You’re here, which means you’re looking for a good opinion, spritzed with some real advice, to help you find out what-sized perfume bottles you should be buying. As usual, we at Sterlish mag have got you covered.
Let’s start with the obvious: it’s never a good idea to blind-buy a big bottle of perfume if you’ve never worn the scent on your skin before. Scents smell unique on every wearer, and what may suit your most beloved fragrance YouTuber may not necessarily suit you.
To decide if a fragrance is full-bottle worthy or not, buy the smallest size possible and wear it for a few days to find out if it gets along well with the chemistry of your skin.
Buy 100 ml (3.38 fl oz) bottles when replenishing your favorite scents, 30-50 ml (1.01-1.69 fl oz) bottles when building up a large collection, and 7.5-20 ml (0.25-0.67 fl oz) if you travel for business or pleasure frequently, or if you want to test a scent on your skin.
Treat this as a rule of thumb and remember that, at the end of the day, it comes down to your personal preferences.
For example, I prefer the convenience of a 30-50 ml (1.01-1.69 fl oz) bottle, which I can carry in my handbag and take anywhere with me, over the massiveness of a 100 ml (3.38 fl oz) bottle on any day.
But that’s me.
And, apart from a thing or two in life where size can make a colossal difference, I am a die-hard fan of compact possessions.
My BFF, on the other hand, buys the biggest, bulkiest bottles she can find since she decants her perfumes and therefore prefers to stock up on them.
There’s also the question of the number of sprays in a bottle. For a number of reasons we’re not about to go into in this article, big bottles usually cost less per fluid ounce than their smaller counterparts. So you get more value for your money by reaching for them.
A 100 ml (3.38 fl oz) bottle contains 900-1,200 sprays and will last for up to 300 days of use; a 50 ml (1.69 fl oz) has 450-600 sprays, enough for up to 150 days of use; and a 15 ml (0.5 fl oz) has 135-180 sprays or up to 45 days of use.
Clearly, there’s a case to be made for and against buying big bottles.
The Case Against Bigger Bottles
For starters, no perfume lasts forever. Unless you use up a scent, the juice inside that bottle will eventually expire.
All perfumes have an expiration date. If you buy too many big bottles, you’re going to have a hard time using all of them up before some of them go off. The tricky thing about this is that when it comes to perfume, unlike other consumer products, there’s no general guideline for the expiration.
Some fragrances will expire in as little as 1-2 years, most will last for an average of 3-5 years, and a rare few will keep their original scent upward of a decade. Exactly how long a bottle of perfume lasts depends largely on the ingredients and the formula.
Perfume houses will often reformulate their scents to remove just-banned ingredients or to replace them with alternatives that cost less and, as a result, boost profit margins. So the same fragrance can have different expiration dates between batches.
Second, large bottles take up (way too much) space. Living and storage space, as anyone who’s ever lived in or visited New York has experienced first-hand, is a given for some and a luxury for others.
If you need to be mindful of the size of that perfume collection in your dresser drawer yet you want that collection of yours to be diverse, then compact, 30 ml to 50 ml (1.01 to 1.69 fl oz) bottles are your best—and sometimes only—choice.
Third, big bottles cost less per spray but require you to pay up. And, even if you planned to splurge that money on your obsessions, you might as well buy a smaller bottle and spend the rest on other fine things in life you long for, be it cosmetics, makeup, or clothes.
Unless you come up with a way to print money, and God knows I haven’t, it’s this author’s opinion that the only way to get everything you want out of life is to be smart (but not scroogey) about how you spend it.
The Case For Bigger Bottles
That being said, some situations necessitate you to get a bigger bottle of perfume.
Suppose you’re the kind of guy or gal that only wears two or three fragrances. You’ll have no problem using them up before they expire, so shelf life shouldn’t be a concern for you at all. You also don’t need that many bottles of perfume in your drawer at any time, which means that space is not an issue. By all means, buy 100 ml (3.38 fl oz) scents.
Then there’s the fact that some fragrances, especially from niche houses, don’t come in small sizes at all. Should you want an original bottle and not a decant from a perfume subscription service, you have no other choice than to get the full-sized one.
A scent is about to get reformulated or discontinued. You love it so much that you want to be sure you’ll have a steady supply of it for at least a few years to come. You can either buy it from fragrance retailers now or have to hunt it down on eBay later.
Last but not least, big bottles sometimes sell at you-can’t-miss-em discounts. Stocking up on your favorite fragrance, especially at a once-in-a-year Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale, is pretty much a no-brainer.
Whether you read this far or scrolled immediately down to get the long story short, here’s what I want you to take away from reading this article.
Those of you who only use two or three scents at a time have few reasons not to buy them in big, 100 ml (3.38 fl oz) bottles.
Those building up their perfume collections, however, should consider going for ½ or even ⅓ the size. Having too many fragrances means that some may expire before you’ve even had a chance to use them up.
When you want to give a new perfume a try to decide if it’s full-bottle-worthy or when you travel often and want to take a few of your signature scents with you, opt for small, travel-sized bottles that you can use up in a month (or use a decanter).