|Endangered 1ml vials spell out their fate|
In parallel, in recent years I have noticed that perfume quantities exchanged between perfumistas appear to have got larger than at the start of my hobby, six years ago. Back then, if someone agreed to send you five samples of perfumes to try, you would typically receive five 1 or 1.5ml vials with stoppers in a little plastic bag. Invariably accompanied by a boiled sweet. If perfume extras were included, they were most likely also of the same sizes.
|A swap package of yore|
Over time though, sending a 1ml vial as a 'sample' has become almost unheard of, unless the sender is really short of the perfume in question, or it is insanely expensive - something like a Puredistance scent springs to mind, or an extrait strength, say - or where you only had 1ml left in total and are trying to split it into vanishingly small fractions. These days, when perfumistas are sending people samples, they often send quite a bit more than is necessary merely to test a scent, sometimes even a quantity around the 3ml mark or above, which for me is the threshold which distinguishes a sample from a decant. I am not sure that 3ml is the official definition, or even if there is one, but above 2.5ml starts to feel like a decant to my mind.
These larger samples are usually put into spray bottles, which makes the testing process a lot more enjoyable than the dabbing ritual from the 1ml vials. I welcome this trend, as you can spray at will multiple times and get a really good idea of whether you like the scent or not. That said, I am not always as forthcoming myself with goodly amounts, mainly because I have these three receptacles in my decanting stash to choose from...
My paltry collection of sample vial variants
- 3ml plastic spray vials (just a few left now out of a bulk consignment from Accessories for Fragrance).
- 1.5 plastic snap on vials (these are the ones that Freddie of Smellythoughts got me into, which are intended to be used for centrifuge samples. I like them, because they are cheap, available in the UK, and you can dispense with funnels and their associated washing, a tedious task from which I find myself increasingly shying away. I remember Mr Bonkers joking that one of the things he appreciated after I left him was not finding metal funnels lurking in the washing up water. ;) Hmm, I say they are easy to fill 'commando', ie without funnel, but - perhaps becasue of their tapered shape - you get serious splashback after about 0.75ml or so, meaning that I end up just giving people 1ml again like in the old days - at best! It doubtless looks a bit parsimonious on my part, but they are so user-friendly for the decanter, at least.
|Tapered 'Freddie' vials - 1.5ml|
- 1ml glass vials with stopper (also from a big - nay, huge! - consignment from Accessories for Fragrance). Old habits clearly die hard to have prompted me to buy them...Yet I hardly ever send someone a sample in one of these except for the exclusions mentioned above, because it combines funnel requirement, non-sprayability and stinginess in one inconvenient package. I really do recall their being the standard vehicle for samples back in the day, though!
When I have finally exhausted my supplies of the 3ml plastic sprayers, I might well invest in some slightly smaller glass ones instead - 2ml or 2.5ml, maybe, if they do them in that. I am still partial to the 'Freddie' snap on vials, so can see me getting more of those, even though they do feel rather unorthodox and out of step with pefumista sampling etiquette, as I perceive it.
|Sample perfection - unmistakably Undina :)|
So that is what I like and don't like in the state of the sampling world as it is today. I do feel I am not pulling my weight here in my choice of packaging, though in the case of international shipments, I tend to throw in amusing red herrings to distract the customs wallahs such as scraps of wool, buttons, bookmarks or pieces of fabric, which hopefully raise a smile at least.
|Foxing fodder for customs officials|
So...I would be most interested to know what others perceive as the 'etiquette' of sampling - if you think there is such a thing, however loosely and unofficially?
And what are you own pet peeves about types of vial or fill levels - specifically for samples rather than decants?