The End of the Perfume Challenge

Over the course of the last few months, I made it a priority to test each and every perfume in my collection.  When I started, my collection was at over 200 perfumes — half bottles and full sizes only, not including sample sizes — yet I found myself reaching for the same few over and over again, partly because I would forget the notes from other perfumes or simply hadn’t gotten around to testing some.

At the end, I culled about 70 perfumes for various reasons!

So, here are some thoughts on the whole project and lessons learned:

  • I’ve learned more about which brands suit me best (Arcana, Blooddrop, BPAL), which ones don’t (Solstice Scents, Lou Lou’s Soaps, most Sixteen92), and which ones I want to explore more (Poesie Perfume, ZOMG Smells, Twisted Wonderland).
  • Some notes just don’t love me no matter how much I try (black pepper, jasmine, vanilla) and some are like kryptonite to me (incense, florals, apple).
  • I have a better sense of my collection so I’m more particular about what I want to buy. “I probably don’t need another tropical floral perfume,” or, “Hey, oudh didn’t work out so well for me last time.”
  • I also understand how important an inventory spreadsheet is for me, as well as my ratings and impressions; it also gives me a good reference when I get a little grabby hands about a new collection so I don’t wind up ordering something very similar to a scent I already have or from a brand that tends to not agree with my skin chemistry.
  • Some brands don’t age as well as others, so I’ll start annotating when I buy my perfumes.
  • Periodically re-test perfumes.  Skin chemistry changes for a variety of reasons; a good perfume may go bad or a meh perfume may become wonderful!
  • If I haven’t reached for something in at least 6 months, it’s probably time to get rid of it, no matter how good it smells.  I hung on to Arcana Demimondaine for too long; it smelled like the most wonderful creamy coffee but wasn’t a scent I actually wanted to wear.

This was a great project for me and I really enjoyed rediscovering my collection.  I still want to pare it down a bit more but at least now, I know that I can reach for pretty much any bottle and be happy with it!

  • I love this process and post. Do you mind me asking what houses did not do so well with age? I am reading some things about Sixteen92 and wondering. I have so many scents (though not near 100) that know I probably won’t drain them all with a year or two.

    • Sorry for the delay in responding!! I’m apparently not getting comment notifications!

      Honestly, most of the brands that didn’t age well are mostly gone — Violette Market, Ten Three (I know she’s back but I don’t know how much perfuming she’s doing these days), and Black Violet’s older scents from before the relaunch were the biggest culprits. Some of my lighter Blooddrops (the Whinnies for example) faded significantly.

      A few years ago, I bought a 2009 Arcana that still smells amazing and I have some aged BPALs that have done well! A majority of my perfumes are ~2 years old though and are still wearable! Some have morphed a little bit (mostly sweeter fruitier perfumes) but are mostly true to the original scent.