Saturday Question: Do You Prefer Pure Parfum with a Stopper or Sprayer?

I know that in the recent years the definitions of different perfume concentrations got blurred, and it’s hard to know what concentration of oils we’re getting in the bottles of colognes, EdTs or EdPs, unless a brand makes a point of it in their ads and PR materials. But some fragrances are released as “Extrait [de parfum]” or “[Pure] pafum” – and my question is about those.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #72:

Do You Prefer Pure Parfum with a Stopper or Sprayer?

Do you have any extraits/parfums in your collection? Do they come with a stopper or in a spray bottle? Do you like it, or would you prefer it the other way around?

My Answer

I know several perfumes that come in spray bottles, even though they have the highest concentration. For example, Ormonde Jayne offers some of her perfumes in 40% and even 50% concentration, but as far as I know, those are sold with sprayers. It doesn’t sit well with me. Since I grew up with perfumes coming in small dab bottles, I think I still expect “real” parfum to be in a tiny (7-15 ml) bottle with a stopper that can be used to sparingly apply that precious substance. This is ironic because I do not feel good actually using those stoppers for the application: I’m afraid to deposit oils and other impurities from my skin into the bottle.

With my very first and extremely precious bottle of Lancome Climat, I had a special glass applicator that I stored in the bottle with alcohol and would dry before using it to dip into the bottle. With a couple of extrait bottles that I currently own I do use the stoppers but try to wipe them on the fabric of my clothes before replacing them in the bottle. I tried decanting them into a spray vial, but I don’t like how they feel applied this way. And it defeats the purpose of having a beautiful bottle.

But if I was given a choice, I would have still probably preferred extraits in old-fashioned small bottles – even though that is much less practical than sprayers: there is something very decadent and sensuous in applying perfume this way.

Rusty and Climat, Chamade and Chanel No19

Do You Prefer Pure Parfum with a Stopper or Sprayer?

47 thoughts on “Saturday Question: Do You Prefer Pure Parfum with a Stopper or Sprayer?

  1. Definitely a stopper. That’s how they were sold decades ago and that’s my frame of reference. With a spray you can’t control the amount of application.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have several pure parfums. All in dab bottles, as they should be. Vero, Guerlain, Chanel, Hermès. I do not count all the current niche “extrait” releases in their 50 ml spray bottles as pure perfumes because they are not. Making it strong and nuclear (and ugly) does not make it a parfum. I love the intimacy of pure perfumes, and the ritual that goes with the application. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some current artisan lines make gorgeous extraits. I’m thinking of Sonoma Scent Studio and St Clair Scents. Casablanca is a powerhouse of beauty. However, both companies use sprayer bottles. I wish they didn’t, or at least offer two options. Val, I think you would enjoy several from St Clair Scents.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had exactly the same thoughts! I always thought that Laurie’s creations would have been better in either small dab bottle or in a larger bottle but with half of the concentration, probably not even EdP but rather EdT.

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        • Many years ago Laurie sold 15 ml splash bottles. That’s what I originally bought from her. Two small splash bottles, perfect for application with the finger. Then she converted to spray only. I think the current 15 ml bottles may be twist off so you could always transfer to a splash bottle.

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    • I agree. Increasing concentration doesn’t make it real parfum, in my opinion.
      When I was asking, I did think about Vero’s extraits. I hope there will be more artists who produce something worth buying in that luxurious form.

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  3. And you know it’s interesting, Undina, but many colognes and EDTs that I bought and wore decades ago also splash (no sprayers). I remember reading somewhere years ago that the perfume companies converted to sprays because a lot more juice leaves the bottle and gets applied to skin so the bottle drains quicker. With a splash the consumer dabs and can control the amount applied.

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    • For lighter fragrances, I suspect I would use up a splash bottle faster than a spray bottle without the misting to help cover more surface area with the same amount of juice! That is interesting about the reason for converting to sprays—it wouldn’t surprise me at all, similar to the story of how the diameter of the hole on toothpaste tubes was widened so that people would use up each tube faster.

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    • I don’t know… Most of the modern perfumes do not warrant dab application: they require hajusuuri-style spraying all over.
      I wonder if those tiny bottles lasted longer actually because it took much less juice to get it to work for longer, or just back then it was such a luxury that women used them only for special occasions, and that’s why they stayed in someone’s wardrobe for years?

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        • You see, it’s not enough to do something one way or the other: brand recognition is extremely important ;) Ask on NST how many sprays does hajusuuri usually apply – and you’ll see how many people know the answer :)

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            • I love the look and ritual of the dab bottles but I choose spray parfums over them. That’s because I reach for them more. I have Miss Dior and No.19 extraits in sprayers and wear them much more than I would if I had to faff with dab bottles. I also like the greater throw.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. I have parfum in both dabber and spray format. I agree that the traditional presentation came in a dabber. I don’t really like the perfume touching my skin directly from the bottle as I feel it will get contaminated, plus it gets too much air so I decant a tiny amount at a time into sample sprays.

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  5. The only extraits I have are tiny dab bottles. I think that’s a luxurious way to apply and were I to seek out more I would want those rather than sprayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For extraits, I usually prefer the dab bottles with stoppers, partly because those are often the most beautiful bottles but also because I like the greater control. But my mother had the habit of not using the stopper itself to apply the perfume (usually Chanel No. 5) — she would hold the open bottle tightly against each wrist and tip it carefully so that just a few drops ended up on her skin. Then she could put the stopper back in the bottle and use a finger to dab from her wrist to the spots behind her ears, or at the base of her neck, for example. So when I wear extrait, I tend to do the same thing. I think it does reduce contamination. I’ve read that some perfumistas use a cotton ball to apply extrait from a dabber and then put the now-scented cotton ball into their bras, to waft up from their décolletages. (BTW, I’ve just learned how to add the accent mark to a letter!).

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    • Did you learn how to do it on the phone? I took me more than 5 years to discover :)

      I also do the “transfer” from time to time: apply it to one wrist and then touch behind ears.

      The trick with the cotton ball seems interesting, but I’m afraid that it might take up more perfume than I feel comfortable.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lol, I was a Mommy’s girl, and I used to sit in her bedroom watching when she got ready for an “evening out.” She had a dressing table with a lid that flipped up to reveal a full mirror, and I thought it was the most glamorous thing ever. She was actually quite beautiful, and very stylish. When we lived in Brussels, she had a seamstress who would come and take up residence for a week at a time in our guest room to make everything from evening gowns to curtains.

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  7. I prefer the bottles with stoppers so I can dab on a few drops. But there’s also the possibility of spilling it. Eeek! I’m pretty clumsy and I did spill some of my Chanel 1932 parfum once.

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  8. While I like the charm of a glass stopper, for the same reasons as you and others I don’t like to use them. So if it were something precious that I would take out and smell from time to time but not actually wear, then I would enjoy the visual aesthetic of the stopper. If it’s something I would wear, though, I prefer the spray. I like having the mist and letting it land on a broader area of skin and/or clothing. Maybe I feel this way also because the only “extraits” I have are modern creations: Jeroboam Vespero, a creamy, fruity leather scent, and Ormonde Jayne Montabaco Intensivo. That said, my vintage find of Christian Dior Poison that comes in a stopper bottle is an EdT, and it’s strong stuff!

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    • You know, it’s an interesting observation… My vintage Miss Dior cologne in a bottle with a screw on cap is probably stronger than many modern EdPs.

      It’s interesting but nobody mentioned Serge Lutens bell jars. Those I definitely refuse to use dabbed: not only those are the same perfumes they make in the dual spray/dab bottles, but at that size (75 ml) I don’t want to contaminate the whole bottle every time I use perfume. So, I decant it into something smaller.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree about the bell jars! Having gradually become more intrigued with the collectability of fragrance bottles, and wanting Mandarine Mandarin, I decided to get a bell jar through the SL website. Then I gulped and paid an extra $100 for the Vaporisateur because I knew I would not want to dab. I did get a free lipstick and several samples :) Regarding dabbing in general, I like the presentation of glass-stoppered bottles best of all. But I am like hajusuuri in that I prefer many sprays for wearing. I say I need to work on being patient, because many dabbed-on parfums I’ve used do bloom and develop complexity.

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        • I actually don’t think that SL’s perfumes that are sold in bell jars are intended for dabbing. I like those bottles and what to own them, but even not taking into the consideration a possibility of contamination, I prefer to wear them sprayed.

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  9. Since all of my pure parfums are vintage, I prefer a stopper or dauber. They are meant to just have a drop put in strategic locations. Intimacy not projection.

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  10. Like everyone else; stopper. The amount, the ritual… I read somewhere that if you were concerned with contaminating the content, you could wipe the stopper in a silk scarf after dapping, which also makes the scarf smell nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ll be the lone dissenter but you probably expected that. Atomizers all the way. Practically the only ones I kept in their native stopper form are: DSH Scent of Hope and the Aftelier parfums.

    Perhaps the question should include would you decant to a rollerball? Still a No for me.

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    • I knew it!
      I mean, I predicted correctly your and Val’s answers. But I didn’t expect such an overwhelming support towards dabbed application.

      Somehow rollers seem even less hygienic than stoppers, so here I’m with you.

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  12. I almost universally prefer to spray, even parfums. The exceptions are Chanel and Vero parfums which I think don’t smell right when sprayed. Also, Amouage attars, which are intensely strong and oily – I shudder to think of those sprayed, if you even could.

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    • I agree with that “not smell right”: this is exactly how it felt when I tried spraying Chamade decanted into a small spray vial. I need to use it dabbed. So, I will be decanting it into a mini bottle (of the same design as the real one).

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  13. I prefer parfum in a dab, not a spray. I can’t really control the spray to my satisfaction. It amazed me the Hermes Gallop came in a spray, and on me last 24 hours. The Francesca Bianchi scents come in a spray and they’re super potent, too. I make sure my hands are clean when I use my Cuir de Russie. And I love your bottle of Charade. Can you imagine a dressing table with beautiful vintage bottles on it? The bottles for Nahema and Parure, especially. Oh. I have a few drops of Nahima perfume left-maybe I’ll wear it today-it’s kind of dark and overcast.

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  14. I don’t have any parfum examples in my collection, though I have owned a couple of minis in the past and they only came with stoppers. That would still be my preference even in a larger format, I think because it feels more in keeping with the luxury formula, and with the era when parfums were more of a thing. Also, I wouldn’t want to overspray by accident, and waste the precious stuff!

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    • Yeah, an overspraying is also a valid consideration! Parfum concentration, in my opinion, is not intended to be applied to a large area: it is supposed to be rather intimate than projecting.

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  15. Hey Undina,
    HOW did I miss this?
    My collection has both dab and spray. Even within the same perfume. I almost never bother with the dabs though.
    I know it’s a ritual and you feel anointed and luxurious but I can never get enough juice on my skin. Such a greedy perfumista.
    Portia xx

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