Perfume: pros and cons of decanting

The best thing that has happened to my perfume collection is doubling my decanting budget for the months of October through December. Basically, I cut back three months earlier in the year and splurged from October to December, since that’s when the new fragrances come out. If you don’t already know, decants or splits are when you enter the cost of a bottle and everyone gets a smaller portion of the bottle or a “split” for a fraction of the total cost of the bottle; splits almost always happen with new fragrances.

Hence my desire to increase my perfume budget for October, November and of course December – these are the months when perfumes are released en masse and if you want to get in on some good splits, now is the time! By the time January and February roll around, the divisions have generally calmed down. Maybe not everyone wants to do it like me, but I think it works better for me this way and I am always so much happier and have lots of nice things to sniff during the months of January and February.

In fact, I find that I get so many good splits during October-December that it keeps me very busy trying to catch up and smell them all in the months that follow. I try to keep up and it’s really fun. Just one more thing to look forward to for the holidays! I’ll go straight to February and have plenty of unscented decanters lying around (and by lying around I mean neatly organized in my all-time favorite storage cubby, which is specifically for my decanters!)

This is where I get to the part most people don’t like about perfume: the cost. Decanting and swapping are perfect if you’re on a budget because you’re not paying full price for the bottle, and most of the time you wouldn’t use the full bottle anyway. A smaller budget doesn’t limit your options and what you can own—it’s led you into the world of decanters, and believe it or not, you may end up with some great fragrances you never could have bought at full bottle prices.


1. My budget. Need I say more? We all have a budget here!

2. I have never had a disastrous purchase without smelling, because I have a strategy. I know what happens to a decant if I love it, like it, or if I don’t like it, I CHANGE IT!

3. I love all my full bottles. I want to say that I love them to infinity. I am extremely critical when selecting the fragrances that I want in full bottle form. These are TO DIE for in my eyes.

4. You can wear a different fragrance every day! (As your collection grows!)

5. You can do doll vs. Doll comparisons as I find the best scent for you and your true favorites. Elimination process, baby!

6. If you start organizing your bottles early on, it’s not a daunting task to keep track of everything and with smaller decanting bottles, storage space is less of an issue!

7. Having fragrances already in decanting containers means that traveling with one or two decants is a breeze when you keep in mind the rules about liquids on airplanes, in carry-on luggage, and in general luggage.

8. Online slop deals on new fragrances mean the price per slop is lower and cheaper! And newer fragrances can provide cheap samples that will be a bargain without having to arrange a trade or split!

9. The number of new fragrance launches doesn’t have to overwhelm you, as long as you remember not to keep up.

10. One thing I’ve learned: It’s much easier to be spontaneous with lower cost decants/trades and it hurts your wallet a lot less if you happen to not like the perfume. In perfume terms: occasional impulse buy + a little restraint = no guilt. What you don’t like could be just the item you need to change to get your next LOVE IT fragrance!

11. Patience is a beautiful thing… if the anticipation doesn’t kill you. I’ll sit with gift money for months before deciding on the decanters I want or the bottles I can’t live without, bouncing off the walls waiting for the package to arrive. My next major bottle will arrive around the holidays, and the removal process has already begun!

12. Decanters are often too small for the fragrance to spoil before full use.

13. If you get decanters in the 15ml – 20ml range, you’ll be surprised how long it will last you.

14. Your taste in perfumes and your sense of smell evolve with you and change as you do: what you love this year, you may hate next year. Small decants, compared to a large bottle you’d never get past, are enough to keep you on the juice you love without locking yourself in a bottle full of an aroma you may hate or stop using tomorrow.


1. If you love all your bottles, participating in a trade can be hard, but they are fun!

2. Splits are usually done for new releases. By the time I get to smell them in a department store (if I don’t want to order blindly), those opportunities have passed.

3. The bottles are pretty. When you do a split, only one person gets the bottle, usually the host. (The person who arranged the split, went and advanced the money, measured, poured, mailed, etc.

4. I usually miss out on sales if they are some kind of immediate act.

5. If you transfer you need containers, small containers. It can be difficult to get the perfume into the vial and they are small so they break quite easily if you are not careful.

6. When you use a splash sample bottle or slop bottle where your skin comes into contact with the perfume, the scent can ‘shift’ or ‘spoil’ very quickly due to the mixing of the oils. You may also end up with cloudiness and precipitants in your bottles.

7. If you pack with atomizers you have a greater risk of leaks and evaporation.

8. Decanters under 5ml usually don’t last more than a month, so if you go really small it won’t wear out as much, but if you weren’t going to buy the full bottle anyway, this may not matter.

9. Sometimes it can be difficult to organize a bottle split, especially if it hasn’t launched recently.

10. Decanters that are organized through one site/service vs. groups of decanters that often organize their own divisions tend to be a bit pricey. While not as expensive as a full bottle, you are paying a premium for not having to set up a split with someone or find a split that someone is already doing.

As you can see, splits, swaps, and decants in general can be very affordable for even the smallest of budgets, and they’re great if you’re interested in sniffing lots of different fragrances and having a little bit of everything to try. It’s like having hundreds of invisible accessories!

I personally feel like I wasted most of my money buying full bottles. Not only was I sticking with the same, albeit lovely, fragrance, but I was putting up my entire fragrance budget for the entire year (because that was all I would spend on perfume) in one sitting. I didn’t give myself room to move, breathe and sniff! So the best thing that could have happened to me, even though I miss it dearly, is that my favorite fragrance is discontinued.

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