Format Face-off: YouTube Perfume Reviews

It has recently come to my attention that perfume criticism is evolving beyond a merely written medium! Perfume lovers are now posting video reviews on YouTube, which I had previously pretty much only visited to watch clips of kittens playing with Roombas, llamas, and/or dolphins. Are video reviews as effective as written reviews when talking about perfume, or are they a gimmick best left to makeup bloggers? In the name of research, I watched perhaps 50 YouTube perfume reviews, including at least three 24-minute soliloquies by grown-ass women with usernames like *~*sexiibarbiidoll82*~* or teamjacob4lyyfee. I did it for you, y’all. I did it for you. Here are my findings.

  • Video perfume reviews are not overtaking written reviews any time soon. The number of people who exclusively review perfume in their reviews (i.e., not people who usually review makeup and are doing a one-time post on their perfume collection) is really very small. I would estimate it to be around 25 people. Video perfume reviews are also not as highly viewed as one might believe. Katie Puckrik is the most well-known video perfume reviewer. Her videos tend to receive between 15,000-20,000 views total. In contrast, well-established perfume blogs get hundreds of thousands of views each month. Video perfume reviews may be a growing field, but its proponents are relatively few at the moment.
  • Most video perfume reviews are too long. Way too long. I have severe ADHD, but I suspect that even the most patient perfume lovers may not be interested in watching a 12-minute perfume review. Perfume reviewers are not actors, and no one expects them to be. But it is just plain painful to watch someone who is not necessarily a compelling speaker ramble on about a perfume for such a significant span of time. Frankly, I am not interested in watching anything much over two minutes. Katie Puckrik does a very good job of keeping most of her videos around the two-minute-mark, but I can’t say that many others did. In many cases, the length of these videos was the result of frequent non-perfume asides, such as details on how the reviewer’s week is going or complaints about the room’s lighting or temperature. Video editing is a thing, y’all. These do not contribute to your video, and they make me more likely to switch you off and go back to watching kittens.
  • It is really cool to be able to put a face on perfumistas. Far more interesting than perfume itself are the people who are deeply involved in such an odd topic. While written perfume blogs are overwhelmingly run by women (and thank Moses for that), YouTube perfume reviews reveal a surprisingly different picture of the perfumistas behind the computer screen. Most YouTube perfume reviewers are male, and they are a shockingly diverse lot in terms of ethnicity and nationality.
  • Most video perfume reviews are pretty funny, whether intentionally or unintentionally. On the intentional side we have Ms. Katie Puckrik, who calls herself “the Octomom” of perfume collections and indulges in hilariously unappealing perfume descriptions such as “sexy floor wax” or “a recently used bathroom”. My personal choice for unintentional humor is YouTube reviewer hiroyoruzuka. This guy is so bro, y’all. He wears a polo and cocked baseball cap in every video, and starts his New Haarlem review by “giving a shout-out to his boys”. He could not be any more of a bro if he was literally playing lacrosse during his videos. He is Brobi Wan Kenobi. Brodo Baggins. Broseiden, lord of the brocean. And yet, here he is, analyzing the vetiver content of a perfume! I find it delightfully absurd.
  • In general, video perfume reviews are less descriptive than their written counterparts. While many YouTube perfume reviewers provide a great deal of information about a perfume’s packaging and pricing in their reviews, I did not find their descriptions of the scent itself to be as effective as those found in written perfume blogs. I observed that YouTube perfume reviewers frequently fell back on more general descriptions, such as “fresh”, “clean”, or “mature”. They were also less likely to go into detail about what the perfume actually smelled like to them. I hate to say it, but many of the video perfume reviews I watched did not sound all that different from ad copy. It seems far more difficult to evocatively describe a perfume in a video than in writing.

And now, the question you’ve all been waiting for: will Scents of Self be joining the ranks of video perfume reviewers? The answer is no, for two reasons. First, I have an odd, flat voice that is frankly unpleasant to listen to. My voice could not be less suited to video. Second, I am a very literary person. I love to read and write. I love perfume, but I really love reading. My favorite part about being involved in the world of perfume blogging is that it provides me with so much wonderful reading material. I don’t want to make videos; I want to write! However, in the spirit of understanding, I present my one and only attempt at a video perfume review. As it turns out, it is a good thing that I am not particularly interested in making video reviews, because I am not very good at them.

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26 thoughts on “Format Face-off: YouTube Perfume Reviews

  1. Ari, your video is adorable! Plus those kitty kisses from Zelda are too cute. I could honestly listen to your voice all day, which is perfectly lovely.

    I can understand video reviews aren’t your thing but I’m so glad you did this one. It was great to see you. I’m sure Drew will love Vanille Insensee, it’s a great perfume.

    1. Aww, thank you so much, Tara! I gained a new appreciation for the difficulties of video reviews after making that video. I kept running out of air!

      I always felt that Vanille Insensee was a little too masculine for me, so I’m hoping that it will be perfect for Drew!

  2. I agree with almost all of your points above, Youtube will never be my medium, neither to watch nor to do reviews there myself. But I do love to see my favorite bloggers “live”, so thank you very much for that. I enjyoed this a lot and you, your voice and Zelda are perfectly lovely.

    1. Thank you so much, Birgit! I love seeing favorite bloggers “live” too, at least once. I especially like EauMG’s videos- she’s so funny, and reminds me so much of a favorite English teacher.

  3. Could Zelda be more adorable?!

    I’m with you on YouTube reviews, I don’t really watch them but I do like Katie Puckrik, she’s pithy & funny and she has a great way of describing scent whereas others seem to be less rehearsed and struggle with what to say.

    I loved your video and think you, your voice and Zelda are all wonderful 🙂 I had an embarrassing LOL moment at work with the answer to question 1, I was in stitches.

    1. I liked Katie’s videos too! I was actually surprised to discover that she was American, her writing is so fun and witty that I had assumed she was British 😉 Her videos also seemed much more polished than most other reviewers’, but I assume that she must have more resources by this point.

      I am so glad that you enjoyed the video! Zelda was a very unwilling participant, clearly she does not realize the potential of her movie star looks.

      1. She has spent quite a lot of time over here so I totally get where your coming from, she is very anglo-american. I agree about her resources too, I’m sure that most YouTubers would be as good with the right equipment.

        Zelda needs to learn, she’s a star in the making. Like others have said it’s great to see a fellow blogger ‘live’, everyone should do a YouTube video!

  4. I love that you make me laugh out loud! The story about losing your friend in the fatal comma accident is priceless. I also love the broisms.
    I’m so happy to see a fellow introvert taking the piss out of bad video reviewers. Brilliant work writing and videoing, and I’d like to personally thank you for putting yourself out there in an uncomfortable medium purely for our enjoyment! So selfless!!

    1. She was never the same after the commas… *sniffle sniffle*
      I’m so glad that you enjoyed the video. It was indeed pretty uncomfortable and awkward to see myself on screen, I have a newfound appreciation for the people who do that on a daily basis.

  5. I completely agree, although I will admit, I do love getting to see one of my favorite bloggers “live” in action. You are fantastically charming, and I suspect that you would very quickly find a willing audience should you choose to adopt the format! 🙂

    1. Oh, thank you so much! I could never do it again, making even that one video felt so awkward! I am very happy with the wonderful audience I am lucky enough to have already 😀

  6. I want to feel what words evoke, feel the descriptions and almost believe I can sniff the notes of a review…I do not want to see a video of the reviewer….I believe it distracts from the mission, of describing a perfume. I think many bloggers choose illustrations that lend themselves to the fragrances, and it is also nice to see the packaging, the bottle….youtube is good for many other things, for me not fragrance reviews. I am happy when a blogger posts a picture of themselves, that is enough for me.

    1. I’m with you, Judith. One type of video review that I did like was when the reviewer would talk about their perfume collection. That was a fun exercise, but I wasn’t as convinced by videos for individual perfume reviews.

    1. You are welcome to try to squeeze Zelda! But I do not recommend it, unless you like being scratched half to death. I need to cut her nails, but I’m too scared to get that close to them…

  7. I’m also literary, so blogs are very much my thing, more so than youtube or the forums. However, I’m excited about the growing diversity of mediums. I suspect some of the awkwardness of youtube reviews is the growing pains of something that’s so new, and just like blogs, I say the more the merrier! More people talking about perfume, more *kinds* of people talking about perfume, yaaay! Give it a few years, and I predict we’ll see more like Katie.

    Oh, and I totally get the embarassment of perfume pronunciation. I took three years of high school french and got honors, but all I took away from it is the ability to tell you my name, that I have a large yellow pen, and several ways of asking you to make love to me. (You don’t want to know how I initally pronounced Hermès)

    1. I totally agree with this! In a few years, I expect to see many strong video reviewers. Making those video reviews is not easy! You feel so silly the whole time, talking to yourself on a computer screen.

      I am wondering how you learned some of those French phrases in high school French…

  8. I know what you mean about length – I have been watching a lot of makeup tutorial videos lately, which can be up to 10 minutes long, and 4 minutes in, as they are still pussyfooting around showing the packaging, I want to the shout at the screen: “For goodness’ sake put that lipstick on your face – NOW!!”

    I will come back and watch your video from my iPhone – the sound card is bust on this machine. : – (

    And I do agree that Katie P has got the video review off to a fine art, in terms of both timing and content, with an added dollop of zany humour.

    1. Oh dear god, YouTube makeup tutorials drag on forever. But I do think they are at least probably a better use of video technology than perfume reviews are!

  9. That was hardly as bad as you made it out in your introduction… I’m not sure anybody likes the sound of their own voice…except perhaps very self-imbued characters?! ^_^

    And don’t worry about pronouncing fancy-schmancy French words: that’s the beauty of a video, you can just hold the bottle up to the camera!

    1. Well, thank you, Laura! I never much noticed my voice until I got to college, when everyone started asking me why I had a Bulgarian accent. (Spoiler: I do not have a Bulgarian accent.) Now I am self-conscious about it!

  10. I made my husband watch this as soon as I started it and started laughing. Well done you! I know, videos are hard. I don’t intend to do them either. But this one was fun!

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