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?

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?

Rusty the Cat: On Creams

I mentioned it before, Rusty loves if not all but most of the food. And among that food, there are some types or categories that he particularly favors. One of such categories is dairy products.

I can’t remember how it started, but at some point we came to the realization that he loves everything milk-related: milk, yogurt, cream, sour cream, ice cream, etc.

When I use sour cream in our meals or eat yogurt, Rusty always gets to leak the spoon afterwards – and does a great job while at it.

In Winter, one of my favorite desserts is hot chocolate. Rusty learned the process, and once I get milk out of the fridge, even before I open it (so, it’s not the case that he can smell it), he jumps on the counter (the part where he’s allowed to sit) and waits. After I bring milk to boil and pour it into cups with powdered chocolate, while my vSO stirs both cups, I’m busy: I feed Rusty milk film that is left on the bottom of the saucepan. Since it’s hot, I tear small pieces and give them to him. Rusty swallows each next piece in a nano-second and looks at my fingers greedily waiting for the next one. I’m strange, I know: from the childhood I like milk and, what is even stranger, hot milk and milk film. So, I would have eaten it myself. But Rusty loves it so much that I can’t deprive him of this little joy.

* * *

After the pump of the 1 liter bottle of Kiehl’s Creme de Corps stopped producing any output, I opened the bottle and kept it upside down over an empty plastic container from ice cream waiting for what was left to transfer there following the gravity. I succeeded but partially: another physical force in action – surface tension – prevented at least some portion of the cream from flowing down. So, earlier today I decided to “surgically” extract the remaining cream. I took the bottle and the jar to the kitchen, cut the bottle in half with scissors and started scooping the content.

Rusty appeared with a characteristic “meow” – the exact excited sound he usually produces when he observes food that he hopes to get. He jumped to where I was trying to save last milliliters of the cream, hovered over the jar, sniffed… and was clearly puzzled and disappointed by what he smelled: I was in the kitchen; it was an ice cream jar; the content looked like one of those tasty dairy products… and it absolutely didn’t smell as such. Since my hands were in cream, I didn’t want to touch him. So, as I was finishing my exercise in frugality, he just sat there sniffing air and not believing the cruelty of the World.

Rusty and Kiehs Creme de Corps

Sunday Self-care, Episode 7: Give Your Hands a Hand

Long before I got concerned with my hands showing my age, I suffered from dryness of the skin. So, for many-many years I’ve been constantly using hand creams and lotions, as well as trying to avoid subjecting my hands to any household chemicals.

Nivea Soft Moisturizing Cream

For years my go-to hand cream was NIVEA Soft Moisturizing Crème. I think that I liked it mostly for its texture and scent (though, I would have preferred the scent of the original Nivea cream in a navy tin). It was nice, it absorbed quickly, but I it seemed not to keep my hands moisturized for as long as I wanted to. Sometimes, I had to re-apply it during the night if I were to wake up and think that my hands were too dry, but I assumed that was the nature of the game.

Of course, had I spent any time looking into ingredients that were beneficial in hand creams, I would have realized sooner than not all creams were created equal. But somehow, I never doubted “old and proven” Nivea… And then, I did like the scent…

Since I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with the cream I was using, my several next explorations were all based on a scent.

Moroccanoil Hand Cream

Last summer, longing for a tropical vacation, I picked up the Moroccanoil hand cream the scent of which reminded me of my last trip to Hawaii. I liked it, and I might keep buying it from time to time, but since the scent is very pronounced, I didn’t (and wouldn’t) want to use it every night and definitely not during the day, I didn’t have a chance to notice its moisturizing properties.

Thymes Frasier Fir Hand Cream

At Christmas time, I usually crave everything fir scented. Partially, it’s because our Christmas tree, while being extremely lifelike, is still artificial. So, in addition to candles, room sprays and handwash with the coveted fir scent, last December I bought a tube of Thymes Frasier Fir hand cream. I love the scent! And it did a descent job providing moisture for my hands. But fir is a seasonal scent for me. It’s like with Christmas songs: I enjoy them all December long, but come January, they are banned in our household until the next year. So was that hand cream.

Soraya Hand Cream

For my birthday, Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) sent me (among other great things) a tube of a hand cream Plante Odżywczy from a Polish brand, Soraya. WOW. It’s the best black currant note in a beauty product I’ve ever smelled, including perfumes! If I could get it in a bottle, I would love to wear it as perfume. This 99% natural cream has nice ingredients, and I love it! But in our globalization era, there are still things that one cannot buy online and have it delivered. And this hand cream is one of those things. Maybe one day they will deliver to the US. For now, I’ll enjoy what I have.

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Hand Cream

The most recent discovery, thanks to one of my friend’s recommendations, was Aquaphor Healing Ointment. It doesn’t have any scent. It’s colorless. I do not enjoy using it whatsoever (and my vSO plainly refuses to, claiming that “it’s greasy” – it’s not). But it works. I think that my hands have never felt better than now (I mean, since I had to start using any creams). Not only I do not need to re-apply Aquaphor cream during the night, but I recently realized that during the day I feel the need to apply a hand cream much less often than I used to. And it absolutely does not interfere with my wearing or testing perfumes. So, probably for now I found my HG of hand creams. But it won’t stop me from enjoying from time to time some of the scented beauties that I have or hunt for new miracle hand helpers.

Hand Creams

Images: my own

Saturday Question: What Perfume Would You Wear Back to School Today?

Several years ago, when NST had a community project for the “back to school”perfume associations, I did a post about it. And those of you who were reading my blog then commented about perfumes they wore to school and other school-related topics. But today I suggest a slightly different twist: not a trip down memory lane but rather a fantasy.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #79:

What Perfume Would You Wear Back to School Today?

Think of yourself from the time of your last year at school. Imagine that you could send yourself to the past a magical gift – a bottle of any perfume that you have in your collection today or can buy now – to wear on your first day back to school. What would you choose and why?

My Answer

Have you ever thought of a great question to ask someone… and then figured out that you would have hard time coming up with the answer? This is what happened to me. As usually it happens at that time of the year, the “back to school” notion was on my mind, and I thought it would be great to do this question. But what would I want to wear on that day? That is the question.

As I mentioned more than once before, since they weren’t that affordable or easily available, perfumes weren’t widely used in the daily life when I was growing up even by adults, let alone teenagers. I’m not sure if there even were any official rules as to wearing scented products to school. The rules were strict about makeup: colorless chopstick-like balms were the closest one could get to wearing makeup to school. But I would think that any perfume one would be able to get and wear to school would be a vast improvement over odors that were “naturally” present in the day-to-day life. So, maybe it wouldn’t have been frowned upon? I don’t know.

But as rebellious as I was back then, I still wouldn’t want to be completely out of order, so probably I shouldn’t send myself to the past any sillage bombs.

Also, back then I was still mostly a signature scent person (on those rare special occasions when I wore perfume, it was my beloved Climat by Lancome – surprise!), so I wouldn’t want to send myself something I think I wouldn’t have liked at 17.

And of course I’d want to wear something that my friends would think smells great, especially that particular boy… (though, if I remember it correctly, there wasn’t a one when I was returning to school for my last year, but you got the idea).

Having taken all that into consideration, I chose Iris Poudre from Frederic Malle. My reasoning is: I like it and consider pretty any easy going. Besides, even though I tried and liked it when I was much older, since I think that Iris Poudre smells a lot like another perfume that became my favorite in just about 10 years after school, it’s very likely that I would have liked any/both of them a decade earlier as well.

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

What Perfume Would You Wear Back to School Today?

Saturday Question: What Is Your Favorite Puredistance Perfume?

With the news of the upcoming new release, Puredistance has been on my mind recently.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #78:

What Is Your Favorite Puredistance Perfume?

Do you own any? Do you like any of those that you tried but don’t currently own? Are there any that you’d like to try?

My Answer

Puredistance is “my brand.” I do not love all of their perfumes, and ironically their main perfume – Puredistnce I – has never found its way into my heart, but among the rest of their creations I have several perfume loves and strong likes.

Antonia is probably still my most favorite perfume from the line, one of those that made it to the “love and don’t ever want to be without” category in My Perfume Portrait. And that light green bottle!

Puredistance White, Puredistance Gold and Rubikona are all strong rivals for the second place spot in my heart. I don’t think I could choose just one of them: they fit into different moods and seasons, and I think that all three are beautiful.

I find Opardu, Warszawa and Sheiduna very pleasant and wear these from time to time, but admittedly they are just in the “like and wear” category: unlike the previous four, I wouldn’t be chasing these but I’ll enjoy them as long as I have them.

Finally, I like Puredistance Black on my vSO (he seems to like it as well). Not surprisingly, two the most masculine perfumes in the line – Aenotus and Puredistance M – do not work for me at all.

What I also like about this brand is that because I’ve done many posts about their perfumes over years, I have a wide choice of previously published pictures of Rusty that I can use again for this Saturday Question post.



What Is Your Favorite Puredistance Perfume?

Saturday Question: Skincare – Scented, Fragrance-free or Unscented?

With the current trends for “clean,” “organic,” “vegan,” “eco-friendly,” “cruelty-free,” etc. beauty products, the question of scent in skincare products is constantly being mentioned. With it comes some confusion: people associate scents with being harmful, while the absence of scents seems like a safer choice. In reality, it is not necessarily true. “Unscented” products might contain ingredients that neutralize or mask scents but are themselves irritants, while naturally occurring pleasant aromas might be completely harmless. Of course, having a fragrance added to the product (either to make it smell better or not to smell at all) will not necessarily irritate your skin, same as all-natural ingredients are not guaranteed to be safe, as we know from IFRA’s regulations for even those minuscule amounts that get onto your skin as perfume application. So, the safest combination for sensitive skin would be products that contain only safe ingredients (with or without their natural scent) and no added fragrance to either enhance or hinder our scent perception of the product. This is theoretically. But what in reality? Do you care for the scent in your skincare products?

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #77:

Skincare – Scented, Fragrance-free or Unscented?

Do you care whether your skincare products have a scent (natural occurring or added)? Do you prefer it one way or the other? Do you make an extra effort to ensure that the product you’re getting smells the way you like (or doesn’t smell at all, if this is your preference)?

What are your favorite products smell-wise?

My Answer

I can’t say with certainty whether my skin is sensitive. I do have some skin allergies, but those seem to be triggered mostly by environmental factors: I started having any issues (other than mild acne, from which I suffered my whole life) only 3 or 4 years ago when we had the first huge fire in our area with air quality being classified as “dangerous” for a couple of weeks. At that point, my skin started reacting to everything, and that was when I switched to the simplest routine with a couple of products that I tolerated well. Back then the question of ascent or fragrance in products didn’t even occur to me.

A year of working from home miraculously healed my skin super-sensitivity, and I started dabbling in an enhanced skincare routine, as I described in one of my Sunday Self-care Series post. And that was when I realized that I do not enjoy skincare products that do not have any smell. The scentless Ilia Lip Wrap Treatment Mask was one of my least favorite lip products. I tolerate The Ordinary products, but mostly because those are super-simple “one-track” remedies. With everything else… I want a pleasant scent. My skincare doesn’t feel luxurious enough if I cannot smell anything at all. Among products that I enjoy, I’d name Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Gel, Guerlein Youth Watery Oil and Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask in Berry.

Lip Masks

So, if I absolutely have to (if my skin starts “misbehaving” again), of course, I will pay even more attention to what I react to, and I might decide to eliminate some of the products that do not swear not to make the situation worse (being “free-everything”). But until then I try to stick to products that provide enjoyment to all of my senses.

Speaking about satisfying all the senses… Check out this post (and a giveaway) on Jessica’s blog (Perfume Professor) for the review of the latest products from Boxwalla’s subscription.


How about you?

Skincare – Scented, Fragrance-free or Unscented?

Just Splendiris!

I loved the name long before I got a chance to try this perfume and before I found another favorite from the brand. I read a beautiful review Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) wrote for Spenderis by Parfums Dusita and thought that I wanted to like it. Usually, it’s a recipe for disappointment. But not in this case.

Splendiris ticks almost all the boxes for me. It is beautiful: I don’t think that it’s a universal pleaser, but if it’s your cup of tea, you don’t have to work hard on liking it. It is original: I have many iris perfumes, but Splendiris doesn’t remind me of any of them. It has a presence: while not a “powerhouse,” it is not timid, and the scent is quite distinct and pronounced. My only complaint is that Splendiris is less tenacious than I’d like it to be. But I do not mind re-applying.

Rusty and Dusita Splenderis

I’m sure that most of my loyal readers have tried Splendiris by now (so, tell me – do you like it?), but for those few who might have missed it, I want to say that, in my opinion, unless you dislike iris perfumes in general or cut out perfume testing at the price level that is lower than Parfums Dusita’s offerings, this perfume is worth trying: you might still not like it, but as far as spending money on perfume testing hobby goes, Splendiris is a solid candidate (check out Lucas’s review linked to above if you want more details).

I bought a travel set earlier this year, and it arrived packaged beautifully and with wonderful attention to details. Both Rusty and I enjoyed the unboxing.



In general, I applaud the brand for their testing and purchasing options. If you’re not familiar with the brand, you can buy a set of their first 9 released perfumes + select one of the two newer perfumes (EUR 59 + EUR 9 for S&H to the US). Those are large (2.5 ml) manufacturer’s samples, and the set includes EUR 40 voucher to be used for the future purchase. It is possible to buy separate samples as well, but I suspect it’ll be too expensive to send them to anywhere but France. They also have all of their perfumes in travel sets (3 x 7.5 ml), 50 ml and 100 ml bottles. When you buy anything but just samples, you get a choice of three additional samples with your order. Orders above EUR 150 are always shipped free of charge, and I saw once or twice a promotion where travel sets were shipped free of charge. I don’t think they have a newsletter to subscribe to, but the brand is active on Instagram and Facebook, so if you were to follow it there, you’d catch the next promotion.


Images: my own

Saturday Question: Will You Miss Any of L’Art et la Matiere Perfumes?

It is not a confirmed information, but it looks like if not a straightforward discontinuation some changes are about to happen to this Guerlain‘s line. After the last week’s perfume bottles swaps discussion where hajusuuri mentioned that Guerlain was changing bottles for this line, I saw ThePerfumeGuy’s YouTube video, in which he shared tidbits he got from several brand’s SAs, all of which boiled down to these perfumes being re-released in new, larger and more expensive bottles. And it is not clear, which of the perfumes are coming back.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #76:

Will You Miss Any of L’Art et la Matiere Perfumes?

Do you have any that you planned to buy eventually but haven’t yet? Or are there any bottles that you planned to re-purchase once you finish the current one? Do you hope for any of the previously discontinued perfumes from this line to come back?

My Answer

For the longest time, I planned to buy Angelique Noire once I finish the decant I have. I always liked this perfume, but with how seldom I wear each of the perfumes in my collection, I easily had another year before facing the decision whether to buy a bottle or try to get another decant.

When I learned about the upcoming changes, I searched for a bottle and found it available on one of the large department store’s websites. I could have bought it then and there, but of course being me I wanted to wear Angelique Noire once again… Do I have to tell that the next time I looked it was gone?

In a futile attempt to find it, among other places I visited the brand’s site. Of course, it’s not available there as well, but at least Angelique Noire is listed there with a somewhat pacifying “Email when in stock” action offered. I do realize that it might come back reformulated again and in a 100 ml (or larger?) bottle. But there is at least some hope. And that’s when I realized that I didn’t see there the first perfume from Guerlain that I bought – Cruel Gardenia.

Guerlain Cruel Gardenia

I still have probably about 20 ml left in my bottle (the photo above was taken about 5 years ago). But the thought that it might be gone completely upset me so much that I ran back to the same sites looking now for a backup bottle of my beloved Cruel Gardenia. Luckily for me, it has always been an odd one in the line, so it is the last one left from the older creations (another one still available in the US stores is Iris Torréfié, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it). Since I want it for myself and do not plan to sell for profit or split, it doesn’t matter to me that others do not like it as much as I do. So, now maybe one of the last few Cruel Gardenia bottles left in the US is on its way to me.

How about you?


Will You Miss Any of L’Art et la Matiere Perfumes?

Rusty the Cat: “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”

While the color of my opposable digit is probably the closest to Pantone 448 C, I love flowers. And since I can’t grow them, I buy them.

As I discovered, I’m good at both picking fresh bouquets and keeping them alive. But here comes another complication: the only place in our house where flowers can survive is our bedroom. It’s not because the atmosphere there is somehow special. But it is the only living area to where Rusty has access only in our presence.

It is important because, being left alone with flowers, Rusty either plays with them, which results in knocked over vases, or eats them, which is even worse since many flowers might be poisonous for cats.

The positive side of Rusty’s obsession with flowers is that every time he does get access to them, I get a chance to take many pictures of him: he’s so occupied with sniffing, pawing and biting them while he can that he doesn’t immediately notice me with a camera to start turning away.



As I was looking through pictures to choose those that I haven’t published before, I realized that I didn’t find any of Rusty with carnations. I should probably pick up a bouquet of carnations next.