I know this topic is a little dry but I wanted to clear up any confusion that some of you may have regarding perfume bottle sizes.
Perfumes are sold in a variety of bottle sizes which indicate the volume of fluid in the bottle, decant or vial of scent. They are typically measured in milliliters (ml) or ounces. When measured in ounces this is generally indicated by fl oz. or just oz. Perfumers can use one or the other but since most countries are metric you’ll commonly see the amount listed in millimeters instead of or in addition to ounces. To make matters confusing, there are US fl oz and UK fl oz but they are very similar. If the bottles don’t specifically say UK then it’s probably safe to assume that the US measure is used.
Here are some of the most common sizes you’ll come across:
0.05 fl oz – 1.5 ml This is basically a sample vial that you’ll receive when buying samples online or the size that you’ll likely be given if you ask for a sample politely at a perfume counter.
.17 fl oz – 5 ml This is the size of a Travalo spray atomizer which they state on their website will contain up to 65 sprays. It’s ideally suited to carry in a small purse when you’re out and about.
.08 fl oz – 15 ml This is typically the size of a thin and long purse spray.
1 fl oz – 30 ml This is a conventional size.
1.4 oz – 40 ml
1.7 oz – 50 ml This is a conventional size.
2 fl oz – 60 ml
3 fl oz – 90 ml
3.4 fl oz – 100 ml This is a conventional size.
4.2 fl oz – 125 ml
So now that you know what the typical perfume bottle sizes are you might want to know which is the best size to buy…
The answer is that it just depends. If you are buying a perfume for the first time then the rule of thumb is to stick with a smaller size. It could be something you smelled on someone else but haven’t actually tried on yourself. If it’s a true “blind buy” that led you to purchase the perfume after reading a glowing review on a magazine or on one of the many websites you frequent this should be your golden rule.
Most of us have made the mistake of falling prematurely in love with a perfume and later realize that there’s something about it after wearing it for awhile that really turns you off. Been there, done that, and may fall victim to my urges again but hope not. If you haven’t spent a fortune buying the biggest bottle around it’s less traumatic when you need to exile it permanently.
If you’re restocking an old favorite then go for the largest size you see since it will end up costing you less per ml. Even then, be sure and sample the perfume first since many perfumes are reformulated and the new version may be nothing like the old one. Perfumes don’t go bad very quickly as long as they’ve been properly stored and should last at least a year, often much longer.
When buying a perfume I know I love and will be wearing year-round, I usually buy the 3.4 oz size for my dresser and fill a Travalo with my beloved scent when traveling. And speaking of travel, the largest acceptable size for carry-on luggage seems to be 3.4 oz and it must be contained in a bag no larger than a quart size. After you’ve cleared security, you can bring any purchases you made at Duty Free on board flights even if this exceeds 3.4 oz as long as the seal on the packaging isn’t broken and you can present a receipt when asked. For checked baggage I’m not aware of any requirements but it’s always best to check with your airline before flying.
If the perfume is one that I anticipate wearing only part or the year – since it’s more of a warm weather or cold weather scent – sometimes I’ll buy the 1.7 oz. size instead of the 3.4.
Confession time: I’m sucker for tiny perfume bottles as evidenced in the teeny Van Cleef & Arpels First and Bottega Veneta Knot minis shown here. How cute are they? Often they come as a gift with purchase when you buy a full size bottle during promotional events and aren’t easy to find otherwise apart from on eBay.
Until the next time,