Fears Over Buying Used Perfume

I’m surprised (I’m often surprised, you see) to find how many people refuse to buy an authentic but used bottle of perfume on eBay or a similar auction site due to two common misconceptions. I’m a big proponent of buying used perfume, both vintage and new release. So here, have a post debunking the two common misconceptions against buying used perfume.

1. You never know what the previous owner did to the perfume.

Perfume and cosmetics inhabit a very special sphere of “used” where hygiene concerns come into play that aren’t as worrisome in other items people might buy used such as clothing, toys, and electronics. After all, you will meticulously launder clothing before you wear them. You can always clean toys before you give them to your children. And you can always wipe down electronics. But cleaning and sanitizing cosmetics is a hairy business and I don’t know about you guys, but I get a little nervous around the tester cosmetics they leave out in stores like Sephora. I am significantly less concerned about tester bottles of perfumes and used perfume bottles for one simple reason, most bottles are impossible to open in order to contaminate.

It is a common misconception that perfume can be contaminated like cosmetics. Consider this, most (note the bold for later) modern perfume bottles are factory sealed. This means that the manufacturer has taken it upon themselves to permanently seal the sprayer nozzle to the glass of the perfume bottle.

I can say about 90% of perfume bottles readily available in the mainstream market are factory sealed (note that I exclude niche, independent and vintage) and thus, near impossible to open without drastically altering the look and function of the perfume bottle and its sprayer nozzle. Most people don’t realize that their perfumes can’t be opened. So they’re met with a rather unpleasant surprise if their sprayer nozzles stop working one day. At that point, three courses of action are recommended:

1) Try fiddling with a number of different techniques to see if you can get any perfume out,
2) Smash the bottle, and
3) Cut your losses and buy another bottle.

Knowing that it is near impossible to separate or completely “open” a bottle of perfume, I hope you’re a bit more at ease about used perfume purchasing. However, like with all pieces of advice, nothing is absolute. You should still take care to ensure:

1) You are not purchasing a fake or counterfeit perfume,
2) You know whether or not a certain perfume bottle has a factory sealed sprayer and bottle or is a refillable type sprayer and bottle (See end of this post for more), and
3) You are purchasing an item that has been properly stored and the fragrance has not expired.

All of these three criteria need to be remembered, but at the very least you can rest assured that if you’re buying a half-full bottle of perfume that’s got a factory sealed sprayer nozzle and bottle, that the previous owner has probably not been able to mix something unpleasant in with the juice.

2. The perfume might be counterfeit.

The slightly more ridiculous allegation for used perfume bottles is that because they’re used, they have a higher chance of being counterfeit. Now, I’m not sure about you guys or what these counterfeiters are doing with their time but it doesn’t make much sense to me why a counterfeiter would waste time making a convincing counterfeit item and then purposefully not filling it up all the way and then try to sell it as authentic but used.

People are going to see the bottle isn’t full, or they’re going to read that it’s used and they will expect to pay less for it because the item is not new. Counterfeiters are out to make money. As much money as they can get from their fake merchandise. It makes no sense for a counterfeiter to purposefully cut into his or her profit margin by making counterfeits and then trying to sell them off even cheaper than other counterfeits because theirs is “used”. I can’t say this is a universal rule, but when you think about it, it really doesn’t make any sense why some people think used perfume is more susceptible to counterfeits.

A Brief Mention for Refillable Perfume Bottles

I don’t have a lot of experience with refillable (non-factory sealed) perfume bottles but they are out there in the mainstream market. Of the manufacturers that I know of which do not factory seal sprayers to bottles includes Bath and Body Works (body sprays), Calgon (body sprays), Victoria’s Secret (some perfumes such as Sexy Little Things Noir), Hermes (most perfumes), Guerlain (so far the L’Art et la Matiere line is not factory sealed).

There are more of course, many, many, many more. The best thing is for you to do your research before you buy. Go online and see if anyone’s mentioned that bottle is refillable. If you can’t find any information, then go to a fragrance forum and ask. Someone is bound to have heard of the perfume and someone is bound to be able to tell you. If you’re sticking to the mainstream stuff and celebrity fragrances you can generally count on the bottle being factory sealed however.

Finally, perfume that’s not factory sealed is not necessarily bad or an oversight. Many fragrance lovers and collectors love the refillable bottles because it saves us money. Once we’re finished with the fragrance inside, we can actually reuse the bottle by buying refills or putting another fragrance in there. I vastly prefer many of my bottles to be refillable so I can use them again, of course this doesn’t help someone concerned about contamination but if you do your research, ask around, and know what it is you’re buying you will find that used perfume isn’t all doom and gloom.

2 thoughts on “Fears Over Buying Used Perfume

  1. Good advice. Another reason to be calm about used perfume is this: it is mostly alcohol (ethanol) and so quite unlike almost any other cosmetic. Ethanol is the stuff used to wipe down the surfaces in operating theatres to ensure they are sterile. It’s the active ingredient in most of those hand-sterilising gels that have become popular lately too.

    So, whatever else you might need to worry about, you don’t need to worry it will be infectious. Even if, like me, the maker didn’t factory seal the bottle.

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Chris. Excellent point about ethanol and its use in perfume! Might I also add that it’s great to see a perfumer here too. 😀

Leave a Reply

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