Saturday Question: Sample Size & Format




Heya APJ,

Taking an idea from Olfactoria’s Travels. Once a week there used to be a Question. Everyone would chime in with an answer, chat with other responders and it would be a generally fun event each week. Taking sides never meant taking offence and everyone kept it respectful and light.

Saturday Question: Sample Size & Format

Today we are joined by Lillibet who has a Saturday Question

Portia can we have one about the ideal sample size and format (i.e. spray or dab)? I’d be really interested to know what everyone thinks.
Lil Xx

My Answer:

Hey Lillibet,

I like to get 3+ good wears out of a sample. Two or three wears of four spritzes on the back of my hand usually and one full body wear with the remainder. So when I’m buying samples I usually go for the 2ml Spray option, and my go-To for that is Surrender To Chance. If I’m lucky enough to see someone splitting a thing I’m interested in or if it sounds fun I’ll buy a decant of 5ml-10ml.

When I get a smaller dab vial it will be transferred into a disposable plastic spritz bottle and I’ll get a couple of wears out of that. It never seems enough to get a real knowledge of how a fragrance performs and I often wish for more..

So, my question to you is:

What Sample Size & Format Do You Prefer?

33 comments on “Saturday Question: Sample Size & Format

  1. Tara C says:

    I concur. 2-3 ml spray is the best to determine if I love something enough to buy more.

  2. Claudia S. says:

    10 ml spray. Then I really know.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      OOOOH ClaudiaS,
      that’s a big one. Is that how you sample everything or is it once you’ve tried it and want a better idea?
      Portia xx

  3. Patty Pong says:

    The 2.5 is the minimum for me to get a read. 5 ml is ideal. And because the large bottles or decants we buy are spray the sample should not be a dabber. I’ve bought countless of the .7 and 1.0 dabbers and I have then based on that experience bought full bottles of things I was thoroughly disappointed with upon arrival and conversely avoided a perfume based on small dabber samples that years down the road I realized I really loved (when smelling it on someone or in a store or getting someone’s discarded decant in a transaction). Buying .7 and 1.0 ml dabbers to me now is just fun, kind of like buying a lottery ticket. I’m not expecting a payoff…it’s just “what if” fun. 🙂

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      What a great way to look at the 0.7ml dabbers Patty Pong. Yeah, it’s impossible to really know.
      I have asked LuckyScent to offer a 2ml spritz set in their sample sets but they don’t like the idea. It’s a bummer.
      Portia xx

      • Patty Pong says:

        I have my own unproven theory. And it’s this, the manufacturers don’t like larger samples because then because of multiple wears or a single saturation wear people may find they don’t like the scent (hence no full bottle buy). But let’s be real, most things we smell for the first time from a .7ml dabber we think we love. Then out of weakness we may buy a bottle. 🙂

      • australianperfumejunkies says:

        HA! Maybe Patty but I’ve become pretty ruthless with those 0.7ml dabbers. They all get put into spritzers. There’s two good wears in them.
        Portia xx

  4. Undina says:

    For many years I preferred 1.5-2ml spray samples but recently my attitude has changed, and now I’m content with 0.5-1 ml dab: I get enough to figure out whether I need more of that perfume (usually I don’t 🙂 ). It feels less wasteful this way.
    Undina recently posted…Almost Newcomb’s ParadoxMy Profile

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Interesting Undina,
      I find that I don’t really get the perfume till at least the second wear. It’s like the fireworks mask the scent.
      Portia xx

  5. 2-3 ml. is usually sufficient, BUT it must be a spray. I’ve discovered that the act of spraying (which oxygenates the perfume) can dramatically change the scent panel. Also too many times I’ve received those tiny dauber vials and bought a bottle based on the scent only to be disappointed. (looking at YOU Lucky Scent/Scent Bar…I love you but please….)!

    • TinaG says:

      Robert I agree with you. The act of spraying makes a huge difference to a scent profile. If I’m given a dab, I will try as a dab once, then (often quite messily) transfer to a 2ml spray to try again. I’ve usually managed three trials from a dab bottle this way, but it’s a bit of a waste of resources.

      There are a few exceptions – I prefer dabbing Serge Lutens, for eg. I’ve found some roller ball bottles (plastic rollers) which don’t leak and I’ll decant a smidge into them for every day use.

      Tina G xx

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      HA! Yeah Robert. 0.7ml is not enough, though once decanted it makes for two OK wears.
      100% spritz here too,
      Portia x

  6. Kate Apted says:

    An interesting question, Lillibet. In an ideal world, all samples would be 3ml minimum and in sprayers. Dab bottles have fiddly tops that I cannot be bothered opening. They hurt my fingers and I loathe having to dab, dab, dab to get any decent idea of a scent. Sadly, these samples go to the bottom of the pile or get given away. I will gladly pay more for a spray vial.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Yes, I also am happy to pay extra to get extra. Spray all the way Kate, unless the bottle comes as a dab and that’s how i’ll be wearing it. Even then I usually decant.
      Portia xx

  7. Maggiecat says:

    Give me a spray bottle anytime, and at least 1.5 ml. The tiny dauber vials are good only if I’m unsure as to whether I’ll like the scent based on the description and/or notes but want to try it anyway. But sprays give one a much better idea of how the scent will react with skin and project, and are less likely to leak.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Hey MaggieCat,
      Interesting, you have the dabber vials leak? What a bummer when there’s only 0.7ml. It would ALL be gone.
      Portia xx

  8. Ingrid says:

    I prefer spray vials of at least 2ml. Those tiny dab bottles are a pain, they can be very difficult to open.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Yes they can Ingrid, 0.7ml and 0.3ml down your arm before you’ve even started. GRRRR
      Portia xx

  9. Kandice says:

    I concur with just about everyone else. I almost always prefer at least a 2ml spray sample. The exception would be if I know it’s a very strong scent, or it’s one that’s way, way out of my comfort zone. In that case I’m happy to try the 1 ml dabber.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Interesting Kandice,
      You’ve been in the frag rabbit hole for a while, I’m surprised there’s still much out of your comfort zone.
      Portia xx

  10. Saffyishere says:

    I’m quite like you Portia. I prefer a spray bottle to sample from 2 to 5 ml is perfect, because let’s face it in 99% of cases a scent bottle will be a sprayer. Unless it is a splash on ‘unicorn’.

  11. flowergirlbee! says:

    i am the same as everyone else.minimum 2ml sprayer ..not a fan of smaller or dabber samples at all.i am in heaven with a hermes sample..that is how you should do it.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Hi there Flowergirlbee,
      Those 4ml Hermès samples are the freaking bomb. Yes, that’s how it SHOULD be done. I think it has become too expensive though when all anyone cares about is the bottom line.
      Portia xx

      • Greg says:

        The number of times I’ve seen some shonk trying to sell those free samples on eBay for $10/ml is a disgrace.

  12. Greg says:

    I don’t like daubers for a couple of reasons. One is that, if I am testing with an intent to maybe buy, it’s not a valid test of what the eventual sprayed version will be like. Second, more practically, is that I find the bloody things impossible to open.

    I think a 2ml spray is good for samples, but I’ll often go for a 5ml spray if I think that the fragrance is likely to be a good one but still not make FB grade. I’ll often do that for a really expensive perfume.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Sensible Greg,
      You know, if I buy a 5ml decant or split only about one in 10 gets emptied around here. They’re the ones I know to buy a bottle of.
      Portia xx

      • Greg says:

        Apart from evaporation, nothing gets emptied around here, not even 1ml samples. I’m too much of a gadfly.

  13. Tiffanie says:

    Tiny samples can be difficult to deal with but if they allow me to try more scents then I’m a happy customer. The 2 ml sprays are great. I enjoy the Jo Malone, Dyptique, and Prada samples in that format, seems a touch more generous on the part of the perfume companies, and scents from those houses always take me several wearings to think through. I love the 4ml samples from Hermes, whether dab or spray they make my heart sing.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Good call Tiffany,
      Sometimes we have to use what we can get and if it’s a dab then so be it.
      Portia xx

  14. Lillibet says:

    Oooh thanks for putting my question up Portia! I’ve been away on holiday without much wi-fi so I’m still catching up on blogs etc.

    So interestingly 2ml spray is what I have come to prefer too. I find dab samples super frustrating to open and use and so end up transferring them to sprayers when I have no other option for sampling.

    I have tried bigger samples but since I’m more of an under-spritzer (1-2 sprays to the chest and then dab my wrists to it or a spray to the crook of each elbow and then dab my wrists) 2ml generally gives me plenty to know if I “need” a FB of something.

    Thanks so much everyone for sharing 🙂 I’m relatively new to serious perfume addiction and was wondering if I was the only one frustrated by tiny dab samples…

    Lil Xx

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      YAY! I wondered where you got to.
      We got your question up and loads of great answers.
      Thanks Lillibet for helping with the Saturday Question.
      Portia xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *