Monday Question- How Do You Restrict Your Full Bottle Purchases?

By Tara
What rules do you have in place to limit the number of bottles of perfume you buy?
Do you have a perfume budget or allow yourself a certain number of bottles a month or year?
Do you perhaps only allow yourself a full bottle of perfume once you’ve finished a decant of it first ?
How is your chosen strategy working out for you and are there exceptions to it?
Or is there no limit on your purchases?

My Answer:
I’m lucky in as much as I don’t fall in love with a new perfume very often, so I don’t yet feel the need to impose a strict monetary budget or particular number of purchases per year. However, I do feel most comfortable with my collection at around the 25 bottles mark. Certainly under 30, anyway. For me, that is a usable amount and a figure I feel OK with. Too keep within that limit I sell the bottles I am tiring of, to make room for more.  This may change at some point (probably when I hit 31 bottles!) but right now that works for me.
Now, I know methods for sanctioning and preventing new bottle purchases vary widely from perfumista to perfumista, so please share yours .

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66 Responses to Monday Question- How Do You Restrict Your Full Bottle Purchases?

  1. lady jane grey says:

    I don’t have a strict rule with figures, but I try to stay purposeful and rational. I place the question “do I really want to have it?” for a periode of time and if the “yes” lasts then I go and buy it. However, there was an expensive affect-buy back in early March (Roja Dove) – but thankfully it turned out to be a perfect and lasting love. (No risk – no fun…).
    Recently I started to buy used bottles on eBay – so I get enough of the juice (some of them were almost full), in the original bottle (yes, I found out it’s important for me !) for much less than the original price. After all, I’m a collector, there is no chance I’ll fully use up any of my bottles.

    • Tara says:

      Holding off on a purchase can make you realise you don’t need something as much as you thought you did. Other times you just can’t wait and have to buy straight away, but often that is a sign of true love for me so I don’t have a hard and fast rule about waiting.

      I’m always on the look out on ebay. I know it can be evil but it can save you money too.

      Congrats on your Roja Dove! Which one?

  2. annemariec says:

    My method is psychological. I have suffered buyer’s remorse so many times! I hate that feeling so much. And I have realised that the 8 ml decant is HEAPS. It is an ideal size for me, and it helps that both TPC and Surrender 2 Chance these days sell their 8 mls in quite nice bottles that are nice to display on the dresser, and can get tossed easily into my handbag. I’m planning to run my collection mostly along these lines for the foreseeable.

    An exception will be if my 8 mls of Habanita runs dry soon. That will be a sign that a FB might be justifiable. Nice bottle too!

    • Tara says:

      I do envy you with your 8ml decant strategy. annemarie. I know it’s the sensible option but it just feels like such a small amount for me and I do love my bottles! Nice to know the decanters are selling them in nice bottles though.

      At least Habanita EDT can be found for not too much on ebay.

  3. andreawilko says:

    I should have strict rules but I don’t, I only ever buy new / partial bottles from my paypal account, this is kept topped up from sales that I have made, if I don’t have any money in it then I don’t buy any new bottles (in theory anyway)
    I rarely make an exception of buying using ‘my own money’ it has to be something really special (precieux nectar when it becomes available, la Femme Bleue) or so reasonably priced (Birgit’s blog sale) that it would be rude not to dip into that particular purse.
    I own around the 40ish mark (deluding myself) but I have sold most of the bottles off in decants so only ever own 20mls of most of my collection, I figure that I can not use all of the perfume that I own and usually get bored of it so decanting it off works for me and enables me to buy new bottles. (in my head that totally justifies my collection) 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Andrea, that’s a really interesting idea about your separate “perfume account” so you’re kind of recycling old purchases into new ones. Clever! Exceptions such as limited editions and bargains just make good sense. What’s worse for us than forever regretting not purchasing a bottle that is no longer available or a great buy when we had the chance?

      You are also good to sell off decants, making the purchase more affordable and helping to ensure you’re not swimming in perfume.

  4. Alexandra says:

    I have a monthly budget, but as I have just spent June’s budget (plus a PG Easter treat – oops…) I think I am demonstrating that I am good at setting rules and hopeless at keeping them. My comfort is that at least I am aware of what I am spending; there was a brief period, at the beginning, of complete denial as the samples, decants and bottles began to pile up!

    Funnily enough 30 bottles is my limit too, but I am getting dangerously close to it…. Oh and decants absolutely don’t count!

    • Tara says:

      I had to smile at the fact you have already spent June’s budget! I’m sure a lot of us can relate to that. Sticking to your strategy is definitely the hard part but it is a very good thing indeed that you are keeping track of what you are spending. I started adding up what I had spent once and had to stop as the figures rose! It is my only vice though and I’m not going without or getting into trouble financially, so I justify it like that.

      Decants absolutely Do Not Count!

  5. ana says:

    Sorry to be a bit off topic but I would like to ask you experienced perfumistas out there, since I’m just a newbie, if you know a good place to buy decanting tools. I’m based in Europe so I will probably need an European website to help keeping the shipping fees low and make my purchase worthwhile.I need to start selling some decants so I can fund my beautiful addiction. Thanks for any suggestions

  6. The age old question… to buy or not to buy. No restrictions on my purchases except for generational guilt on spending money on what some would consider non-essential purposes. It’s funny how your parent’s voice in the back of your head can eliminate a impulse buy!

  7. hedonist222 says:

    Earlier on I was still learning my tastes and preferences. I was able to quickly determine I love vetiver and proceeded with trying the many vetiver takes in the market.

    During this time I was also discovering new notes and accords. Obviously I made some erred buys (mostly impulse buys of which I have been able to swap).

    Its been a fun journey. Not only have I established what I love (vetiver, iris, rose, bergamot to name a few) I have also established what I dislike in prominence (white flowers) and clearly know what I further need to explore (the resin genre – labdanum and galbanum for example).

    Fortunately I have no perfume budget.

    My strategy as you put it at this point is to pursue the notes/accords I am not fully familiar with. To determine what I like and what I dislike. After establishing or identifying my tastes I’ll be able to pursue the perfumes with said notes. At the same time I am in pursuit of perfumes with notes/accords I know I like.

    If one were to take a gander at my wardrobe it may appear arbitrary in the sense that I will have perfumes that are very similar and at the same time I will have one perfume of another genre and no other. It basically means I enjoyed the former genre so much that I found differences that appealed to me in the different types of the similar genre (Je Suis un Homme, Bandit and Knize Ten for example) whereas I only have 1 or 2 from the fresh/citric genre (Blenheim Boutique and Azure Lime).

    My limitations to buying perfumes are personal. For example I much prefer Indian Ocean vetiver over Haitian vetiver. That doesn’t mean I wont buy or try a Haitian vetiver based perfume but I think I may skip it as I have already amassed a large number of vetiver perfumes.

    This methodology applies to other notes/accords.

    I have no reservations about the number of perfumes in my wardrobe. I currently stand at 130 full bottles (no samples or minis or decants in this count).

    • Tara says:

      I can totally appreciate your buying approach. A varied collection is great but sometimes if you love a particular genre, it’s great to have different perfumes that explore its different facets, like you say. I love my chypres and Olfactoria is the Queen of Amber, afterall.

      130 full bottles without guilt and no perfume budget.Your screen name suits you perfectly 🙂

  8. Inspired to count my full bottles by this post…… I thought I had quite a lot, but did not realise that the numbers have accrued to 65 excluding minis and samples. An edit is (over) due….

    • Tara says:

      I’m glad you felt inspired to take the plunge and count up your full bottles. It can be a hard thing to do because invariably it’s more than we think/hope it is. (It feels like they multiple on their own). It is a good idea though because then you can take action and end up with a collection you’re really happy with.

  9. Sandra says:

    Oh I am so not going to count my full bottles! I have been known to buy quickly and a lot. I still buy quickly, but I am trying to really ask myself how much i will wear the perfume before I take the plunge. At the moment I am trying to have the limit of one full bottle per month and I am actually surprised that I am sticking to it. The only problem is will I be able to stick to that limit when I visit Paris this summer. At least I know that my mother and my sister are the happy recipients of my unloved perfumes.

    • Tara says:

      Don’t worry Sandra, you don’t have to count your full bottles! Good to hear that you are sticking to your one bottle per month limit but I think you should definitely consider making an exception for Paris. It’s PARIS! Especially as there are some things, like exclusive Guerlains, that you won’t be able to get back home.

  10. Nina says:

    I buy minis when I can, if available. Then I get the scent and the experience of the bottle. If there isn’t a mini, I see how much I wear something. If I use up a sample quickly, and/or purchase it multiple times, it may be worth a full bottle. If I use up a mini, I may buy a larger bottle. If I smell something rare in person and love it, I will probably buy it. I don’t put any restrictions on bottles when I travel – emotions take over. I kid myself into believing that I must finish something to add something, but that would never fly. I don’t know that I’ve ever finished a full bottle before!

    • Tara says:

      I know Nina, I would never be able to buy something new if I had to wait to finish a bottle first. I have to sell mine instead if I want to make room.

      I think you’re very wise to search out minis when possible. I wish there were more available. I’m glad you make an exception when travelling. That’s part of the fun of it, right?

  11. Olfactoria says:

    I’m with Sandra, no full bottle count here.
    I have my one bottle a month rule in place, but haven’t been able to keep to it. A vintage find and a certain bad influence called Tara have made me break my rules. But that is fine, we only live once.
    London is coming up soon, and while I don’t plan to go crazy, I want to stay flexible, not impose 17 restrictions on myself, because strangely enough – when I give myself permission to buy, I don’t. 😉

    • Tara says:

      LOL A certain bad influence here! Me putting temptation in your way and vintage finds just HAVE to be exceptions.

      I remember last time you went away and lifted the bottle per month limit you didn’t actually buy much at all. Is that reverse psychology at work? Whatever it is, it seems to work. I guess we want what we are not allowed but with permission, we lose interest 🙂

  12. Figuier says:

    My method for curtailing excessive FB purchases comes conveniently packaged in the form of…my husband 😉 Not that he disapproves, but his bemused awe at my collection (only 16-ish bottles) keeps things in perspective.

    No budget per se, typically I try to limit my ‘serious’ (i.e. the dearer niche items) to one or two a year and keep numbers down by selling or gifting bottles I hardly use or don’t feel I need. Real bargains are a permanent temptation, but otherwise I’m pretty good at testing rigorously, at least one large sample if not two. I do buy decants, but much prefer having a full original bottle – somehow it feels like I can really bond with a perfume if I have that ‘commitment’!

    Btw, congrats on the Cuir Beluga – I tested it recently in London, and though it was very nice indeed 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Guess I should be thankful I’m single then, Figuier! Although “bemused” is one of the better reactions to our collecting I think. Isn’t it funny how in our world 16 bottles doesn’t that many at all?

      I admire your rigorous testing. I try to do that but probably not enough. I also sell and give away bottles to family if I’m sure they’ll like them.

      I’m with you on having the original bottle to “bond” with. It’s part of the joy of it for me. I’d like to say it’s all about the juice, but it’s not.

  13. I have this wonderful thing called a ‘Nigel’ and whenever I go to buy a bottle of perfume that I really shouldn’t buy it tells me “NO’ in a very firm manner. It keeps me honest.

    I’m more than happy to lend my ‘Nigel’ out to people for a reasonable fee if they like? No need to return….

  14. If the itch gets strong I buy it. I am quite self restrained at the moment but I have found out that if I stop getting something new, even samples, I get slightly depressed. I think it is a form of addiction but I have come to terms with it, it is not killing me and I can control it (Ooops… Have heard these words before… )

    • Tara says:

      Oh, I know. The comparison with addiction is a bit scary, isn’t it? I believe there is support on Basenotes for people if it’s starting to become a serious problem but the vast majority of us seem to keep it in check.

      For the longest time I was hooked on the high of trying something new all the time. Luckily that has now passed and most days I’m wearing my full bottles. I’m a lot happier with my collection as a result.

  15. fleurdelys says:

    Ha! My perfume collection is limited by the size of my top dresser drawer. That’s where I store my ‘fumes, and I won’t buy what I can’t fit in there. So far I am doing pretty well, space-wise. I’ve been working diligently at using up some bottles, and swapped away some things I didn’t love (of course I got swaps in return to take their place!). In general, I avoid unsniffed purchases, and test samples for a long time before I purchase a full bottle of a fragrance. Of course, I broke my rule this month and bought a bottle of Yves Rocher’s Pur Desir de Lilas, unsniffed (I’m a sucker for lilac). Fortunately, I love it, and you can’t beat the price of 14.00 USD. And it fit in the drawer!

    • Tara says:

      You are the first to come up with a physical constraint on your perfume buying! I guess when your bottles are over flowing your storage that is a sign 🙂

      I’ve never been able to swap a bottle because I’m not very flexible in what I want in return. They’re a great idea, even though as you point out, it doesn’t reduce the number of bottles.

      Congrats on your unsniffed purchase! I’m so pleased you love it.

  16. Emma says:

    82 bottles, not including samples or miniatures. Ok, I am a bit of an addict. Very, very few of these were bought at full price, though – most are from eBay, several without boxes. I tend to buy un sniffed more now than I used to, based on reviews and what I perceive as a gap in my collection!

    • Tara says:

      Well done for delcaring the number, Emma! I think it does make a difference that most weren’t purchased at full price.

      Very interested to read that you buy more unsniffed now than you used to. I would expect that to be the other round. But I guess you know your tastes better now and what you have a need for. Anyway, you can always sell them on again. I am really tempted to buy vintage Vent Vert unsniffed if a bottle comes up on ebay. I have a gap for a Green!

  17. Philipp says:

    My rules are quite simple: I try to buy only one bottle each month and only of scents which I have worn/sampled at least three times or more.

    • Tara says:

      Your rules sound simple yet effective, Philipp. I think testing 3 times before buying was one of the best bits of perfume advice I ever got. From NST, I believe.

  18. Parfumesse says:

    No fume budget here as I am pretty picky and rarely swoon at what I sample and if I do swoon then I go for a fb,but lately I have sold quite a few a d try to keep it around 50,I don’t want to grt overwhelmed with 200 bottles,I really don’t….I rather go with a small collection of ‘loves’ and not ‘like’. 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Sounds like you and I are fairly similar, Perfumesse. I think being picky is a saving grace where perfume is concerned. I also try to go for loves and not likes but it often feels like love at the time! I guess that’s where waiting comes in handy as it becomes more apparent over time whether or not it’s true love.

  19. bloodyfrida says:

    I am ruled by my buyers-remorse insomnia. In fact, I ordered two full bottles from Luckyscent late last night – couldn’t fall asleep because the remorse was killing me, so I emailed to cancel the order at 3:00 am.! I do love bottles, but I think that I am just as happy with 10 ml decants. If I ordered two decants late last night, I may have been able to sleep! 😉

    • Tara says:

      Oh no bloody frida, that’s awful! I hate to think of you getting up at 3.00am to deal with that horrid buyers remore insonmia!

      I wish I could be happy with decants. Maybe one day… I have bought 5 bottles this year already (all for less than retail though) and keep thinking “no more full bottles this year!”.

  20. Eva S says:

    My main rule is to test a perfume several times before making a decision, also to try waiting a period (a month or so) before making a buy (I think that advice came from here). I don’t limit myself to a bottle a month or have a specific budget, but I do want to keep my collection manageable, thirty or so sounds about right, although I’m afraid to count my bottles-maybe I’ve passed that already?!

    • Tara says:

      Hi Eva,
      I think Olfactoria has said here that she tries to wait a month before making a purchase in case the feeling fades. It really is a good idea.

      I know what you mean about the number of bottles. If we do have more than that ideal number but love them all, what do we do then?!

      • Eva S says:

        The problem is that I have five or so bottles I bought early on that I don’t really love, but I’m simply to lazy to sell them on ebay! But they have to move over, how else am I’m going to make room for Memoir and OJ Woman?!

        • Tara says:

          I know exactly how you feel. It’s often only the free listing weekends that push me to put my bottles on ebay. It’s a hassle but it’s worth it and it can be quite fun checking what’s happening with the auction. Memoir and OJ Woman must be huge incentives too. Two unique and high quality scents you’re working towards there. Just think how great it will be when you can justify those new purchases and feel good about them.

  21. Sara says:

    Hmm, how do you figure bottles? Do minis count? What about manufacturer’s travel sizes (~25ml?). Most importantly, what about the bottles that are tucked in the ‘for swap’ bag? Do they count if they aren’t with all of your other bottles? Or how about the bottles that you got sent gratis with a swap? Or gifts that you don’t really care for but haven’t made it into the swap bag? Is everyone’s collection as complicated as mine?

    • Tara says:

      Sara, personally I wouldn’t count any of those except for the travel size bottles, but maybe I’m cheating 🙂 I think A LOT of people have collections as complicated as yours if not more so. Especially if you’ve been at it for any length of time. I think you’ll feel better though once you’ve had time to sort out all your bottles for swap and taken action to list them. Easier said than done, I know…

    • Dionne says:

      Sara, I’ve agonized about the definitions too. Is my 5ml parfum extrait a bottle, or a mini? (three tiny dabs go aaaaaall day). What about my 15ml of Palisander from Ava Luxe? When does a generous sample cross the line into a mini? My spreadsheet needs to know these things. 😉

  22. unseencenser says:

    WHAT RESTRICTION? **tears at hair**
    Of course I tried not to buy anything in March (and failed); then decided not to buy any MORE at a certain point in April (and failed). I fall in love too easily! When I really like something I look into buying it, and when it’s almost discontinued or hard to find, and then if it comes around, it’s pretty much impossible for me to pass it up.

    However, I am TRYING to buy samples first, theorizing that if I use up a sample I will definitely buy a bottle. Complete lie, but the samples and multiple wearings have certainly caused me to avoid SOME purchases.

    Also I do try to buy decants where I can. But I love real bottles, hate minis, and have a hard time finding things among all the decants. Plus, see above, when something’s hard to find or discontinued… I want A WHOLE BOTTLE ALL FOR ME.

    I definitely need a ‘Nigel’ and would pay a monthly subscription rate for one.

    • Tara says:

      I know the feeling! I bought a bottle every month this year and each time told myself it would be the last. Though I think it makes sense for you to jump when something comes around that is discontinued or hard to find. Those regrets are the worst! All mine were at a good price so I couldn’t resist. Makes it easier to live with, though.

      I have “decant issues” too. I know if you keep 3 or 4 in rotation they are easier to find but they don’t look good and I don’t like to be restricted!

      Even if you have managed to avoid some wrong purchases by buying samples that has to be worth it, right? I resent repeat buying samples of something of I want to buy a full bottle though because it feels uneconomical (suddently I’m being thrifty!) but it does makes sense.

      I shall let Thomas know that demand for his “Nigel” is increasing and may result in a bidding war.

      • unseencenser says:

        “Even if you have managed to avoid some wrong purchases by buying samples that has to be worth it, right?” Quite! I am trying to think about the successes rather than the failures. 🙂 And actually looking at my list last night there are a number of purchases I’m very happy I made. Going to think more about what’s the common denominator for the purchases that don’t make me AS happy.

        • Tara says:

          Glad to hear it! Let’s be positive here.

          It will be interesting for you see if there does turn out to be a common denominator among the purchases that didn’t quite hit the spot for you. I hope you do a post about it if you do. I’m going to have a think about that myself. It would be very useful to reduce the chances of it happening again in the future. Even if it’s just about rushing to buy too quickly or whatever, rather than something about the perfumes themselves.

  23. Natalie says:

    As Anne Marie said, I know my limit more from how it feels when I hit it than from having particular restrictions in my head about numbers, although I do have more restrictions in mind for this year because I really wanted to focus on smelling the samples I have and working my way through those, as well as enjoying what I do have. I’m impressed by your circumspection when it comes to falling for new scents, Tara. That’s one thing that is sometimes hard for me, although it’s been easier the past few months.

    • Tara says:

      Well, I would say it’s more extreme fussiness than circumspection, but thanks! I agree that the amount of perfume we are happy owning will differ from person to person depending on how we feel about it. hedonist222 is quite comfortable with 130 and me nearer 30 (but that is subject to change!).

      Giving yourself time off from new purchases to enjoy and explore what you’ve got sounds like a very good idea.

  24. Undina says:

    I try to limit my collection’s growth just on principle: you can’t buy everything you like. Birgit is a huge inspiration for me: I really liked her collection and I hope I’ll have something like that “when I grow up” 🙂

    This year my NY resolution was 6 full bottles and 100 ml in decants. I’m not sure I’ll be able to see it through but how bad – we’ll see (come to read my stats post in a couple of days, I’ll know better where I stand).
    I set up a yearly budget for all my perfume-related expenses (it includes decanting supplies and postage as well). I’m not sure either if I will be able to stay within it. I’m trying though!

    • Tara says:

      The fact that you are so very thorough with your budgeting and goals means that you stand a much better chance of getting somewhere close to them. At least you know exactly wehre you stand – either way – unlike so many of us who are burying our heads in the sand 🙂

      Birgit’s collection is hugely inspiring. I too hope I can achieve something of such high quality one day. It’s not all about the numbers!

  25. judith dm says:

    One way to ‘control’ my purchases is for a store not to have what I want, when I want it! I went to Neiman’s Beverly Hills today fully expecting to buy Guerlain Gournand Coquin. NM is one of the fragrance and beauty Palaces of Beverly Hills. I was shocked to see how limited their collection was, and not elegantly displayed at all! I didn’t make a mental list of what they do have in store, but I did not see much of what I have been interested in now or in the past. So, came home and ordered a nice decant instead. It will hold me back just a bit, and yes, it is easily available online, but today I wanted the experience of being in store, sniffing, comparing, etc. I have not set rule, other than if I think about it long enough, after sampling always, and it stays on the list, eventually I may succumb. I think most of us know when we can buy, and when we should hold back, as this is a very costly and addictive habitl.

    • Tara says:

      judith, you are the only person to mention availability and it’s a very good point indeed. Easy access certainly makes a difference. It is a lovely experience to go perfume shopping “in person”. It’s too bad about Neimans, I guess some department stores just don’t specialise in perfume but you’d expect a high-end store in Beverley Hills to do better. I’m glad you have a decant at least to tide you over.

      It’s too bad that this is a costly and addictive habit, indeed!

  26. Dionne says:

    This is the wrong time to ask me that, since the beginning of my blogging coincided with 1)achieving enough savings that my piano-teaching money is now “mine to do as I wish” 2) finding a US scent mule that is very willing to have all those “US only ” sales sent to her house 3) a schwack of friends who want me to help them find themselves a fragrance, so now I want a reference collection, 4) joining Facebook Fragrance Friends, where a lot of great deals on decants are offered. My bargain-hunting self loves decants.

    Old frugal habits die hard, but I feel like I’ve been going crazy compared to my normal very restrained self. I’ve now bought three decants unsniffed, and I’ve NEVER done that before, put in a massive order of atomizers so I can start swapping a bit, and I’m seriously considering buying that $35 bottle of Buddha’s Fig unsniffed, since no one seems to have samples of it and I’ve got full-blown fig-lust right now.

    Can we ask this question again in 6 months, after I’ve finished this little binge?

    • Tara says:

      Ha! Yes, get back to us Dionne!

      Sounds like you are experiencing a “perfect storm” right now 🙂 It’s an exciting time. I remember reading about the approach you are taking on Beauty On the Outside and it did sound like you were going about things in a sensible way (despite the 3 unsniffed decants!). It’s fun to let loose sometimes though and that will pass anyway. Enjoy it!

  27. flittersniffer says:

    I have no formal policy in place restricting my purchases, but just give myself a very stern talking to whenever an impulse to buy a FB arises, as it did with Truth or Dare the other day. In the end my “fondle and replace” strategy prevailed!

    • Tara says:

      Yay! I was thinking about your “fondle and replace” strategy when writing this post! It may be my favourite method of delaying perfume gratification.

      Very interesting to hear you were tempted by Truth or Dare.

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