Have Perfume Atomizer – Will Travel

 

Almost everybody in my surroundings knows that I am “into perfumes.” That’s how I got into my possession two different types of perfume atomizers. From there it was a short stretch to getting a couple more and putting them all to test – especially since I had this trip coming up with six flights two of which were longer than eleven hours.

I tested five decanting atomizers – plain bottle, Nordstrom Atomizer, Flo, Travalo and sen7. Ratings (where applicable) are on the 1-5 scale with 5 being the highest. My evidence is anecdotal; I do not claim a scientific approach or validity of the experiment.

Atomizers

Brand: No name plain glass bottle with clear top from SKS-Bottle
Capacity: 5 ml
Refillable from: bottles with removable sprayer, integrated sprayer and splash bottles
Ease of filling: 3
Material of the perfume container:
glass
Leak proof: 4 (based on a dozen I tested)
Price, availability and options: $17.28 + S&H for 48 atomizers online
Pros: cheap per piece and works with all bottle types; made of glass
Cons: not as leak proof as other solutions: bottles from the same batch might be better or worse; for bad ones even parafilm doesn’t improve the situation – they leak during air travel (read “being mailed”); requires additional accessories to transfer perfumes from splash bottles; breaks easily.

Atomizer SKS

Brand: Nordstrom Atomizer
Capacity: 5 ml (it says 0.5oz on the page but it’s a mistake)
Refillable from:
bottles with removable sprayer, integrated sprayer and splash bottles
Ease of filling: 3
Material of the perfume container:
glass
Leak proof: 5 (based on two I tested)
Price, availability and options: $5 online and at Nordstrom stores, comes in 12 colors.
Pros: made of glass and protected by aluminum with anodized finish; great choice of colors; works with all bottle types
Cons: It requires additional accessories to transfer perfumes from a splash bottle and experience to fill it from a bottle with a sprayer.

Nordstrom Atomizer

Brand: FLO
Capacity: 4.7 ml
Refillable from: bottles with removable sprayer, integrated sprayer and splash bottles
Ease of filling: 5
Material of the perfume container: glass
Leak proof: 5 (based on one I tested)
Price, availability and options: $10-$15 online and in some stores; two sizes – 4.7 ml and 6 ml; 3 colors.
Pros: works with any bottle type without additional accessories; made of glass with aluminum cover and built-in funnel that makes it easy to fill it from any bottle
Cons: comes just in 3 colors; it’s bigger than other atomizers.

Atomizer Flo

Brand: Travalo Classic
Capacity: 4 ml
Refillable from: perfume bottles with removable sprayer only
Ease of filling: 5 (for bottles with a removable sprayer); 0 (for splash bottles and integrated sprayers)
Material of the perfume container: plastic
Leak proof: 5 (based on one I tested)
Price, availability and options: $10-$20 online and in many stores; two sizes – 4 ml and 5 ml, 10 colors, with or without the aluminum cover, spray or roller.
Pros: It’s really easy to fill from an appropriate bottle; it’s durable (plastic with aluminum protection cover), looks good, doesn’t leak even under pressure and allows you to have at least 10 travel companions (based on color choices)
Cons: It doesn’t work with a splash bottle; made of plastic; the place where it connects to a bottle picks up the scent (from filling in, not because it leaks) so potentially it’ll transfer to your pocket or a purse if you keep it in there; too expensive for the purpose.

Atomizer Travalo

Brand: sen7 classic
Capacity: 5.8 ml
Refillable from: bottles with removable sprayer, integrated sprayer and splash bottles
Ease of filling: 4
Material of the perfume container: plastic
Leak proof: 4 (based on one I tested)
Price, availability and options: $38 – $499 (contact them for pricing for atomizers with diamonds – I’m not kidding) online and in some B&M stores in Europe, comes in more than 20 colors, different finishes including sterling silver and rubber; with funnel or “easyfill  system”
Pros: works with any bottle type since it comes with its own funnel; polished gun-metal finish looks very stylish and protects great against breakage; it doesn’t even look like an atomizer; it’s extremely cute, pleasant for the eye and to the touch
Cons: perfume container is made of plastic; that plastic part’s strange shape resulted in me overfilling it and it leaked (at least I told myself that was the reason); the price is totally outrageous even before we go into precious metals option. But all that is nothing compared to the main complaint: it’s not that easy to use – I mean the actual use, once you managed to fill it in with your favorite perfume. It’s hard to get a good grip of to actually spray the perfume on yourself. So it’s a good thing it doesn’t break easily once it slips through your fingers.

Atomizer Sen7

 

None of the atomizers I tested addressed the issue of marking decants, which will be a problem once you make more than one in a similar container – even if you were to go with different colors. I used my label maker but those labels make atomizers less appealing. I’d recommend to manufacturers to look into some materials that allow creating a label by applying pressure with something like a stylus and then affixing that label to the atomizer or at least to designate some space on the atomizer for writing with a Sharpie marker: Travalo, Flo and sen7, it’s great that you spent time thinking on how to make your brand noticeable and recognizable on the bottle but I still care slightly more for the name of the perfume I’m decanting into those atomizers.

Atomizers

Conclusion: while simple atomizers are the most economical way of sharing or testing perfumes, when it comes to decanting favorite (“Travalo Worthy” – ©Vanessa) perfumes for my own use I will probably vote for Nordstrom’s Atomizers: they are small, made of glass (I prefer it to plastic) with protective cover, come in many different colors and do not cost one third of a full bottle price. I would have gone for Flo since it’s even better protected and is easier for refilling but three colors aren’t enough – even if I use those only for my all-time favorites.

Do you have any favorite atomizers? (share your links if different from those above).

 

Images: my own

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54 thoughts on “Have Perfume Atomizer – Will Travel

  1. Hi Undina!
    What a great post to do the “challenge of atomisers”
    I enjoyed reading the pros and cons for each and every one you’ve got.

    When it comes to my own use, I don’t use such travel atomisers. When I’m on vacation, I usually don’t take perfume with me (why bother using it if I’m going to dive in the sea in a few minutes?)

    For swapping and decanting purposes I use plastic 2,5 and 5 ml spray vials for small things and I use 10ml glass bottles with sprayer for bigger decants and when I organize perfume splits. What I like about them is that they’re not shaped like vials but like nail polish bottle. I’ve used a lot of them and none has leaked so far.

    • Thank you, Lucas.

      “Vacation” isn’t necessarily a trip to a beach (but even then there are evenings ;) ). So I do not mind stocking up with some cute atomizers for the most “deserving” perfumes ;)

      For swapping I prefer glass containers (for sizes 2 ml and up). I’m not sure if it matters for small volumes that are supposed to be tested and either forgotten or replenished with bigger volumes but I do not like storring perfumes in plastic.

      • I don’t mind plasic for samples but I wouldn’t stand plastic for a 10ml decant!

        In my case it’s a trip to a beach OR to the mountains. I’ve never took perfume with me there. Am planning to buy an orange blossom water at the herbal shop and use is as a body splash during my holiday out.

  2. Hi Undina,
    Great post, thanks! I have been using the Travalo exclusively for personal use of my high end perfumes because it never leaks in my purse, but, as you wrote, it does not allow for splash bottles. I am going to check out the Nordstroms ones now too because I prefer glass to plastic also.
    For swapping samples and decants I use glass atomizers if over 10mls, unless someone specifies they want plastic. Some say that plastic leaks less.

    • Thank you, sujaan.

      I don’t know if plastic atomizers leak less but they definitely do not shatter as easily as glass in mail. On the negative side, in my experience plastic atomizers evaporate perfumes faster.

      • That’s good to know. I just really don’t like the idea of my perfume sitting in plastic. I now know when I swap to ask ahead of time. It’s one thing for under 10mls, but over that I get completely annoyed if someone sends me a decant in plastic!

        • Yes, I also always ask. And those that I get from friends (not in real swaps but as a friendly sharing) I transfer into my own glass ones – though it seems like a waste of both perfumes and atomizers.

  3. Thank you for this round-up. Le Labo also makes a travel container but I have no further information as I have not tested it. Most likely it is only suitable for their own perfumes and refills so maybe I am slightly off-topic. Off to Nordstrom now. Great advice.

    • Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan offer Travalo-like atomizers under their brand. I remember seeing those for some other brands but can’t remember now what those were. I’m positive those would work but since usually they are more expensive I don’t imagine buying them and using for a different brand’s perfume.

    • Are they made of glass inside?

      I use the label maker to label my decants but I just thought it would be interesting to have a rainbow of atomizers – a different one for each perfume.

      • Yes, they have glass inserts. I should have made that more clear. They hold 4.8ml. So far after at least a dozen airplane flights and refilling some of them more than once, I have not had any leakage. I do like the colors the Nordstrom atomizers come in. But I’m not fond of the rounded ends which makes them harder to stand on end and I did have one of them leak.

        I have two Frederic Malle travel atomizers. They are beautifully designed with the price to match. Especially the Pierre Hardy one my DH bought for me in Paris. Of course, they only hold the FM travel inserts.

  4. This is such a timely post, Undina as it is vacation season for many of us. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    I’m a Nordstrom atomizer fan myself…at $5 a pop, glass, metal outer layer and velveteen pouch…it is just perfect. The color choices are superb. Also..and this is the best part, if I can decide which Nordstrom fragrance I want on the spot, my super SA will fill my atomizer!

    I have several Sephora-branded Flo atomizers and Travalo atomizers but I have not used them as yet.

    Glass vs. Plastic? Glass for me, given a choice. That said, the Norstrom small plastic freebie atomizers are great for short hauls.

    Regarding the no-brand glass atomizers, a swap buddy gave me a tip that some of the atomizers have a too long “straw” and she suggested snipping off a tiny piece. By doing this, I think that the screw top can be screwed on tighter and be less likely to leak. The other tip from today’s NST Lazy Weekend Poll is to use Teflon tape on the threads before screwing the top…I had seen this white tape on the inside of decants/splits.

    As to the ease or difficulty of decanting into the atomizers, I found that besides the size of the opening of the atomizer, the quality of the sprayer from which you are decanting makes a huge difference. For example, Patricia de Nicolai’s atomizers are really junky, with Prada’s (Infusion d’ Iris Absolue) a close second…and then Guerlain (I have one that has the atomizer top only…not the ones that are interchangeable). The best atomizer is that of Slumberhouse.

    And since you posted a picture of Rusty in the comment back to Lucas, I’ll remark that he (Rusty) is so adorable AND he matches your couch! Lucas is also adorable but he doesn’t match your furniture :-)

    • I like Nordstrom’s small plastic atomizers: they never leak. I don’t want to save anything in them for too long (I think perfume goes off inthose faster than in glass vials) but I agree, as a quick solution they are great.

      Rusty will get his treat for your kind words.

  5. Thank you for this comparison. Since I trust the thoroughness of your testing completely, I now feel like for me it comes down to the Nordstrom ones or the Muji ones that Tatiana recommended (I also like mine to be able to stand up).

    I had not had a strong enough desire for a travel atomizer, until my current trip, when I didn’t have time to buy any before I left. So for this trip, I have a collection of small manufacturer travel bottles (like Neela Vermeire’s), decants in glass sprays, and one full-size bottle. Since I am gone a long time, I felt okay about bringing more than usual. :)

    • I also want to try Muji now. As to standing, Nordstrom’s ones stand great in those lipstick holders, I think, you recommended once :)

      During this last trip I realized how much more I liked using perfumes from those atomizers than from small sample sprayers.

  6. This post is most timely, because I have been giving a lot of thought to this very subject. I am running low on decanting supplies for both swapping and personal favourites, and I have been actively scouting around for new sources of reliable tackle.

    Based on your thorough research, I would also be most drawn to the Nordstrom atomiser, but unfortunately I do not have access to that brand here. SKS bottles sound like a good deal, but there is always the issue of customs charges unless the supplier is willing to get creative with its shipping labelling, as at least one US vial supplier is.

    I have found a very reasonable supplier of Travalos in the UK – £12.99 for TWO in a nice leather case!, but the quest goes on for larger atomisers generally.

    Oh, and I had a very bad experience with some burnished metal ones that looked like a bullet and which I got from Hong Kong. The contents of every one leaked completely! They were beautiful though, but sadly useless.

    Thanks for the link to my own Travalo post. ;-)

    • If you check your eBay you’ll find a good price for those Flo atomizers. And the next time we meet I’ll bring some of those Nordstrom’s beauties.

      I’m surprised that there is not local supplier for those plain atomizers in the U.K. But since there is a market for those sooner or later somebody will start selling it there as well.

      Your “Travalo worthy” stuck in my mind from the time I read that post. If it weren’t for the testing I’d have probably had hard time choosing what to decant in my “special” bottles. But since I wasn’t sure how they all work I chose those perfumes of which I had enough – just in case those leaked.

  7. PS I just checked the Muji site in the UK and those atomisers Tatiana mentions are only £5.95, which is a pretty good deal for that quality – with local shipping.

  8. Dearest Undina
    What an excellent and informative piece.
    Here in the UK (and in France) we have branches of the Japanese store Muji, they have rather lovely frosted glass and aluminium or all aluminium mini atomisers.
    Though they are a devil to fill from anything wither than a splash / detachable, one the perfume’s in they are attractive and, in many years’ experience, reliably leak free.
    Still though, they don’t resolve the labeling issue, to which there just must be a solution!!
    Thanks again for being our consumer tester extraordinaire.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Thank you, dear Dandy.

      From what I understood those Muji atomizers can’t be harder to fill than regular no name spray atomizers – and with those I have enough experience. So I’ll probably try to get one for testing. As to labeling, for me it’s not a problem since I have a label maker. I was looking at it from a regular consumer’s standpoint.

      • Dearest Undina
        Quite so no more or less tricky than the average atomiser, but Muji do a quite useful mini pipette and funnel set that helps.
        As to labeling I’ve taken to using coloured circular stickers combined with initials as they fit on the base. So far the memory’s held out as to what’s what.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

        • I add small labels with initials on tops of my regular decants – just to make it easier to pick out the right one without checking 5-7 to find it.

          • Dear Dandy, I wasn’t even correcting you. For some reason I assumed that we were doing the same thing. I didn’t realize you were using labels on the bottom :)

  9. Re. the sen7 atomizers, I’m really glad you added, in parentheses,”(contact them for pricing for atomizers with diamonds – I’m not kidding).” Otherwise, I would have been SURE that the $38 – $499 figures were a typo. $499???!?! For mini-travel atomizers??! Well, I guess their target audience is P. Diddy and J.Lo, so the only question now is: are there insane people who actually buy those $499 ones with diamonds??!! o__O

    • Sorry, dear Kafka, but it looks I still managed to mislead you: $499 is for a “simple” sterling silver atomizer. Diamond one will probably be much more expensive… And I can’t even think of anybody who would want anything like that.

  10. So helpful and useful, Undina! I have a couple of these Travalo sprayers lying around, but the pressure of a fragrance being Travalo-worthy (what a great term!) is too high for me to use them. When I travel, I kind of live out of sample vials. That being said, I used to just pick a fragrance that came in a 30ml bottle (Annick Goutal, Parfumerie Générale) and take the whole bottle in my carry-on.

    Those Nordstrom atomizers are a steal at $5 and I would never have known about them if not for this post. Thank you so much!

  11. Sorry I’m late to your post, Undina. I’m definitely going to check out your Nordstrom atomizers. My current favorites are 5-ml atomizers from PilotVials.com, which have glass interiors but are housed in metal. They don’t leak at all, and they stand on end. The cost is $4.49 a piece, but I do find the shipping costs for this company a bit on the high side. I’ll include the link below. They only come in gold and silver chrome, but I have a really nice label maker, and when I put the labels on it doesn’t bother me that they are limited to two colors, as I think they still look nice.

    http://www.pilotvials.com/Atomizer_Vials.html

    • As a grateful recipient of one of those I can confirm that they are very nice and didn’t leak on its way to me. I thought of including it into the test but since the content was too precious and I wasn’t sure how the atomizer would hold under 12-hours flying condition (I, personally, can barely tolerate that ;) ), I decided against the test. But I will buy a couple from the link you provided: Ubar should fit perfectly in a gold one.

      I might get clear labels next for my label maker – then labels will look better on not transparent bottles.

  12. I love the way you have set up the specs for all of these. I give Nordstom extra points because if you buy it in the store, the SA will fill it with something you want to sample.

    A discovered a wonderful, pricey one at Iunx. Iunx sells the 20 ml perfumes in this refillable travel atomizer. It’s hard to explain but you turn the tube, like a lipstick, to reveal the sprayer. Then turn it back to close/hide the sprayer. I can’t find a link, but if I ever get around to updating my blog this summer I’ll post my own picture.

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  15. Hi there! I just stumbled across your blog while randomly Googling some stuff, and I love it! Quick question: Is there a way to completely clean the atomizer and rid it of the previous scent? I have a Sephora one that seems to be holding up fine so far, although I have not taken it on an airplane yet!

    • Hi lxjing,
      If you’re absolutely determined to keep the atomizer, you can try cleaning it though the result depends on what perfume and for how long stayed in there. Glass parts are easier to clean but plastic sprayer mechanism might be more stubborn. Try soaking the atomizer for a couple of days in soapy water, then put some water into the atomizer and spray it out to clean up the sprayer. But, in general, unless it’s a really-really nice atomizer, it’s not worth the trouble. If you need just a couple, buy those $5 from Nordstrom. If you need more, use one of the decanter supplies sites and buy 10-25 of the size you want.

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