Love at First Sniff or Portrait of a Serial Spontaneous Perfume Buyer

Look at me – I’m all grown-up: I have a new and cleaner looking blog design (I had to do it since WP has retired my original theme), use a real poll and even got my first guest writer!

Please welcome hajusuuri – a perfumista, my close scent relative and a regular commenter on many perfume blogs.


In the hierarchy of perfumista sins, blind buying full bottles (FB) ranks as #1, and buying spontaneously (or impulsively) comes in at a close second. Given Undina’s meticulous recording of all perfumes in her possession (down to the very last sample) and her supremely enviable tracking of her SOTD and sampling activities for the past three years, was anyone surprised that the closest she came to being spontaneous) ended up being a YEAR after she took home a sample of Diptyque Volutes? (That was the post in which I offered hajusuuri to write a guest post to “compensate” for my indecisiveness – Undina)

Spontaneous Perfumes

So what normally prompts spontaneous perfume buying? Assuming you liked/loved the first encounter with a perfume, here are some of my reasons and a list of the perfumes I bought1:

  • The perfume is being discontinued or is a limited edition – Guerlain Iris Ganache
  • I’m on vacation and may not have the opportunity again – read all about it at Chemist in the Bottle
  • I have a deal such as % / $ off, Gift with Purchase (GWP), etc., and don’t have the patience to wait for a better one to come along – Atelier Cologne buy four 30 ml get one free and I ended up with Sous le toit de Paris x 2, Rose Anonyme, Mistral Patchouli and Vetiver Fatale,  Atelier Cologne Silver Iris (20% off at Sephora AND a free 30 ml of any Atelier Cologne…I picked Silver Iris for the freebie), Demeter Tomato and Pumpkin Pie (they were cheap and were buy 2 get a rollerball free), La Collection Privee Christian Dior Bois d’Argent ($s off event at Bergdorf and a very generous SA), I Profumi di Firenze Vaniglia del Madagascar (30% off 2 items and if you must know what the other item was…it was Mona di Orio Violette Fumee which became a relative bargain with the discount), Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense (gift event at Bloomingdale’s), Marni Rose (another creepy doll! and since I got this at Saks, I was able to have the SA walk around with me to obtain perfume samples from other counters), Tom Ford Violet Blonde (free faux ostrich leatherette atomizer filled with perfume of choice)
  • Do I really need a reason? – Atelier Cologne Cedrat Enivrant, By Kilian gold snake wrapped atomizer, Hermes Jour d’ Hermes and Voyage d’ Hermes, Jo Malone Ginger Biscuit and Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Spontaneous Perfumes

Tell us about your spontaneous perfume purchases (whatever this means in your book – be that purchasing a bottle the same day you tried the perfume for the first time or getting the perfume from the bottom position of your wish list).


For this month’s Entertaining Statistics post please vote on the main reason of your spontaneous perfume buys:

And now – a giveaway!

To celebrate her first guest post on this blog hajusuuri offers a 5 ml decant of Atelier Cologne Silver Iris. This giveaway is open to everyone worldwide. To be entered vote in the poll and leave a comment telling in what country you live. If you do not want to be entered still vote, please. The giveaway is open until 11:59PM PST on March 1st, 2014. The winner will be chosen via and announced in the February Statistics post. Please note that neither Undina nor hajusuuri is responsible for replacing the decant if it were to get lost or damaged.

1It’s possible I may have selective amnesia but, to the best of my recollection, these were my spontaneous buys. Note: I excluded: 1) anything I bought online immediately after sampling at home and 2) any < 30 ml FBs; if I included these, this post would be 2x as long and that’s all I will say about that :)

Images: all by hajusuuri

74 thoughts on “Love at First Sniff or Portrait of a Serial Spontaneous Perfume Buyer

  1. Hilarious post! And who knew that some brands offered such a startling and eclectic range of giveaways…the creepy doll is magnificent.

    I spontaneously buy mainly because a scent is being – or has already been – discontinued. In the latter case I am buying in places like eBay, Amazon, T K Maxx etc. Though arguably if you can still buy something somewhere it hasn’t technically quite been discontinued? I have been toying with making another spontaneous purchase at the moment – the reason would simply be because I love it. There is nothing particularly distinctive about the bottle, it ‘s a new release etc… I am going to try to resist though. ;)


  2. Oh, I really like this topic. :)
    Nowadays, I’m mostly buying on vacation because I won’t have the chance afterwards (how I came home with Dries Van Noten from Vienna).
    Very rarely if it’s a deal because I’m trying to cull my collection, not add more to it and those deals come regularly.

    I’m from Croatia and as I haven’t tried Silver Iris, I’d like to take my chance. :)


    • I can absolutely see how a traveler from a city or country that has limited distribution of niche perfumes will (should!) take the opportunity to buy while on vacation. As an aside, Dries did not work for me :-( and I wanted to love it oh so much!

      You are entered in the draw, Ines.



  3. Congratulations on the new framework of Undina’s Looking Glass! Neat, indeed! Water lilies are gorgeous, but can it be Rusty instead? Love Rusty, you know…
    As for the topic…well, I am so indecisive as well, that if I buy a perfume spontaneously that would be in times when I suddenly find myself with a pocket full of money. I mean, that I would have made my mind about a pile of perfumes, but I didn’t dare buying any of them due to a tight budget, and when the Fortune gently whispers in my ear and land her hand on my shoulder, I plunge into the scented ocean…That’s exactly what happened when I got at Hermes in Hamburg. I was eager to try as many frags for the Hermessence line, I totally fell in love with each and everyone of them (not Vanille Galante, I must confess) and I decided to buy the set of four 15mls offered in every Hermes boutique worldwide. Well, that was a spontaneous decision, but the hesitation which ones to take that followed afterwards…uuugh, that was a torture for me! And it will always be! So, please, don’t get me to choose, don’t give me promotional codes, because I want it all! :)
    I guess it always comes down to the love at first sniff for me…


    • I, too, think the new look, banner and color scheme are gorgeous. Fret not, I think Rusty will make his appearance soon enough :-)

      As to the Hermessence, would you believe I don’t have a set in my collection? The reason was indecisiveness! There were too many options and I could not decide on the perfect four!

      Should we enter you in the draw?


  4. Hajusuuri!!!! Love the post! Such a wit. I answered the poll, but the general answer is “I make spontaneous purchases typically because of a change in the breeze”…in other words, because I feel like it and unfortunately that’s most of the time!

    U – I love the new look. It’s wonderfully clean and calming!



  5. I make more blind buys than spontaneous ones. If there’s a sale or GWP, I’m a sucker almost every time. I still need to make a blind buy of Marni just for that doll.
    It’s great to see you here as a guest poster too.


  6. I love the site redesign too! Looks terrific, Undina!

    And loved the guest post Hajusuuri! My first reaction was, ugh, I don’t buy spontaneously. But then I realized that I was just fooling myself because I do! For all the kinds of reasons that you pointed out. The number one thing that someone can say to me to motivate me to get out my credit card is that XYZ is being discontinued!


    • Hello Portia. Thanks for the warm welcome!

      The “bargains” always get me, too. My most recent regret was not taking advantage of the great $s off promotion at Bergdorf but the sweet spot was a cool $1,000 and I just could not justify spending that much on perfumes in one shopping spree. If I Iiked a Roja Dove well enough, it would be a different story….

      Should we enter you in the draw?


  7. Hey Hajusuuri! I have only made one impulse buy in my life, Fleur dÓrange or whatever it´s called from Serge Lutens. That was worth the money because I have never made one again.
    And I never will. Hugs. Val xxx


  8. First of all – let me compliment on the new look! I just LOVE the touch of green that a new design has, and I adore the picture of the pond with water lilies in the header.

    Hi Hajusuuri, so cool to see you at Undina’s spot as a guest writer.

    I have never bought a perfume spontaneously, the most spontaneous purchase for me was Tauer PHI, which I ordered 2 weeks after getting a sample of it. I just cannot afford to make a mistake in bying something that I might not love.

    Great pictures – so did you manage to buy an EMPTY snake travel spray from Kilian? And that snake bracelet is so cool!


      • It actually came with one 25 mL atomizer but I got 2 because of the SA’s mistake in quoting the price. I think there is some kind of law (the Universal Commercial Code, maybe?) that says If the price was mismarked on the item, the store would have to honor the lower price or it is considered false advertising. Come to think of it, I don’t recall price tags on the displays…the more to give the impression that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it!


    • Hello dearest Lucas! I love the new look as well. Undina did a great job!

      Tauer PHI – Love! Ahem, I went for a 15 mL Explorer Set “sample” and fell in love with it immediately. It took you two weeks to decide whereas it took me 1 day from first sniff to online order. It’s a good thing I did it quickly because it is now out of stock and will begin to be available in the third quarter this year.

      As to the atomizer, no, I did not buy an empty atomizer. It came with a filled atomizer (I chose Good Girl Gone Bad) and because the SA quoted me the wrong price, he made amends and gave me a second refill. I know that one can’t really thoroughly clean an atomizer so I am on the lookout for just the right sized .25mL atomizer.

      The snake bracelet is so easy to wear and is one my favorite accessories!


      • I’m glad that I bought PHI too, it’s one of those rare cases when a perfume is a limited edition and can be out of stock quickly. At the moment I can tell that it’s a “discontinued” scent, the 2nd one that I have (after Iris Pallida by L’Artisan)


  9. The new look is great Undina – lovely colors. And welcome to Hajusuuri. This is a great post and very on topic for me as I just yesterday went into Ulta for some hair product and ended up buying Jasmine Noir at first sniff. This would come under “the because I liked it” category which seems to be my MO as the last 2 visits to The Perfume House saw me scoop up Ambre Sultan and Santal de Mysore for the same reason, although in my defense, the SA informed me that the SdeM was being “taken off the list” by Lutens and so I was flung into panic mode. I do also blind buy from eBay but that is more because I collect vintage and even after several decades of doing so, still have the bug firmly in my system. Seems like I’m pretty much doomed…
    I would love to be entered in this generous draw – I’m in the US.


    • Hello Sally M! Thanks for the warm welcome! I looked up The Perfume House and saw that it is Portland, OR. My brother lives in a suburb of Portland and I have to visit The Perfume House when I’m there!

      Do you think SAs stretch the truth sometimes just to close a sale? As to blind buys, my lips are sealed. I’ll add you to my perfusinner sisters list.

      You are entered in the draw!



      • Oh you must go to the PH – its a fantastic place! I wouldn’t be at all surprised if SAs spin a tale to close a sale although to be fair, the SA at the PH (Tracey) is really great and it would disappoint me if she did. It would be interesting to go back and see if there are anymore SdeMs there now as I supposedly bought “the last one available to them” – there were also no Bois de Vanilles as they had sold out over Christmas but had been able to order more.
        When you manage to visit, check out the owner’s private vintage collection – it’s almost worth breaking and entering for ;-)


  10. I consider a purchase spontaneous if I buy it without long planning and having that perfume to be on my “to buy” list for a long while. Usually it happens when I find a really good % off deal (and free shipping and/or extra goodies makes it even easier to “jump”).


    • Hello Undina. By the way, thank you for the opportunity to debut at the same time as your blog’s new look and banner – I love it!

      Nowadays with % off, at the brick and mortar stores, I try to go for the equivalent of 20% off or more but that is rare and/or it requires one to spend in the 4 digits!


      • Thank you for the interesting topic: as you can see, it got a lot of attention :)

        I’m not sure I’ve ever seen % off fragrances at real stores (even Saks – the only store that has from time to time discounts that go for beauty products as well – usually has it for online purchases) – that’s why I usually buy online, after careful search.

        Volutes that I bought at Nordstrom was full price but I always get goodies from the friendly SA – so I try to give her my business from time to time – and it was either a 3 or 10 points day – so I got some “cash back” from it as well.


        • I do love the triple points and the ten points days…and we all know that gift card buys are really free, right :-)

          In any case, Lord and Taylor occasionally has 10% off the beauty / fragrance lines during their friends and family days. Nordstrom will actually match the 10% off at the same time; just bring the newspaper ad or the coupon. I also once managed to get 20% off from Nordstrom because Sephora was having its 20% off days as well…and come to think of it, I used THAT 20% to get Silver Iris!


  11. Congratulations on the new look and design, Undina. It’s very fresh and delicate.

    Hajusuuri, lovely to have you as a guest blogger. In answer to your question, I don’t do spontaneous or blind buys anymore. I learnt my lesson after Nuit de Noel (modern version) and an Annick Goutal. The mere memory of the latter makes me wince. But that gold, Kilian snake atomizer could certainly tempt anyone into a spontaneous purchase. It’s very cool! (BTW, no need to enter me in the drawing. I simply wanted to pop in and congratulate both you and Undina for the guest post and new website design, respectively.)


    • Thanks for the warm welcome, Kafka! That snake atomizer was really eye catching and I just could not leave the boutique without it. Oh, and that clutch with the snake? Daisy and I could not resist caressing it.

      Now, inquiring minds want to know which Annick Goutal cured you of spontaneous purchasing!


    • Thank you, Kafka! As I said, I was nudged to change the theme (the old one had some bugs with new features that they didn’t plan to fix since the theme was retired) and then had to use the header without the blog name on it. But I like the result and I think I can live with it for a while.


  12. Loving the new look, Undina!

    As for spontaneous purchases, I don’t make so many any more but when I do it tends to be a fortuitous mix of finding something I like and having the disposable income at the time.

    Recently my purchases have been to top up on things I’ve run out of. I guess that shows that I’m actually using some things up!


  13. Lovely guest post! Really enjoyed reading your on-the-spot buys hajusuuri. You got some great daals. Any regrets I wonder?

    I bought Coeur de Vetiver Sacre recently because it was being discontinued and don’t care for it but that’s probably more because it was a blind-buy. I sometimes buy things if they come up on Ebay at a good price. Generally not a very spontaneous buyer it has to be said.

    Undina – love the new look and it is easier for me to read too. The right-hand coloums used to float across and cover a bit of the main text – on my browser anyway. Adore that lily-pads photo too.

    No need to enter me in the draw, thanks.


    • Thanks, Tara! I have had no regrets so just maybe, they’re all LOVE at first sniff ;-)

      I also bought Coeur de Vetiver Sacre because it was being discontinued and it was 50% off but it did not make it as a spontaneous buy because I had previously sampled it and liked it.


    • Thank you, Tara. You should have told me earlier about the readability issues though: I suspect that theme didn’t play nicely with later versions of some browsers.

      I decided that for a while I might go as a freshwater nymph – it fits better the new color scheme ;)


  14. I like the new blog layout, and I like seeing Hajuusuri here as a guest poster! (May I call you Haju, so I do not have to remember how many, and where to put, all the letters u?)

    I have answered that “I do not make spontaneous purchases” because I VERY rarely do. But sometimes I just “feel like it.” I want to buy something and so I do. That was not a choice in the poll, though. ;)


    • But there was “Other reason” (and a blank to fill in)! And several people used it ;)

      With how much I hate changes the hardest part was to let the blue color and ocean go but I like how it looks now and I will get used to it.


  15. I answered the poll with “I do not make spontaneous purchases” but that only applies to full bottles, not decants ;) And, in truth, the not rushing into full bottles was a lesson that was very hard won through buying far too many bottles two minutes after a single spray test, only to discover that I don’t really love them much at all. And I have too many bottles anyway – I need to sell some, not buy more!


      • No need to enter me in the draw, thanks. I think I’m only managing to stop myself from spontaneous buying because I have 3 good reasons not to. Beside the fact that too many of my previous spontaneous buys turned out to be things I don’t really like, perfume is seriously overpriced in the shops where I live and I have been able to satisfy my love for the new with lots of decants instead.


  16. Please enter me in the draw, I live in Norway. I do at least half of my perfume shopping abroad. One reason is the price level, another is the fact that Serge Lutens, the exclusives from Chanel , Tauer and many more brands are not sold here. So even if I plan ahead I am sometimes a spontaneous shopper when on holiday. We also have heavy custom clearance fees when buying from abroad, so online shopping is not really such a bargain. I have only been seriously interested in perfume for some over 3 years, so far I think I manage to keep the buying at a reasonable level. But getting hold of interesting samples soon adds up, so I try to keep track of that spending, which is more easily forgotten.


    • There seems to be untapped markets in pockets of all over Europe but great that you have the opportunity to acquire them on your trips! I wish airports have a better selection; in my opinion, the distribution cost to airport shops have got to be better than a store in town, all the more to tempt perfumistas.

      You’re entered in the draw, Ingeborg!



  17. Most of my perfume spontaneous purchases fall under the “do I really need (or have?) a reason” category, I think. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call it “but I don’t own this yet and wouldn’t it be nice?” category :) This is why I have a perfume budget, and this year I blew my whole budget by the end of February… I am in the US, and thank you for the draw!


    • Last year, I started the year with good intentions and ended up with 2 Guerlains by the 2nd week of January (and the 3rd one by the end of the month)…not to mention 5 Atelier colognes. Needless to say, I decided not to set one this year and I’ve spent a lot less this year compared to the same time last year.

      You’re in the draw, Nemo!



  18. Pingback: Entertaining Statistics: February 2014 | Undina's Looking Glass

  19. Pingback: Yin & Yang Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2014 NYC | Chemist in the Bottle

  20. hajusuuri, so glad to see you’re here! I’d dropped out of the perfumed web for a time, missed your debut, and only just now spotted it. What an excellent addition.


  21. Pingback: Saturday Question: How Did You Meet Undina? – Undina's Looking Glass

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