Friday, June 18, 2010

tips for controlling your perfume addiction

403px-Midas_gold2 I love perfume. I want it. I want to own bottles of the things I love. I am coming to understand that these urges need to be counterbalanced by a little self-awareness and frugality. SO here, I present you with the rules I have established to keep my growing addiction in check.

  • keep your collection in plain sight of your household; if you are ashamed of your passion and feel the need to hide it, maybe you need to examine it a little more thoroughly.

  • make a monthly budget and stay within it—this is hard, especially when you run into a great sale.

  • never buy a bottle cold—I must sample the fragrance on my skin at least 5 times before buying. 

  • use the bottles you have. Don’t just let them sit there unused.


  • bear in mind that this is a collection—some people stock a cellar with wine-you choose to do the same with fragrance. No need to feel overly guilty about a legit hobby, but just compare your budget and use of resources with peers who collect other things.

  • only buy fragrances on sale, unless they absolutely never get discounted. But even the most costly treasures are discounted from time to time—for example—bergdorf goodman just ran a $25 off sale on all fine fragrance purchases over 100. It’s worth the wait. But then, also remember your responsibility to local retailers and smaller businesses. I try not to buy everything from big companies.

  • don’t sniff at the cheap gems. Some really great fragrances are yours for the having at only 15-20 bucks.

  • consider trading/sharing bottles with others.

  • Be nice and give things away from time to time to resist miserliness. four of pentacles

  • keep your collection organized. know what you have—This is harder than it seems, I think. 

  • own a representative bottle of each category of fragrance, and then stop buying in that category until you have used up the bottle. For example—I own Mitsouko for chypre, and try to avoid buying others, but then of course, I can always come up with a subcategory that I ‘need’


This is just an initial list of strategies. Anyone else have other recommendations?


King Midas with his daughter, from A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls by Nathaniel Hawthorne courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Great practical, common-sense tips! Yes, true aficionados must show self-control, unless they're independently wealthy.
    Like what you said about the "cheap gems": Indeed, there's no use being a snob since any real fragrance lover knows there are some seriously undervalued, underpriced frags out there (e.g. Halston Z-14 and 1-12) that don't belong anywhere near a bargain basement, and yet: that's the price range and marketing.
    Have a good weekend!
    All the best,

  2. Wow! I must show these recommendations to my daughter who consumes more perfume than anyone I know. Love the guideline about keeping the collection public.


  3. one of the reasons i don't buy perfume for myself (although i clearly enjoy reading about it) is because to me it seems so expensive. i seem to recall being tantalized by your mention of cheap-but-great perfumes before; perhaps in the future they might deserve a top ten-style post? ;)

  4. oh Jessica - samples are only about $3.00 each so it is relatively inexpensive to try new scents.

    Good post, LbV! I have to find out how I can buy a few bottles of the 'old' Opium since they're changing their formula - I figure one bottle for each decade of my life left...I already have one, so I need at least 4 more (that is if I live until I'm 90!)

  5. Love this post! And I actually adhere to a few of your suggestions...until I decide not to (constantly justifying additional purchases). Thanks for this good, common sense advice, especially the sharing, trading and giving away of perfume. It's my charitable contribution to the world of smell.

  6. Absolutely terrific set of rules! For my own part, I try to stick to a $50 per month limit on samples, and I have sort of tiered system whereby if I like it in a 1ml sample to dab, I try it in a 1.5-2ml spray (because spraying seems to bring out so much more of the fragrance). After this, I have to LOVE it in order to shift it onto my "big wishlist" (8ml+ decant sprays).

    The only FULL ORIGINAL bottle of perfume I own is Flora Bella de Lalique. I never tried it before buying it -- just heard amazing things about it. The risk turned out to be worthwhile, as I fell in love with it on first application. I might not be so lucky always... but that was a stroke of serendipity. :)

  7. Ummmmmmm.

    I understand what your saying.
    I hear your voice of reason.

    But I am in the full on throes of obsession and I cannot be satisfied.

    Although...I did give away, oh lets see, about 8 bottles of perfume that I just outgrew.
    They had been my go to's for many years, things I bought over and over again because I loved them at that time and they pleased me.
    My daughter, my best friend and my daughter's best friend (ha!) all were bestowed with ME basically , (cause they walk around smelling like me) and were dumbfounded by my willingness to just give the essense of my scent away.
    Everyone around me has gotten used to my regulars and even though I've always loved perfume, now that I'm trying new types of fragrances , it weirds them out kinda.
    In a good way.
    And now I have opened the door to different things, no more mainstream really, just natural perfumery and niche and some vintage.
    It's so much fun and life is short , why not be satisfied with the little things,
    the bliss I encounter when I realize what I'm smelling is heaven in a bottle.
    I am enjoying the thrill of the hunt and see no signs of stopping, I buy waaaay too many samples and decants of everything I want to try.
    But I can smell different every day,
    even every couple hours!
    And it has enabled me to discover new FB worthy loves which I treasure.
    I appreciate this whole hobby of ours very much, on a deep level since it awakens something in me, it enhances my precious life.

    I keep everything in the boxes and stored away to preserve them,
    I take them out only to use or smell.
    I have a PPP that is getting some stinkers but that may strike her fancy ;)
    I'm sorry for goin on and on,
    the only advice I have is to enjoy this!

    Enjoy life through scent!

    Truly, Tamara

  8. OOH, I am so glad this post generated so many comments! I am going to have to take a little while to digest all the things you all have said!

  9. Brilliant guidelines. I already follow some, but plan to add the others! Thanks so much for a thoughtful post. Kitty

  10. LBV,

    Anything from SA that is interesting let me know???

  11. My basic strategy is to only buy and use samples or small decants. That way I can try a lot of different things, but am not committed to any of them. Occasionally I will acquire a mini or a full bottle of something in a swap or on sale (but it has to be a huge discount!). In that case, I usually end up trading or giving away decants. If my sample runs out, I can always get another one, but that very seldom happens.

    I agree that some "cheap" perfumes are very good, just as some expensive ones are not so good. It's a matter of taste, after all.

  12. When you see that you don't have a cent in your wallet - somehow you are satisfy with what you have :) :)

    I would put another bulletin:
    - Don't buy just because it is cheap thinking that you will never find something so cheap
    - Don't buy without trying just because you read great comments and reviews
    - Don't cure your problems with buying new perfume; you'll end by hating that perfume
    - Use your current perfumes, they are not everlasting and they do can go bad
    - Decants are great thing
    - Samples are perfect thing

  13. I have just recently become interested in perfumes and using them, and I totally agree with jessica; price is a major hindrance. But, I've been so inspired (by your blog LBV), that I have been driven to experiment and so I buy what I can afford--which is very cheap scents. For instance a few weeks ago I bought a rose perfume (oil based) from my coop grocery store, which cost $8.00. I've received several compliments since I started wearing it!

    So, as others have said, don't turn up one's nose at cheap perfumes.

    I also have a couple of friends who use single scent essential oils like bergamot or sweet orange instead of perfumes. My sweet orange friend shakes a few drops into her hands and runs them through her hair.

  14. Oh, Stephanie, you always have such great things to say, so thanks! The rose perfume sounds nice--what is it?

    and there is nothing more sensual than scented locks. Nothing.

  15. The brand is Kuumba Made fragrance oil; the scent is "Arabian Rose." I like its duskiness. It smells of rose and musk and powder to me; it says "corrompus, riches et triomphantes" as Baudelaire says in Correspondances. Which I've just re-read, and suddenly, I'm understanding the poem in a completely new way: the last two stanzas, all about scent, talk of perfumes' ability to expand time and space and attain rapture and ecstasy--"qui chantent les transports de l'esprit and des sens." How do they do this? And why only those particular scents--those rich, corrupt and triomphant?


    La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
    Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
    L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
    Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.

    Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
    Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
    Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
    Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se

    II est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,
    Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
    — Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,

    Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
    Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
    Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.

    — Charles Baudelaire

  16. Stephanie,
    Well, you can't go wrong with anything w/ 'Arabian' and 'rose' in the name, say I...

    Thanks for the info there!

    Yeah, it seems Baudelaire was a big fume-head--the French perfume industry loves him for this, as you can imagine.
    I don't know why it's the heavy hitters that he finds so full of significance. Well, maybe the incense/benjoin/labdanum is like offerings to God and atavistic fire memories and stuff, the musk is sex...amber dunno.

    the others (the oboe one and the baby one and the prairie one) are more like mirrors held up to nature in one way or another, while the last ones he names encapsulate some very HUMAN
    experiences--i.e. rich, corrupt, triumphant OVER nature....

    hmm.... thanks for making me think about this.

    Yours, SArah


what thinkest thou?


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Related Posts with Thumbnails