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Perfume habits

toothbrushDo you beat yourself up about your perfume habit? Can I encourage you to not? This is an indulgent hobby we are participating in, for sure, but it’s relatively harmless. It’s certainly not as bad for me as the Godiva chocolates I had for Thanksgiving. Yes, it does a lot of damage to the pocketbook, but unless you’re going bankrupt for your hobby, you’re probably OK. (There should probably be a perfume addiction hotline for people who are – like 1-800-gamingproblem for gamblers? I probably shouldn’t even joke about it. Oh dear.)

I’m always looking to improve myself, but I also don’t intend to change things about myself I actually like and enjoy. Like my fascination with perfume. So I’m not about to make any stupid perfume-related resolutions, even if I tended to make resolutions for New Year’s, which I don’t.

Instead, here’s some honesty, because I’m a big fan of that: my best and worst perfume habits. A habit is anything you do for 21 days, apparently, like brushing or flossing your teeth, eating a good breakfast, or walking home from work. Or (on the less good side:) eating dessert after every meal, never putting away the clean clothes, or drinking milk straight out of the carton.

I will not reveal which of those good or bad habits are mine. But I will reveal my good and bad perfume habits.


I don’t really wear things very long before I decide I MUST HAVE THEM. On the one hand I don’t usually change my mind – if I like it on first wearing, I’m going to like it. On the other hand, sometimes it’s something I can live perfectly well without. (I’m fighting this one by trying to think of all the things I have in that category that could serve that “need” just as well, before I pull the buying trigger.)

Here’s my massive stupidity: I put the things I want to wear most on a glass tray on my bureau. For a week or two, I wear them. Then I slowly accrete a bunch of OTHER things in piles around that tray – things I bought or got as samples or pulled out of storage – until I can’t see or do a goddamn thing. Then – sometimes – I clean it up and start all over again. Especially when I realize I haven’t worn anything on the tray for at least a month. Sometimes I don’t. I figure, hey, in six months it will be summer again and I’ll want those same scents out where I can get them! Sigh.

I don’t shop among what I have. I could easily spend as much time per day or week shopping among what I have, rediscovering what I already know I like, as I do shopping among what’s new. I wear too many go-to scents too often, instead of mixing up with what I have right here, because I get lazy. Or something.

I get worried about running out when I LOVE something. Confession time: I have never drained a bottle. To be honest, I’ve almost never even drained a sample. When I like something I want more immediately, and I worry I won’t be able to GET more. So I get it and start wearing the decant or the bottle and I never even drain the sample. I keep it in my purse as a “travel” option, or file it for reference, or give it away. Here’s where I get a little crazy: my first reaction to owning a bottle I LOVE? Is to try to get a second bottle.

I’m a little wiser to this bad habit too and don’t worry as much about easily available perfumes. I would love some Violet Blonde, or Bottega Veneta. But until I drain my (multiple!) samples of those, I don’t need to buy it; there’s no rush; and guess what, though I’ve been loving those perfumes for more than a year, I wear them so seldom that no, I haven’t drained those samples yet! I also don’t get insane getting backup bottles of rare things just to have them (though yes, I do intend to get another bottle of vintage Vol de Nuit one of these days – I’d like it in the propeller bottle, of course) nor do I get backup bottles of readily available things, no matter HOW much I love them. I’m looking at you, Black Jade.

I’m too affected by sales and discounts. Sometimes they’ve caused me to buy things I wouldn’t otherwise have bought, at least not right then. I’m wise to this one now and I ask myself: am I getting this because I want it RIGHT NOW or just because of the sale/discount? If it’s the latter, it can probably wait. If I were really dying to wear it, I pretty much always have at least a sample on hand (see above), or IF IT WERE A PERFUME-WEARING EMERGENCY, I could pay full price; if I’m only getting it because of the discount, I can get it later, probably for the same discount, just as well. Don’t panic. DON’T PANIC!

In short I’m a little too impulsive with my affection, happy to spend money to get the dopamine hit that comes with a good score, and don’t rotate through my collection often enough. I have a slight anxiety issue about “having enough” of something or running out, but it’s under control.


Most important – I do wear what I have. Not all the time, and I’m sure there are things in my ready-access perfume storage that I haven’t even worn for a year. But I do wear my perfume. It would be stupid to have all this perfume and never enjoy it. I do enjoy it, almost every day.

I’m pretty good about picking what to wear. I think about it a bit, and I’m almost never thinking “crap, this is the wrong perfume” all day.

I’ve differentiated between wearing and collecting. I am a collector when it comes to perfumes. I care far less about what is new than what is rare. I can admit to myself when I want something just to have it in my collection – but it has to be something I DO want to wear. (There has to be a whole other post on this!) Since I’ve admitted I do want to collect some things just to own them, this has slowed me down, interestingly enough. I might want some Dior-Dior, but it’s just for the sake of completing my collection of vintage Diors, and it can wait till I find some at the right price. It’s not like I’m dying to wear it tomorrow.

I keep a spreadsheet of what I have – online (Google Docs) so I can call it up on my phone when I’m out and about. This has prevented me from buying multiples of many things, many times. I can’t rely on my memory, so I don’t.

I also track how much I spend. Recently this has upset me more than not, but that’s probably good; it certainly is an incentive to stop shopping quite so much! I’m one of those people who loves to save money even as much as I enjoy spending it. I like getting perfumes, but when I think of how I could have done something towards saving or investing with the money I’ve spent on all that perfume, I get a little ill. So it’s really a bad habit to spend so much but I’m calling it a good one to at least know HOW much! At least I don’t pretend I don’t know what I did spend. NST’s quarterly poll started me doing this, and it’s a good habit.

I almost never pay retail for anything. I do keep a list of things I’ve decided I DO want to buy FB of, and I keep an eye out for them. (And – re: the point above – try not to buy full bottles unless they have been on this list a while.) I shop a lot from eBay, I can use Discover points to get discounts on Amazon, or Sephora VIB points to get things there; I use the discounts at Sniffapalooza as wisely as I can, and I do get splits and decants. I try to swap whenever I can, too. When I think of how much I do spend, it makes me a little dizzy, thinking how much it WOULD have been if I had paid retail. At least I do bargain hunt for my obsession.

When I splurge, it’s almost always for something I love, love, love wearing. There is no way I can feel bad about the number of bottles of Element of Surprise I have squirreled away (if you don’t know, don’t ask – heartbreaking discontinuation). I also am delighted I bought two bottles of Ore when it came back on the market – I had been cuddling that decant and calling it George since the day I got it. I have one splurge I did really just to collect, but I don’t feel bad about that, and if the day comes when I start to feel like it’s just too stupid, I will find that bottle a new owner!

In short – I enjoy my collection, am conscious and try to be conscientious about collecting, and keep track of my collection both for collecting and for budgeting purposes.

So what I’m trying to do to increase the good and slow down the bad?

Basically, that’s it. Trying to increase the good habits and slow down the bad.

I don’t keep up on all the perfume blogs any more as quickly as I used to. I hate to say it, but reading them really makes me buy more, and unsniffed. Apparently I’ve missed out on Hiram Green Moon Bloom, but in general I find it’s OK if I don’t know what all is hot and happening in the perfume world – at least not all that quickly. (I’m not even that much of a tuberose fan, so it’s OK. 🙂 ) If I’m a week or two behind in reading the blogs – hey, if I even miss a week or two – it’s not that critical. I miss out on discussions but I was always a day late on those anyway and if you don’t comment quickly on most blogs no one answers you anyway, so that’s a net positive.

I try to keep longer-term goals in mind. I don’t need to shop maniacally online, because one of my goals for sometime soon is to get back to Twisted Lily, where I intend to dive into the Maison Dorin collection and the Maria Candida Gentile scents as well. This keeps me from even buying samples of them, if samples were available, or buying bottles unsniffed. My goal isn’t to get some Finesterre; it’s trying more of the MCG scents in general, PERHAPS getting some Finesterre, and also trying those Maison Dorin scents in the gorgeous bottles. Keeping this sort of goal in mind keeps me from flailing around buying more samples or unsniffed bottles. I try to devote TIME as much as money to my hobby. If I really wanted to enjoy those scents, hey, I’d get on the train and go to Twisted Lily! And I will.

I read the blogs as much for the comments as for the reviews. To be honest, I don’t even read reviews that often any more, unless it’s for something I’m curious about, or unless it’s just really entertaining or funny or educational. If I’m considering buying something, I’ll Google the reviews. I like perfume blogs for the community and the discussion. I know, I’m writing one where there’s almost no community and discussion; but that’s my narcissistic self-publishing problem, not indicative of what I like about perfume blogs in general.

SO. What about you? What are your good perfume habits? Got any bad ones you’re trying to put the brakes on by developing new good perfume habits? I hope whatever you do with your perfume pleasures (or any pleasures), you enjoy your 2014 in health and happiness.

Image is “My toothbrush” by Bookis Smuin, via Flikr. Used under Creative Commons license; some rights reserved.

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2 comments to Perfume habits

  • Annie

    Happy New Year Judith!
    Words of wisdom. I love your good perfume habits. I also have the perfume spreadsheet, but I can’t access it on my phone. Good advice on that one. I use
    the spreadsheet for the month/year I purchased the perfume (if remembered) and where. Parfume, perfume and lovely details, minus the price tag. It just might help keep me focused on how much money I actually spend/save if I add your component. The rush! Adding up the money you’ve bypassed spending! I always think I can put that towards another perfume, 🙂
    I also have become a collector of sorts, in 2013, primarily. Haunting estate sales and antique stores for vintage and collector perfumes has been eye-opening. Scents I find aren’t ones I’d necessarily wear, just ones that might be classics or gems that are so obscure I have to do a lot of research to find out what they are. I know several that I am hunting for, again, not to wear, but out of sentimental value.
    My family just found the fragrance that could be the one my Grandmother wore. An obscure fellow that I have written on a word doc.

    So…Bad Ones.
    1. TJ’s.
    If I go there, it is never for clothing, house needs or the other goodies. Perfume, plain and simple. I used to scope the place and be pretty even-keeled. But, no. Not now. And if something should be discontinued? Well, pardon me, but, I’ll snatch you up at $12.99. How many unsniffed $12.99ers do I need? How many have I opened ~ eek! That’s bad. If I loved it, that’s different. Boy, o boy.
    2. Wearing the same ones.
    This is new to me. I usually wear a whole different wardrobe, but lately I have had some storage issues, so the rotation has been the same. I had put my sweet Jeke away and haven’t worn it in eons! So, I have the same rotation, even when I have bought gorgeous new ones. Not that I don’t love the ones that are out (love the ones you’re with) and not that they don’t layer just so with each other when necessary to change it up, but…
    3. Saving My Precious.
    Another fight. I do have some beauties, right on hand, that are so magical that it seems downright wrong to wear them. I must save every last drop for those special moments and times and going out and, and, and…
    4. Wearing My Precious.
    Is going out wearing my jeans and a hoody a proper place to wear Chanel? Someone that looks like that smelling like ‘whoah’ that? Protocols for wearing perfume. I know we have one life, unless we are cute furballs, and I will reassure people it is fine and okay to wear what you love, but really? Hanging out with my nieces and nephews, or going to some interesting places? I constantly think about what is appropriate as far as scent and where I am going and the audience. Because it is all about me, of course.
    I usually go safe. Though, patchouli does cause that commotion. I temper it with a gourmand or sandalwood.
    Again, this refers to my rotation available. This should be easy enough to alter.

    Good Ones.
    1. I am open to learning more.
    Any and all information I digest and feast upon. There is a lovely lady with expertise in vintage perfume who directs me other places and will happily offer me any help she can. Other folks have directed me towards scents I would like, based on my tastes and wanting to branch out. I hope I can help others this way.
    2. The Perfume Lovers.
    I have met some pretty special people (You!) this year. Past years, as well, but this has been an exceptional perfume year. What a treat it is to share info on perfume and life topics with those that speak English as a Second Language and Perfume as their first?
    3. I have actually started playing with samples.
    For the first time, they are not just sitting there. I (with your sage advice) asked for two samples of MFK Oud and Silk Oud, as I struggled between which to purchase. I still have not purchased. I managed a MDO Oud sample. Nice to have three to compare. Then, again, I think, why don’t I just sit down and make my own Oud. I’ve got some nice materials. But, I love other’s art.
    4. The sales.
    I am still a sucker for those sales. See above Bad Ones. But, I have become wiser. I did get a TJ’s gc for Christmas. $15. But, it is a gc. Rationalized already.
    I didn’t go all out at Sniffa and blow everything I came with. Years ago, I would have. These sales, ongoing still, would normally be tearing Paypal to pieces. I have been a very good girl, pretty much, so far. With all of these seasonal sales.
    I love all of your points for falling in love with a scent and really feeling it and knowing it before making such a commitment. I should tattoo them to my palms.

    One more bad…sort of. I still have a gc to Twisted Lily. There are a few (see MFK) that I am looking at, but could go in different directionsl

    Have a fragrant, Blessed New Year!

  • I’m finishing my end-of-the-year – post-holidays backlog of blog posts.

    Seeing the absence of your reaction to a very detailed comment above, I assume you have your own backlog so I won’t add to it but just wanted to mention that you and I have a lot in common both on the bad and the good perfume habits.

What do you think?