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?

60 thoughts on “Saturday Question: Do You Buy Used Perfumes?

  1. Totally agree! I have had both good and bad experiences, but just lately made up my mind that it’s not worth taking risks. And anyway I have enough perfume to last me for the rest of my life, so I probably should not buy more full stop! Fresh is best.

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  2. I have only bought partial bottles on rare occasions in the early days. I remember buying from a FB group and that was fine. A couple of times from acquaintances which is much more reliable (Passage d’Enfer and Vaara). But like Jillie, it just doesn’t seem worth the risk anymore and I have so much now anyway. If I really love something I will just buy it new, hopefully in a small size.

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  3. I have bought 2 bottles that were partially used from eBay sellers with good results, Portrait of a Lady and Guerlain’s Myrrhe et Delires. I asked a lot of questions about storage, etc. and decided to take a chance. Both were in very good condition. I had 1 bad experience, a Guerlain Nuit d’Amour that I am pretty sure was watered down, so never again! The 2 that turned out well were from folks I knew of on perfume boards. I won’t be buying any more used perfumes, though. The average person doesn’t know how to properly keep and store perfumes and, even if you ask questions, the seller can always lie about how they stored it.

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    • My disappointment from getting bad perfume is so strong that it’s just not worth the savings I might get from it.
      I liked Myrrhe et Delires. Too bad it got discontinued. I thought it was weirdly beautiful.

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  4. It’s been years since I have bought partial bottles, but I never did have a bad experience. As for storing perfumes, I’m probably the worst at it. But I do subscribe to “if you own it, wear it” philosophy and don’t hunker things away. That might keep my collection a bit smaller, but I’m find with that. Where’s Rusty??!

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  5. It is the opposite for me, it is rare that I buy new bottles. The reason for this is simply that I could not afford it otherwise. Luckily, we do have a very trustworthy perfume community with its own forum and buying/selling platform in Germany. So far, I have not had any bad experiences, neither with buying nor with selling.
    Is it possible to buy a second hand bottle that was not stored in good conditions? Absolutely. In the end, this risk is included in the lower price and everyone needs to decide for themselves if it is worth it or not.

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    • I would have felt safer doing it in the smallish community where most people do not want to pass on bad perfume. But as a couple of earlier commenters mentioned, at this point I have enough perfumes not to need any more, and if I really like and want to get some new perfume, I should rather do it knowing that it is as fresh as possible.

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    • I’m in that same community, I guess, and I also have not had a single bad experience. I own far too much perfume anyway, and am usually more interested in getting partials or decants than full bottles. When I do buy a full bottle, I try to sell some of myself (or make a decant for myself and sell the partial bottle) because I don’t want to spend too much money on something I do not really need – it’s just a hobby, after all. I also participate in splits, which has the advantage you know what you get is from a fresh bottle: but, again, you can’t know for sure, a split might be sham in just the same way as the offer of a partial might be.

      Everything works very well for me, people are friendly and helpful, sometimes you get to swap instead of buying, some acquaintances I’ve made have become regular correspondents.

      I have never received a bad bottle. On the other hand, I myself am not a professional. I don’t have enough space in my fridge, I store my perfume inside a dark closet in a dark (and dry) cellar, and that’s it. But I’m not selling stuff that’s ages old, and I haven’t had a complaint either.

      I wouldn’t use ebay or Amazon or any unknown site, though. There simply are too many reports of getting spoiled wares or even fakes.

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      • I participate in splits too: it’s a perfect way to get some of perfume I don’t want to commit to. But usually sits are for newer perfumes that didn’t have a chance to be mishandled :)
        Ideally. I’d love to be able to buy manufacturer bottles 10-30 ml, even if it’s more expensive per ml.

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    • Me three! I love the (mostly) German community, and have sold, bought and swapped so much here. I buy from new extremely rarely, first of all I truly have enough, secondly: the inflation in niche prices.
      Anyway, swapping or buying at a really good price is a good alternative if I occasionally feel like getting a ‘new’ perfume.

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  6. If it’s available new, I’ll buy it new or not at all (it’s hard to gauge the value of something used against the retail price). If it’s no longer available new, the door opens up to buying used.
    Are you going to pursue the mystery of your photo being used elsewhere?

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    • I did write to them on the contact email, but I don’t think they’ll do anything: the more I look, the more it looks like a scam: they use some generic “reviews” on the product pages, and those reviews change every next time you refresh the page. Whatever. I doubt anybody would be buying from them anyway.

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      • Let’s hope nobody is falling for the scam! You could probably file a notice of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement with search engines to have the site removed from their search results, but I’m not sure how involved that would be.

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  7. I have bought partial bottles from e the Bay (very rarely) and from a splitter on Basenotes (often). No bad experiences from either. I don’t bother asking about storage conditions for several reasons: 1) there’s no way to verify the truth 2) they may not be the first owner. The Basenotes splitter offers decants but I always prefer to get the bottle.

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  8. It’s rare for me to buy a used bottle but I’ve done it successfully a few times. That’s how I got my cherished 200 ml bottle of Chanel No. 22 EDT and another of Cristalle EDT, both almost 100% full and in excellent condition. I wouldn’t make a habit of it, though.

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    • I can see myself risking it for some discontinued perfume that I could not get otherwise. A couple of Chanel EdTs are among those. Though, Chanel is one of the mostly counterfeited brands, so it would be even more unpredictable…

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  9. I had bad luck on ebay with spoiled bottles so now I only buy used bottles from fellow frag enthusiasts that are part of the community (Basenotes, certain FB groups, NST).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I buy used bottles of fragrance more than new bottles as I have a limited perfume budget and I don’t go through full bottles. I’ve had very good luck purchasing used bottles though I won’t buy anything that’s frequently counterfeit or spend more on anything that I would forever regret. Interestingly, the only bad bottles (3) that I’ve received were from fragrance swaps – I don’t swap anymore but I will continue to buy used.

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    • That’s interesting about swaps. I wonder, were those people you swapped with just inexperienced and didn’t realize that they didn’t like those perfumes any more not because their tastes change but because the juice was off? (I remember thinking that many years ago when I didn’t know perfumes might just spoil :) ).

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  11. I had bad luck on ebay on two separate occasions where I bought and paid for two bottles but the sellers only sent me one. I don’t participate in other forums so don’t know what’s offered. Short answer is NO

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  12. Same as Marie! I have bought loads of used bottles – and big splits, which isn’t quite the same thing, I know. I have had the odd duffer in the mix, but it has been a fantastic way to expand my collection at a fraction of the price of new. The lack of box doesn’t concern me at all – in the good old days I kept my collection in two beer fridges; now they live in several wardrobes and take their chances in the dark. ;)

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    • I thought of taking over one of the shelves in my vSO’s wine cabinet but then realized that it won’t hold all I’d like to put in there, and it would be very inconvenient in terms of using those perfumes. And then we filled up the whole cabinet with wine. So, these days I have a special thermometer on the covered shelf with perfumes in my closet and turn on the AC once it gets to 24C there. Hm… It would be an interesting Saturday Question about temperatures our perfumes are stored. We’ll do it soon :)

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  13. I have had bad luck on ebay with fakes and scents that have turned, and no longer buy from anyone with whom I’m not acquainted. I have been burned one too many times.

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    • It seems that most of commenters who were successful so far keep doing this; and those who had negative experience are skeptical. I’ve never had a fake. I wonder, was it something famous?

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  14. I like to buy partial/used bottles because I have such a large collection and can’t use up a full bottle. I’ve bought both on eBay and on Facebook groups with only one bad experience (on eBay). That said, I wouldn’t buy anything very expensive. I recently found an almost full bottle of Bel Respiro (in the edt!) on eBay for a good price. Crossed my fingers and was very happy with the outcome.

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  15. I have recently been buying and selling a bunch of partial bottles on Mercari. I mostly stick to buying niche scents that are not, I hope, so widely copied and from people who seem to be serious collectors. It is a great way to get a smaller quantity for less than a FB but still get the presentation. I have been lucky and don’t think I’ve ever been duped. I also don’t hesitate to buy from people on FB fragrance groups.

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    • I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything on Mercari. Do you shop there often? How’s buyers’ protection there? Do they resolve disputes? Somehow I missed when it got popular and feel uncertain about trying new things.

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  16. I have bought used bottles – eBay, Mercari; and done several swaps and splits. I haven’t had a bad experience yet. I don’t do it often, though – because I have slowed my buying so much that most partial bottles aren’t that appealing.

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  17. Hi Undina,
    Yes, I buy used bottles from people on FB sites. Especially good in Oz because it’s becoming harder and harder to get some niche brands here. The perfume post has been stopped from many of our regular buying countries, including UK, Germany and others. Also good because we often have to blind buy from OS sellers, this often doesn’t work out and it’s a good way to grab something you may have wanted earlier but didn’t, for whatever reason. Also, lots of the niche brands DC their perfumes and they become impossible to get here.
    Portia xx

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    • I think you’re in a special category: if not everything gets to the US from Europe (in terms of brands, I’m not talking about the delivery :) ), it must be 10 times worse for Australia.
      Discountinued perfumes is an even bigger issue. Why don’t brands warn before that happens?!

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      • I seriously don’t understand the need for secrecy either. You’d think the rush on anything DCd would make it a profitable idea.
        YEAH! The new laws about sending perfume to Australia have meant most of the world now doesn’t. The biggest perfume retailers are now saying it’s not cost effective or even doable.
        It’s all becoming really hard.
        Portia xx

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  18. I have bought used bottles, first from perfume friends (Ostara and Tubereuse Criminelle) and this year from our main national market place where it is possible to set up searches. First time on that market place it was not really a used perfume, just a bottle someone had 2 of, Iris Bleu & Iris Blanc (no longer available in the shops). But then this summer I bought Hiram Green Slowdive 98% full at a good price (without box, but in a Jo Malone box) and personally delivered, so I tested before paying. After that bought Osmanthus Interdite used online from someone who is clearly an enthusiast. I have had no
    problems, but would not buy opened bottles at less than a 30 % off recommended retail price, I don’t think. Willingness to buy used is based on all the constraints and extra costs when buying from abroad (much the same as Portia wrote) and a wish to get perfume which has (hopefully) not suffered weeks in a warehouse waiting for custom clearance. I hesitate to buy from sellers who come across as semi-professional, and would not buy a bottle without cap (thinking that may have been testers).

    I also think I would not buy anything over 120 dollars used, at least not without getting the proof of the original purchase.

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    • Like Ingeborg, I’ve bought second-hand perfumes from other perfume people. There are a couple of local perfume groups, one on FB, so meeting people seems a pretty safe way to go. Haven’t yet bought from more general FB groups, i.e. via mail, but a friend has and has found it pretty good.

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    • Living in the US, one gets very self-centered: I didn’t even think that there were other marketplaces than are available here :) What’s the name/address for it?

      I’m not sure why but I never liked testers – even if that meant 20-30% savings compared to the FB price.

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  19. I absolutely buy used bottles and have been for many years. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to build my perfume collection. I became interested in exploring perfume outside of dept store and mall options around 2007 or 2008, and I was in my early 20s not making very much money. I began using eBay to buy partial bottles and MakeupAlley to swap partial bottles and decants. I’ve never had a problem with buying fake or spoiled perfume and have had fewer than 10 packages go missing in delivery after all these years. I also often do not need the amount of perfume that full bottles provide since I have so many different ones and will never get through them all. There’s also the fun surprise of finding discontinued partial bottles on occasion. I’ve cut back a lot on my acquisitions, but I do still occasionally buy from eBay, Basenotes, Facebook groups, etc. On eBay especially, I carefully look at seller feedback, recent sales, look for pictures accompanying a listing that aren’t stock photos, and generally avoid buying secondhand those perfumes in the counterfeit market. All of this critical thinking and bit of research has served me well. And allowed my collection to become of a ridiculous quantity, but that’s for another day. 😉

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    • Ha! In 2007 I had no idea «there was life» beyond department stores and discounters :) And the only partial bottles I had were several given to me by co-workers because they knew that I was “into perfume” – so, they re-homed with me their unloved impulse purchases or gifts. So, it’s impressive that you’ve been building your niche collection for that long.

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  20. I have bought several partially used bottles without any problems with counterfeits or spoilage. Over a few years I have collected vintage versions of my favourites, again with good outcomes. Only one bottle had turned and the seller refunded me without quibble. I don’t need any more, have enough for more than my lifetime.

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