Swap me if you can

I have some new samples that came to me earlier in the week but I still need to spend with them some more time before I can write a review, it will be coming up in the following days. Since I didn’t want to keep the blog empty (for how many days can you re-read my last L’Artisan Parfumeur review, right?) I wanted to shortly talk about a different matter closely related to perfume.


Ever since I got seriously interested in perfume, especially in niche when I started Chemist in the Bottle, I always hated buying samples. Of course sample is the easiest way to discover a fragrance but if there were so many things you wanted to try, it would be quite easy to spend a little fortune just on samples. I just didn’t want to do that. That’s why I was so happy when I discovered that out there are small online communities of people sharing the same passion for scented things. And they are so eager to help each other.

Not only they talked about perfume, shared their scent of the day, posted interesting articles or latest new perfume announcements. They were also exchanging stuff. That’s how I discovered swaps. To me swaps are one of the coolest things within perfume community. At the moment I have few drawers overflowing with samples and there are many that I didn’t like. Why keep them forgotten while they can give a thrill to somebody else. Swapping makes both of the sides happy, especially because you know that in exchange you’ll get something you’ve been wanting to try.

In addition to making new discoveries and getting numerous new lemmings via swapping I also made friends in the process as there are people who swapped with me several times over the years. I usually exchange samples, sometimes decants if I have a fuller bottle & I know it’ll take me ages to make it empty. It really is a great way to broaden your perfume collection without committing to full bottle of every perfume you truly like. Of course decants are not as pretty as perfume flacons but in the end what really matters is inside. Have you ever joined a perfume swap? What was your experience? Is there any perfume you’d like to swap now & what would you like to get in return?

[note] photo of Hermes Eau de Neroli Dore – my own, all rights reserved.

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20 thoughts on “Swap me if you can

  1. Ines says:

    I love swapping. 😀 It’s exactly as you said, you can enlarge the collection you have without spending much money (just the postal expenses) and gain new friends. It’s a win-win situation. 😉 That said, I haven’t had any lemmings for a while now, until recently I realized I really want several of the Aedes de Venustas perfumes.

    • lucasai says:

      Hi Ines. Long time no see, hope you’re well.

      Yes, exactly! If you swap for decants or samples your only expense is postal cost plus maybe the cost of a bottle you decanted your perfume into.

      Win-win is a great way to describe it.

      I love Aedes, I have 2 bottles of their perfumes 🙂

      • Ines says:

        Yes, I’ve missing from all spheres of life it seems. Thank you, I’m fine with the tendency toward really well. 😉
        I keep forgetting about decants, I always have some spare at home so they don’t seem like expense of the package. 😀
        Now I need to ask which bottles you have? I wonder if we have similar Aedes taste. 😉

        • lucasai says:

          Glad to hear that!

          I have Cierge de Lune and Pelargonium, plus one travel spray of Iris Nazarena

          • Ines says:

            My favorites are Iris Nazarena, Palissandre d’Or and Oillet Bengale. Copal Azur isn’t bad either. 😉 I don’t remember smelling the two you have, I’ll have to go and check them (they have them close to where I live).

  2. Undina says:

    I stopped buying samples a long-long time ago and do it about 2-3 times a year, only when I really want to try something and have no other way of doing that or, more often, if I tried something at a store, liked it but couldn’t get a sample – in that case I might pay for a sample or small decant to wear perfume and decide if I want a bottle.

    I did some “real” swaps in my early blogging days but I do not do it any longer. I prefer friendly perfume exchanges with people I know. My criteria is: I want to “swap” only with those, to whom I wouldn’t mind sending whatever I’m sending without getting anything in return (and who seem to be taking it the same way). It removes the pressure to estimate the value of items being exchanged. But, in general, I think we should “stick it” to the decanting sites and brands that do not “return” the price of samples in the full bottle purchase and exchange unloved or small decanted samples with each other.

    • lucasai says:

      That sounds very reasonable.

      That’s a nice attitude. Sure it’s nicer to exchange with people you know (like we do our exchanges every now and then)
      Unfortunately not all have access to decanting websites. In Poland perfumeries that carry niche offer samples of what they have in offer but there is no general place to get them all online. If it wasn’t for swaps I would never had a chance to try Chanel exclusifs or other boutique fragrances, because these fashion brands don’t have a single boutique in whole Poland…

    • chocolatemarzipan8 says:

      Your last sentence…YES!!!!

  3. hajusuuri says:

    At the last NST Swapmeet, I gave the option of swapping my perfumes for them donating $s to a not for profit of their choice focusing on the arts and/or education. I did not impose an amount and I did not ask for proof of payment. Many who participated already donate to charity and they just increased their next donation, while others chose a new one / new cause. Win win win in many ways! The NFP gets $s, my swap partner gets what s/he wants and I lighten my overload of perfumes (that I otherwise would not want to just include in my freebies because they are more desirable and worth more).

  4. chocolatemarzipan8 says:

    For financial reasons I am still on a very restricted “no buy” so I haven’t bought samples or decants in ages. I am a bit apprehensive about exchanging with strangers. My dearest friend has sent me a subtantially large amount of samples and decants and I am happily exploring those and passing them on to family members/close friends IRL who are also really into fragrances. I have one other person I feel safe and comfortable with exchanging from time to time but she has an extensive collection so it isn’t always easy to offer up something that she may want or need. (however, I do have four decants that I will be sending to her as soon as the weather cools down). In the distant past I have shipped numerous packages across the globe but no longer do so. The time , energy and money (decant supplies/shipping/ insurance/ etc) became too much for me to handle. Like Undina, I prefer to keep it simple and keep the exchange at a minimum with folks I really know.

  5. geordie04 says:

    I’m in Germany, and someone commenting on boisdejasmin a while back recommended the German parfumo forum as a way of swapping samples and buying decants. I joined, was completely newfangled and overwhelmed for a year, then took the plunge and have since tested literally hundreds and hundreds of perfumes via swaps, splits, wandering samples sets, purchases and gifts.

    My latest swap was with someone from Ireland who I now consider a friend (we’ve never actually met): I sent Naja and House of Matriarch, she sent House of Matriarch and !!Aftelier!! samples, we were both thrilled & both included extras (and I still feel guilty at forgetting her gorgeous dog in the package — mine was very excited to find a dental chew in the parcel).

    I would never have blind-bought Naja in the first place if it hadn’t been for parfumo — I knew I would be able to sell it on at little loss if it wasn’t the thing for me (which is what happened: I sent a sample to a parfumo friend, who loved it and took the bottle off my hands).

    Similar with House of Matriarch: the 50% discount I built up so gradually & arduously with relatively small purchases is now being maintained through joint orders with other parfumo members, which makes full-bottle purchases more feasible for me and also opens up the market a bit for HoM.

    I’m sorry, I’m going off-topic… to come back to samples swaps: someone else on parfumo has just started a “natural perfume” swapping circle: we all order samples from a particular brand, test them, write about them and send them on to someone else in the circle to do the same. I’ve ordered a whole load of “minis” from D. Dubrana / La Via del Profumo, which I would never have done just for myself (and which Mr. D was kind enough to give us a discount on after he checked out the forum). In return I will be able to sample perfumes from For Strange Women, Juniper Ridge, Sweet Anthem snd several more houses that would otherwise seem impossibly exotic.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the other posters who have said that swapping is only enjoyable when you’re happy to give without counting. I was lucky to experience huge generosity in my early swapping/buying days and am now very happy to keep kindling that spirit myself… for swaps, though, I do tend to stick to people I know now.

  6. hajusuuri says:

    I just realized something from the Natural Perfumes circle comment by geordie04! I started a Discovery Ser traveling program with my Jo Loves and April Aromatics set. Basically, I send the set to someone with a requirement that they use enough to test and leave enough for at least one more round of testing AND they also agree to send the full set back to me or someone else in the U.S. It is on hold for now as I don’t like mailing perfumes in hot weather.

  7. I have done a few swaps and a few people have sent me things which has been great. I do find it easier to just bring something along when you meet a perfume person, although when you’re travelling with hand luggage this is near impossible as hardly anything fits into the plastic bag. I am increasingly reticent to spend on samples now as it adds up really quickly and I have enough perfume for life and beyond. I’d rather spend the money on something I love non perfume or non perfume related rather than a whole set where I might only like 2 samples. Anyway I just think you move through the need to smell everything that has been created after a couple of years. The brands I like though, I’m always keen to get hold of them anyway I can!

  8. tiffanie says:

    Enjoyed your recent L’Artisan review very much. Might there be a review of Un Air de Bretagne coming someday?

    Swaps are great fun. I too would rather swap or give away samples to decrease the number of them here at my home. And swapping has been very helpful to me personally. It helps me to step out of my usual quiet introverted life to share perfumes with friends face to face as well as through the mail.

    Love the travelling samples idea. I have a sample set from an Italian perfume house that I haven’t tried though they have been waiting on my desk a long time. I must set a goal for myself to try all the fragrances in the set within the next few weeks. Then in September I will send them to someone and encourage them to pass them on again if they would like to.

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