Watery Mud d'eBay...?
January 12, 2007 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Why does a brand-new bottle of cologne smell very different (and not in a good way) from a small sample vial of the same? i just bought a bottle of Terre d'Hermes (which I think is wonderful, and great on me) based on how great the sample vial I got on eBay smelled. The "real thing" is a lot less sharp and the layers are a lot muddier. It actually smells like it could be a knockoff! WTF? (a little more inside)

I bought both the sample and this "real" on eBay, but this is NIB and for all intents seems perfectly legit. Is it because of a different spray type? Is this potentially due to the way it was stored? The only thing I noticed is that when I took it out of the package the bottle was really cold. It's since warmed up, and (two or three days later) it smells a little closer to how I expect--but it's still definitely not right.

Is it ruined? Was the sample vial just inaccurate somehow? Any ideas? Is there a scientific explanation for this?
posted by dmaterialized to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total)
Are you just basing it on this experience or has this happened before? If it hasn't, I'd guess it's fake. Why not go to Sephora or a department store and smell the real thing and see?
posted by crabintheocean at 3:42 PM on January 12, 2007

That's odd, I bought the same cologne based on the sample as well, though the sample came from Nordstrom and the bottle came from Sephora. No real complaints here, can't say I noticed much of a difference.
posted by exit at 4:06 PM on January 12, 2007

There are often significant differences between EDP and EDT versions of some scents: is the sample perhaps one and the bottle another? Guerlain certainly does it but this review says the only bottles available are EDT, which doesn't necessarily mean the samples are unless someone manually decanted them from a bottle.

I second the suggestion to go smell what should be an exact-same bottle in a dept store, by which I mean a "sampler" bottle, not a little sample in a vial.
posted by polyglot at 4:16 PM on January 12, 2007

Best answer: Actually, I have a similar problem when I buy my favorite perfume. There are several possible reasons for the differences you're detecting. You're absolutely right about storage - several changes in temperature, long exposures to heat, and/or exposure to light can change the scent of a perfume. Also, some perfumes/colognes just "age" without any dramatic specific environmental factors. And lastly, the company themselves often makes small changes to the scent or to some of the supporting chemicals without changing the name, or notifying customers. I still miss a particular "vintage" of one perfume.

That said, the suggestion to smell a bottle (and double check the packaging design) in a department store is useful if you have any indication of fraud, given that your purchase was made over ebay.
posted by synapse at 4:55 PM on January 12, 2007

I bought my Mom some Hermes Iris one time - the bottle had no fragrance at all! I ordered it straight from the Hermes store.

They replaced it of course. Never found out why.
posted by vronsky at 5:18 PM on January 12, 2007

Was the sample vial a dab-on kind of vial, or a spray? And was it a carded sample from the manufacturer, or decanted by the seller?

Sometimes you experience the top notes in a very different way when spraying versus dabbing, and if the original sample vial was decanted, another point is that the fragrance was already exposed to air before you tried it.

Chances that your bottle is "off" seem minimal, as heat is far more destructive to fragrance than even extreme cold. More likely, the sample did not give you an accurate impression of what the spray EdT was really like.

Here is how I usually test: get an empty (not reused!) spray vial, decant from your new bottle, and then try it next to the sample you bought. Chances are, you'll find that they are the same. If so, and you prefer the smell that way, buy an empty bottle and decant your scent before you use it.
posted by justcurious at 5:22 PM on January 12, 2007

Response by poster: Very interesting, synapse. I guess it's possible they changed it, though it's quite a new one and the phrases people use to describe it-- "peppery", "Mediterranean", "sun-drenched"--are all dead-on for that sample vial.

I noticed that if I spray it from a long ways back (a foot or so) it's a lot "cleaner" and distinct--maybe the sprayer is just really weird, or I'm going insane trying to tell the difference.

I guess I'm going to have to drag myself up to Hermes (not exactly a big Madison Avenue type of shopper) and see for myself, though :)
posted by dmaterialized at 5:39 PM on January 12, 2007

Response by poster: justcurious, they're both spray vials-- the sample being decanted by the seller. if it was a difference of dab vs spray, i definitely wouldn't be so surprised!
posted by dmaterialized at 6:05 PM on January 12, 2007

I bought my Mom some Hermes Iris one time - the bottle had no fragrance at all! I ordered it straight from the Hermes store.

Many times the display bottle of expensive perfume is actually filled with colored alcohol. Could be that someone inadvertently put the wrong bottle back in a box and it was sold to your Mother by mistake.
posted by qwip at 6:50 PM on January 12, 2007

You bought a sample of cologne on eBay?
posted by charlesv at 11:48 PM on January 12, 2007

Seems so obvious it's fake (and not an accident of some kind) I don't really get why you're looking for a complicated alternative answer.
posted by crabintheocean at 5:29 PM on February 1, 2007

« Older How do I make my own keyboard shortcut in Outlook...   |   Yeah, so, who is this David Beckham guy anyway?!? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.