Embark on a fragrance journey without breaking the bank and end up with full to half – full bottles of fragrances you do not love. I love a broad range of fragrances but do not always commit to full bottles because I don’t have a lot of space and well, it’s not financially wise. Decants are an excellent way to explore fragrances and learn scent notes. I especially like decants as a way study reformulation of fragrances.

Over time, fragrances go through reformulation based on standards of the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). Fragrances may be reformulated through substitution of raw ingredients with synthetic possibly based on cost or availability. As responsible citizens of the planet, natural resources used in popular products are protected from depletion by using less of the ingredient or swapping with a synthetic version. Some beauty products and fragrances are reformulated to avoid increasing the price on products as some rare or higher concentrated products are more expensive. Like the Chanel your grandma enjoyed is entirely different from the Chanel available in stores today. The composition of notes may be similar but the concentration level of say, jasmine may be lower today.

There is an unwritten rule that a perfume must be tried at least three times before making a final decision. There is some truth in this for me, and I say some because there are a lot of fragrances that I did not like or appreciate until several wears. So please try on perfumes a few times first then decide if it is worthy of a full bottle. Online shops like Surrender to Chance, Luckyscent, and Notino sell fragrance samples. If you like a scent enough but not enough to justify a full bottle or cannot commit due to cost, like some niche fragrances, Surrender to Chance offer different size decants.

Here are some tips on how to explore the world of fragrances wisely:

Beauty stores like Sephora offer free samples of products in store, and you can request perfume samples of your choice. Department store beauty counters also offer perfume samples upon request and with beauty purchases.

Surrender to Chance is my favorite online decant shop that has an extensive library of fragrances from vintage to new releases; this is the best way to start a fragrance journey by comparing vintage fragrances with current versions that have gone through reformulation.

Online auction, estate and garage sales:
With a word of caution, some fragrances on Ebay may not be authentic, but some gems have been available for sale especially from an estate sale. A lot of authentic vintage fragrances have been available on Ebay so, happy hunting but also, buyer beware. Garage and estate sales have been a great way for many fragrance lovers to find beloved scents at a fraction of the original price.

Whether you are just starting a perfume collection or looking to learn more about fragrances and expand your nose profile, I hope these tips are helpful to your fragrance journey.

Photography by Town and Country magazine