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  1. #1

    Default The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    I always thoroughly sample fragrances before committing to a full bottle. I often buy the travel size when available like Malle or Hermes or try to score samples of what I'm interested in when I do make a purchase (I sure miss when Malle was generous with those 3.5ml samples!!).

    I don't think I have ever bought a fragrance without having at least a take home sample that I can wear several times. Testing on skin in store is just never enough for me to determine if I want a whole bottle of something.

    but...

    With this approach I lose some of the magic and excitement of buying a bottle. It almost feels like a chore to go ahead and buy the full bottle. Like buying underwear, I like it, I know I'll use it, but I'm already so familiar with it that when I finally purchase the bottle it isn't all that exciting.

    This is not to say I regret any of my purchases, the upside is I love every single bottle I have. I suppose there is a delayed gratification in this approach, while the initial high of getting something new is diminished, I still appreciate owning the fragrance and having it to wear over and over.

    Still, I can see the potential thrill in blind buying, smelling a fragrance and getting to know it for the first time when the bottle arrives must feel great (and sometimes horrifying).

    Anyway, just some thoughts I had and curious if anyone else feels the same. What's your approach to "try before you buy" and how much do you test out a fragrance before getting the full bottle?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    Everyone has a different approach to buying fragrances and IMO they're all valid. One just has to choose what works best in their case. You seem to have found yours.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    More than once, I've purchased a decant or sample and thought it was great, only to find that full bottles I subsequently bought smelled different. If you know which fragrance groups, notes and combinations you like, and you've read a wide variety of reviews and have formed a pretty good idea about what you'll be getting, blind buys can be a lot of fun and rewarding.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    One dab/spray on the back of my hand is all I usually need to make a decision.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    Smelling it on paper vs on skin could be quite different so getting a sample/small decant is worth the investment in order to reach a conclusion for the nose.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    The worst is enjoying a sample/decant then having your mind change several months after buying a whole bottle - either because the perfume aged in a different direction to what you liked, your tastes simply changed or you found something better.

  7. #7

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    I know what you mean -- it's a valid point.

    I tried Aventus in-store about two weeks after it's release and fell in love immediately. When I got it home, I didn't wear it again for about a month and then very sparingly afterwards. I didn't want the smell to become familiar to me too quickly.

    I do this a lot now, i.e. I wait quite a while after purchasing to wear it out properly, so i have almost forgotten how it smells.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    For something available retail, I can't imagine blind buying. For something discontinued, I might be able to make a profit from it if I don't like it.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    Hmm. I don't know....when I try a sample and use it up, I crave having a full bottle if I like it enough. The excitement is still there for me.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    I generally prefer a sample to try at home. However, blind buying is fun and not all fragrances have samples that are available ( whether from an online decant store or where ever). There are lots of good fragrance reviewers here on Basenotes. We are quite fortunate to have them. Seriously, it's much better than the early days of "I like this cologne, it was my favorite in High School. Chicks love it".

    Take note of what good reviewers and forum members say about a fragrance and you will generally be okay. And keep in mind that many times we just fall out of love with a particular fragrance.
    Seeking: Bottles/decants : of Pomegranate Noir, Midnight in Paris EDP, Feeling Man, Essence of John Galliano, Azzaro pour Homme (vintage),...etc.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    I do both and see no right way, some fragrances you can’t have the opportunity to sample prior or you wanna experience a blind buy or don’t wanna wait and need it now! If the blind buy doesn’t work out it is usually easy to find another person happy to take it off your hands usually and not too much of a loss.

  12. #12

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    For sure, my first step is always reading up on fragrances to see what interests me. Usually the second step is trying a spray at a store and if I'm interested I try to score a sample at some point to test further at home. I really hate paying for samples or decants but I'm lucky enough to live in NYC where I can try just about anything.

    I'm far from a newbie at this so I'm not really asking for advice on how to shop, just curious about other's approaches and if anyone else feels the same occasional lack of excitement when your purchases are so well researched as I do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Surfacing View Post
    I generally prefer a sample to try at home. However, blind buying is fun and not all fragrances have samples that are available ( whether from an online decant store or where ever). There are lots of good fragrance reviewers here on Basenotes. We are quite fortunate to have them. Seriously, it's much better than the early days of "I like this cologne, it was my favorite in High School. Chicks love it".

    Take note of what good reviewers and forum members say about a fragrance and you will generally be okay. And keep in mind that many times we just fall out of love with a particular fragrance.

  13. #13

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    That's a good point and I sometimes do that too, hide a new purchase away for a bit so it can feel new when I do use it, especially if I have bought a few new things in a short period of time.

    I guess the solution is really to wait awhile from sample to purchase to feel new again. The most extreme example of this for me is I've known I wanted En Passant for about 5 years now. I had a 10ml that ran out last year and just this month I finally got the bottle, that was satisfying! But of course you risk discontinuation/reformulation and price hikes with this approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
    I know what you mean -- it's a valid point.

    I tried Aventus in-store about two weeks after it's release and fell in love immediately. When I got it home, I didn't wear it again for about a month and then very sparingly afterwards. I didn't want the smell to become familiar to me too quickly.

    I do this a lot now, i.e. I wait quite a while after purchasing to wear it out properly, so i have almost forgotten how it smells.

  14. #14

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    I admire your decisiveness! haha

    But for me, there have been way too many times where I spray something and think "that's nice!" right away only to find later it is lackluster or I outright hate it on dry down. Alternately, some of my favorites were slow burners that I didn't immediately love but came to love more and more over several wears.

    Maybe this is crazy, but I find even a full wearing on my arm to be unsatisfactory. I need to get a good spray on my chest, on my arms, wear it and only it for a full day to see how does it develop, how does it perform, what does it feel like to really wear it before going through with a purchase.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedRaider430 View Post
    One dab/spray on the back of my hand is all I usually need to make a decision.

  15. #15

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    Prefer to try before I buy. The thrill/hype, created by reading/watching other people's reviews, can be short-lived if it's a stinker/boring.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    Quote Originally Posted by Rüssel View Post
    Prefer to try before I buy. The thrill/hype, created by reading/watching other people's reviews, can be short-lived if it's a stinker/boring.
    This

  17. #17
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    A blind buy or even an impulse purchase based on an initial sniff in store certainly gives more of a rush.

    There have also been times where I've had a sample/decant, loved it. Finished the sample/decant, bought a full bottle, then hardly touched the full bottle.
    1. No, never blind buy (I do, but do as I say, not as I do. I'm taking no responsibility for your fragrance gambling).
    2. Get them both. You're a Basenoter and you know you're going to end up purchasing them both eventually.
    3. Yes, it has been reformulated.
    4. Looking for a signature scent? You've come to the wrong place.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    Quote Originally Posted by cheapimitation View Post
    For sure, my first step is always reading up on fragrances to see what interests me. Usually the second step is trying a spray at a store and if I'm interested I try to score a sample at some point to test further at home. I really hate paying for samples or decants but I'm lucky enough to live in NYC where I can try just about anything.

    I'm far from a newbie at this so I'm not really asking for advice on how to shop, just curious about other's approaches and if anyone else feels the same occasional lack of excitement when your purchases are so well researched as I do.
    Ah I see now. Well yeh, I honestly like some excitement when getting a fragrance. Sampling beforehand is risky as well. Sometimes a fragrance isn't as good as I thought it was and I've realized that a few months down the road.
    Seeking: Bottles/decants : of Pomegranate Noir, Midnight in Paris EDP, Feeling Man, Essence of John Galliano, Azzaro pour Homme (vintage),...etc.

    Seeking decant/sample of Aramis Calligraphy Rose, Penhaligon's Esprit de Roi, PdE Ambre Russe, Jil Sander Feeling Man ....etc. I have samples to swap.

    More HERE
    Please PM me !

  19. #19

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    The other side of this is that with more challenging fragrances you might have to live with it overtime before a true understanding or relationship is formed. With a sample that commitment is not there so you can end up with more of a mass appealing collection but perhaps also a more boring collection.

  20. #20

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    Personally, on occasion I do make the leap and blind buy a full bottle of something. It hasn't been disastrous, but I'm backing off that gamble.
    With 130+ bottles, about 25 are scents I wouldn't have bought had I really tested. A few bad choices this past summer while hunkered down.
    (They are not "bad" scents, just don't suit me.)

    I prefer a small decant if I really think it's something I might like- 2-6ml. I have a tough time really assessing much from those 1ml vials.

    A small decant lets me really test wear 2-3 times at least, and get a real feel for the scent. Decants saved me from several pricey purchases over summer that would have really pissed me off.
    Between Covid and retirement I don't get out much. But when I do, I smell real good.

  21. #21

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    Quote Originally Posted by Orangecloud View Post
    The other side of this is that with more challenging fragrances you might have to live with it overtime before a true understanding or relationship is formed. With a sample that commitment is not there so you can end up with more of a mass appealing collection but perhaps also a more boring collection.
    Exposure made me buy one of my most mainstream/boring fragrances, Armani Code Sport. The one time being bombarded with the same sample over and over again worked. Just performs well in hot weather. For me the real test is if a fragrance can survive in one's collection. It can just provide a bit of a novelty thrill.

  22. #22

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    Though most if not nearly all of the blind buy experiences were a success - thanks in a significant proportion to the BN community and their invaluable advice, knowledge and intuition averting disastrous blind purchases while recommending some of the best and most rewarding ones - would still go for and recommend extensively (re) testing a scent before ultimately buying.

    Especially, but not only if said fragrance is vintage/limited availability (therefore likely costlier and/or more acclaimed and hyped by both critical and commercial standards), niche, more classic or on the other hand excessively futuristic and experimental, as well as with a generalized backstory/track record of debatable, fluctuating and/or fleeting performance.

    If a fragrance managed to effortlessly master most if not all of these aforementioned personal and more requirements repeatedly before a final buy, it would much likelier get chosen, preferred and personally recommended further here on BN. At least compared blindly purchasing with little or no further previous testing experience. Likely with little or no downside (s) if choosing this as opposed to mere blind buy (s).

  23. #23

    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    Getting samples from a store is a great way to try without a full bottle purchase but swapping them with friends has been a great way to sample things that sometimes you just wouldn’t think to try/buy yourself. Also, if you know a friend’s tastes you can send stuff their way which you know they are more likely to appreciate.

    The downsides of trying before you buy are minor unless you are unfortunate enough to miss out on the actual fragrance because of reformulation or discontinuation. If you buy a bottle as soon as you know it will suit your needs you reduce the chances of that happening to a degree. Obviously it’s not always possible to sample so sometimes you have to just go for it blind.

    8 out of 10 of my most worn have been try before buy; Of the other two, one I tried 10 years before so a semi blind buy and the other was a true blind buy.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    Quote Originally Posted by Bonnette View Post
    More than once, I've purchased a decant or sample and thought it was great, only to find that full bottles I subsequently bought smelled different. If you know which fragrance groups, notes and combinations you like, and you've read a wide variety of reviews and have formed a pretty good idea about what you'll be getting, blind buys can be a lot of fun and rewarding.
    I've had this same experience, and I feel that it has to do with the fact that many fragrances come across differently depending on whether they are sprayed from an atomizer or simply splashed or rolled or dabbed on. The downside I've found with purchasing sample tubes or decants or even mini bottles is that very often they don't come with the atomizer. So..I can only test the fragrance by splashing in on my wrist, or trying to dab it on with either a plastic stick (that some test vials come with) or a tissue. I've found in many cases when I do this..and then later I find an open tester bottle of the same fragrance in a store..when I spray it from the bottle it can be quite a different thing! There are maybe a couple or a few cases where I found there really was no big marked difference between the scent being splashed or it being sprayed, Guerlain's "Mitsouko" being one example (to my nose anyway) and Elizabeth Arden's "Red Door" being another one. But..I think there are a lot more examples of ones where I found the notes come across very differently when they're sprayed from the atomizer. I've heard this has to do with how different application methods can effect scent "projection" into the air..often spraying from an atomizer causes greater "projection" whereas splashing or dabbing or rolling a scent on can often make it stay more just a "skin scent." Also..apparently skin and room temperature can effect how a fragrance smells too..and other things that complicate the whole issue.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: The Downside (?) of Try Before You Buy

    In any case, my point was just that testing any fragrance from the actual bottle (that it comes in if you actually buy it) is my preferred method of fragrance testing by far! Testing a decant, or testing from a small sample tube or mini splash bottle is certainly better than nothing, and certainly gives you some idea of how the scent smells. (Whereas if you blind buy, you obviously have no idea!) But ideally, I feel that spritzing the scent on your wrist (or hand) from the actual bottle in the store is the way to go! Obviously, the drawback is you spray it once..and then eventually throughout the day the scent wears off, and later I may have difficulty recalling it properly from memory! (Or..if I test several things I have no idea which was which later! And of course..all the scents end up layering!) And..the other drawback is that often stores have at least one other scent in the air already..and so..when you test fragrance, sometimes you're not getting the full sense of how it actually smells either..sometimes you're still smelling it mingled with at least one other scent, even if you don't spray any other perfumes yourself! That's happened to me before too more than once! It happened to me with Shiseido "Everbloom" and "Ciara" from Revlon for example. I thought i loved both of them in the store, and then when I wore them at home I was less thrilled. I don't dislike either one per se (I've already said a few times that I like Everbloom) but I found that when I sprayed them from the atomizer in my own room at home..neither one was exactly what I thought I remembered smelling in the store! Again...may have to do with temperature difference and humidity too..who knows? In any case..yeah..even from experience I don't know what the best way to test a perfume is! XD




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