Perfume Profile

My Preferences
I started out not really knowing what I liked or disliked, but after a lot of sniffing, I've started to get a better feel for what works for me and what doesn't. I will try to do more in-depth reviews of some of these, but I thought I should at least give a sketch here.

Things I like
Tuberose, of the full-fledged soliflore variety: go big or go home
Orientals, particularly fruity or floral
Woodsy scents
Light, airy perfumes that are not powdery

Things that work sometimes
Chypres, particularly fruity or floral
Violet and iris
Really dry, woody scents (like Timbuktu, Knowing, Azurée, Terre d'Hermès)
Aldehydes (but they have to be the right kind)

Things I don't like
L'Heure Bleue
Powdery notes

Over the past couple months, I've managed to build up quite a perfume collection (just samples, but even so!). I've not only learned more about what I like and dislike in perfume (see below), but also where to buy samples and how to store them. So, being the giver that I am (read:OCD nutjob), I figured I should share! I am by no means an expert, so I shan't be explicating the ins and outs of perfumery (for that, see the blogs listed under "Beloved Blogs: Perfume" on the right sidebar), but I can offer suggestions for basic perfume entry-level skills!

Firstly, samples. They are your friend. Never buy a full bottle without wearing the scent, preferably more than once. If you're just getting started, chances are you don't know what you like (I didn't, and in large part still don't!), so I suggest trying out a variety to see what strikes your fancy. (My spreadsheet has some 300 perfumes with primary notes, scent family, rating in Perfumes: The Guide, and the occasional note from me, all extensively color-coded. Use it if you want! I'd like to think my obsessive research tendencies can benefit someone besides myself.)

If you can, get samples for free from department stores (Nordstrom is apparently the best, and Macy's the worst). If you live near a mall or someplace that has lots of perfume, you can also go in and sample sniff, though you should take it slow at first because your nose needs time to get trained lest it get exhausted! If you're like me, though, and live in a place with merely a Macy's, you may find the selection of perfumes somewhat lacking. That's where online ordering comes in!
Samples from The Perfumed Court
The Perfumed Court and Surrender to Chance are two sample companies that offer pretty much everything under the sun. Shipping is $2.95, 1 ml sample vials are $3+ (mainstream fragrances are cheaper than niche or upscale fragrances, and current formulations are cheaper than vintage), and you can often get a better deal on more obscure scents if you buy them as part of a sample set. Both sites have extensive sample sets available, which is a great way to try a variety! Aedes is just flat-out amazing; if you live in New York, you can go to their store (and tell me all about it!), but even if you don't, you can order 7 samples (I believe they're 0.7 ml, as the vials look smaller than those I've gotten from TPC, but I could be mistaken) of obscenely expensive niche fragrances for $15, including shipping. You just list the fragrances you want to try, along with a couple of alternates in case they're out of anything. They carry Amouage, Serge Lutens, Frederic Malle, L'Artisan, Diptyque, and oodles more. I've ordered from them twice, and both times my samples have arrived quickly (one time they got here in 1 business day! From New York! What the heck!) in individual labeled baggies. It's far, far cheaper to order from them than getting the same scents from TPC or StC, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Oh, you also get $5 off any order you place from them if you get a sample set. Of course, a $220 Frederic Malle isn't much better than $225, but still...Lucky Scent also offers perfume samples, though I haven't yet ordered from them.

I buy samples in vials and transfer them to small atomizers, because I prefer to wear my perfumes sprayed, since the sillage is generally better, and it's cheaper than buying larger sizes (which come in spray bottles).
Empty and filled Lotion Crafter
2.5 ml atomizers
I first ordered plastic atomizers (2.5 ml) from Lotion Crafter, which were great, but after reading that plastic tends to leak over time, I decided to order some glass ones (2 ml) from Pilot Vials. Now, they do warn that the tops can be difficult to get on, but that is the biggest understatement since "mistakes were made". I have to wad up a washcloth and use that to press the nozzle thingy onto the bottle, because the fit is so tight that trying to get it on with my bare hands has given me bruises (SERIOUSLY, wtf).
Filled and empty Pilot Vials
2 ml atomizers
It never wants to go on the first time, and as the vials have no lids, only nozzles, I end up spraying perfume all over the washcloth in the course of readjusting my hand position. I wasted an entire sample of Eau Sauvage this way, which is especially frustrating because I really loved the scent! The opening of the Pilot Vials are also much smaller than Lotion Crafter's, so one time when I didn't use a funnel I ended up spilling about half my sample of Nahema all over my desk. I also tipped over a filled vial of Vol de Nuit, because the base of the atomizers is very small. The upside is that they are very cheap; the downside is that I ordered 48 of them and now do not want to use any of them. I don't care if they don't leak (and they'd sure as hell better not, given how hard it was to get the tops on!), I lose just as much product in the transferring process as I would from evaporation. So, um, yeah. Just be warned that it is a feat of strength and will. If you have the funds, just buy the larger sample sizes. And, if you're like me and don't want to have to do battle with little glass vials in order to smell nice, just buy the Lotion Crafter plastic ones. (There are undoubtedly other options out there, but these are the ones that were cheapest and still well-reviewed.) Once I've got my samples transferred into their new homes, I write the name of the fragrance with an archival-quality pen (green, which I got from the UO bookstore) on masking tape and wrap it around the bottle. A label maker is a classier alternative, and they can be found for pretty cheap online (~$20). I laugh in the face of classiness, though, and my masking tape + pen solution works fine.

Once you have a number of samples, it becomes challenging to keep them straight. This is where organization comes in handy! I use an over-door jewelry hanger and group them by scent family/how much I like them, but ammo boxes (like these) are also an excellent option. Those who are really dedicated store their perfumes in a refrigerator, but I just keep mine in my office, out of direct sunlight (you also shouldn't store perfumes in the bathroom, because the heat makes them break down).

So! What perfumes do you like? How do you store your samples? Where do you like to order from?
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