The Finish Line


I’ve never finished a bottle of perfume. Wait, it gets worse: I’ve never even finished a decant. The closest I’ve ever gotten is a 30 ml Jo Malone Black Vetyver Cafe; I’ve managed to use up about 10 ml in the FOUR YEARS since I bought it. I know it sounds outrageous, but there’s actually a perfectly reasonable explanation. About half of the fragrances in my collection are discontinued. If I use them up, they’ll be gone forever! I also blame my overly cautious spraying habits (one to the neck, one to each wrist) and distressingly short attention span (my ADHD documentation places me in “the 99th percentile for attentional issues for [my] age and gender”!)

Of course, the sad truth is that no matter how carefully I ration my discontinued treasures, perfume eventually goes bad. So I have a belated fragrant New Year’s resolution: I’m going to finish one bottle of perfume this year. The previously mentioned Black Vetyver Cafe is the most promising candidate, but I’ve also been making good progress on Safran Troublant. Any words of wisdom? Should I be spraying more? Alternating between fragrances less often? How often do you empty a bottle of perfume?

32 thoughts on “The Finish Line

  1. Uh oh. I worry this is at odds with a different perfume resolution–blog more–as the only way I make progress on (approaching!) finishing things is when I slow down on trying new things and wear what I’ve got instead. But that would make it hard to write reviews!

    If fear of finishing something discontinued is part of what’s holding you back tho…maybe you better go ahead and buy a back-up bottle of Black Vetyver Cafe if you haven’t already, so that you can spray your current bottle with abandon? 🙂

    1. An important point! Maybe I can spray my neck with the SOTD, and then save my wrists for testing? There was a very unpleasant, itchy time in my life when I only tested perfume on paper, for fear of oozing eczema patches, so skinless testing could also be an option!

  2. My precious Avignon is nearing its end. Aside from that, I’ve only ever finished a bottle of Chanel No. 5 and a few bottles of Tresor from my errant highschool days. But you’ve seen my perfume cabinet. It’s nearly impossible for me to make a dent in a single perfume. I bought Avignon 6 years ago to almost the date, and I might have used it as a room spray for my last Halloween party.

    1. Oh, that’s what smelled so good on Halloween! 😉 Have you ever tried the Avignon candle? I really want to, but they’ve been sold out on Luckyscent for a while now.

    1. We applaud your achievement! The only way I usually finish a sample is if it’s a dabber instead of a sprayer, and I accidentally spill it!

  3. Black Vetyver Cafe… can someone tell me why that got’s discontinuation to some is on par with Vienna getting stuck at No2. Say it’s sales weren’t great so why does everyone wants that one back?

    Rarely myself finished a bottle as I have too many in circulation. Plus collect so many sample vials. I have though recently had to get a 2nd bottle of Lush’s All Good Things though I only bought a 10ml bottle first time round

    1. Good news, thirteenfive70! Jo Malone just un-discontinued Black Vetyver Cafe a few months ago! I guess I must have finally complained hard enough! 😉 No idea why it was discontinued in the first place, but I think it wasn’t particularly popular, based on the fact that it never had its own matching line of body products like many other Jo Malone scents do.

      All Good Things sounds amazing- I love the idea of a smoky cotton candy scent! So grumpy that we don’t have it over in the US yet!

      1. oh it did once as I was the proud owner of a candle but the body range and candles went some years ago and I knew then it was in its death throes. Not seen it back anywhere yet so it may be only in the US

  4. Back in the days when I only had one bottle of perfume at a time, I finished a bottle maybe once a year. Since my collection expanded, I’ve finished one bottle total (and it was almost empty anyway by the time my collection expanded).

    Hence, I’m clearly no expert, and my resolution to finish a bottle last year failed, but I do think it’s probably safe to spray more. After I realized nobody ever noticed I was wearing fragrance, I escalated to two sprays on my neck, two on the back of each wrist, and one on the underside of each wrist.

    I also always choose a bedtime/evening scent from my bottles, rather than samples. That way, they’re still getting use, and I still get to enjoy them, even if I spend my day testing out new scents. We’ll see if this is the year I actually finish one (looking at you, Eau des Merveilles).

    1. Yes, I think there’s definitely room for escalation. I’ve only ever gotten comments on my SOTD from people I’ve just hugged, so there’s clearly not much sillage happening here. I will follow your six-spray example!

    2. Eleebelle, I am amazed to hear this–I constantly get comments (…complaints) from fragrance-sensitive family members even tho I usually do only one spray (one wrist and then I dab neck and the other wrist)!!

      1. Heh, I’m not counting family. My mother can smell it if I washed my hands with scented soap four hours ago. 🙂 The rest of the world, though, seems to be completely immune, if not surprised that I wear fragrance daily.

  5. I’m with you dear. Not counting the fragrances before I became more obsessive, I have finished
    none. Kiki getting close but otherwise nope.
    Hugs. xxxx

  6. Word of warning — I think nearly-empty decants go off faster because there’s more air in the container. So when I have something nearly empty I try to finish it off relatively quickly. I understand the hording instinct, though! all too well…

  7. A long time ago, when I was a monogamous perfume lover, I would finish a bottle before buying a new scent. Now, I’m so promiscuous with my perfume that I hardly ever finish a bottle. There are a few though that are close: Boyfriend, Indult Tihota, AC Orange Sanguine, and ELd’O Archives 69 are looking pretty low.

    1. Boyfriend! I should really buy a bottle while it’s still around. $35 for 15 ml isn’t bad at all. You are a terrible influence, Daisy!

        1. Ugh! I saw it on the Kate Walsh website, but hadn’t clicked “Add To Cart”. Both sizes are sold out 😦 I wonder if poor Ms. Walsh just wasn’t famous enough to sustain a perfume line, no matter how good it was.

        2. I’m forgetting now what the exact details of her arrangement were but IIRC she basically was starting her own perfume company not just licensing her name/face to one of the big guns (as with most celebrity perfumes). And Billionaire Boyfriend was just dreadful–makes me wonder if that sunk the endeavor. Tragic, Boyfriend is so good…

  8. I actually used up full bottles in when I only owned 1 to 4 bottles at a time. And one of those was Aromatics Elixir! (worn lightly but very often). Others included Cristalle and Diorella.
    Not a decant buyer, but as a vintage fan I agree that the emptier the bottle the more likely it is to go off. However I still can’t resist the urge to keep that last few mls “for reference.”

  9. I have literally hundreds of bottles of fragrance. Perhaps that is the reason that in 66 years I have only emptied three – one 15 ml Fidji, one 15 ml Royal Secret and one 15 ml KL, all perfume strength. Also, like you, I rarely finish the decants. It really is time for me to stop buying anything new – or old!

    1. Azar, I bow down to anyone who could manage to finish three whole bottles with hundreds to choose from! And you’ll never catch me encouraging a no-buy 😉

  10. As the others commenters, in my earlier years (after I stopped being 1-2 perfumes at a time but before going into dozens of full bottles collection), I used to finish some bottles (and even got the second one of some). But in the last 6-7 years I managed to finish a couple of small decants – before going and buying a full bottle to replace them. I’m fine with that, though. I enjoy the variety and the freedom to choose what to wear. If to think of it… I wouldn’t even want to finish any of my bottles: I wear only those perfumes that I really like, so I wouldn’t want to be without them. That means that if I finish the bottle I’ll have to get the next one.
    So… Do you really need to finish anything this year? 😉

  11. Maybe some of the undrained bottles will be precious ” vintage” fragrances someday, or more likely as mentioned, just be discontinued. Clearly, this is adequate justification for not using up what you already own and finding other scents to “fill in”.

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