shopping for perfume


You probably think that great cheap perfumes is an oxymoron. Before I fell down the rabbit hole in my perfume journey I used to believe this was true as well.


If you don’t know where to look, finding scents you love without breaking the bank can be a challenge. One thing I’ve learned from sniffing my way through everything from high-end perfume boutique finds to neighborhood drugstore varieties is that the price of a perfume often has little relationship to its quality.


You can easily spend $250 and up on what’s supposedly an amazing perfume but is it actually worth it? There’s no question in my mind that some perfumes are worth every penny but many definitely are not.


What most people don’t realize is that there are some really amazing perfumes that don’t cost a small fortune. Does the brand spend millions on marketing with top Hollywood actors as the face of the campaign? Duh!


Granted, there are some cheap perfumes that are cringe-worthy. There will always be a market for that, especially since some are celebrity-endorsed and a single Instagram post practically guarantees success. I’m not knocking all celebrity-based perfumes BTW since some are quite nice.


There are the suspiciously discounted perfumes you’ll find on Amazon. Often they’re laughably obvious fakes with either the name of the perfume spelled wrong or the bottle not looking quite right. Use common sense. If the bottle being sold is half the normal retail price that should raise a huge red flag. If the perfume’s price is too low – or just as often jacked up – and it has only one or two reviews, move on.


Whenever buying perfume at any price point you should always find out what the fragrance typically sells for. The quick and easy way is to go on the brand’s website and see what the perfume’s listed price is. As a general rule, never pay more than this!


You don’t necessarily have to shop at TJ Maxx or buy through discount perfume retailers to save money either. There are a number of fragrances out there that are very affordably priced. While their packaging may not rival Clive Christian or House of Sillage, the bottles don’t look cheap and tacky either.  Call me shallow but if a perfume’s bottle is a total turn-off I won’t even bother to sniff what’s inside. Ugly perfume bottles are a pet peeve of mine.


House of sillage perfume bottles

House of Sillage perfume bottles




Great perfumes cost more because their ingredients are higher quality, right? While not completely wrong it’s not entirely right either. We’ve been programmed into believing that expensive fragrances warrant their higher price tags due to their ingredients and the mastery of the perfumer but this is often not the case.


Not to call any one brand out but the reality is that some perfume prices reflect the most that people will pay. They’re betting on the fact that people will pay whatever the price is based upon brand recognition. Brand trust and loyalty can blind people into overpaying.


Don’t be afraid to try a fragrance brand that you’ve never heard of. There are many excellent but lesser known perfumes out there that use quality ingredients and smell amazing. All that matters is that you love it.




One of the biggest reasons it’s so hard to know if higher end perfumes are really worth it is the matter of materials used in its composition. Unlike food or beverage which is more closely regulated here in the U.S., the ingredients listed on a perfume label are only usually a partial list of what’s in the juice.  And even if the name of the fragrance includes materials that are very expensive – oud, ambergris and orris (iris) to name a few – there’s a strong likelihood that they contain the synthetic version. Although the synthetic versions may smell quite similar they cost much less than the real thing.


Many people don’t blink about paying thousands for designer clothing, so it’s no surprise that the high-end perfume market will always have a dedicated following. The cost is incidental and there will always those who mistakenly believe that a higher price dictates higher quality.


There are amazing fragrances out there for everyone at every price point.  Many choose their perfumes due to their emotional connection from an earlier time in their life when it was all that they could afford. 


The truth is that the .1 percent don’t always insist on wearing the latest, greatest and most expensive (many seem to be going sans perfume lately in fact).


The only good reason to buy perfume is that it makes your world a little brighter. It puts an extra spring in your step, gives a dazzle to your day and a sparkle to your nights out.




I tend to find a lot of these at stores like Anthropologie, which carry an eclectic mix of clothing as well as lifestyle products (perfume, lotions, candles, pillows etc.) They typically have a smallish area that carries brands not normally found at department stores or places like Sephora. Brands to check out at Anthropologie – depending where you live since choices vary by locale – are Anatomy of a Fragrance, Apotheke and Lake & Skye. They also carry brands like Kai and Child as well as higher end scents from brands such as Malin + Goetz and Calypso St.Barth.


Don’t discount nosing around for fragrances in your town’s local drugstore. In many small towns, independent and often family-owned pharmacies will promote handmade fragrances created by a local resident. The next time you’re out shopping at one see if they have a beauty and spa section. You may find a delightful discovery!




Bath & Body Works is a popular destination year-round but especially during the holidays. They carry a wide assortment of fragrances, body lotions, body sprays and shower gels at hard to beat prices. They sell a number of mini-perfume scents like Japanese Cherry Blossom, Lovely Dreamer and Warm Vanilla Sugar priced at just $12.50 each, with offers of Buy 3, Get 3 Free or buy 2, Get 1 Free.


The 3.4 oz colognes featuring yummy scents like Teakwood, Ocean, Freshwater and Bourbon are just $34.50 also with buy more and save offers. Their C.O.Bigelow Elixir Black and Elixir Green are sold in 2.5 oz bottles at just $19.50 apiece.


If you’re someone like me who never goes anywhere without a hand sanitizer in my bag (especially now the cold and flu season is upon us) you’ll need to check out their scented hand sanitizers. For just $6 a 5-pack you can stock up on fun scents like Hey Thanks! (a fuzzy mix of juicy mandarin, champagne and apples) or No Llama Drama (a tart mix of sparkling tangerine, red hibiscus and juicy passionfruit).


You really can’t beat Bath & Body Works prices especially when you take advantage of their promotional offers.




I’d been kind of in the dark about the Pacifica brand until a few years ago when a friend gifted me a body lotion and perfume.  Now that they’ve been on my radar I have to say that I’m impressed.  I’ve tried and love their Tahitian Garden but untested by me are their Himalayan Patchouli Berry, French Lilac, Sugared Amber Dream as well as 6 others which sound definitely worth a sniff!


Their Aromapower line-up includes spray perfumes, roll-ons and hair and body mist. The scents sound very enticing and include: Contact High, Dream State, Mind Control, Breath Taking and Hardcore (!)


The fragrances range from $22 – $24 a bottle plus you can score free samples with any purchase over $25. Visit their website to learn more here.

Wishing you a healthy, happy and safe week ahead. Yesterday’s violent massacre at the Pittsburgh synagogue was horrifying and has left me feeling deeply saddened. Like you, I’m praying for the victims, their loved ones and that these senseless tragedies will stop. It’s truly heartbreaking.








  1. Azogor says:

     I love perfumes and reading your article has given me a change of mindset. I recently upgraded from my signature scent and bought a more expensive perfume,  I liked it but honestly missed the old one. 

    Once I crossed the line into the more expensive territory, I realized that it was not as good as my long time buddy.

    Lesson learned: Never doubt what you love!

    • Erica says:

      Hi Azogor,

      You are so right about that. Memories and fragrance are so closely linked that an upgrades often don’t end well! I’m happy your are reuniting.

      Thanks for dropping by:)


  2. Kyle Ann Percival says:

    Hi Erica,

    Thanks for the tips on finding quality scents at reasonable prices. Now that I’m on a fixed income some of my more extravagant purchases have been re-categorized from “like to have” to “no way”!

    I prefer more woodsy/spicy scents in the winter and lean toward lighter florals in spring and summer. If the online description of the ingredients is specific enough I will take a chance and order, otherwise I like to actually smell a scent on my own skin before making a purchase. 

    I’m excited that Bath & Body Works is an option. I have been given samples of their scents as gifts and enjoyed them very much but kind of forgot all about their offering. I will be going to their website to get reacquainted!

    Kyle Ann

    • Erica says:

      Hi Kyle Ann,

      There are so many great options at every price point so don’t even think about the “no ways”. Definitely check out BBW but never order a fragrance – no matter how inexpensive – without trying it first. On your skin! This is something I’ve learned the hard way.

      Good luck and write back and tell me if you found any thing great!


  3. Jennifer David says:

    Hi Erica,

    This is a perfect read for this time of year so thanks for that. lol.

    I agree that you there are many perfumes out there are ideal for any pocket but sometimes it’s all about where to find them.  

    Cheap perfumes are not hard to find but good quality reasonably priced perfumes are and this is why I appreciate your article and guide on where to find them.

    I must add that Body Shop and Next are not bad in my opinion.

    I have shared this article on social media to get the info out there.

    Many thanks


    • Erica says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      How to find good perfumes and where to find them is something many people who follow my blog have been asking about. Cheap as used here only refers to cost, not quality! The Body Shop is another great avenue. Next isn’t one I know about here in the US. I’ve heard about Next in the UK but don’t now much about it so please let me know more.

      Thanks for sharing!


  4. Matthew says:

    I get my wife perfume every Christmas and I never spend more than $100 but I have been thinking lately that even that might be too much, does that make me sound like a Scrooge? Lol

    Bath and Body Works sounds like it’s worth checking out so thanks for this!

    • Erica says:

      Hey Matthew,

      You are definitely not in Scrooge category! People pay all kinds of prices for fragrance and there are many great ones under $100. Check BBW out  online but better yet go into the store nearest you and see what you like. 


  5. Reyhana says:

    I love Bath and Body Works! Just like you mentioned, there are always deals happening there and it’s awesome when you’re able to bundle and use them when you need them, instead of using them sparingly because you paid a bunch for it, like in the case where you buy brand name perfumes.

    I don’t only love their perfumes, but also because they usually have useful bundles, like having a shower gel bundled with the matching (same-scented) body lotion!

    Love it!

    • Erica says:

      Hey Reyhana,

      Me too! I sometimes layer a body lotion with a favorite perfume which helps to prolong the scent. It’s hard to pass on their specials especially this time of year.

      Peace and gratitude,


  6. Babsie Wagner says:

    Oh I was happy to see you mentioned Bath & Body Works!  Every Christmas, since my daughters were about 12, we took a trip to the mall twice a year (always at Christmas!) for a re-fill on all the great products!  They are so inexpensive, and they have luscious fragrances, and so many of them.  It’s a lot of fun to go around the store and smell all the fragrances!  Thanks for the great info!

    • Erica says:

      Hey Babsie,

      I’ve always loved Bath & Body Works but especially around the holidays! It tends to be a zoo but with very happy animals 😉

  7. Holly says:

    Thanks for this very helpful article! What would you recommend for something looking for a more natural perfume with less chemicals? What about a perfume with a nature-y scent that is very light? I’m glad you said I don’t need to spend $250 on a scent because I definitely can’t be doing that, lol! Looking forward to learning more about some reasonably priced perfumes!

    • Erica says:

      Hi Holly,

      Have you tried Pacifica? They’re gluten-free, 100% vegan and cruelty free. Plus their scents are very light! Check them out on the link in the article and let one know what you think once  you’ve had a chance to try one or two of them! 

      Thanks for dropping by!


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