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?

44 thoughts on “Saturday Question: How Many Times Do You Test New Perfumes?

  1. I generally test samples three times but like you, I have terrible trouble letting them go, even after that.

    Probably like many of us, there are sample vials scattered around the flat though I know you’re very organised with your storage.

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  2. I have no method whatsoever. And because I share everything with family and friends right now I think I have zero samples for retesting. Even if I love something and contemplate trying again, if I think someone else needs to try it I happily pass it along. It worked with you, Undina as you ended up buying the Kyse Ficco and the Milk after I sent you my samples ;). They are still in my mind as potential purchases one day.

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    • Yea, that was very kind of you: I would have never tried or bought that perfume if it weren’t for the sample you shared!
      It is easier to part with a sample if I know that someone wants it. It’s much harder to send it just out to the World. I still should try to minimize the number of samples that die at my house.

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  3. If there is something I really like, I’ll set it aside for later use. For others, I set in a box in my 1/2 bath for guests. They can take a sample or two for themselves. That way I never end up with the hoard (yes, I too once had a hoard) and it’s fun when someone finds something unique that they like.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My sample testing is pretty random, but I usually try a scent several times unless I really dislike it. I learned my lesson with SJP Stash, which I thought I didn’t like at all when I tried it in store. But I took home a paper strip I had sprayed with it, and forgot I had it. I kept smelling this wonderful scent for days, then I found the strip and it was the Stash! So now I try not to rely on first impressions, but if I’ve tried a sample 2-3 times and I still don’t like it, I’m done. Just had that experience with Beautiful Magnolia — huge disappointment. Doesn’t smell like magnolia at all, just generic watery “white floral.”
    I try to put aside samples I’ve decided I don’t like so I can donate them to someone else, either in person or in the NST freebie meet. My daughters have taken some off my hands. But I love the Scented Hound’s idea of putting them out in the guest bathroom! Maybe some day we’ll have guests over again …

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  5. I’m a sample hoarder- have hundreds. Some I haven’t really given a skin try; most were interesting enough to want to try again (sometimes different temperature makes a difference); a few I have kept for “reference”. I generally put them in my giveaway box if my initial first impression is really negative or strongly “meh”. If something about it interests me I’ll keep. I’m past due for a declutter, though – sit on my bed with my boxes (actually lipstick organizers) and quick sniff things to let go – package up into sample packs for NST freebiemeets.

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    • I think my samples stash is also in hundreds. And most of them I won’t try again before they spoil. I’m not sure anyone would be interested in them. One of the conundrums: I had many of them for so long that without revisiting them I wouldn’t know if they were still good. But I dont have time and/or desire to revisit them… Catch 22 :)

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  6. I am a sample hoarder too, and I recently felt the need to really clean up my own act. So I made three large care packages for friends, and sent them to new homes. I’m a very messy person and this helped me get a tiny bit more organized. And since I’ll never be able to use up all the fragrances I have now I used the three care packages to share ten bottles, to kind of cull my collection. My three friends loved the packages! We’re all doing skincare saturdays, so using all the nice deluxe creams and masks and scrubs, and then sporting an elegant new fragrance. Everyone wins.

    But… I want to buy one of the LE Annick Goutal scents-maybe Eau de Ciel. Wish it wasn’t LE and I could wait six months and then decide.

    Hope everyone has a peaceful relaxing weekend.

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    • It would have been so much easier if I had friends who were “into perfumes”!

      I had an urge to buy one of those LE Annick Goutal bottles also! But then I got out my current Petite Cherie, wore it and decided that I was fine.

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  7. My problem with samples is not hoarding, it is the buying of them in the first place–such a ridiculous expense! If after the first test a fragrance is off-putting, it goes into the stack for rehoming. Anything that piques my interest goes to the second round and a decision is made at that point whether or not a full bottle will be on order. I keep no samples whatsoever, they all either get shipped to a friend who has expressed interest or added to the rolling boxes in which I participate through the fragrance forums. It makes me happy it when someone finds a love out of what I have shared, and when I find something surprising in a box that I wouldn’t have otherwise tried.

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    • I like the idea of traveling boxes with samples but I don’t currently participate in any group large enough to have something like that organized.
      For several years before Covid I wasn’t buying any samples – I either went to stores to try new things or swapped with friends. Recently, I started spending more money on samples: it introduces some variety into my life, and since I buy less FBs, it doesn’t break the bank.

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    • Samples that one buys are expensive. That’s why I often sell the ones I don’t want to keep. They typically have only 1 small spray or dab gone and people buy them on eBay so it allows me to recoup some of my sampling costs. I swap samples also if I have something I think someone else might enjoy.

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  8. I don’t usually have too many samples at a time, so I’ve been using up all the ones I have that I don’t dislike. So each vial lasts me a few days of actual wear (not in a row). If I dislike it, I’ll donate it along with other things.

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    • That’s a healthy attitude, but it gets harder to maintain once your collection of perfumes you like and wear grows: it’s hard to justify wearing perfumes from samples that you just didn’t dislike while neglecting all those beautiful perfumes you liked enough to buy bottles of. That’s where amassing samples starts! They are nice enough that you don’t want to throw them away or pass on, but you don’t have enough time to use them up.
      In other words: good luck to you on your fragrant journey! :)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t have lots of samples, because I sometimes buy decants, but no small size samples. If I don’t like them I put them in the giveaway pile, if they are okay I keep them and throw some of them into my toiletries for traveling, where I don’t want to take my bottles.

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    • Before the pandemic, I also had an inclination to buy decants instead of samples because those in splits often weren’t that much more expensive than samples from decanter services. But this past year+ since I didn’t have my usual access to any free sampling, I started buying samples again.

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  10. I used to hoard samples but then they just got old, went bad, and took up too much room. So I threw a bunch of them out, gave a bunch away, and keep only one small box of those that are under consideration for FB. When new samples come in, I give them 1-2 tries, then they go in the give away pile or the possible FB box.

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    • I should try doing something like that with newer samples. The old ones will probably die their natural death because I don’t want to retest them to see if they are still good to pass them on.

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  11. “My name is bonkersvanessa and I am also a sample hoarder.” No pattern to my testing either, though I agree with Old Herbaceous that I usually try a sample a few times unless it seems like a scrubber first time round. The last one I tried was Ilio, and I didn’t care for the musk in that on the first go, still not on the second, so may not give it a third try. But I will keep it!

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  12. You wouldn’t want to see the samples & decants here Undina. It’s ridiculous. Luckily anything that is meh or dislike or I get a bottle of gets added to sales or giveaways. Whether it’s through blogging, the Oz FB page I moderate, bottle sales from my collection or someone asking for a sample of something and I throw in a few extra.
    Quite often my visceral reactions are to things that people really love, recently it was Le Labo Patchouli. That was rehired almost instantly with an adorer.
    Portia xx

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  13. Usually try a sample a couple of times, unless it is truly vile. The second try of a meh sample is put on the back of my hand in case it needs to be washed off pronto. Unwanted and rare samples are either passed along to local perfume pals, and the rest are sent to a friend who is newer in the scent journey, and I do try to use the ones I do like.

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  14. I rarely have any samples around. Access to anything I have wanted to try is fairly easy, albeit few and far between that I want anything. Even when I was at the shows, Esxences and Pittis, I didn’t take many samples away with me. I dunno what it is, something about all those little vials freaks me out. Anything above 5ml is ok though. I recently had a sample of Synthetic Jungle, but it was 5ml so —— there you go. 😀

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        • Mmmm. Yeah maybe. Malle’s Musc Ravageur I guess would count. I bought it after wearing it the once thinking I loved it. Then I just didn’t, I mostly found it annoying. Once in a blue moon it was good though! That was about 12 years ago? It’s an old bottle. I still have a little.

          And big mistake – I loved Lutens De Profundis right when it was launched. However I put off buying it for a few years, and then bought the bell jar. Reformulated. Tragic. I nearly cried. Stunning opening on a gallon of white musk or who knows what. That was definitely a mistake. I keep it only because you cannot get it in a bell jar any more.

          I bought Perfumer H Smoke a month ago, on one hefty try in the store in Vienna! Haven’t stopped wearing it. I know it was kinda risky but I have not stopped wearing it. I absolutely love it. Going back to retry Ink in a couple of weeks. I could get into this line.

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  15. I usually try samples twice. Some only get one try if I can tell on the first try that I hate a sample. I don’t want to waste skin space and time on something like that!. If after 2 tries I think I really like a fragrance it goes into my ‘considering an FB box” and I put it on my ‘want’ list of my perfume inventory. I don’t have a database, but I keep a list of everything I have, purchase dates, sizes, and prices. It’s very helpful if I decide to sell it later. Then I set aside a day to go over the “I think I want it” samples to see how I feel about them when I sample them on the same day. Often I will find that there are 2 or 3 of the same type of fragrance that I have put in the “I may want it’ pile and I can compare them to decide which one I like best.
    Some things are just so spectacular they go immediately to the must buy list like the beautiful Osmanthus Elixir sample I just received from Ormonde Jayne. Stunning! I’m definitely buying this one as I have no other osmanthus fragrances and this is really a masterpiece, IMHO. Ormonde Jayne perfumes are a source of beauty and happiness for me and also the source of drains in my pocketbook. LOL

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    • I usually know after the first one or two times whether I want that perfume. I’m holding onto those samples that I won’t wear or buy bottle of – and that is a problem :)

      I think I have a fresh sample of the regular OJ Osmanthus – I should find and revisit it… before this one hasn’t spoiled ;)

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