Personalized perfume based on your DNA?

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s lifelong business dreams here, but don’t you think that this perfume company (warning: site plays music), which claims to produce a personalized smell for you “based on your DNA,” could be a little more forthcoming as to what the heck that actually entails?

All I can really glean from the website is that you swab your inner cheek to collect some DNA (with a kit that costs 99$), mail it off to a laboratory, and two weeks later you get back a bottle of cologne supposedly “tailored” to your genome.

Now, I’m no geneticist with a magical perfume lab, but I’m pretty skeptical that our current knowledge of genes and human biology is good enough to figure out, from just my DNA, what sort of scent would best compliment my B.O.

Heck, they could probably get better matched results more cheaply if people just swabbed their sweaty underarms and sent that in instead.

Adding to the sketchiness is the F.A.Q., which reveals that there are no refunds for those unhappy with “their” smell, and all smells come in the exact same “clinically approved” (uh, what? this is perfume) 4oz bottle with a mister.

So, er… exactly what is preventing them from charging you 100$ for a Q-tip that they promptly chuck into the garbage, and then sending out mass produced bottles of the exact same scent? How would anyone know the difference?

(HT: Mark7300 at the Skeptic’s Guide Forums)

20 Responses to Personalized perfume based on your DNA?

  1. dianarn says:

    Just another way of getting dumb people to give away a sample of their DNA so it can be put in a national archive.

  2. dianarn says:

    Oh, and in their “About Us” section, they misspelled HIPAA. You’d think a professional and respectable company would take the time to spell correctly, especially when referring to a law about patient privacy. I’m definitely buying from them!!!

  3. Bad says:

    I’m learning less towards the possibility of them putting your DNA sample in an archive, and more them summarily dumping it in the trash. Remember, the “lab fee” is the bulk of your initial 99$ downpayment on your cologne. The only thing they actually have to send you for that kit is a Q-tip, a plastic baggie, and a return envelope.

  4. dianarn says:

    Heh, not when they’re looking for the billion dollar genome. :)

  5. Janice says:

    After all the tv shows that use DNA to fight crime I can see that as a concern. But there are actually several companies that are now doing DNA based products as DNA comes to the forefront to authenticate products now.

    I looked up the cost of DNA processing and it runs from $99.99 to $599.99 depending on the type of testing you request. Also, DNA testing is becoming a the number one way to identify your kids. There are a lot of things going on in the DNA industry right now.

    Fragrance made exclusively from my DNA, why not? We leave the DNA everywhere anyway so why not.

  6. Bad says:

    Because it doesn’t make any sense. The phrase “based on” doesn’t have any logical connection from DNA to smell. DNA does not have a smell. People may have a particular body odor and one ultimately based on their DNA. But we do not have the ability to judge what someone’s smell will be from just looking at their DNA, and, even sillier: if we want to know what someone smells like so that we can match a fragrance to them, it would be far easier to simply get a sample of that smell in the first place.

    This is almost certainly a scam, meant to simply play on the hype of DNA rather than any sensible reason to involve a DNA test in the process.

  7. JJ says:

    Hey, these guys just got in with celebrities at 2008 TV Land Awards. Celebrities are praising this concept. Can’t be to much of a scam if they are getting that kind of attention. Also, looked through google, there are pages and pages of comments on this company. People seem skeptical, but there are many trend magazines saying it is the next upcoming product.

    Went to their site to, seems pretty nice. Maybe they got your message and took music off. Pictures of some celbrities to from their award show.

    We leave our DNA everywhere we go, dead skin cells, saliva on glasses and forks in restaurants and in the gym, hair in bathroom etc… Why not get perfume? I’m open to the idea since Celebrities are.

  8. Bad says:

    Celebrity endorsements certainly raise the profile of the product, but none of that actually answers the questions or skepticism, and celebrities will happily endorse all sorts of scams and woo. They aren’t exactly the most skeptical demographic.

    In short, they still haven’t explained how perfume “based on your DNA” is any different than “a random perfume smell given per customer.” And while they claim that each fragrance is unique, there’s little proof, because they never explain how it is that DNA translates into specific choices in fragrance: not even in the vaguest and most general sense.

  9. […] Perfume Scam Gathers Steam Longtime Skeptic’s Carnival readers might remember an item I wrote about “DNA-based” perfume way back when. Well, it seems that “My DNA Fragrance” has taken a step up in the world, securing a couple of […]

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