Confessions of a Perfume Addict


Cue a typical Saturday night for me: I’m sitting at a table in a loft in Queens with two other girls, unwrapping a bubble-wrapped glass vial, dozens of which are already laid out on the table. Carefully, I open it, take a sniff and pass it to my friend, who does the same. She mumbles, “Damn, that’s good. How much?” I reply, “I got 5 milliliters for $15.” We had vague plans to go out later, but instead, we spend the next three hours passing vials back and forth, sniffing maniacally and taking detailed notes on an eight-page document.

Mom, dad, don’t worry — I don’t blame you if this sounds suspect, but I’m seriously not talking about drugs. In fact, this entire thing is pathetically G-rated. Hi, my name is Meg, and I have a serious problem with perfume.

I can’t really pinpoint an exact moment when this got out of control. In high school, I wore Clinique Happy and those ubiquitous sprays from Bath & Body Works, like any normal suburban teen in the late 90s. By college, I graduated to Burberry Brit and after that, I fell for Dior Addict. (The irony of the name doesn’t escape me here.) Then one day, I somehow wandered into Aedes de Venustas on Christopher Street, left with a bag of samples and the rest is history. More. I wanted more!

perfume samples

I’m sick. SICK.

I’m sheepishly on a first-name basis with the employees at a handful of perfumeries in New York City since I visit monthly. I’m sure the people at Luckyscent recognize my address at this point because I order so many samples. I spend hours reading forums, blogs and reviews. I deliberately subscribe to email newsletters. I have eBay alerts set up for certain vintage perfumes that I’m desperate to try. I had to create a “fragrance” category in my Mint account to keep my sample budget in check. I bought a shelf specifically to store my fragrances — the FBW ones, that is. (FBW: “Full-Bottle Worthy” as opposed to sample-worthy or decant-worthy — a decant being a larger sample vial, usually 5 or 10 milliliters.) When you’re buying new furniture to support a habit, it may be time to take stock of your priorities.

And did I mention the spreadsheet? It’s a shared Google document with two of my friends tracking the nearly 200 perfumes that we have sampled. When printed, it’s eight pages long, size nine font. There are columns for brand, scent, type, gender, notes, longevity, projection and our personal reactions to each. You think I’m kidding? You can see it in that photo, next to my friend Jenn’s samples, which she keeps in a storage box designed for bullets. The last update was made yesterday.

Most people text their friends about, I don’t know, plans for the evening or their personal lives or something, right? Here’s what my phone looks like: 

This is totally normal, right?

This is totally normal, right?

The world of perfume is an endless, fascinating rabbit hole to fall down. There’s so much to learn, so many scents that evoke strange memories, so many weird and wonderful characters to meet, so many hilarious reviews to read on Fragrantica. You start recognizing certain fragrances and the people who tend to wear them. (Did you just get a whiff of Le Labo Santal 33? It’s that dude over there in the A.P.C. jeans, I promise you.) The science and chemistry of it is fascinating, and the emotional response to certain scents is overwhelming. My friends and I aren’t alone in this — Alyssa Harad’s memoir Coming to My Senses is about how stumbling across a perfume blog eventually changed her life. I’m not crazy!

So look, cut me some slack. It’s just so easy to become obsessed. I’m a collector, not a hoarder. An enthusiast, if you will, but not an addict! And I know we had brunch plans this weekend, but could I get a rain check on that? Twisted Lily just got in the new Slumberhouse and I really need to go there to check it out.