My biggest flaw in this beautiful hobby


Basenotes Dependent
Sep 12, 2019
I had a thought that bothered me for a while now.
I feel I am missing out on something in this hobby.

When I want to try a fragrance, I love purchasing samples. I try to sample in store if possible, mainly to save money, but I prefer buying a little 1.5 or 2ml sample to try at home, give full wearing and take my time. Now, I try/buy these samples mainly from their note descriptions.
But that is the part that bothers me.

One thing I have learned about myself in this hobby, is that I am very sensitive to a fragrance's whole story, what it brings to the skin and what emotions/memories it evokes. This often results in surprises. For instance, I once asked for a specific genre of fragrance to a salesperson (don't recall my exact criteria). They showed me some, and at the end I quite enjoyed trying Eloge du vert by Les Parfums de Rosine. I did not know what to expect, at all. However, when I later looked it up, half the notes are normally not on my favourable side (patchouli/rose and green pepper). Never would I have bothered getting a sample. And sometimes (quite often even) it is the exact opposite: notes I usually enjoy - overall I hate.

I feel like I am missing out in a lot of good fragrances. I remembered one of my favourite Youtube reviewer (the Scentinel) explaining that he samples fragrances mainly through their stories, not necessarily through their notes.
I guess one way would be to stop buying samples and just sample in store, either under advice or just blind.
However, I do not really want to go that frequently in these stores. I often feel guilty of not buying (some stores are more pushy than others) but also, because I have to wear masks, I often cannot do justice to fragrances. I can free my nose to smell, but the fact that it was uncomfortably packed changes how I smell things.

I guess the only really good thing that comes out of it is that I am disciplined enough not to blind buy FB. Even if cheap.
Do you have similar issues? Maybe tips on how you approach this hobby.

EDIT: I meant this to go in "general discussion"... sorry

Take care


Basenotes Junkie
Apr 20, 2012
I sense your frustration ImaFedec. I too buy numerous samples based on thoughts about things I might like (and sometimes get samples that I have not chosen with online purchases - that's a nice randomizer). But I have often had instore experiences of sales reps suggesting things that seemed like outliers but which were actually quite appealing to my nose. I know from experience that buying a FB there and then is a bad idea as the drydown could disappoint or that things may smell differently at home to how they do in the context of a shop arrayed with a range of perfumes (a mini version of Eden). What next? For me there is nothing else to do but try and order a sample later. Sometimes when I am buying something in a shop, I will request samples of some of the other things I've had suggested to me - but there are limits to that. Apart from that, there is browsing and trying things on paper strips and taking mental note of things I may want to sample later. The pandemic makes all of that so difficult that I've given up on that front for the time being. And there are limits to how often one can visit a perfume shop just to sniff a range of things - I always fear the staff will go, 'Oh here he comes again...'!
Another thing I often do when visiting a shop is to ask the sales assistant helping me which perfumes from any given range are the ones they like - again that leads to trying things that I wouldn't normally and to hearing someone else describing what they like about particular perfume which is quite refreshing.
I suppose I should be more adventurous and try things without letting the declared notes guide me too much. But there is so much out there and I have little interest in trying the umpteenth identikit fougere.


Wearing Perfume Right Now
Basenotes Plus
Jul 20, 2015
If I lived close enough to a big perfume shop to go whenever I wanted, I would sample a lot and eventually buy things. I tend to stick to classics, but being in the know about new releases would be fun.


Basenotes Member
Jan 20, 2022
admiting you don't know is a good first opens you up to experimentation...maybe for the next little while try samples (they're cheap enough) of things that seem outside your comfort zone....hopefully eventually you learn what you REALLY DO like and what you don't the begining there is some trail and error unfortunatly...

eta: also look at the whole perfume...don't just say you like it or don't ...break it down and get nitty gritty with it....what exactly did/didn't you like about it...identify as many notes and analyze your reaction to them...think when you would or wouldn't liek them...would you lie more or less of them etc...basically don't look at the perfume as a whole smell...there are lots of little different smells in it
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Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Nov 5, 2010
There's really no substitution to smelling and wearing a perfume. Notes are usually fantasy, or not too informative. Sometimes a good reviewer is able to relate to other perfumes and give a good description of the accord, but that's difficult.

My way to decide what to buy was indeed to smell a lot in store. Eventually, I would buy a bottle, so I didn't feel bad in spraying. But you are right that these days it is difficult to sample, with covid and masks and what not.


Basenotes Dependent
Aug 9, 2009
You have to feel your own way really.

I will just relate how it has worked with me over the years.

I am very, very fortunate to live in a city with a huge array of designer and niche scents readily available in brick and mortar stores.
Including of course the infamous Scent Bar which was a mile from my office.

Personally, I have found sampling in store to be mixed results. I have bought some good scents after an in store sample, and several that I thought "meh" after a couple of wearings. I am not saying I have stopped buying after in store tests or never will again, but I much prefer to get a small decant for a couple of wearings, especially with pricey stuff.

We're all smart enough to know that the first 10 minutes of a scent are not the whole story, so I think in store sampling is overrated personally.

Especially if you've got a good sized wardrobe. I have pretty broad tastes and like a sh*t ton of different scents, but at a certain point you realize you've gotten certain scents that you may well like, but just never reach for. I'd say about 20-25% of my wardrobe I wouldn not have bought if I sampled via decant first.

There is no doubt something very satisfying about reading about a scent here and being able to sniff it the next day. But I've gotten pretty disciplined about usually wearing a few times via decants before a pricey purchase.


Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
Hi ImaFedec—

I appreciated your thoughtful post.

Your interest in perfumes should bring you nothing but pleasure. If something about your hobby is bothering you, try to change that part. As Hednic wrote, “Everyone finds their own way.”

If I am interpreting you correctly, your biggest concern is “I feel like I am missing out in a lot of good fragrances.” This feeling is so common that it has spawned an acronym—FOMO. The truth is, there are SO many great perfumes in the world that there is no way to experience and appreciate them all fully. If you are wearing perfumes that you enjoy, there is no MO!

Exploring perfumes because you are intrigued by their “story” is a perfectly fine way to proceed. Sometimes I am interested in the perfumer. Sometimes I like the bottle or I am captivated by a vintage ad or I read an eloquent review written by someone whom I respect. I seek out perfumes for all sorts of reasons. On the other hand, I NEVER watch Youtube perfume reviewers.

Exploring individual notes can be productive, but don’t be too concerned about the note lists, as Cacio has pointed out. You may love a perfume with a listed note and detest that note as it is is presented in a different perfume. The overall composition is more important than the note list.

Even before Covid, I did not find that testing perfumes in stores was very helpful to me. I could smell a lot of different scents but the process was distracting. Buying samples or minis works well. Since I love vintage perfumes, I blind buy a lot!. Often, there is no other way to try a specific vintage perfume, and I don’t feel guilty about it.

TL; DR: Have fun with your perfumes!


Basenotes Plus
Aug 31, 2020
Keep fragrance samples in your rotation that are normally outside your wheelhouse. I don’t enjoy the classics but I do wear them for reference, to acknowledge their place in history, have common ground or context with the wider population. My preference is to either get them myself (Chanel, for example) or I ask the SA to choose some for me when I order a FB. Trading on BN is a good way I’ve found as well. You all smell good. :giggle:


Basenotes Institution
Jan 21, 2006
If I lived close enough to a big perfume shop to go whenever I wanted, I would sample a lot and eventually buy things. I tend to stick to classics, but being in the know about new releases would be fun.
Seconded, pretty much the same situation here, with even more additional recommendation in favor of more affordable and even free of charge testing/sampling


I’m not old, I’m vintage.
Basenotes Plus
Aug 1, 2019
There’s no one “right way” to engage with fragrances, and nobody can try (much less own) everything—not even Hednic. ;) At some point, you have to set some limits, however arbitrary, and accept that there are countless things you’ll never try.

I’ll let you know when I get there.

Meanwhile, one thing I’ve done is acquired large batches of samples from other collectors who are offloading. The beauty of that, @ImaFedec, is that I end up with things I would never have selected for myself, mixed in with whatever I knew I wanted to try that drew me to the batch. Since I don’t always like or dislike what I expect, I learn a lot from these at a quite reasonable cost. As a result, I make fewer blind buys, and those I do make are better informed.


Basenotes Member
Jan 20, 2022
id also like to add its never about the ingredient as it is the mix of ingredience ...u might love vanilla in one scent and hate it in another...its about how the scents work together as a pose to having one scent you really do and don't like....i've found explaining what i want to a SA or ppl on here really helps me avoid mistakes when buying cuz i'm just as lost, probalby more lost, than you....

and hopefully you have a place wehre you can explore with out SA being too pushy for you to buy so that you can learn for yourself what's out there

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