Buying Perfume – 9 Top Tips for a Perfect Purchase

Woman buying perfume, examining a bottle in each hand.

Buying perfume can be an overwhelming experience, with endless rows of bottles and countless fragrance varieties to choose from, but fear not! Armed with our expert tips, you’ll navigate your next purchase with confidence and enjoyment. 

Whether you’re strolling through a bustling boutique or browsing online from the comfort of your home, our guide will empower you to make informed decisions, so you can find the perfect fragrance that complements your personality and style. 

While we refer to “perfume” in this guide, we consider all fragrances to be unisex and gender-neutral. This guide applies to all fragrances, so embrace your individuality and explore the captivating world of fragrances with confidence. Happy scent hunting! 

  1. Understanding Your Preferences – Exploring Fragrance Families and Concentrations
  2. Consider the Occasion and Season
  3. Research, Read Reviews, and Make a List
  4. Consider Your Budget
  5. The Importance of Sampling Before Buying Perfume
  6. Sample Perfumes in Person
  7. Buy Perfume Samples Online
  8. Don’t Trust First Impressions
  9. Buy Online

1 – Understanding Your Preferences – Exploring Fragrance Families and Concentrations

Buying perfume is much easier with an understanding of the fragrance families and knowing which scents you prefer or dislike. 

Perfumes are generally categorized into the following fragrance families:

Perfume vials laying among citrus, pine, and vanilla.

Floral Family – The floral family is centered around the scents of flowers, capturing the essence of blooms like roses, jasmine, gardenia, and tuberose. These fragrances can evoke a sense of elegance and grace.

Ambery Family – The ambery family is known for its rich scents, featuring warm and spicy notes like vanilla, cinnamon, amber, and musk. These perfumes can evoke a sense of mystery and luxury.

Woody Family – The woody family revolves around earthy and woody notes, such as sandalwood, cedarwood, patchouli, and vetiver. These fragrances can evoke a sense of nature and sophistication.

Fresh Family – The fresh family focuses on clean and crisp scents, featuring citrus, green leaves, marine, and aquatic notes. These fragrances can evoke a sense of vitality and invigoration.

Check out our guide on fragrance notes for a more in-depth look at the fragrance family and perfume notes.

Consider the concentration of the perfume as well. Perfumes come in various concentrations, such as parfum, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne. 

These concentrations can differ in intensity and longevity and sometimes feature different notes as well. The most popular concentrations are Eau de Toilette, which is usually lighter and suitable for everyday wear, and Eau de Parfum, which can be richer, more intense, and longer lasting.

Check out our guide on fragrance concentrations to learn more!

2 – Consider the Occasion and Season

Keeping fragrance families and concentrations in mind, consider when and where you plan on wearing the perfume. Some scents are better suited for everyday use, while others are more appropriate for special events or evenings out. 

For example, if you are looking for an everyday work fragrance, you may want to choose a lighter fresh or floral Eau de Toilette. Or if you are looking for a special occasion or date-night fragrance, you may want to choose a rich ambery Eau de Parfum.

You may also want to consider the time of year, with some people preferring lighter, fresher scents during warm weather and richer, warmer scents in cold weather.

3 – Research, Read Reviews, and Make a List

There are many online resources that make researching perfumes an enjoyable part of the perfume-buying process.

Fragrantica is an impressive resource where you can find notes and user reviews for almost any perfume you can think of.

Retail websites, such as Sephora, also feature many helpful product reviews.

While researching, keep in mind that the note descriptions and fragrance families are a helpful starting point, but they are no substitute for actually smelling a perfume. 

Make a list of fragrances that interest you, and don’t be scared to experiment and go outside of your usual comfort zone!

4 – Consider Your Budget

Before buying perfume, it is wise to set a budget. Fragrances come in a wide range of price points, from affordable options to designer and niche scents that can be quite expensive. Knowing your budget will help you focus on fragrances that align with your financial considerations and prevent overspending.

While some high-end designer and niche perfumes can be more expensive, they often boast exquisite craftsmanship and premium ingredients, which may result in better longevity and offer a unique olfactory experience. 

However, this doesn’t mean that budget-friendly options lack quality or appeal. Many affordable perfumes offer impressive formulations that can rival more expensive counterparts. Numerous budget-friendly fragrances excel at mimicking expensive counterparts, capturing the same essence of the fragrance with impressive accuracy.

5 – The Importance of Sampling Before Buying Perfume

Many perfume samples.
A few of my current samples.

Sampling is an essential step in the perfume-buying process. Fragrance selection is very personal, and you want to avoid buying a perfume that triggers headaches or fades away too fast, leaving you unsatisfied.

Fragrances can also smell different on different people. Each individual’s unique body chemistry interacts with the perfume’s ingredients, creating a distinct and personalized scent. The perfume that smells amazing on your friend may not smell the same on you, and vice versa.

Embrace the adventure of exploring different scents, noting down your impressions as you go.

Samples can be obtained either in person or online. 

6 – Sample Perfumes in Person

Woman buying perfume, smelling a test strip.

Make a short list of 3 perfumes that you want to sample and head to your favorite perfume store. 

While it is tempting to smell all of the perfumes, you don’t want to overwhelm your senses and experience olfactory fatigue, also known as nose blindness, where your sense of smell becomes temporarily diminished.

To form a first impression, use the test strips supplied by the store. Spray each perfume on a test strip and allow it to dry before smelling it with short inhales from a bit of a distance. Feel free to take these home as well.

Choose the 2 perfumes you like the best and spray them on the skin of your forearm, one on each arm. This will allow the fragrance to properly develop in order to form an accurate opinion.

At this point, leave the store! 

Do not base your opinion on the top notes, or the first impression of the fragrance. It is crucial to allow it to dry down, as the middle and base notes are what you will be smelling the majority of the time that you wear the fragrance.

7 – Buy Perfume Samples Online

Buying perfume samples online is a great option for those who don’t like to feel pressured in person in stores. It also allows you to take your time and sample one fragrance at a time.

Samples can be purchased from online stores such as Fragrancenet, Twisted Lily, Scent Split, and MicroPerfumes. Fragrancenet sells official samples, and Twisted Lily, Scent Split, MicroPerfumes sell genuine fragrances that have independently rebottled and repacked. Many online retail stores such as Sephora also offer samples free with online purchases.

Testing samples at home is ideal, as you can sample the fragrance multiple times. It is best to not trust first impressions and to wear the fragrance multiple times before making a final decision. 

More than once, I have initially disliked a fragrance, only to have it grow on me and become one of my favorites.

8 – Don’t Trust First Impressions

This is important enough to state again, don’t trust your first impressions when buying perfume!

The top notes of a fragrance fade away after the first 30 minutes, and the heart of the fragrance will reveal itself over the next few hours. The middle notes and base notes are what you will be smelling the majority of the time that you wear a perfume.

Allowing the perfume to fully develop will allow you to assess its longevity and form an accurate opinion of the fragrance as a whole.

9 – Buy Online

Buying perfume online offers many benefits. You can browse for as long as you want, avoid sales pressure, research further, and read reviews. Online retailers often offer a broader selection and lower prices as well.

Be sure to research and buy from reputable sources. My personal favorite online retailers are Scent Split, MicroPerfumes, FragranceNet and Sephora. Twisted Lily is a great resource for harder to find niche fragrances. Amazon can be a good resource as well, just be sure to look into the vendor’s past feedback and customer reviews to be sure they are trustworthy.

If you decide on buying perfume in person, take note of the sales associate who made your shopping experience enjoyable, and whenever feasible, consider buying from them. Many sales associates earn commission, so supporting the one who provided excellent service can be a thoughtful gesture.

What Next?

Armed with these nine essential tips, you can now approach buying perfume with confidence and find the perfect scent that complements your style, personality, and occasion.

Check out our guide on how to store perfume and learn how to keep your new scent as fresh as the day you bought it. 

If you are looking to buy perfume as a gift for a loved one, we have you covered as well!

1 thought on “Buying Perfume – 9 Top Tips for a Perfect Purchase”

  1. My brother want to purchase perfume for his girlfriend. Thank you for the advice that, while scents vary widely in price, it’s a good idea to establish a budget before making a purchase. I’ll make sure to let him know about this, remind him to keep an eye out, and look up stores that can assist him in making the best purchase.


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