Monday Question – Do You Like To Buy Perfume Unsniffed?

Are you prone to dare-devil acts of unsniffed buying?

Is a blind-buy an exhilarating and fun risk you like to take?

Or is even thinking of blind buying making you sweat and fret?

My Answer:

I have to say, sometimes I’m sorely tempted to just go for it and dive in, buy blind, unsniffed, take the risk and just hope for the best.

Sometimes I do it. Much more often I talk myself down from the ledge at the last minute. Just the other day, I aborted a Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule blind-buy at the last minute, remembering how often I was disappointed by our dear Uncle Serge (I often was surprised as well, but, still, the risk here is very, very high).

But in general, I love the thrill. There are perfumes I just know I will love, there is a deep certainty and when that is there, I just go for it. I bought Guerlain Cuir Beluga and Tonka Imperiale blind, people! I know those two are not bargain-bin dwellers, but still – I just knew we would click, and thank Goodness, I was right both times.

I admit, I have been wrong too from time to time, but I still love the risk of buying a surprise package. I love the thrill, I love the chase, I love the idea I have about a perfume and to trust my instincts.

Officially, I’d join the chorus of cautious (and absolutely correct!) bloggers and say: Never buy unsniffed! Always sample first!

But secretly I’m a high risk perfume person – pssst!

What about you?


About Olfactoria

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83 Responses to Monday Question – Do You Like To Buy Perfume Unsniffed?

  1. Yes, I have been known to blind buy. Often when I see something I’ve wanted that is on ridiculously cheap somewhere then I’ll buy. especially if there’s less than 20 bucks difference between buying the bottle and a decant. I have had a couple of spectacular fails but none that has cost me more than $40. And I’ve also grabbed some OMFG!!!! type bargains too.
    Portia xx

  2. Zubi d'Nova / Melissa de Blok says:

    After too many blind buys gone wrong, and the realisation each time that the amount of money I spent on discounted bottles could have given me a few SL bell jars, I don’t blind buy any more – until of course, I see a 30 euro “deal” 😛

    On a serious note though, I have not blind bought in ages. I am saving for the perfumes during my trip to Paris (which might not happen since no one wants to come with me in the community – not sure I want to drive 5 hours to get there and do it all alone, y’know?). I have also not bought samples in ages, so I think I am getting to a calmer stage. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Too bad your Paris trip is not coming together. Maybe schedule it for spring, people would have more time to plan ahead then.
      Or maybe there are some Parisian fumies to be found?

  3. Lady Jane Grey says:

    My very few unsniffed buys in the past went terribly wrong, so no, in that special matter I’m not the “no risk – no fun” type of a person 🙂

  4. andrea says:

    I love the thrill of blind buys, I have just bought Metallica totally unsniffed which was an excellent (and expensive) blind buy. I have just commited to an original Shiseido Feminite du bois as well as the discontinued Le Dix, these are hard to test due to the fact they are now very rare so I had to dive in with both feet and hope for the best (obviously I have tried SL FDB but I hear it is a lot different, fingers crossed that it is as I didn’t much care for the SL version)
    Attrape Coeur was almost a bllind buy but a very lovely fellow fumie sent me a sample of it, that prompted the buy now button being pressed.
    SoOud Ouris was another successful blind buy, I have you to thank for this one, I LOVE it.
    Of course I have quite a collection of fails but I am getting better at knowing what I will like, and what I may consider a fail will be someone else’s love so I have always managed to sell them on.

  5. Dubaiscents says:

    I would love to say that I don’t buy blind but, it does happen quite often. I try to limit myself to un-sniffed purchases only when I have read multiple great reviews from bloggers and/or there really is not a lot of chance to smell it otherwise (something rare or discontinued). Or, sometimes those really deeply discounted finds (less than $30) are just too good to pass up even if ends up being something I won’t actually wear much – just something good for reference.
    I think that my wonderful first experience of buying Mona di Orio’s, Oiro blind has made me less scared to try others – this is probably not a good thing 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Good point, some things are just not to be had unsniffed, rare and discontinued finds just have to be taken a chance on (sometimes 😉 ).
      So happy you love Oiro!

  6. I’m so boring; I’ve never blind bought anything. I am really tempted by Seville à l’aube, though. It seems just the kind of thing I go for.

    I think the raciest thing I ever did was by a large decant of Feu d’Issey unsniffed. Screams dare-devil, right? 😉

  7. Sandra says:

    I blind buy when I just “know” a perfume will be “for my taste” (of the moment of course). I don’t do this often, but when I have, I loved most – Frapin 1697 – What We Do in Paris is Secret – mon Precieux Nectar – etc. Thankfully my husband is not reading this and will not find out just how many blind buys I have done. Fun question B!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I’m quite glad my husband is too busy to read the blog either these days. 😉

      I love all your blind buys too, Sandra. (So practical that our tastes overlap so much!!!)

  8. Alexandra says:

    I think blind buying a bad idea, for all the obvious reasons, and I don’t like to do it: but… of course I have occassionally succumbed…

    The only blind buys I can currently think of are:
    1) Lalique Encre Noir (lovely, but only for very specific moments)
    2) Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant (unmitigated disaster – anyone want a barely touched bottle?!)
    3) Cuir de Lancome (which I’m afraid is entirely your fault Birgit but joyfully has been a huge success – thank you!)

    I haven’t bought anything blind for a while though, I think this is down to a better knowledge of where I can sniff perfumes or find samples. Now I just need my sample buying to decrease slightly…

  9. I am guilty of the blind buy. My last buy was Etro Royal Pavillon at an incredibly cheap price. I understood why, it’s horrid! That tempered my wanting to continue the practice. But I understand to never say never as I’ll probably do it again 🙂

  10. Tara says:

    I did most of my unsniffed purchasing in the early days, all with relatively cheap buys. Cuir de Lancome was the most successful but there were no real disasters. I haven’t done it for a while now but am currently contemplating a blind buy of Jacomo’s Silences as it’s very reasonable on evilbay. I’m so glad your Guerlain unsniffed purchases worked out so well. They may be expensive but I dare say you have a greater chance of success with them. Tonka Imperial is so you!

  11. Ines says:

    Ok, I admit. I buy blindly.
    And I didn’t stop at Santal Majuscule like you did (and I’m not sorry but then again, I rarely am when it comes to SL). 🙂

  12. lucasai says:

    No! It’s my prior rule to not buy blindly and unsniffed. What would I do if I didn’t like it? I’d rather wait and buy something I love than regret buying something that I thought I would love but I didn’t.

  13. I do occasionally buy blind due to a lack of opportunity to sample. The “Buy Now” experience is exciting, but I have cut right back as I now have a LOT of perfume. Not to say I won’t ever do it again.

    My huge and lasting love blind buy successes have been OJ Osmanthus, L’Artisan Mure et Musc, Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods, EL Amber Ylang Ylang, and Tauer Une Rose Chypree. My abject failure was Tauer Le Maroc Pour Elle, which did sell on successfully. I have also grown to love Drole de Rose which was initially “meh”.

    I have to say that there have been some failures which were sampled before buying – looking at you Black Orchid Voile de Fleur and Calyx!!

  14. Always. In my city I don’t have many options.
    Goiânia – Brasil

  15. Suzanne says:

    Funny you ask this question, because I haven’t made any blind purchases since my very early days in Perfume Land, so that’s going back six or seven years. And then just last week, reading about Paco Rabanne La Nuit on Meg’s blog, that rabid desire to find a bottle as soon as humanly possible struck me, and I *almost* purchased a bottle on Ebay. I stopped myself — remembering I’d rather save my money for that bottle of Amouage Opus I that I’ve pined over forever and that I know is true love because I’ve already gone through samples and a large decant.

  16. Dear Birgit, I don’t particularly enjoy blind buying but I have to resort to it every now and then, due to Logistics issues.
    Your question couldn’thave come at a better moment as this afternoon I will be meeting with my unsniffed bottle of Scandal.

    I have a pretty high success rate with my modus operandi. Of course I read as many reviews I can before I purchase.
    Some of my unsniffed purchases: Vanille Abricot (many many years ago, I didn’t like it), Les Enfants de Soleil (ditto, but I enjoyed it), Ormonde Woman (like it but don’t love it), Sa Majesté la Rose (loved it), Shem El Nessim (like it very very much), Ta’if (love it) and, now, Scandal.


  17. Melina says:

    my answer is a resounding yes! due to the fact that very few niche houses export to argentina and, like, half of what is released worldwide is released here, i have to resort to frequent blind-buys. every time someone travels, after much research on my part, i decide which perfume i’ll take the leap of faith on. this month, i took good advantage of the fact that my brother went to paris and – through his patience and goodwill – i now have in my hands “seville a l’aube” (love it!) and “fils de dieu, du riz et des agrumes” (liked it, but will be giving it to my mom, who really liked it). to name a few others that i have obtained thanks to the expensive lottery that is blind buying: balenciaga paris (one of my favorites, ever), ELDO’s like this (adore it!), prada candy (like it), bottega veneta (unique, love it), comme des garçons kyoto (superb), chloé edp (bot the lagerfeld but the recent version, floral for all occasions that hasn’t captured me). locally, through “mercadolibre” (the latinamerican ebay) i got black orchid (like it a lot, but for rare occasions), le feu d’issey (amazing, singular perfume, recently wore it to an avant-garde music concert), ysl nu edp (in the hockey puck bottle – quite good), hermès hiris (earthy yet refined and elegant), lancome benghal (wonderful ginger-apricot concoction, spring in a bottle), vivienne westwood anglomania (don’t dislike it, but never really want to wear it). i have a few FAILS on my list, too, like the galliano EDP, a past-its-due-date dior dune, and a diorissimo that was not properly stored. the good thing is, through generous overseas SA’s and luckyscent, i have many samples, some of which will hopefully turn into future full bottles (relying on the kindness of family, friends and almost-strangers), like les nez manoumalia. a question for you birgit (and everyone): should i next take a plunge of jeux de peau (which i know you love), costume national 21 (which sounds up my alley) or CDG’s red (play)? this is a good occasion to once again thank you for your delightful and insightful blog, B – it has inspired me so much! all in all, i have spent a small fortune in the past 3 years, but perfume is a passion and – as in life – you win some, you lose some, but it’s worth it! 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Melina!

      Unfortunately I can not really be of help with your decision, since I only know Jeux de Peau of the three you mention.

      You’ve found some great perfumes blindly.

  18. jamesdennard says:

    My blind purchases are rare. I have done it several times, though. Generally, these purchases turned out okay, especially as I have become more skilled at reading a notes list and imagining how it will smell. Among the best of my blind buys are: Guerlain Vetiver, Dior Eau Sauvage, and Bvlgari Black. Oh, and Alt Innsbruck was a good blind buy, too.

  19. Melis says:

    I have never made a blind buy. I would be incredibly disappointed if I didn’t like the fragrance so I need to sniff things first. The only time I might be swayed to do a blind buy is if it was something that was very limited edition and I am sure that I would love. I am talking about you La Femme Bleue!!

    • Olfactoria says:

      La Femme Bleue is a beauty, I’m really glad I went for it, but at that price a blind buy is really a high risk…

      • Melis says:

        I started my venture down the scented path a little too late to get a bottle of LFB but after reading your review I am going to buy a decant. It sounds like such a beautiful perfume. A blind buy of that magnitude would be high risk for sure, lol! I have such a small collection that I can sometimes convince myself that I can afford to take the risk because I have saved money by being incredibly picky about what I will add to my collection. Other times……..not so much, lol! My goal is quality over quantity, so I hope to curate a small collection of fragrances that I absolutely love.

  20. Warum says:

    Uh, not me. I am a low risk perfume person!
    I never blind bought anything. I did not buy anything I did not test. Not ever. Most likely, I tested at least three times. What can I say? I still make mistakes!

  21. DRTVrMoi says:

    I become far bolder when the price point is more reasonable. Also, I don’t act totally ‘blind’. Several blogers, Jane Daly, The Non-Blonde & yourself (Cuir de Lancome was all your doing, thank you) have guide my sprees. I am seriously tempted to ‘make a friend’ in London & purchase a Jo Loves scent blind. Until my circle of friends increases, I will remain ‘conservatively blind’

  22. Amy Bella says:

    No way! I would never! I can’t do it… There have been so many times that I have ordered samples fully expecting to fall in love and been disappointed. I can’t afford to make a mistake like that with a full bottle… I’d rather spend my money on a sure thing.

    I like some pretty crazy fragrances, but I guess at heart I am super conservative!

  23. Dionne says:

    I’ve done a blind-buy a couple of times, and it’s just confirmed for me that it’s a baaaad idea, both because of my skin chemistry and my frugalness (I hate wasting money). Even an inexpensive unsniffed buy is equivalent to a decant, and then I’d have to unload the thing….. nope, not worth it. My excitement comes from the samples that show up at my door.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I think that is the fundamental difference between us – I love to spend money (I’m fully aware that this is not a very intelligent and sensible approach). 😉

  24. Philipp says:

    I buy samples and decants solely based on the notes/fragrance pyramid, but not a full bottle. That’s too risky for me.

  25. Eva S says:

    I very occasionally buy a bottle unsniffed, when I don’t have an option to try it first and I’m pretty sure from reading reviews and such that I will like it. I’ve had some succes too, Cuir de Lancome and Guerlain Lys Soleia as well as my purse-spray of Andy Tauers Dark Passage are all favorites!
    Generally though I don’t like blind-buys, I might be pretty sure I will like a scent from the description, but which ones I will really love isn’t so predictable!

  26. fleurdelys says:

    I have bought unsniffed maybe three times at the most. Usually I’m very cautious, but fortunately I was happy with my purchases, and they weren’t expensive. I’m much more likely to swap for something unsniffed – I look on that as a win-win: you give away something you don’t love, and get something you may love (and if you don’t, you can swap again!). And if there is a fragrance I’m curious about, which is not widely available in stores for testing, I’ve had success finding perfume minis at flea markets.

  27. Mrs. Scents says:

    I can honestly say that I have never blind bought and I can’t imagine ever doing it! If I can’t manage to get a sample some how then there is no way I will buy a fragrance, even if it is a gift. (although maybe this is because I don’t have a lot of disposable income. Maybe if I won the lottery I would blind buy whatever I could get my hands on! 🙂 )

  28. I generally like to sniff first, but there have been notable exceptions to this principle– my beautiful Flora Bella was a total blind buy, for instance– I had no idea whether I’d regret it until that box from Amazon showed up, and luckily I fell in love fast and hard. Most vintage fragrances I buy in antique stores are already open and available to be sniffed, but a few have been never-used and still-sealed… some almost unbreachably so. (Notably, my Millot Crepe de Chine parfum w/ the stuck stopper– it could not be got out of the bottle until the bottle itself shattered, but oh the beauty that lay within!)

  29. poodle says:

    I am guilty of the blind buy. I have done it because I was totally convinced I would not be disappointed on some pricey scents and I’ve done it on some bargains too. I’ve been lucky to have no scrubbers. Certain people on the blogs seem to have similar taste to me so I make somewhat educated choices. I love buying samples but I’ve been disappointed far more often on a $4 sample than I have on a well thought out full bottle.

  30. unseencenser says:

    I blind buy a TON, and it’s not a good habit and I’m trying to break it. I have been buying more samples lately, and I’m just as happy with a sample as I am with a bottle of not-that-tough-to-find juice. I do tend to buy things that are discontinued, or hard to find, and sometimes blind, but I’m almost always right that I will love them, not to say adore them, because I have a really good idea of my tastes.
    Still, bad habit, bad perfumista, no oatcake.

  31. Undina says:

    I do not find any thrill in blind buying. So I don’t. Well, if not to count last year’s No 19 Poudre (not a huge regret, could do without it but I got a story out of it and still can wear it) and this year’s La Femme Bleue (great buy, I’m happy with it). I think it’s out of my system for a while. We’ll see how long it lasts.

  32. Asali says:

    I was really thinking about this one- hard-, and the truth is that the only real new and FB, full price, blindbuy I ever did was Serge De Profundis. I have never regretted that one second, I love it! I *have* however blindbought quite a few used bottles, either from the bay or from private sales around the perfume pages, but only at prices where I knew it wouldn’t bother me if they didn’t work out. Those include; Royal Bain de Champagne, Metallica (too good a price to mention;-)), Philtre d’Amour and Chergui. Love them all.

  33. flittersniffer says:

    I have been blind buying furniture on Ebay a lot lately, but my previous tendency to do the same with perfume is happily now curbed. I think my last FB purchase on that basis was Flora Bella on the recommendation of an SA in Berlin. Maybe it is easier to resist because I am currently on my perfume plateau, admiring the view? : – )

  34. Ellia says:

    My first blind buy happened 3 years ago – Elizabeth Arden “5th Avenue”… It was a great bargain price so I couldn’t resist… and in any case I wouldn’t lose much if I didn’t like it after all.. (Actually I was not much impressed with it and passed it to my mom who really liked it a lot)… After that I promised myself not to blind buy again… I kept the promise for several years and cracked just couple of days ago after reading many positive and tempting reviwes (including yours) concerning So Oud “Ouris”… so I made a purchase of that one online and now I am expecting my new juice – thrilled and impatient :)))
    and right after that I found 50ml bottle of Douce Amere which I wished to try for years and already was about to buy… I don’t know how I was able to stop myself at the last moment)) I just did…

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hello Ellia,
      I hope you’ll fall as hard for Ouris as I did, it’s such a gorgeous perfume!
      Did you order the Eau Fin or the Parfum Nectar? Both are lovely in their own way.
      Let me know how it turns out for you!

      • Ellia says:

        Hi 🙂 it’s Eau Fin I’m expecting… I decided to start with a lighter version as I’ve read more comments about this one in particular.. and, by the way, it doesn’t hurt to get the bottle of 60ml instead of 30ml))).. just joking… I will surely let you know how I feel about it as soon as I get it and give it a try:)

        • Olfactoria says:

          I look forward to that!
          (I have both. 🙂 )

          • Ellia says:

            I finally got it.. And as promised, I share with you my first impression on this little treasure… “Ouris” for me opens with a tender, heavenly beautiful peach note (astonishingly natural) that transforms very smoothly into almond-ish woodsy base with a fruity floral sparkles… It lasts for about 2-3 hours on my skin… but to tell you the truth I don’t mind, because it’s so great to re-apply this nice juice couple of times per day just to have the pleasure to sniff again those wonderful yummy top notes! Definetely a great blind buy for me 🙂

          • Olfactoria says:

            Your description is spot-on! I’m so glad you enjoy Ouris.
            The extrait version lasts a lot longer and has more emphasis on the drydown, but the peachy top notes of the Eau Fine are incredible, aren’t they?
            Thanks for voming back to comment, Ellia!

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