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.