage, old-school vibe and landed on something soft, nuzzly and beautiful.

Since taking them home, each scent has grown on me. It’s funny I think the softly sweet skin scents are where I’m at and the richer vintage-y scents are where I’m going. On certain days and in certain moods I feel very sophisticated in number 3. The longer I wear it, the more the creaminess comes out and the amber maintains a quiet confidence. But my own tweak to create number 4 is an effortless fit and my go-to for everyday. Often, I like to circle round to the sparkling soapiness of number 2 and perhaps, come winter, I’ll gravitate toward number 1.

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The price

Bespoke perfumery is not something that tends to come cheap, but this AI perfume collab has made personalised scents so much more accessible. For £45 you get the three 5ml original scents custom-blended for you. To make a tweak and print a new bottle, it’s an extra £12 and if you find a scent you love you can get a refill, also for £12.

Currently, EveryHuman is only available in person at The Fragrance Shop’s flagship Oxford Street store, but the plan is to roll it out to more shops nationwide. In the meantime, you can give it a go online.

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