What Do You Do With Gifted Perfumes You Don’t Like?

Perfumes On A Shelf

Come each season of gift-giving (e.g Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc), we’re inundated with advertised suggestions on perfumes to buy for your loved ones. As a beauty blogger, I get press releases on suggestions for gift guides on what fragrances to buy for the people in your life.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like giving fragrances as gifts.

Fragrances are, by nature, very subjective to individuals. What I like may not be what you like, and vice versa. That super expensive perfume that you adore may be something that I really dislike. My super cheap Impulse deodorant spray may irritate your senses. What if I got you something that you don’t like?

You get the picture.

The thing is, what do you do with gifted perfumes you don’t like?

Whenever possible, I avoid giving perfumes as gifts, especially if it’s something the person has never heard of before. When I do give someone a perfume, I make sure that the person actually likes the perfume first before I buy it for him/her. I seldom buy fragrances for Tim unless he’s actually smelled them because what I like may not be what he likes.

When Tim and I were dating, he once got me a Calvin Klein Euphoria for Women EDT. As we were still new into the relationship, he had no idea what my taste in fragrances was like. I really didn’t like that perfume at all. It was far too musky and spicy for my taste; it wasn’t the type of perfume I’d wear. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that at the time so I said it was lovely. I wore it a handful of times out of guilt and to date, that almost-full bottle is still sitting in my drawer back at my folks’ in Malaysia.

When brands send me fragrances to review or mention on the blog, I keep it sealed and untouched until I’ve actually smelled the perfume in store. If I opened it and found that I didn’t like it, it would be a waste of a perfume because I can’t give it away to someone else who would appreciate the scent more than I do. Okay, technically, I can, but I still prefer to give it away brand new and unopened whenever possible.

For opened fragrances that I’m not a fan of, I use it to scent a room. Even though I don’t like it on me, it doesn’t mean that I can’t use it to make the room smell better. I would often mist the curtains (don’t spray directly onto the curtains as the liquid may stain) or the blinds. This way, the perfume is not wasted and I’m still using it albeit not on me.

Even if the perfume is very expensive, it doesn’t mean much to me if I can’t wear it at all. If I’m not able to give it away to family or friends, I’d keep it as a decorative ornament if it comes in an attractive bottle. I have a couple of Tom Ford fragrances that were gifted to me but I can’t wear them as they’re too strong and spicy for my liking. However, the packaging is so sophisticated that I use it as part of my home office decor. The same goes for Chanel No 5. I can’t stand the perfume but the bottle is so classy that I use it to decorate my bookshelf. What can I say, I’m a sucker for pretty packaging. 🙂

My family and friends rarely give me fragrances as gifts these days and I’m very thankful for it. Even Tim knows better than to buy me perfume. If I discovered something that I really liked, I’m more than happy to buy it myself. I cannot give away perfumes that are given to me by loved ones, even if I’m not a fan of the scent. Most hold far too much sentimental value for me to let them go.

What about you? What do you do with gifted perfumes that you don’t like? Do you still use them? Do you give them away?

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21 comments… add one
  1. Yuri

    Love the post! I didn’t like perfume until my sister gave me one from Marc Jacobs (I think is the daisy one) I usually keep the ones I don’t like in the bathroom and use it.

    1. Tine

      Ahh the original Daisy? I love that one!

  2. MonicaP

    I use to bring lightly used perfumes to work, leave the bottles in the bathroom, add a post-it note that said “free” and the perfume was usually gone by the time I used the rest room again .. lol.

    I like the room freshener idea .. now that I’m not working .. I’ll have to be more careful with the perfumes that I buy. I usually try them out at Sephora or Ulta a few times before purchasing though 🙂

    MonicaP recently posted..NYDJ Crop Denim PantsMy Profile

    1. Tine

      That’s a great idea! I don’t work in an office any more so I can’t do that but what I’d do is pass some of the beauty products that were sent to me that I don’t use and are unopened to a friend of mine, who will do what you do. Leave them in her office restroom with a note “free to a good home”. All of the items would be gone by the time she’s back at the loo. 🙂

      I need to test a perfume over and over before I buy. I’d normally spray onto cards whenever I’m in store and on myself. If, after at least 5 times I’ve done this and I still love the perfume, I’d buy it. If I forget about it after 1-2 times, then it’s not meant to be.

  3. Allison

    A long time ago, a close (gay male) friend of mine gave me a fragrance set for Christmas. I was so shocked because everyone usually knows better than to give me perfume unless they know exactly what I wear. I regret that I must have said something rather negative. Fortunately, he has long since forgotten that, or at least I hope he has! I don’t know what happened to it. It’s probably kicking around my house. I like Monica’s idea but I don’t work in an office!
    Allison recently posted..Sneak Peak: Exuviance Bionic Oxygen FacialMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Awwwww! Hahaha if you guys are still on talking terms, then I’m sure he’s forgotten about it. Or at least, he’s forgiven you. 😛
      I don’t work in an office as well so I can’t do what Monica does. But what I do is pass them on to a friend who will put them in her office restroom, Post-it and all! 😛

  4. Lara

    I use them as linen sprays – The Body Shop’s Christmas apple perfume might not work on my skin, but it’s a gorgeous guest room pick-me-up! – or, just as often, pass them along to friends, family and co-workers. If they don’t care for the perfume maybe their mum will, or a friend of friend, or someone in their social circles. There’s always someone out there who will like a particular juice, but sometimes it takes a little bit of social engineering to make sure it gets into their hands!
    Lara recently posted..Frank Body Face Range ReviewMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Ahh that’s such a lovely idea! I know the one you mean. I have a similar one by Bath and Body Works too. It doesn’t work well on my skin but when I spray it on the home office blinds, it’s so good! It’s a bit difficult for me to pass stuff along to friends since most of mine are beauty bloggers themselves and they don’t want extra beauty stuff. 😛 😛

  5. Lucia

    I re gift them if I can… tacky?

    1. Tine

      If they’re unopened and still sealed, I don’t see why not. It would be a waste if you won’t use it because you don’t like it. Keeping it out of guilt doesn’t do the gifter any favours either. 🙂

  6. Norlin

    Perfumes are so personal and difficult to buy for others unless you know them enough. I did get one that I didn’t like and knew the scent before I’ve opened it. I gave it away to someone I knew who loved the scent. So far I’ve been lucky with buying for Mr. C because he likes what I like on him hahaha… Men’s fragrance are so easy anyway. They smell the same most of the time.
    Norlin recently posted..Birthday Giveaway Week – Baubles, Bubbles & Bags AccessoriesMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Me too. I’ll always want to check the scent out in store first before ripping the packaging apart. I have several bottles of barely touched perfume that were given to me. Made the mistake of not testing them out first.

      I’m very particular about Tim’s perfumes. He now knows better than to wear anything I haven’t smelled nor approve of first. Perfumes invoke powerful memories and there are some perfumes that I insist he cannot ever wear because they remind me of bad times. Funny thing though; I bought him a perfume several years ago which I really liked back then. Last week he wore it again after almost a year of not touching it and I hate it!

  7. gio

    I have so many scents I don’t like. I’m into strong, heady, and unusual perfumes, so different from what you can find in department stores these days. So, if I don’t pick a perfume myself, chances are I won’t enjoy it much. When I receive one, I usually give them to friends. If I think they’ll like it, I’ll ask them to sniff them. If I’m right, they’ll take it home.
    gio recently posted..Latest Hair Obsession: Sienna Naturals Moisturizing Leave-In ConditionerMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Departmental store perfumes are so similar to each other these days that it’s getting hard to tell what’s what. I’ll do the same as you as well. If I think a friend likes it, I’ll get him/her to sniff it. As soon as they say “ooh nice!” then I’ll immediately say “it’s yours. Take it home!” 😛

  8. Joyce | bronzer bunny

    i’m so so picky about perfume, but fortunately no one gives me any for holidays etc. i’ve very rarely been gifted perfumes for review, and usually they’re small anyway, so i haven’t had issues… But in general if i have pr samples i don’t like or just didn’t use i bring them to work or give them to friends/family. new or not, they are happy!
    Joyce | bronzer bunny recently posted..Sample Lovin’My Profile

    1. Tine

      If I was still working in an office, I’d do that too. Most of my friends are beauty bloggers; they don’t want more beauty stuff! 😛

  9. Bee Chin

    Tine, not sure you remember, you used to tell me what your mum said: 3 things women not to buy for ourselves. I broke the flower rule once I moved to Dresden, and looks like we can’t keep to perfumes too 🙂 I agree scent is a very personal thing, and I will wear the same one for a long time, and still have a couple of gifts lying around that I can’t throw yet won’t use. I can’t recall what’s the third thing we are not suppose to buy for ourselves, do you?

    1. Tine

      OMG I can’t believe you remember that! Yeah please forget that rule because I now think it’s bullshit. 😛 I buy my own flowers, buy my own diamond rings and whatever the heck the third one is, I’m sure I bought it myself too. Do you know that up to a couple of years ago, I still kept that Issey Miyake perfume Michelle gave me back in, I think, 2002? I had to chuck it in the end; it’s far past its expiry date. 😛

      1. Bee Chin

        Flowers, perfume and diamond rings! Well, I don’t wear rings as accessories, so never been tempted to buy 🙂 Yeah, I used to like Issey Miyaki when in Uni, I sometimes still check it out when walk by the display. I think is best perfume gift I got from was when the BF sneakily checked out the brand of the perfume I am wearing (from my bathroom) and bought a gift card from the brand, then I get to go to choose the scent I want (ended up with the same thing).

        1. Tine

          Hahaha very clever of him! 😉

  10. beautyrabbithole

    I would usually sell or swap the perfumes I don’t like. Usually I prefer to swap because in order to successfully sell used perfumes, I would have to price them really low, like 1/4 of the original prices. I’m a perfume addict so I enjoy receiving perfumes as gifts even if they might not be something I love as I get to try or swap them.

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