Robin, the creator of this blog, has written many times: “…my perfume collection will outlive me.” Come to find out, she’s probably right; or at least her current collection will see her into grandmother-hood (keep in mind her child is only 9 years old) and the receipt of her first Social Security check. I decided to figure out the “life expectancy” of my own, much smaller, perfume collection and the results are shocking.
To start, I used three empty 50 ml perfume bottles, by three different perfume companies, and filled the bottles with water and sprayed till they were empty. The average number of sprays in a 50 ml bottle is 735 (double that figure for a 100 ml bottle of fragrance). We all know there are 365 days in a year, so a 50 ml bottle of fragrance will provide a person (who wears that fragrance every day and sprays once) TWO years worth of perfume. Of course, most of us wear more than one spray of scent; if you wear two sprays a day, every day, from a 50 ml bottle of perfume, that single bottle will last a year.
I divided my perfumes into 50 ml and 100 ml groups. I then further divided the perfumes into usage categories — perfumes I spray 3 times per wearing, perfumes I spray 5 times, and perfumes I spray 10 times per wearing (I rarely use less than three sprays or more than 10 per use). After measuring the contents of all my perfume bottles (many bottles were only partially full), I had the equivalent of (approximately) nineteen 50 ml bottles and eight 100 ml bottles (or 1,750 ml) of perfume.
I was thrilled that over the last 5 years I have drastically reduced my perfume collection; in the distant past, I’ve had between 50-75 bottles active — at least. However, I was shocked to realize I have enough perfume to last years and years.
I, with only the equivalent of 27 full bottles of perfume, have enough cologne to last me 5,291 days — 14.5 years to be exact! This figure does not include the hundreds of samples I will wear (each sample takes up one full day) or the contents of minis and decants in my collection.
Do these figures shock you? Do you have the time, or inclination, to figure out YOUR perfume collection’s lifespan? (If you have the nerve, see the guidelines at the bottom of this article to figure out the years your current perfume collection will last.)
When I first did these calculations, I spent several days in a semi-depressed state. How could I justify buying MORE perfumes? Knowing my powers of self-control, how could I resist buying more perfumes? Was I doomed to “waste” more money — and perfume — as I added to the collection?
I’m the type who has fast and furious perfume affairs. I become infatuated with a scent, madly in love, then I buy the perfume, use it several times a week for a month and then…then, my nose starts roving — my latest love becomes less interesting, more like a “friend” and a new love enters the scene and the expensive cycle of lust/desire, friendship, and forgetfulness begins again. Shiny, new, and mostly full, “trophy perfumes” line my shelves…ignored for months at a time.
What’s a perfume fanatic to do? Decants are not really a “bargain” when you figure their price against buying a full bottle of fragrance, but a decant is a good option if you really like a perfume but know in your heart it will not be a long-term relationship; perfume miniatures are great and I buy them all the time. Selling or swapping out perfumes as you tire of them is a good “business choice” — but it’s a time-consuming process. Buying perfumes from discounters when possible cuts down on my perfume guilt (it’s easier to abandon a $30 bottle of scent than it is a $100 bottle). I end up using many perfumes as room sprays or I tuck a mostly unused bottle of fragrance in my bag and, during my day, abandon it — in a restroom, a lunch room, on a ledge at a restaurant, in a classroom. I sometimes look back at the abandoned bottle as I flee the scene and feel a twinge of regret and ‘sadness’ — and hope it will find a good home with someone who loves it.
As I was beginning to look at a 50 ml bottle of scent not as a beautiful sensory experience but as “147 days of perfume”, my partner said: “Who cares if you don’t use it all? Everyone wastes money on something.” And life is short.