Do you buy decants?
Let me explain what a decant is for those that may not know. A decant is fragrance decanted from a full-size bottle of perfume. Generally, these are not sold through the brand but through perfume lovers (in real-life or online) or through certain decanting sites. The decants are typically larger than a sample and smaller than a full-size bottle of perfume. They come in generic bottles (so they really aren’t like a brand’s travel-size perfume).
Before I answer the question, I’m just going to say that most brands hate decants. It doesn’t take much to figure out why. There’s the aspect that this may divert from actual sales of their full-size products. But, there’s another reason to – they have no control. This means that someone may be selling decants filled with fake or adulterated product under the guise that is is authentic product. Brands do not like the idea of someone out there watering down their perfume and potentially ruining their future sales or reputation.¹
OK, so I don’t pass any judgement at someone that buys decants. I’m not a brand. I totally understand the appeal of a decant. We want to try things and they may not be available to us in person. Or samples/travel sizes aren’t made for that product. You don’t want to feel pressured into blind-buying a full-size product. I don’t care if you want to try-before-you-buy or if you have no intention of buying a full-size perfume ever in your life. I don’t care. There are many reasons why you may not want to buy a full-size perfume. I understand. I have no moralistic opposition to decants.
Now to answer the question…I don’t buy decants. I have bought maybe 3 decants in my entire life and that was when I first started blogging in 2008. There’s a few reasons that I do not buy them. But, the main reason is that I don’t like having all the little bottles around. If I want to try something, I try to obtain or buy a sample first. If I have used up a sample, then I will just plunge on a full-size or travel size by the brand…or I’ll just forget about it and never buy it. I know it sounds shallow, but I like the packaging of perfumes. It sort of “completes” the experience for me. Samples are mine for the exploratory phase. That’s how I try things. I also live in the NYC area and have the opportunity to try stuff in person. If I like it, maybe a SA will give me a sample. If not, I’ll go home and buy one. I also realize I have the privilege of being a perfume blogger; brands send me samples and products. This is not the reality for everyone. Basically, I don’t buy decants because I don’t feel the need to. BUT I have some decants that dear friends have made me because they really, really wanted me to try a perfume. So yes, I have more than enough decants because my friends are the absolute best.
Like I said, my decants come from friends. Most of the time I’m right there watching them make me a sample or decant. I know that the source is legit. Some of my friends have bought decants from online fragrance friends. They don’t really buy them as much as they trade their fragrant goods. Basically, they buy/trade decants from people they trust, other hobbyists. Like I’ve said before, the perfume community is great.
There are sites that sell decants. They aren’t a good “value” (AKA you are paying more per mL than if you bought the full-size) but they let you try things that may be hard to find or don’t scents from brands that do not offer samples. Here’s a few of those sites:
The Perfumed Court – This is one of the OG decanting sites. They stand out because of their selection and that they also offer vintage. The Perfumed Court is how most of my friends go into vintage perfumes. Warning – Vintage perfumes are addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Surrender to Chance – Another OG decanting site. They’re also super knowledgeable and have a great selection of indie/niche.²
There are probably others. I am only reporting these because they are the ones I have bought from in the past and have been around a long time.
You can also buy samples from places like:
Beautyhabit – has a sample program where you pick 3 samples for $15 and they give you a $10 voucher towards a full-size.
Indigo Perfumery – I like theirs because they come in vials with the sprayer.
Osswald – Call for samples. Also like theirs because they come with a sprayer and generously sized (well, in comparison to other samples).
FYI – I have bought samples from all of these places. Also, most brands offer samples on their site. Buying from these (brands and perfumeries) are a little different in that it’s only the selection of what they carry and that they are also hoping you’ll end up buying a full-size bottle later. Decant sites don’t care if you come back for a full-size because they don’t have full-sizes.
Finally, there are newer models that have hit the market. Frankly, I don’t know how they do it because brands are usually not nice about decanting. But, there are some that are like a monthly subscription program or a service. Those are:
Scentbird: This is a monthly subscription program. You pay $14.95 for 8ml decant of your choice.
I have not tried this service but I’m curious (it’s hard to try some of these designer scents!). If you have, I’d love to hear your experience. I’ve noticed that throughout the years that their catalog of scents has really grown and includes some designer and niche brands. UPDATE – They were nice enough to reach out and sent me one to try. I’m actually really impressed with the packaging. It comes in a really nice travel spray (feels more like what’d you buy from Sephora). I will write a review but I’m also curious to do the monthly service and see how reliable they are (shipping times), etc. I think I’m going to get rid of Sephora Play and do this instead. I’d much rather have some Amouage than a tiny thing of dry shampoo and a foundation sample that doesn’t match my skin.
If you know of other programs like this, let me know. I’ll add it to the list.
Shoooo…that was a long answer to that question, huh? Anyway, what about you, do you buy decants?
¹I could go on a rant about this but I’ll save you guys from it today. Basically, if brands think this is a problem, they should offer more samples, discovery kits and travel sizes that don’t cost a ridiculous amount of money. Basically, decanting is a thing because there is a market for it. If the brands want control, then they should control it by giving the consumers what they want. If they don’t want someone selling it on eBay, then they can do what other name brands do…report them as fakes.
²Oddly enough, the hardest samples to get your hands on are designer. If I didn’t get free samples with online purchases, I don’t think I’d ever have a “Mainstream Monday“. They also rarely ever send me anything as a blogger. It’s almost like designer perfumes don’t really care about people that would buy their products based on how they actually smell.
*Disclaimer – Scentbird sent me something to try. I am not financially compensated for my reviews/posts. My opinions are my own. Also, Scentbird contains an affiliate link. Myrna Loy pic from fanpix.net.