Saturday Question: Do You Decant Perfumes for Personal Use?

The week ran away from me, and I didn’t publish the post I planned. More posts are coming soon, both from me and Portia, but meanwhile let’s just talk.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #82:

Do You Decant Perfumes for Personal Use?

We all buy or swap decants, so of course we use those and make them to send to others. But do you make decants from your own bottles to use yourself? If yes, why? For which perfumes? Do you replenish them?

My Answer

Yes. I have decants for almost (if not all) 50 ml and 100 ml bottles in my collection. First, I was making them to take with me on trips. Then, since I had a scent-sensitive co-worker, I would put on just a tiny amount in the morning and then later would apply more once he left or on my way home. And then my collection grew to the size where some of the perfumes had to be stored in the third, forth, etc. row, not too easily accessible – so, instead of playing perfume boxes Tetris in the morning, I’d use a decant.

These days, while working from home and not really traveling, I can use bottles again. But many of them are still in the third, forth, etc. row… And I don’t want my decants to evaporate. So, on many days I still use perfumes from decants.


Do You Decant Perfumes for Personal Use?

Saturday Question: Do You Buy Used Perfumes?

Don’t think about vintage bottles, those are in a class of their own, and we had a poll about it not that long ago. Let’s talk about perfumes from the last 15 years (give or take a few).

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #81:

Do You Buy Used Perfumes?

If you do, where from? eBay/Mercari/Poshmark/etc.? FB groups? Basenotes or any other forums?

Do you trust those bottles to be in a good shape? Have you ever had a negative experience?

My Answer

Today this question was brought by the Google notification that informed me a couple of days ago that it found mentioning of my blog somewhere. Since it doesn’t happen too often (if ever), I got curious. It happened to be some strange site that sells perfumes… I’m still not sure whether this is a real site: only a completely clueless person would think of ordering anything from them. Nevertheless, it was there that I discovered that for one of their listings they used a picture from my old post. This one:

Victorias Secret Rapture

As I said, most likely it’s a scam: one can’t sell a bottle that they don’t have (and mine isn’t for sale), and it would be strange to show somebody else’s partial bottle if you have one to sell, because, unlike new bottles that all look alike and people might want to save efforts of taking a good picture, it will be hard to produce an identically used bottle if someone were to buy it.

But that reminded me of the thoughts I had about buying used bottles. Some time ago I made a decision that I wouldn’t be buying used bottles – unless it’s from one of a few people I know and trust. After seeing pictures of different perfumistas’ collections on FB, Instagram and YouTube, I know that many of them are stored outside of their boxes. And after reading every summer complaints from NST’s readers about how hot it gets in their places, I can only imagine through what temperature-wise live even those perfumes that aren’t exposed to the light being out of the box.

All that brought me to the realization that I perfumes that I add to my collection should be as fresh as possible (from the time of being launched) or at least from the brands’ sites. I understand that this isn’t a guarantee either. And not everyone puts their bottles on a display or subjects to the elements. But since none of the perfumes I’d buy today will be used up even in the next 5 years, the better the initial conditions of those perfumes are, the better chances I’ll get to enjoy them for at least those 5 next years.


Do You Buy Used Perfumes?

Lost Alice by Masque Milano NEW! NEW!

Lost Alice by Masque Milano NEW! NEW!

Hi Crew, Lost Alice by Masque Milano is one of the decants to arrive in my latest Surrender To Chance order. Yeah, I’m affiliated with them because the STC crew are my mates. That doesn’t change the facts; they are terrific, have an excellent range and you can be guaranteed their stuff is the real deal. (OK unpaid ad over!). Lost Alice is an excellent title and the reason I bought this decant. Didn’t even look at the notes, it caught my eye as I was browsing their NEW section.

Lost Alice by Masque Milano 2021

Lost Alice by Masque Milano

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Ambrette (Musk Mallow), Black Pepper, Bergamot, Clary Sage
Heart: Black Tea, Orris, Carrot, White Rose
Base: Milk, Sandalwood, Broom

A clear and airy open, warm and cool vie against each other and are bridged by what I’m smelling as the two main players ambrette and iris. How is there no vanilla in this perfume? Maybe it’s the milk and sandalwood playing early but it doesn’t smell like them to me. The pepper and tea would normally give me a dry ache in my throat but here I get nothing.

Lost Alice is a strangely beautiful fragrance. It definitely has the feeling of yearning towards something. Maybe the blending is so good that parsing the notes is impossible (for me). It reminds me of two things without being like either of them. You know that rush of steam that blasts out if you open the dishwasher too soon? It’s a clean, hot, glasses fogging experience. Partly that feeling. The second thing is boiled lollies, not the taste but how smooth they become after you’ve sucked the edges off, just before you inevitably crunch it up.

Lost Alice by Masque Milano 2021

The whole fragrance feels barely there but is so distinctively unusual that it’s a constant presence. Do I like it? No, I haven’t fallen in love with it but Lost Alice is compelling, I’m forced to sniff it and sniff it again. Did you ever smell Dama Koupa by Baruti? Though the smell is quite different, the general attitude is the same.

After the initial fireworks burn off the thing I’m most reminded of is French Vanilla ice cream. Totally unexpected from the note list and my imaginings of what a Lost Alice would smell like. Finally, about an hour or so in a terrific, creamy sandalwood takes the spotlight and stays there for ages till fade. The whole fragrance comes together and it feels like Alice may not be so lost anymore.

Unisex, low to moderate projection but surprisingly good longevity.

Do you want to smell like a Masque Milano version of Lost Alice?
Portia xx

Saturday Question: How Many Times Do You Test New Perfumes?

New (at least for me) perfumes have been on my (and my wrists) a lot lately.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #80:

How Many Times Do You Test New Perfumes?

If you get new samples, how many times do you test each perfume? Does it depend on the initial impression? Do you keep testing if you didn’t like it the first time? Do you test the same one several days in a row, or do you pause in between tests? If you do, for how long? How soon do you know whether you like, dislike or love perfumes you test?

My Answer

Hi! My name is Undina and I’m a sample hoarder.

When my hobby just started, I was getting anything I could get worth testing (based on whatever criteria seemed relevant then), tried perfumes I’ve never seen at the stores before (and some even still), compared them, studied them against the list of notes and then kept in the “library” returning to them from time to time – to check my previous impressions, compare to a new sample or sometimes even to wear. But in general, my “sampling” never stopped.

These days, when I get a new sample, I would try it as soon as I can (but since I rarely test more than 2 new scents at a time, if I get several samples together or as a set, it might take me several days to give each one a try). Then if I liked it a lot, I might test it again within the next couple of days – mostly with the goal to see if it would become the next candidate for joining my collection (most don’t pass and are demoted to the “didn’t like” category). Those that I didn’t like would stay somewhere nearby until I either decide to put them into one of the boxes holding other samples that I plan to re-test “one day soon” or try them once again and then put into those boxes.

I do not trick myself: I know with close to a 100% certainty not only that those samples will never become full bottle purchases, but that I don’t want even to spend any of my “wearing occasions” on those perfumes. Most of them are not of Chanel No 5 or Shalimar stature where I just want to have them “for reference” and revisit once in a while to see if they still don’t work for me. But since I usually tried those perfumes that I didn’t like just once or twice, on one hand, it’s extremely hard for me to part with them “without proper testing” (especially if I bought them, or if one of the perfumista friends made me a sample of perfume they loved), and on the other hand, I know that I don’t really want to test them any more because I didn’t like them that much on the previous attempt. Thus, they stay in limbo of that “one day soon” box – because I have to test them properly before dismissing. Right?..

I’m trying to fight with this mental loophole I created to justify my hoarding tendencies by getting the smallest samples possible and forcing myself to make a final decision in a more focused manner. Ideally, trying any perfume 2 or maximum 3 times should be more than enough. Ideally.


How Many Times Do You Test New Perfumes?

Rusty the Cat: On Creams

I mentioned it before, Rusty loves if not all but most of the food. And among that food, there are some types or categories that he particularly favors. One of such categories is dairy products.

I can’t remember how it started, but at some point we came to the realization that he loves everything milk-related: milk, yogurt, cream, sour cream, ice cream, etc.

When I use sour cream in our meals or eat yogurt, Rusty always gets to leak the spoon afterwards – and does a great job while at it.

In Winter, one of my favorite desserts is hot chocolate. Rusty learned the process, and once I get milk out of the fridge, even before I open it (so, it’s not the case that he can smell it), he jumps on the counter (the part where he’s allowed to sit) and waits. After I bring milk to boil and pour it into cups with powdered chocolate, while my vSO stirs both cups, I’m busy: I feed Rusty milk film that is left on the bottom of the saucepan. Since it’s hot, I tear small pieces and give them to him. Rusty swallows each next piece in a nano-second and looks at my fingers greedily waiting for the next one. I’m strange, I know: from the childhood I like milk and, what is even stranger, hot milk and milk film. So, I would have eaten it myself. But Rusty loves it so much that I can’t deprive him of this little joy.

* * *

After the pump of the 1 liter bottle of Kiehl’s Creme de Corps stopped producing any output, I opened the bottle and kept it upside down over an empty plastic container from ice cream waiting for what was left to transfer there following the gravity. I succeeded but partially: another physical force in action – surface tension – prevented at least some portion of the cream from flowing down. So, earlier today I decided to “surgically” extract the remaining cream. I took the bottle and the jar to the kitchen, cut the bottle in half with scissors and started scooping the content.

Rusty appeared with a characteristic “meow” – the exact excited sound he usually produces when he observes food that he hopes to get. He jumped to where I was trying to save last milliliters of the cream, hovered over the jar, sniffed… and was clearly puzzled and disappointed by what he smelled: I was in the kitchen; it was an ice cream jar; the content looked like one of those tasty dairy products… and it absolutely didn’t smell as such. Since my hands were in cream, I didn’t want to touch him. So, as I was finishing my exercise in frugality, he just sat there sniffing air and not believing the cruelty of the World.

Rusty and Kiehs Creme de Corps

Sunday Self-care, Episode 7: Give Your Hands a Hand

Long before I got concerned with my hands showing my age, I suffered from dryness of the skin. So, for many-many years I’ve been constantly using hand creams and lotions, as well as trying to avoid subjecting my hands to any household chemicals.

Nivea Soft Moisturizing Cream

For years my go-to hand cream was NIVEA Soft Moisturizing Crème. I think that I liked it mostly for its texture and scent (though, I would have preferred the scent of the original Nivea cream in a navy tin). It was nice, it absorbed quickly, but I it seemed not to keep my hands moisturized for as long as I wanted to. Sometimes, I had to re-apply it during the night if I were to wake up and think that my hands were too dry, but I assumed that was the nature of the game.

Of course, had I spent any time looking into ingredients that were beneficial in hand creams, I would have realized sooner than not all creams were created equal. But somehow, I never doubted “old and proven” Nivea… And then, I did like the scent…

Since I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with the cream I was using, my several next explorations were all based on a scent.

Moroccanoil Hand Cream

Last summer, longing for a tropical vacation, I picked up the Moroccanoil hand cream the scent of which reminded me of my last trip to Hawaii. I liked it, and I might keep buying it from time to time, but since the scent is very pronounced, I didn’t (and wouldn’t) want to use it every night and definitely not during the day, I didn’t have a chance to notice its moisturizing properties.

Thymes Frasier Fir Hand Cream

At Christmas time, I usually crave everything fir scented. Partially, it’s because our Christmas tree, while being extremely lifelike, is still artificial. So, in addition to candles, room sprays and handwash with the coveted fir scent, last December I bought a tube of Thymes Frasier Fir hand cream. I love the scent! And it did a descent job providing moisture for my hands. But fir is a seasonal scent for me. It’s like with Christmas songs: I enjoy them all December long, but come January, they are banned in our household until the next year. So was that hand cream.

Soraya Hand Cream

For my birthday, Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) sent me (among other great things) a tube of a hand cream Plante Odżywczy from a Polish brand, Soraya. WOW. It’s the best black currant note in a beauty product I’ve ever smelled, including perfumes! If I could get it in a bottle, I would love to wear it as perfume. This 99% natural cream has nice ingredients, and I love it! But in our globalization era, there are still things that one cannot buy online and have it delivered. And this hand cream is one of those things. Maybe one day they will deliver to the US. For now, I’ll enjoy what I have.

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Hand Cream

The most recent discovery, thanks to one of my friend’s recommendations, was Aquaphor Healing Ointment. It doesn’t have any scent. It’s colorless. I do not enjoy using it whatsoever (and my vSO plainly refuses to, claiming that “it’s greasy” – it’s not). But it works. I think that my hands have never felt better than now (I mean, since I had to start using any creams). Not only I do not need to re-apply Aquaphor cream during the night, but I recently realized that during the day I feel the need to apply a hand cream much less often than I used to. And it absolutely does not interfere with my wearing or testing perfumes. So, probably for now I found my HG of hand creams. But it won’t stop me from enjoying from time to time some of the scented beauties that I have or hunt for new miracle hand helpers.

Hand Creams

Images: my own

Saturday Question: What Perfume Would You Wear Back to School Today?

Several years ago, when NST had a community project for the “back to school”perfume associations, I did a post about it. And those of you who were reading my blog then commented about perfumes they wore to school and other school-related topics. But today I suggest a slightly different twist: not a trip down memory lane but rather a fantasy.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #79:

What Perfume Would You Wear Back to School Today?

Think of yourself from the time of your last year at school. Imagine that you could send yourself to the past a magical gift – a bottle of any perfume that you have in your collection today or can buy now – to wear on your first day back to school. What would you choose and why?

My Answer

Have you ever thought of a great question to ask someone… and then figured out that you would have hard time coming up with the answer? This is what happened to me. As usually it happens at that time of the year, the “back to school” notion was on my mind, and I thought it would be great to do this question. But what would I want to wear on that day? That is the question.

As I mentioned more than once before, since they weren’t that affordable or easily available, perfumes weren’t widely used in the daily life when I was growing up even by adults, let alone teenagers. I’m not sure if there even were any official rules as to wearing scented products to school. The rules were strict about makeup: colorless chopstick-like balms were the closest one could get to wearing makeup to school. But I would think that any perfume one would be able to get and wear to school would be a vast improvement over odors that were “naturally” present in the day-to-day life. So, maybe it wouldn’t have been frowned upon? I don’t know.

But as rebellious as I was back then, I still wouldn’t want to be completely out of order, so probably I shouldn’t send myself to the past any sillage bombs.

Also, back then I was still mostly a signature scent person (on those rare special occasions when I wore perfume, it was my beloved Climat by Lancome – surprise!), so I wouldn’t want to send myself something I think I wouldn’t have liked at 17.

And of course I’d want to wear something that my friends would think smells great, especially that particular boy… (though, if I remember it correctly, there wasn’t a one when I was returning to school for my last year, but you got the idea).

Having taken all that into consideration, I chose Iris Poudre from Frederic Malle. My reasoning is: I like it and consider pretty any easy going. Besides, even though I tried and liked it when I was much older, since I think that Iris Poudre smells a lot like another perfume that became my favorite in just about 10 years after school, it’s very likely that I would have liked any/both of them a decade earlier as well.

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

What Perfume Would You Wear Back to School Today?

Sycomore by CHANEL

Sycomore by CHANEL

Hey Crew. CHANEL is one of the worlds most iconic brands. The marketing team is second to none. It’s hard to stay current and afloat in the world of fashion. Let alone doing it in the 21st century. With the historic stories of Gabrielle Chanel and her personal and political choices, any other brand would have been cancelled or censured. For more information read Hal Vaughan’s book Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War. She wasn’t alone according to this article. There has been some extra hype with No 5 turning 100 years old in 2021 and the release of the homewares inspired collectable Factory 5 Collection. They also manage to pump out some impressive fragrance in their Les Exclusif line. If you’re new to the perfume craving they are a good place to smell some beautifully crafted fragrance, accessible in most large department stores.

Sycomore by CHANEL EdP (2016)

Sycamore by CHANEL

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Aldehydes, Spices, Pink pepper, Sandalwood, Tobacco, Violet, Vetiver, Juniper, Cypress

Grassy greenness, the sweet shiver of pink pepper, the warm enveloping and silky smooth pairing of tobacco and sandalwood are all front and centre at the opening of Sycomore EdP. Less brilliant and sparkling than its EdT predecessor but warmer and more wearable by far. This feels more luxurious without the razza mattaz, showbiz style entrance. Don’t get me wrong, I love the EdT but there is a place in my heart for the EdP. Also, as more proof I own this small bottle of EdP and it wasn’t even on my list as an EdT.

The heart becomes a lightly spiced fresh hewn wood. Not a chest thumping, crackly, modern niche experience of woods. Here there is air between the notes. You aren’t in the sawmill, or even the lumberyard. It’s more like you’ve had a wood delivery at home and you can smell it as you enter and leave the house. I don’t know what it is but I also smell wood polish, like those lovely waxes that feed and nourish your wood table.

Dry down gets woodsier and woodsier as it fades over hours. Interestingly people around me can smell this long after I become nose blind. A perfect scent for those times you need to be softly fragrant for long periods of time.

Sycamore by CHANEL EdP

Sycomore is a modern, unisex fragrance. No matter that it was originally created in 1930. I never smelled the Ernest Beaux version but Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake have done a beautiful job of revamping the EdT.

Have you spent time with any of the CHANEL Sycomores?
Portia x

(EDIT: I spelled Sycomore as SycAmore through the whole post and then was pulled up. It is in fact SycOmore. Fixed now)

Saturday Question: What Is Your Favorite Puredistance Perfume?

With the news of the upcoming new release, Puredistance has been on my mind recently.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #78:

What Is Your Favorite Puredistance Perfume?

Do you own any? Do you like any of those that you tried but don’t currently own? Are there any that you’d like to try?

My Answer

Puredistance is “my brand.” I do not love all of their perfumes, and ironically their main perfume – Puredistnce I – has never found its way into my heart, but among the rest of their creations I have several perfume loves and strong likes.

Antonia is probably still my most favorite perfume from the line, one of those that made it to the “love and don’t ever want to be without” category in My Perfume Portrait. And that light green bottle!

Puredistance White, Puredistance Gold and Rubikona are all strong rivals for the second place spot in my heart. I don’t think I could choose just one of them: they fit into different moods and seasons, and I think that all three are beautiful.

I find Opardu, Warszawa and Sheiduna very pleasant and wear these from time to time, but admittedly they are just in the “like and wear” category: unlike the previous four, I wouldn’t be chasing these but I’ll enjoy them as long as I have them.

Finally, I like Puredistance Black on my vSO (he seems to like it as well). Not surprisingly, two the most masculine perfumes in the line – Aenotus and Puredistance M – do not work for me at all.

What I also like about this brand is that because I’ve done many posts about their perfumes over years, I have a wide choice of previously published pictures of Rusty that I can use again for this Saturday Question post.



What Is Your Favorite Puredistance Perfume?

Saturday Question: Skincare – Scented, Fragrance-free or Unscented?

With the current trends for “clean,” “organic,” “vegan,” “eco-friendly,” “cruelty-free,” etc. beauty products, the question of scent in skincare products is constantly being mentioned. With it comes some confusion: people associate scents with being harmful, while the absence of scents seems like a safer choice. In reality, it is not necessarily true. “Unscented” products might contain ingredients that neutralize or mask scents but are themselves irritants, while naturally occurring pleasant aromas might be completely harmless. Of course, having a fragrance added to the product (either to make it smell better or not to smell at all) will not necessarily irritate your skin, same as all-natural ingredients are not guaranteed to be safe, as we know from IFRA’s regulations for even those minuscule amounts that get onto your skin as perfume application. So, the safest combination for sensitive skin would be products that contain only safe ingredients (with or without their natural scent) and no added fragrance to either enhance or hinder our scent perception of the product. This is theoretically. But what in reality? Do you care for the scent in your skincare products?

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #77:

Skincare – Scented, Fragrance-free or Unscented?

Do you care whether your skincare products have a scent (natural occurring or added)? Do you prefer it one way or the other? Do you make an extra effort to ensure that the product you’re getting smells the way you like (or doesn’t smell at all, if this is your preference)?

What are your favorite products smell-wise?

My Answer

I can’t say with certainty whether my skin is sensitive. I do have some skin allergies, but those seem to be triggered mostly by environmental factors: I started having any issues (other than mild acne, from which I suffered my whole life) only 3 or 4 years ago when we had the first huge fire in our area with air quality being classified as “dangerous” for a couple of weeks. At that point, my skin started reacting to everything, and that was when I switched to the simplest routine with a couple of products that I tolerated well. Back then the question of ascent or fragrance in products didn’t even occur to me.

A year of working from home miraculously healed my skin super-sensitivity, and I started dabbling in an enhanced skincare routine, as I described in one of my Sunday Self-care Series post. And that was when I realized that I do not enjoy skincare products that do not have any smell. The scentless Ilia Lip Wrap Treatment Mask was one of my least favorite lip products. I tolerate The Ordinary products, but mostly because those are super-simple “one-track” remedies. With everything else… I want a pleasant scent. My skincare doesn’t feel luxurious enough if I cannot smell anything at all. Among products that I enjoy, I’d name Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Gel, Guerlein Youth Watery Oil and Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask in Berry.

Lip Masks

So, if I absolutely have to (if my skin starts “misbehaving” again), of course, I will pay even more attention to what I react to, and I might decide to eliminate some of the products that do not swear not to make the situation worse (being “free-everything”). But until then I try to stick to products that provide enjoyment to all of my senses.

Speaking about satisfying all the senses… Check out this post (and a giveaway) on Jessica’s blog (Perfume Professor) for the review of the latest products from Boxwalla’s subscription.


How about you?

Skincare – Scented, Fragrance-free or Unscented?