Debate Monday: Dabbing vs. spraying

Happy Monday, y’all! Well, it only happens once in a while, but it seems I’ve just met another one of those scents that brings up the old dabbing vs. spraying debate. Although many (most?) of us would probably agree that sprayed is usually the way to go to fully enjoy and experience a scent, I seem to hit a skid periodically where I find a fragrance that demands that I dab it. And I reached that point with a recent fragrance love: Tom Ford’s Vanille Fatale (which our dear Patty has been loving and wearing a lot lately).

My first sample of it was a spray, and although I really liked, it was just a wee bit too “much,” if you know what I mean? And when it mellowed a little, it was great; just that initial “whoosh” of scent was somewhat overpowering. But shortly afterward, I got hold of a sample vial and yes! So lovely. The softer application of dabbing made it easier for me to enjoy it at my leisure, to parse out the notes better and just take it in more gradually and enjoy its warmth and gentle, boozy spice.

Another fragrance that sparked the dabbing / spraying debate in the past: MFK’s Ciel de Gum. After going through one dab sample vial, I snagged another one, and midway through that one, I decided to splurge and get a spray decant. I was hoping it would live up to my previous experience and just keep the love going stronger longer, but …

Just as some years ago, Amouage’s Beloved Woman sprayed seemed a little off-putting in its first spritz on me, so, too, did the Ciel de Gum. It seemed to be missing a tad of its charm and its smoothness, replaced by something a bit more sharp and brash. Almost as if the tippy-top notes disagreed and were duking it out on my wrist as they landed straight out of the sprayer.

Thankfully, though, just as with the Beloved and Ciel de Gum, the Vanille Fatale does settle down and return to its remembered loveliness fairly quickly.

Now that I know this, it’s a great relief for me that I can keep getting dab samples, enjoy to my heart’s content, and happily re-apply as often as I’d like.

What about you — what scents do you wear that just seem to do better with a wee bit of dabbing to the wrist and other pulse points? Or are you a diehard member of the “spray big or go home” school?

  • Jennifer S. says:

    EL Azuree is one that must be dabbed for me. I have a small sample which I’ve always dabbed and decided to get a larger sample size in spray form and yes….different enough when sprayed that I won’t wear it this way!

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    Interesting. Maybe why that is why it seems sometimes I test a dabber sample, decide the experience requires a bottle purchase, then am ultimately disappointed.

  • morejasmineplease says:

    Interesting to hear these comments that some leathers are better when dabbed. I recently picked up Tauer Lonesome Memories and I didn’t fall for it as much as I had hoped to, but perhaps if I try dabbing?

    I had a sample vs FB experience that still puzzles me. I first tried Killian Love & Tears from a manufacturer’s spray sample and almost died it was so good (see username!!) but when I got a FB it never ever did anything for me no matter how much or how little I sprayed. Never tried dabbing though! Maybe that’s the secret. I might also have to revisit the VF via dabbing too!

  • HeidiC says:

    I hear you on the MFK Ciel de GUM! I love leather perfumes this time of year, but a lot of those, especially the vintage ones — Bandit, Cuir de Russie, Tabac Blond — are dabbers, though I’m fine with spraying Cuir de Lancome and Cuir Beluga, maybe since they’re more snuggly. Recently, I snagged a partial bottle of vintage Azuree for cheap at an estate sale, which I’d never sniffed but had heard great things about. It’s a spray bottle, and I spritzed the tiniest spritz on one wrist to test, and OMG YOU CAN SMELL IT FOR DAYS. I mean, I love it, but it’s a doozy!

  • Maya says:

    I just got a nice little laugh because I do exactly what you do Taxi . Great minds DO think alike. The only thing to add is that after falling in love with a dabbing fragrance sample and then buying the spray bottle, I used to be confused. The spray did not smell quite the same as the dab. It was subtle but there. I quickly realized that the perfume was the same. It was simply the initial effect that was a little bit different.

  • Musette says:

    Interesting question! I’ve never given it much thought, though I do find that most vintage perfumes (in a non-spray) require non-spraying! I can’t imagine spraying my vintage No5 perfume, for example!


  • Taxi says:

    Simple for me – I spray whatever comes in a spray bottle. Extraits & parfums in non-spray bottles I just put the opening against my skin & twist my body around to tip the juice where I want to put it-maybe back of knees, upper abdomen, side of neck. Like playing twister. If I put it on my finger to dab, it seems wasteful because I either have to use too much on my finger or rub the juice around. The only way I don’t like to apply parfum is by having to put it on my finger first.

    Light non-spray colognes are fine to pour into my palm & pat where I want it.

    Clive Christian X is in a spray bottle & I have trouble getting just a tiny bit. Too much of this is not a good thing.

  • Tara C says:

    The ones you mention are scents I can barely smell even with copious spraying! Must be anosmic. I dab very few things: Onda extrait, SL Cuir Mauresque and Prada Cuir Ambre. I wear a lot of sprays of most things.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    Extraits I dab but everything else, I spray. Not too many perfumes come with the option of dabbing or spraying anymore. L’Heure Bleu is one that has to be dabbed, pity that I can’t afford the extrait version. There are a few in my collection where one spray is enough and some that you can get away with 2 or 3.