Saturday Question: What Do You Do With Samples?

Following great tradition started by two wonderful bloggers, Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies), once a week I or one of the guest writers will keep the lights on in this virtual leaving room, but I hope that you, my friends and readers, will engage in conversation not only with me or the other host, but also with each other.

Last week we had 135 comments, and the winner chosen by random.org is: rickyrebarco (it looks like it’s your lucky month – maybe you should consider a lottery ticket purchase?). Please contact me before the next SQ post with your e-mail and your choice of a decanter/samples site for the gift certificate.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #2:

What Do You Do With Samples?

It isn’t a question of getting, storing or categorizing samples. I’m curious about what you do once you got them and tested at least once. Do you only spot-test them, or do you give them a full wear? Do you finish samples? If not, how long do you keep them?

My Answer

In my pre-Perfumeland life, when I managed to get mainstream samples (usually with purchases or from store perfume events), I would either finish them using as my perfume (if I liked them) or share with friends and family.

When I started buying samples for niche perfumes, I kept wearing those perfumes that I liked until I would finish them or buy a bottle, but those that didn’t work for me would go into the “Library.”

Later, as my collection grew, I realized that I wanted to wear perfumes that I owned already instead of those that 9 out of 10 times I woudn’t want to add to my collection. So, after testing, I would wear and maybe even finish only those perfumes that I liked enough to consider a bottle purchase. Then there would be a handful of samples that I would mark as “Nice, will use what I have” – and then not really reach for them. But the majority of the samples banished to the “library” would stay there until many years later I’d discover that they either turned or evaporated (while being perfectly safe in those ammo boxes).

 

Ammo box

 

I still struggle with letting samples go, even when I know that I wouldn’t want to wear that perfume. To help myself, I’m getting the smallest possible samples to either finish them quickly or at least not to waste too much perfume. And if anything worth sending is left in my tiny samples, I’m trying to pass them on.

How about you? If we get to 100 comments, there will be a prize: 10 perfume samples of your choice from 20 that I’m ready to part with.

 

What Do You Do With Samples?

 

Disclaimer: this blog doesn’t use any affiliated links or benefit from any of the G-d awful ads that some of you might see inserted tastelessly by the WP engine inside the post and/or between comments. Encouraging readers to post more comments does not serve any purpose other then getting pleasure from communicating with people who share same interests.

72 thoughts on “Saturday Question: What Do You Do With Samples?

      • Honestly? I have nearly none. I say no if offered at the store. I would not throw anything good away. I live pretty much in the middle of perfume land am lucky enough not to need samples if I wanna try something.
        I have just moved house and threw a load of old ones away – hence my first comment. I have no friends I dislike enough to pass some of the stuff I had onto.
        And I hate going to the post office as @bottledrose knows. She is the only one who gets stuff sent from me!!!

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        • I’m horrified! I can’t imagine not taking samples if offered :). Val, you’re going to the event next month: please, do not refuse samples if offered! Pass them on later! I understand your issue with a post office, I’m the same, but you travel enough and meet people. If you’re not paying for them, give them away to those who’ll use them or send to the next person who doesn’t live in close proximity to where they can test interesting perfumes without buying or swapping samples.

          Liked by 1 person

          • The show in Milan has been postponed and might well be cancelled. Good lord no. I will not take all of those horrible samples. However – if the show happens, and If there is something interesting then I will, I promise. And then send them all to someone. Ok? I have not bought a sample in maybe 15 years and have no plans to do so. Please do not take away my perfumista card. 💋

            Liked by 1 person

            • I didn’t even think about how the current situation might affect the show. Of course! Too bad. I think it will (and it should) be postponed (unless the virus gets under control in the next couple of weeks, which I doubt): attending this event involves exactly the actions not recommended – touching face, handling objects that a lot of other people did, etc. It’s so sad though :(

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  1. Throw them away! So against my hoarding nature, ha ha. I tend to use store samples of mainstream scents for travel. Samples I’ve ordered to try I organize in four boxes, alphabetically by brand. I almost never wear them. They are more of a reference library. And yes, I have on numerous occasions referred to them when blogging! I do have too many, however, and need to start making an effort to get through them.

    Liked by 3 people

    • If the samples are good or interesting then I will use them or pass them on. I recently had all of the Jorum Studio samples and have indeed sent them on. I won‘t wear anything I don’t love so yeah – samples I get when buying make up or skin care? Bin. Don‘t want boxes of stuff in my perfume wardrobe just sitting there.

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    • My next project is re-organizing some of my decants, so that I could wear them more regularly (and hopefully finish some of them). After that I’ll look again at the samples. But I have too many of those that are”nice,” but never get worn because I always have something “great” to wear.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I kept samples for ages thinking I might come back to them after initial testing but I never did. It took moving home to finally shift them on to family and friends but letting go was weirdly hard! My mum is always wearing them.
    I now try and immediately use them up, move them on or put them in the recycling. There are still some floating around though.

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  3. I don’t have a lot of samples. The ones I have I wear.I’ve had interesting ones in PPP winnings.I’ve got some mainstream samples from Dept Stores, that is if the SA will part with any.
    I keep them all in a large make up bag.

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    • What is PPP?

      Those official samples fluctuate: I remember times when the only way to get them was with a purchase of something; then for a while there was suddenly a flood of samples in some stores – just for grabs; now most of the department stores where I shop stopped having manufacturer samples and switched to handmade, which is good because theoretically you can sample almost any perfume but bad because, again, you have to ask for them.

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  4. Please, do not enter me in the draw.

    I do not buy samples. The thousands that I have have been sent to me by generous perfumistas, either new or used. I always have a spritz or a dab on one of my wrists first. If I like it and the vial is 2ml or less I will finish it in one single use. If it is more than 2mls no more than 2 uses then. All the samples that I don’t like at the first try will go immediately to the give away pile for others to try. I don’t hoard them because they make me feel that they are taking the precious time that I should be given to my full bottles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knew I would scare some by offering samples! :)

      I have a very similar feelings about wasting time on wearing samples when I could wear my wonderful perfumes. Now I just need to be more decisive about those that I don’t like :)

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  5. I have so many samples. One of my no-buy year goals is to actually go through them all, determine if I have really tried them 😳, and then package them up in various combinations to give away. If there is something I really like I’m going to use it up that week. I used to think I wanted to keep some for reference but at this point I have so much perfume that I never pull them out again. Since I don’t have good perfume shopping here I have always bought samples (to avoid blind buying) but in the future I plan to move them out right away.

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    • I rarely buy samples – only if I want to try something specific and know I won’t get it otherwise or sometimes when I buy perfume and either need to get to some price point for free shipping or some coupon.

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  6. Lots of samples around here. If I like them then I’ll wear them a couple of times. If I love them I’ll finish the sample. I prefer spray samples as that’s the way I like to apply perfume, apart from a couple of extraits I have. Any that I don’t like are binned unless I think someone else might like them. I always have a sample or two in handbags that I use regularly, plus some in the car – just in case of emergencies😉 Just this week I cleared out lots of old ones that have been hanging around for years. They were just cluttering up the space, so now there’s room for some new ones.

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    • For years I preferred spray samples. But recently I do not mind and sometimes even prefer dab vials, especially when I get something to test others’ favorite perfumes: in most cases I can quickly decide whether I want to wear that perfume, I do not need too much of it. If yes, I’ll buy a bottle or a decant. If no – I don’t want to waste something that someone else liked enough to buy.

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  7. I have lots of samples dating to my early perfumista years, all neatly (alphabetically by house) stacked in two boxes I bought for the purpose of keeping them. They are nice boxes, with a glass lid, and like you Undina, are supposed to be a sort of library. But….I hardly ever smell them, sometimes I still e.g. if I read a review of a scent I think I have a sample of. I haven’t made up my mind what I will do with them, and ofcourse in the meantime they are evaporating. If I would live closer to other perfumista’s I would give them away, throwing them away is not yet something I am ready for. I rarely buy samples anymore, only if the one of my favourite houses produces a new perfume. I live too far away of niche perfumeries to just go and smell them, and then still I want to wear them a few times before buying.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am the same way. I have started to let go of the newer ones in the last couple of years. I mail them to friends. I even dug into my old ones. A friend became allergic to perfumes and could only wear oils. I dug out about 55 samples of Deep Midnight perfume oils from etsy and sent them to her.

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    • There are some samples I revisit – same as you, if I read something about that perfume or, sometimes, if something new reminded me of it, and I want to compare.
      Had I lived closer to my perfume friends, I would have parted with many more of them sooner. Why? Because we all test a lot of different perfumes; so it doesn’t make any sense to spend money on postage or go through feeling in a Custom declaration to send to others something they’ve already tried. But to list first everything to allow others to pick what they want give itakes too much time (I still do it sometimes).

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  8. In my early days I tested once and kept them. I put them if they fit in bullet boxes in alphabetical order by fragrance house or in alphabetical baggies. I still have boxes of those. In the more recent future, I try to take a 1 ml sample and thunk (nod to Portia) the whole thing. I douse and pitch. If the sample is too strong or larger, I do a full wearing, keep if I love it and put into a box if I don’t. That box is one that I use for round robins or to gift to a fragrance friend.

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    • I’m getting there! I already do a 1 ml samples when I can. Now I need to be more decisive with both finishing those that I thought were interesting and move out those that weren’t.

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  9. Great question! I’m so interested in everyone else’s methods. I’m amazed by those of you who just bin them after a try, strangely this had never crossed my mind before. I rarely sample anymore as I’m not really looking to acquire new things (and have been trying to use many neglected full bottles) yet more keep coming in.
    I’ve done giveaways, sent some to my sister, given to perfume pals…yet there are so many I have a hard time parting with thinking at some point I’ll try them again. That day never seems to come. I don’t understand myself with this, I don’t have hoarding tendencies with other items, donating or trashing household goods, clothes, etc without a second thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you on almost everything you said (I do keep some other things though, hoping to use them one day).
      For me to throw a sample, it should get spoiled. I keep even some evaporated vials while they still keep the scent!

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  10. At the beginning I kept them all, filed alphabetically in plastic bags in shoeboxes. Then after most of them went bad and I realized I would never use them I threw them away. Nowadays I test stuff once and it goes in a yes or no pile. Noes get passed on to friends, yeses get tested a second time and then passed on or slated for FB purchases. I have a tiny dish of spray samples I plan to wear that I like enough to wear but are not FBW.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so close to what I do!
      If I had a better access to stores where I could try niche perfumes, I would have had less samples. But once I get it into my possession, it’s hard to make a final determination for those initial “yeses”: I might like it enough that under different circumstances I would have bought a bottle, but with my current collection I have to get obsessed with perfume (at least temporarily) to buy any bottle.

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  11. I like to finish samples and then put the empty vials in a shadowbox frame I have mounted on the wall, as a sort of “trophy.” The vials arrange themselves randomly so it looks different every time I add new ones in and shake it up. I only add spray vials that have the brand’s original label on them.
    If I don’t like the sample, I usually donate it to Goodwill with other stuff so somebody else with different taste may enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks! Most of mine are from discovery kits that I bought, although some are free samples from stores. The empty decant vials I rinse out thinking I could reuse them one day, but they keep some of the scent even after rinsing with water and then alcohol, so I’m not sure if I will.

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  12. I have a smallish paper box of samples, which I sometimes use. Mostly if I need something for the NST community project….
    Samples I don’t like go to a giveaway box. The better ones I try to thunk in one sitting

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  13. The big bowl of shop-made and friend-made samples gets sifted into “wear it until empty and think about it”, “let someone else use this to explore”, or “no way am I inflicting this on anyone” piles. (Every now and then one gets claimed as a cat treasure. And there are also random clusters on my desk, on various shelves… I think that’s where they breed.)

    Unused manufacturer’s samples go in batches with other small luxuries and toiletries to a shelter.

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  14. I typically buy, or get as freebies with other purchases, about 35 samples a year. The ones I love I use up and save the vial and put the scent on my wish list to buy when I have the funds, This is usually maybe 2 per season. If I like others I will wear them and then toss the empty bottle. The rest, I either give away or sell. I’ve done well with selling a group of around 30 or 40 barely used samples on eBay. I would never throw away anything that I could make money from. Now that I’m retired I look at everything I own as a possible source of cash. LOL I try to recycle everything and perfumes are no exception. My consignment shop owner loves the carded samples I get from the dept. stores and Sephora so I usually take those to her to sell for a dollar and I get maybe 30 or 40 cents from each one she sells. Recycle, recycle is my mantra.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Samples 😱.

    I almost never refuse samples…in fact, I usually ask for them whenever I have the opportunity, especially when I buy at a brick & mortar store. I’ve given many never used samples away as freebies and when my sister’s town was having a town-wide garage sale, I brought some to sell (this was a few years back). I have also donated to a nursing home through NST’s Holly. As for the ones I’ve tried, they are in quite a few places around the house or back to the packaging they came in (e.g. LuckyScent pouches and the soon to be defunct Twisted Lily baggies). The atomizer samplesI like to wear again go into my perfume carousel which is in real need of a rotation since I hardly ever dip into it anymore. I need to find carousel 2.0 for the dabber samples. I sometimes do a full wear of a sample for SOTD but only if I had previously tried it as I don’t have time to scrub off in the morning!

    Here’s a peek into my perfume carousel:

    Fun question!

    Please DNEM in the draw.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually love that it inserted the pictures! How did you do it? Just pasted the link, or did you do something special?

      With your perfume philanthropy, people should be sending you any extras they’ve got: you’ll distribute them perfectly :)

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  16. I read this and wish I could get rid of my hoarder tendencies, like some… also, so many of my samples came from people who actually decanted for me, surely throwing them out would be just wrong!
    I do sometimes all of a sudden think of something and want to try it, and voila, I have a sample from way back. My advent calendar last year was an example of that, and to be fair I did throw away the ones I didn’t care for. I haven’t bought any new samples in eons, though.
    In other words; I keep and store samples 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • I liked your calendar idea. I might do something like that one year. I do have a couple of dozens of those samples that I like but won’t get a bottle.

      When someone decants their own favorite perfume, I can’t not just throw them away, but even give them to just anybody – only to one of, probably, 10 people in Perfumeland (present company included ;) ).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, perhaps in this crazy situation with time on my hands I should go through ( the nice) samples I thought others might like, Including yourself :-) However, post these days. It did ruin a lot for the perfume community I think. Restrictions, cost and liability. Just this xmas I send Ines a parcel with a lot of perfumes, the first in many, many years, it never even arrived.

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  17. I make usually a too-quick decision on one wearing whether I want to test it again. The ones I test again I will either finish or upon second test decide I don’t care enough to bother. Almost everything is on a path to going to a new home. I love to give them away, include them in a swap or sale or just mail them out when I see someone mention they’d like to try that fragrance. Even though it’s in my personality to be a perfume archivist and always hold onto them for reference I like giving them away a lot more, because it’s brings joy :D Also I have a pretty detailed memory for scents and most of the time can remember something clearly I smelled once ten years ago unless it was very generic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like your approach.
      I noticed that it’s easier for me to part with “singles” (those brands for which I have just one or two samples), but it’s much harder when I have a set, from which I like just a couple: I can’t “separate” them.

      Like

      • This happened to me with Kilian Gold Knight and Woman in Gold…until I ended up with multiples of each and then I gave them away like candy, especially since I now have a travel spray set of WIG and a freebie travel spray of GK.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I decide if I want to keep a sample or send it away after the first spraying. Then I put them in a bag where I keep the unwanted samples. I used to send them to other perfumistas and everybody was happy untill several years ago the Croatian post announced that no liquids can be sent via normal post out of the country. Of course I’ve ignored it but every time I’ve sent some samples they came back with the notice that the scanner has detected liquids in the package. Then I gave up.
    After that my sample pile suddenly grew big and I had to find another solution. Nowadays I bring the samples to occasions where I know many of my girlfriends will be present and I let them have the samples. I only keep some very good and very rare or unusual perfume samples.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow… That’s the strictest postal practice I’ve heard so far. I think those limitations are stupid, but once they are in place, there isn’t much one can do.

      If I had friends to share perfumes locally, I would do it more easily than now when a trip to a post office is involved.

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  19. Where I live, I must purchase every sample or swap with friends. I do still manage to accumulate samples anyway, but I do not hang on to them. If it is something that I wish to purchase, I do so. All samples must move on but I do not believe in waste. There are many among us with whom to share the love. I have hosted and participated in numerous round robin boxes and they are a lot of fun for people to try fragrances outside of their comfort zone, and I as well have found some new loves via samples that I would never have considered purchasing otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s great to see you!
      I had my share of samples that went off in my “library” – so, it looks like we all need a better approach. Probably making a more detailed notes while testing those that I don’t want to use might help.

      Like

  20. Pingback: Saturday Question: How Are You Doing? What Are You Doing? – Undina's Looking Glass

  21. I actually don’t have any ‘strategy with samples: I finish some, I hoard others, some turn, some await the day I might try them again, some get passed along. I know I had a s**t ton of them, as Val would say.

    Liked by 1 person

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