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Six Cool Ways to Get a Good Buy on Fragrance

If you are one of those perfume lovers who adores fragrance but has limited (as in finite) financial means, you will often be faced with problems at the perfume counter. Unless you're a one-fragrance woman, it can be hard to narrow down your fragrance needs to one or two scents a year. You may not have to. Here are some ways to build your collection without breaking your budget. First, learn about decanting.

Decanting is the process of taking perfume (or cologne or eau de parfum) out of one large bottle and putting it into several smaller bottles. Perfumistas often become decanters so that they can get together with friends and share a bottle of the really good stuff; it also expands your collection. You'll need small glass bottles, an eye dropper, and a glass funnel. (Only use glass tools.) You should probably wear a mask as you decant, since the fumes can be strong.

You get together with some perfume buddies, divvy up the cost of a bottle of scent, and then decant it into equal portions. Second, buy samples. There is a fabulous new perfumer in Boston called Neil Morris who sells samples of his fragrances (http://www.neilmorris.

com). Many other smaller houses will do the same. Some online perfume websites also sell smaller bottles of scent for reasonable prices.

This is a bit of a hunt, since not all perfumers do this. Third, beg samples. You need to shop for perfume faithfully at certain locations, be they websites or perfume counters. If you get well known as a frequent buyer or can strike up a rapport with a perfume salesperson, you may be able to get some samples. I'm not talking about those little pieces of paper that they spritz with scent. I mean little bottles of a new or older fragrance that you can try.

Only the very lucky get samples without being established customers. But established customers should get some samples from time to time. Fourth, look for smaller sizes or unusual packaging. Sometimes you can try a great new scent in a small purse-sized roll-on or a perfume solid. This is a great way to test drive a new scent or to add to your collection without having to spring for the giant bottle. One of the best perfume deals going is Bond No.

9's sampler box (called the Bon Bon Box), but it costs $240. This buys you 18 fairly large refillable bottles of eau de parfum. Fifth, spritz at the counter. This is not my favorite way of trying new scents (since I generally leave the perfume counter having sprayed on five or six scents which I tend to mix up) but it can work if you're disciplined. Again, it helps if you are an established customer. Go with no scent.

Try a specific scent on and wear it that day. Don't buy it that day, even if you love it. (Buy something else, if you have to.) Your job is to sample it.

Quite truthfully, sometimes a sample spritz in one day will tell you all you need to know about a fragrance. Sixth, tell everyone you love perfume and don't hesitate to be specific. I'm not saying to fish for gifts. But haven't we all thought long and hard to find the perfect gift for some occasion? Women can be tough to buy for and along the way in life, you are going to be given some gifts. Whether they're thank-you gifts, birthday presents, or just little tokens along the way, perfume is a great thing to give and get. If you're a known perfume lover, some people may be intimidated to buy perfume for you.

That's why you should be very clear in your hint dropping. Mention how you love Chanel No. 5 but have never owned it or say that you just love the scents from Kenzo but haven't bought them. Okay, this suggestion is not for everyone, but I've often been grateful when people have hinted at gifts they'd like. Perfume is not cheap but perfumistas generally find a way to get the perfumes they love. One last hint: don't buy knockoffs.

Here is why I say that. Let's say you love old Frank Sinatra music. And let's say you had a chance to get some of his recordings from the 1950s. But let's also say that there was a Rich Little type of guy working in Vegas who could imitate Frank Sinatra and he had made a record of some old 1950s Sinatra songs. Would you rather have the original recordings or the imitation version? Now what if I were to tell you that this imitator was so good, it was truly hard to tell the recording apart.

Let's even go so far as to say that it fooled a few people in an independent test. Do you want the originals or the imitations? Most music lovers would take the originals, even if they were not as good in quality! Why? Because there is something emotional about music and about the whole Frank Sinatra mystique that makes the original have a sort of "value" that is hard to quantify. That's how I feel about real perfume. Knockoffs may be good (they often aren't). But at the end of the day, I'd rather have the real stuff. It's hard to explain why.

I like to think I'd know the difference, but even if I could not pinpoint it, I can feel the difference. Perfume is like music for the nose!.

Want to know more about fragrance? Love perfumes but hate going to salesy websites that try to sell you product? Check out http://theperfume-reporter.com . It's all information. Joanna McLaughlin wrote this article and contributes frequently to ThePerfume-Reporter when she's not putting on too much perfume. Her favorite scent today is Black Orchid by Tom Ford.

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