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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My favourite fragrance is discontinued...now what?

Having your favourite beauty product discontinued is akin to been betrayed by a trusted friend. The pain is acute, even if the matter is not so serious. When it comes to fragrance, and even more a signature fragrance, then the issue becomes a bit more alarming. There is a feeling of not being able to find a substitute, of disillusionment, of never being able to be identified by the smell people have been associating with you for so long. What to do? Luckily there are some tips which might help, same as with other beauty products.

The first place to go to track down a much-missed favourite is the manufacturer:
Call the brand’s customer-service department to ask about potential leftover inventory, upgraded formulas/names or comparable substitutes.
For Estée Lauder brands: You can find products discontinued in the last 24 months through the company’s Gone but Not Forgotten program; you can buy up to six pieces, depending on availability. Call 800-216-7173 to start your search. Other companies who sell discontinued items on their site—Lancome-usa.com, and Moltonbrown.com. Some brands such as Clinique.com, 0r Lancome-usa.com feature online alerts, so customers have fair warning when discontinued goods are disappearing. Don't say it came out of the blue!

If the manufacturer is unable to track down an old fave, here is a site worth checking out:
Vermontcountrystore.com: Its niche is hard-to-find items, and customer service will track down products for which they get a lot of requests, even if the site doesn’t carry them. When an item is no longer manufactured and demand is sufficient, the site buys an original formula and reproduces. Also NellButler.com has several older items which might have disappeared from other online stores. You might have to ask an email about price and availability, but it's worth it to track down something elusive.
If you still have no luck, you should try: Ebay.com, Amazon.com and Overstock.com: These sites can list discontinued products because they work with private individuals who might have the items you're asking for. Since the goods offered come from third parties, however there’s always the risk that a product is old or wasn’t stored or shipped properly, so read the fine print carefully regarding any return policy before ordering and ask questions to the seller. An honest and reliable seller is never afraid or reluctant to answer your queries, on the contrary they welcome them as it means you're seriously thinking of buying their merchandise.
Makeupalley.com: You can find in-depth information on tons of products, including discontinued ones, at this social community of beauty-product consumers. You can post a product request on the Swap Board; if another member owns the item, you can negotiate a trade. Check out Scents Splits too: this site works with members of MakeupAlley -and a couple other perfume boards- who are either "splitting" their bottles (this means they share the juice with other interested parties, decanting by hand into vials and negotiating prices and shipping to you) or selling bottles, full or partial. If you see something tagged as vintage it means it's either discontinued or the formula has changed irrevocably ~usually, although not always~ for the worse. Again you can ask questions and negotiate a deal for what you want. Last but not least, there is The Fragrance Foundation: For detailed information on just about any fragrance that’s ever existed, go to fragrancefoundation.org and click on Fragrance Directory.

More tips on May 2009 issue of ShopSmart.

18 comments:

  1. Nice review, Helg, gives hope. I'd add - use preventive measures - don't get attached to just one fragrance - have at least 10 of them and replace the fragrances from time to time :o) And if you get completely desperate - ah, find a formula and make it yourself :o) By the way, is there still an art of duplication? Not the modern variant when the fragrance is CG'ed and reconstructed, but an old one, like Octavian mentions http://1000fragrances.blogspot.com/2009/02/art-of-duplication.html or like what they do in Osmotheque?

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  2. Great write-up, as always, E! I always stock up if I love a perfume very much (Sotto Voce by Biagiotti is one such scent). I am lucky also to have a local dealer who stocks up all sorts of discontinued scents like vintage Mitsouko and No 19 parfum in the extraits! I always call them up and they seem to have the rarest stuff (if only they had Venezia... sigh!). If anyone is looking for anything discontinued, let me know. I would be more than pleased to check for you.

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    1. I am heartbroken over Estee' super cologne spray no longer available. I have not found anything even similar...Something in this uplifted me, yet relaxed me at the same time. I actually feel off balance without it! Knowing also was able to give me that feeling that lingered on...But for so many years everything I owned and every room I left smelled like me, when I wore Estee'...I feel depressed over this, as crazy as that sounds! Is there any other smell out there similar to Estee' (super cologne spray)which I have not found?

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  3. I still wish I could find a bottle of the Chanel foundation that I like. The color was perfect.

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  4. I think this whole issue drives at least 50% of my perfume purchases. I bought a second bottle of Fendi Donna the other day, which I don't even like that much--but it's been discontinued, and what if I decide a year from now, when all the stock is gone, that I love it? Insanity...

    The Vermont Country Store gets a lot of criticism for being overpriced (not unjustified, BTW), but they really will try to track down an elusive perfume, and the same goes for NellButler.com. I have gotten excellent service from both places.

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  5. Thank you Max! I thought these were worth sharing, as someone might be completely stumped as to where to begin searching.
    L'Osmotheque is a special case in that they actually use the official formula by defunct companies so the approximation is academically and practically faultless. On the other hand, a talented perfumer provided with a smidge of a discontinued fragance might do their own approximation for a client. In fact I know several who do, when asked for it as a custom-made commission.
    And there must be a hundred "dupe- producing companies, who although usually cater for some best-selling frags, at the rate things are getting discontinued, they might have some things that have got defunct in the meantime.
    Not to mention the Long Lost perfumes brand. ;-)

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  6. T,

    thanks, and of course you're wise to do that. Who knows what will last and what will not? There are some mind-boggling instances for sure(who would have thought Theorema wouldn't sell like hot-cakes???)
    Your local dealer is notorious for what they have!! :-)

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  7. Fiordiligi14:56

    This article definitely touched a sensitive nerve with me! I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to track down my beloved old Guerlains, in particular. They can never be replicated!

    Thank you, too, for listing more resources. I can hear my bank account screaming for mercy already!

    Thanks so much as usual for such an informative piece, my dear.

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  8. Karin,

    I think your best bet would be to email Chanel directly, cite your product and ask for possible stock in any store they might know of.
    Barring that, you can use www.threecustom.com (if you still have a smidge of that foundation, you can send it to them and they replicate it for you!)
    Hope that helps!

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  9. M,

    aint that the truth!! I have been hoarding these past two years like I never have in my life, utterly crazy. I realised that nothing is a constant in this perfume world and so many of the things I like and love are getting axed or changed for ever :-(
    I can definitely see what you mean about the Fendi Donna. Not my fav either and then I think, should I stock up on anything Fendi now I can, before it's too late?

    Glad to see that my recs on VCS and NB are not without satisfied customers! Yes, prices can be a little stiff, but the elation on finding something forgotten is too much to let money ruin it :-)

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  10. D,

    thank you my sweetie for being so kind and of course nothing can truly duplicate a beloved frag, yet it's something to be able to have something very, very close to it at least.

    I do hope companies get some sense and provide a service of having the formula and the old ingredients at hand for mixing for a few old-core customers ~even in plain bottles or refills or something; as a special "prive" service. Imagine how much those loyal customers would advertise the brand by word of mouth, due to that simple act!

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  11. Hooray for information gathered in one place...very nice of you, Helg.

    Funny...I first became familiar with Vermont Country Store because of *other* hard to get items...candy...and dress shields! (Was trying to explain to somebody what they were....)

    You've got No. 19 in my head. Again. (Containing impulse to rampage until found in parfum...) ;)

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  12. You are a FINE girl scout, my dear !!!

    Max does speak the truth, alas...
    It is so dangerous to become too attached.
    Ah, me.

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  13. S.

    Now dress shields! Are they those things one placed under armpits to protect fine tailor-made dry-clean only dresses? My very well turned out grandma used to use them. Don't even know if they make them any more.
    No.19 is mighty fine in parfum. But I also love madly the Edt (very dry and fresh)

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  14. I,

    hi darling!

    It's a disease, trying to hoard that which has a finite life....Ah, but you comprehend!

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  15. Helg,
    Yes, indeed, those are the very thing! And you can get them from...yes...Vermont Country Store. (For a brief while, nearly a decade ago, they appeared in my local drugstore in a disposable version. Oh so briefly. They were a little ahead of the curve of more widespread concern about anti-perspirant effects, so I think they missed their market...not to mention that the same folks might not like "disposable" versions.)

    Going to go find No. 19 at Saks and try again; they do have the edt.

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  16. So those are the things!! Yeah, I bet they missed their market and it's a shame, because anti-persipirants do leave a mark so often...Disposable ones sound so practical! My granma had the maid sew the traditional ones up and then off every time and it was a time-waste.
    Looking forward to your impressions on the NO.19 parfum. :-))

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  17. I have a little ran from home company called hHer Favourite Things, which endeavours to source rare/discontinued beauty items incl perfumes. You can easily find us thru google, or facebook....just let us know what item you're looking for and let us do the legwork. We have sourced many items that people thought impossible to find! Our service is free and there's no obligation to buy.
    Catherine Harrison

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