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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Redondo Beach, CA; Scottsdale, AZ

    Default Quality Control with Sample Vials

    After living my adult life unscented and fragrance-free, I’ve decided to live the rest of my life scented and fragrance-ful. *However, I come as a babe-in-the-woods to the world of perfumes and colognes. *I have only recently encountered words such as top-, middle-, and basenotes; EDT and EDP; oriental, gourmand, aqua, and marine. *Once my head stopped spinning, I began a planned and deliberate effort to figure out what I want fragrance-wise. *The current result being a collection of 29 sample vials and mini’s and a spreadsheet log of "keepers" and "tossers". *Which brings me here.

    I’ve noticed that all of my mini’s are “keepers” and most of my sample vials are “tossers.” *The most common reason for “tosser” status is not so much lack of fragrance longevity but (to my untrained nose) lack of fragrance. * As a person who prefers to wear fragrance “close to the skin,” I’ve found that with the mini-bottles, typically just a little dab will do, but with the sample vials, I’ve resorted to dumping the entire contents on my person only to be rewarded with the quaint scent of evaporating alcohol (with one or two unexpected olfactory overloads). * Occasionally with vials I was rewarded with a faint scent that entirely disappeared within an hour. * With the Creed's I've resorted to drenching myself with two vials to find that an hour later, I smelled faintly of salt or cut grass (Bois du Portugal being the one pleasant exception).

    So, my question is this: *Is there an issue known within the scent cognoscenti regarding quality or storage issues with samples, or have I just been unlucky with the draw in choosing my initial set of test samples? *Is it common to not be able to detect anything (or at most a very faint something), or am I truly scent-challenged? Below is my current collection, such as it is. *Those annotated with a “#” are full bottles or minis; those annotated with a “*” are vials; bold-face type are those I could detect for more than 30 minutes. *Thank you, I eagerly await enlightenment.

    #Alfred Sung Hei
    *Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien
    #Boucheron Boucheron pour Homme
    #Boucheron Jaipur pour Homme
    #Bulgari Aqua
    *Bulgari Bulgari pour Homme
    *Cartier Declaration
    #Cartier Eau de Cartier
    #Cartier Must de Cartier pour Homme
    #Chanel Antaeus
    #Chanel Egoiste
    #Chanel Pour Monsieur
    *Creed Bois du Portugal
    *Creed Green Irish Tweed
    *Creed Imperial Millesime
    *Creed Himalaya
    *Creed Silver Mountain Water
    *Creed Tabarome
    #Faconnable Pour Homme
    *Kenneth Cole Black
    *MPG Jardin du Nil
    *Thierry Mugler A*Men
    *Thierry Mugler B*Men
    *Tiffany Tiffany for Men
    *Versace Black Jeans
    *Versace Blue Jeans
    *Versace Green Jeans

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Atlanta, Georgia

    Default Re: Quality Control with Sample Vials

    I've never bought minis, so I can't comment on that part. The sample vials that I've gone on to buy full bottles of I found to smell quite the same. Now it is quite possible to get mis-handled scents and for that to be the problem. You didn't mention where you have been getting your samples from, perhaps that would be a key piece of data.

    I know I wonder a bit about the department store testers that get low on juice, are very clear bottles and are right by the door where sunlight streams in. A sample decant from one of those would be suspect in my mind.
    Currently wearing: Sun by Zents

  3. #3
    foetidus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    The Great North Woods

    Default Re: Quality Control with Sample Vials

    Your question is pretty complicated for a quick answer. *I think you'd get more responses if you broke this down into several threads.

    I can understand your not smelling several of those scents--you have to work hard at picking out the notes at first. *Hei is light but you should have smelled some "green" in it. Eau de Hadrian IS very light and short lived, but you should have smelled some citrus in the top. *I can also understand why you missed SMW and Tabarome and Declaration (although a lot of people get poo from Declaration).

    I don't understand how you smelled Eau de Cartier--I got nothing from that one.

    It's understandable that you should smell the Boucherons and the Chanels and the Muglars because those are scents with a lot of presence and they are quite lasting for the most part--the same with bois Du Portugal.

    I don't really think your theory works--I have used hunderds of samples and minis and bottles and I don't notice any difference in their abilities to transfer scents. *Once in a while there is a difference because sprays seem to have a different effect from spashing, but that is rare. *Also, I think we are all sensitive to different smells. *For instance, I have a hard time smelling citrus if there is a wood note present. *And I am overly sensitive to leather and castoreum. *This isn't an exact science and we all have to find our personal parameters.

    Be patient, concentrate hard--you have to build up those synapses that create scent memory and that takes a while. *In a couple months you'll have little problem. Meanwhile, practice, practice, practice.

    So, welcome to basenotes--you've found the right place.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Quality Control with Sample Vials

    First off.. WELCOME!!! You have found an amazing community and I hope you get all the information you are searching for. THis is the best place to start as a begginer nose.

    I find that it is so much harder to detect any smell at all from the use of sample vials. I get a much more faint hint of the notes and usually not too good of one. I use samples to get the general idea of how a Fragrance should smell. I don't use them to wear around. They are just for testing a fragrance out.

    With the spray atomizers from your bottles you will be able to apply more and therefore it will last longer than a sample. What I don't get is how your minis last longer than your samples. They are applied the same way but you say you need only a drop from the minis. That doesn't make sense to me. Samples are usually just as well kept in the stores as any bottle is... maybe more since they are in draws and out of the light. I don't think that you are picking up funky samples. That is rare but possible.

    I think that you just need to put on the sample and wear it for a few hours to test it out. That is all they are ment for. That is all I do with them. Don't expect them to last because they are not meant to last. At stores, it is hard to get a good read on a scent when you spray it on paper. Samples help you try it out at home. Next time you go testing you should go a spray two that don't last out of your samples on your wrists and compare how the spray is different from the sample and then you will have a much better read on it.

    That is just my advice for the matter...

  5. #5
    Basenotes Plus

    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Default Re: Quality Control with Sample Vials

    Welcome! I am surprised you do not consider Blue Jeans as long lasting. However, please remember that vials, decants, splashes and most minis are all exposed to the air for varying lengths of time and that air is the enemy of fragrance longevity. Even "deluxe" or spray vials do not have the airtight seal that spray bottles have. It is possible that an EDP sample may not be as strong as an EDT spray bottle for that reason. It is not so much an issue of quality control as much as it is one of physics. Creeds on the other hand are notoriously short-lived, again not as a quality control issue, but rather as a formulaic one.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Quality Control with Sample Vials

    I agree that sample vials are not the best container to store fragrance in. Spray sample vials seem to preserve (and disperse) scents better than plain ones. If your samples are fresh, there shouldn't be a problem, but I have experienced some loss of potency/top notes/trueness in vials that have been properly stored for a couple of years. If they were improperly stored, or decanted from a bottle that was less than fresh, all bets are off.

    To get the most out of any sampling that you do, one method to try is a variation of the "monclin" described by Luca Turin. Dip a paper test strip (watercolor paper makes a good substitute) or dampen a cotton ball with scent from the vial, put in in a brandy snifter, cover for a few moments, then inhale from the glass. This will give you a much fuller sense of the whole bouquet. Of course skin is the true test, but that can come later.

    The fact that so many scents have given you trouble makes me wonder if there isn't something more general going on, though. There are a number of variables that could be affecting your ability to smell scents. First, is your climate humid or dry? How humid? A moderate amount of humidity will give you optimal olfactory potential. An extremely dry environment will give even the best nose a challenge.

    Do you have current or chronic nasal or sinus congestion? This will impair your sniffer, and getting it cleared up will help.

    Lastly, there are quite a surprising percentage of people who are anosmic to certain odors, with musks and orris being two of the most common notes to be missed.

  7. #7
    Strange Accord's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Missoula, Montana, United States

    Default Re: Quality Control with Sample Vials

    Welcome to Basenotes!

    I have found the opposite problem. I have used at least a hundred sample vials. Most of these have come from trusted sellers on ebay and from trustworthy fragrance businesses over the internet. I have found the 1 ml sample vials to be excellent.

    When I have purchased minis, about 50% have seemed off in some way. There has been an unpleasant note in these minis that is the same in all of the bottles.

    If a provider of sample vials decants from a larger bottle shortly before shipping to you I would expect the fragrance to be sound. If the sample vial is packaged by a good manufacturer such as Chanel, and is reasonably young, say under two years, it should be good.

    I am quite experienced in the world of wine. Somehow I don't think a small amount of wine stored for say, 20 years, would be as good as a large bottle of wine stored for the same amount of time. This is why my instincts and experience make me leery of older minis. I think a fresh 1 ml decant may tend to be better than an old mini.

    I can't argue with the truth of your actual experience with minis and sample vials, but, would say that small sample vials have been good for me.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Quality Control with Sample Vials

    Welcome, Beo,
    I am also fairly new to this, but I've hit the ground running, with the help of all these good people. That's a very systematic approach you took, and definitely a prudent one, given some of your fancier choices.

    While acknowledging all the other good ideas above, here's a thought - I know that when I have a bunch of vials in front of me, it's tempting to grab more than one. Any chance you did more than one sample in rapid succession? My nose seems to be sort of "tough" and can handle several before getting overloaded, but this could certainly desensitize you if you were doing that.

    I also have found that I need to use a lot from a sampler before getting a good snort, but you seem to be already doing that.

    In any case, have a good time!!!!

    BTW, Foetidus, I've really enjoyed your extremely well-written, informative reviews. Your opinion is always worth hearing, and your nickname is a good one! Thanks!!!!!!!


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