Pre-Christmas review: J. Herbin Scented Ink


I have been trying to find a way to do ink reviews for this blog but have never gotten down to doing any — so when I was sponsored this J. Herbin Scented Ink set from Fook Hing Trading Co., I knew I had to design a nice ink review!


5 Colours of the J. Herbin Encres Parfumées (Scented Inks)

J. Herbin is a French brand specializing in calligraphy supplies, and I guess it is safe to say that it is one of the more popular European ink brands for fountain pen users. Offering a wide range of colours to choose from, I often find myself unable to decide which colours I really want! That’s made even worse when I went to Paris and spotted J. Herbin ink taps — now, that’s pure torture! 🙁 So when I was offered these inks for a review and giveaway, I gladly accepted and instantly went to buy a new notebook to use as an ink journal.


J. Herbin ink dispensers, Georges & Co., Paris! Who could resist that?!

The J. Herbin Encres Parfumées (which means “Perfumed Inks” in French) come in 5 different colours. The most basic description for the colours would have been Red, Blue, Amber, Green, and Purple. That pretty much covers the main colours that fountain pen people use (with the exception of Black, of course). But going deeper into the names that these scented inks have been christened, we can know where the colours (and scents) have been inspired from.

Herbin-Scented-inksA little background information: according to the J. Herbin website, these inks have been designed and matched with floral water (also knowns as hydrosols) of rose, lavender, orange, apple, and violets (note: the flowers, not the fruits). And of course, these fragrances all come from Grasse, a town in the south of France (Provence region), which I often call “the perfume haven”. Provence itself is a region that I am totally in love with: blue sky, Mediterranean climate… a place I aspire to live or retire in! Before I get too dreamy, let’s get back to the main topic: the inks!

I’ll explain first how I do my ink journaling. I fill a pen with the ink, and prepare a form on a page of the nice little notebook that I bought. I have a page per ink, so I include information such as the name of the ink, the pen used, ink properties like shading and drying time, a cotton swab test, a glass dip pen test… I also have a writing sample of a paragraph of words taken from places like novels or Wikipedia at random. This is to have an idea of how the colour looks like in writing. Finally, I have my water drop test where I have a written phrase, a coloured blotch of ink, and a cotton swab blotch of ink, and I drip water from about 5cm above the page onto the 3 samples, let them soak in for a few seconds, and absorb the excess water with tissue paper. Fountain pen inks are water-based and get washed off easily, and this test is to see how resistant each ink is with water.

As it is my first time using scented ink, I wasn’t sure if it may spoil my pens or not — being a little paranoid about such things sometimes — so I chose to fill my lower value Chinese pens with the inks.

Chinese pens

My Chinese pens inked with the J. Herbin Scented Inks, and my ink journal is a very affordable little notebook from Daiso. It doesn’t take much to invest in ink journaling!

The series of scented inks is called Les Subtiles (The Subtle) and can be purchased separately, or together like in this pack of 5. This special pack provides you 10mL “essences” or samples of the 5 different inks, thus named “Les Essences Subtiles“. We have Rose Red, Lavender Blue, Amber Orange, Apple Green, and Violet Purple. Have a look at how they look like, and my comments for each colour:


J. Herbin Scented Ink, Rose Red.

Rose red: it’s a strong red colour but with a hint of pink, that reminds me of the colour of a young rose. You may not be able to spot the pinkness in the scan I attached in this post because somehow I other, I could not get the hue right! Elegant and charming colour. Dries on this paper really quickly (about 4 seconds) so it’s ideal for me as a leftie as it won’t rub off onto my hands while I write quickly. The water drop test shows that it is not so resistant to water attack, as almost all of the ink has been taken off in the areas where the water touched.


J. Herbin Scented Ink: Lavender Blue

Herbin stale-blue-vs-fresh-blue

Fresh flowers getting old…

Lavender Blue: This is a very muted blue and surprisingly hints almost at lavender purple when it dries in certain areas. Interesting ink. It takes the longest to dry among all 5 inks (about 17 seconds or so) but it seems to be dependent on the writing angle of my pen and how the ink is laid onto the paper. In any case, I’m pretty sure it dries the slowest. Water resistance is as poor as the red — most of the colour is gone with the drops of water.

One very interesting thing about this blue is that the colour comes out saturated and very blue, but when it dries and becomes stale, the colour gets more and more muted. It is exactly like actual lavenders, where the young flowers show vibrant and deep colours, while the older flowers turn more earthy and “faded”! While colour changing is not something I’d prefer in inks, I think it’s so incredible how very much like the actual flower it represents this ink can be, that it cheered me up immediately! 😀 Lavender Blue, you are very much forgiven. 🙂



J. Herbin Scented Ink: Amber Orange

Amber Orange: This colour is another earthy-looking colour, and a little more muted. It has medium drying time compared to the other inks (6 seconds or so). Actually, the orange flower has white petals, and this amber colour is not reminiscent of the orange fruit, so I wondered what it actually represents. I concluded later that the closest colour to this shade probably comes from the anther (pollen-producing part) of the orange flower, which is usually of a rather amber-gold colour. On the orange flower, this little speck of gold appears in the centre of the petals, giving the flower a nice little embellishment. On paper, the ink comes out amber indeed, almost like a gold without the bling. The water resistance test turned out pretty decently, as not much ink was taken away, and you could still read the words.



J. Herbin Scented Ink: Apple Green

Apple Green: Now this is a really cheerful colour, the happiest of the lot. It is so bright and light that it could pass off as highlighter ink! This green dries really quickly (3 seconds) and ties with the Violet Purple in terms of drying time. Clearly, this ink colour represents the fruit and not the flower, as green apples are equally brightly coloured as this ink. It is very light in shade, and the water took off most of the ink, leaving almost no trace of the original words. So this ink has poor water resistance.



J. Herbin Scented Ink: Violet Purple

Finally, we come to the Violet Purple ink and once again, like the red, I couldn’t seem to capture the right hue and saturation of the ink colour! This is a very strong and bright colour like the red, and looks more cheerful and indigo-ish than the scan turned out. This ink has also a short drying time at about 3 seconds like the Apple Green. With the water drop test, I feel it’s a pretty decent ink as you can still see the words after water has been dripped onto it, indicating good water resistance.

To be perfectly honest with you, I am pretty sensitive to new smells and tend to adapt slower to them. When I opened these 5 bottles of perfumed inks, I was overwhelmed by the scents and didn’t like them at all, especially the violet and rose ones. They smelt like fragrant chemical and was this close to giving me a headache (yes, I get headaches easily if I’m offended by smells). I thought the room was going to smell of the fragrances for a long time. It’s probably because the inks have been capped for some times, and all the top notes of the fragrance escaped in a hurry when I opened the bottles. After a while, either I got used to the fragrance or the top notes are less saturated, I felt that the smells of the inks were less overwhelming!

After writing in my ink journal, I tried smelling the inks on the paper. You don’t actually get the same strong smell from the bottle, and the scent is more like an undertone rather than obvious.

Herbin different colours on round stickers

Anyway, what do you think of the ink colours? My conclusion is that I really love them and will definitely continue using them. Hmm in that case, 10mL per ink wouldn’t be enough for me at all! Also, 2 favourite colours would have to be the Apple Green and the Rose Red, with the Violet Purple coming in a very close 3rd. I just love all these bright, happy colours! Also, the fast drying time coincides with my preferred colours, which is really important to me as a leftie.

Giveaway-Herbin-Scented Inks

Today’s post has been long (but informative, I hope!), and I’m sure you are excited about the giveaway. Fook Hing has generously sponsored 2 sets of this J. Herbin Scented Ink to 2 lucky readers of my blog! The usual rules apply: as long as you have a mailing address, and enter via the Rafflecopter widget below, you stand a chance to win. The contest ends on 13 December 2014, and 2 lucky winners will be picked to receive one set of the inks each!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In Singapore you can get these J. Herbin Scented Inks from Fook Hing Trading Co. They also have a nice range of J. Herbin inks — just pop by their store and you can pick and choose. 🙂

If you are from the US or Canada, you can get them from good old Amazon, of course!

And for the rest of you, I don’t have a list of where you could get these inks, but I’m sure there are retailers from where you are (such as Georges & Co. in Paris, France)!

55 Responses

  1. tani P. 11 December 2014 / 11:07 PM

    Don’t know why, but I’m such a sucker for the Apple Green. Curious about the scented part…

  2. QL 11 December 2014 / 10:16 PM

    I wonder how exactly do they smell like!

  3. Olli Massala 11 December 2014 / 9:40 PM

    Look good, what was the glass pen you used? I have always wanted to see/try a glass nib (maybe not try as glass is probably quite fragile)

    • Maybelline 13 December 2014 / 12:56 AM

      It’s a Herbin glass pen. Yes it feels fragile so I always wrap it back in paper before storing it!

  4. Rosa Aponte 10 December 2014 / 4:13 AM

    They are all so pretty but my favorite has to be Rose Red!

  5. buntyw 9 December 2014 / 5:23 AM

    Sorry I gave my name as Gill in the Rafflecopter!!

    • Maybelline 9 December 2014 / 7:25 AM

      Okay, you wont get it if you are chosen as winner…………. Haha just kidding!!

  6. buntyw 9 December 2014 / 5:19 AM

    Rose Red

  7. Marji 8 December 2014 / 10:19 PM

    Lavender blue seems least like a usual color.

  8. Kelvyanne Teoh 8 December 2014 / 11:47 AM

    Rose Red — nice rich colour!

  9. D. Murphy 8 December 2014 / 1:05 AM

    There are so many things that trigger memories and scent is one of the strongest. These would make a great addition in letter writing to friends and family.

  10. Sin Yi 7 December 2014 / 8:34 PM

    The Apple Green looks really nice. I have never tried to use green inks in my fountain pen, but this might be the colour I would choose for a refreshing feel to my writings. (It makes it hard for others to peek at what I am writing too.)

  11. Pingback: Sunday Inkings #11
  12. Ryan Gilbert 7 December 2014 / 8:56 AM

    I really love that green! I don’t have enough greens in my life. 🙂

  13. Tan Jia Hui 7 December 2014 / 7:39 AM

    Love the rose red. Can never resist a colour with hints of pink inside.

  14. Peter Ogden 6 December 2014 / 3:07 PM

    Lavender Blue is my favorite

  15. Heather Tisdell 6 December 2014 / 1:11 PM

    I like the apple green and rose red! Finding a good red is really difficult!

  16. maura A 6 December 2014 / 12:39 PM

    I loved the Lavender Blue best…but all of them are so pretty! How much fun those must be to write with!!

  17. Lira 6 December 2014 / 12:28 PM

    Rose Red and that awesome green are my favorites!

  18. Vincent 6 December 2014 / 11:48 AM

    Rose red is my favourite, but all of these inks look oh so enticing.

  19. fishcracker 6 December 2014 / 11:47 AM

    Rose red and lavender blue for me! Great and informative review! 🙂

  20. Sergio Valencia 6 December 2014 / 5:28 AM

    i am liking the Apple Green and the lavender blue

  21. Ashley C 5 December 2014 / 3:49 AM

    Surprisingly, I’m really favoring the Lavender Blue.

  22. Justin Seow 4 December 2014 / 10:15 PM

    Violet Purple!

  23. Brandon Si 4 December 2014 / 9:55 PM

    Always felt trying these inks but never quite did commit to it. Now I have a chance!

  24. Sia Jiazheng 4 December 2014 / 6:26 PM

    Love the inks!

  25. Derek Yu 4 December 2014 / 3:41 PM

    Rose red and violet purple look quite fun to write with.

  26. Ning 4 December 2014 / 3:00 PM

    Love the lavender blue!

  27. nicthegeek 4 December 2014 / 1:18 PM

    The Rose red for me! I’ve been slightly obsessed with all hues of darker red, plum and burgundy inks recently, and honestly, the J Herbin ink would be a nice addition for a J Herbin ink ‘virgin’ 😀

  28. Lim Eleen 4 December 2014 / 1:15 PM

    The lavender blue is soo pretty, any idea whether there are other inks that look like the dried hue of lavender blue?
    Thanks for the contest!

  29. Sanjay 4 December 2014 / 12:31 PM

    Purple and Red looks good!

  30. Devvy 4 December 2014 / 11:54 AM

    I’m really liking the violet today, though tomorrow it might be the apple green. 🙂

  31. silverscale 4 December 2014 / 10:26 AM

    Hey I really like your written reviews — I bump into them often when I search for reviews of certain inks! 🙂 Thanks for writing!

  32. Rss Lee 4 December 2014 / 10:13 AM

    Apple Green looks nice! Thank you for the write-up and a chance to win! 😀

  33. Marsie C. McLendon 4 December 2014 / 10:09 AM

    I like the Violet Purple, the Aple Green and the Amber Orange, in that order.

  34. Alan 4 December 2014 / 9:27 AM

    Exotic ! I like the lavender blue…

  35. lenaldo 4 December 2014 / 8:39 AM

    That is a nice red. Good for grading exams. 🙂

  36. Milo Sudaria 4 December 2014 / 8:15 AM

    All the colors look very appealing, i would love to win a set! 😀

  37. natsora 4 December 2014 / 7:56 AM

    The lavender blue looks interesting.

  38. Jewel Barron 4 December 2014 / 6:18 AM

    I like the violet purple one!

  39. Onder Cengiz 4 December 2014 / 5:09 AM

    very well colors of course, but i do like apple green most.

  40. yan tat 4 December 2014 / 3:22 AM

    Nice review!:)

  41. WIlson Ong 4 December 2014 / 2:54 AM

    Looks pretty nice! Always wanted to try a scented ink, esp after hearing about MB’s Je taime ink. Good to know that J.Herbin makes scented inks too!

  42. Angela Watson 4 December 2014 / 2:39 AM

    This was a wonderfully detailed and thorough review of some groovy inks! Thanks for all in depth info.

  43. Clarence 4 December 2014 / 1:33 AM

    I’d love to try these beautiful inks for writing in my reflection journal.

  44. jolene 4 December 2014 / 1:20 AM

    Love the colours! I haven’t had the chance to try J Herbin inks before, so this all sounds fascinating to me 😛 I wonder if the lavender blue smells like the fresh lavender smells i miss so much

  45. Tappy Typewriter 4 December 2014 / 1:02 AM

    I am loving Apple Green and Rose Red colour-wise! Scent-wise… Hmm, I’ll update if I do get to sniff them! 🙂

  46. Thomas Tan 4 December 2014 / 12:50 AM

    They can be an addition to my ink journal!

  47. jwtan 4 December 2014 / 12:45 AM

    Colors look quite pastel and actually pretty nice!

I would love to hear your thoughts!