Which affordable perfumes are best?

If you think you’re paying more for everyday items lately, it’s not your imagination. Prices are going up on just about every product and service because of inflation — and fragrances are no exception. 

Perfume prices have skyrocketed, and many people are spending more than ever before on their signature scents. To offset increases, some fragrance enthusiasts are exploring budget-friendly alternatives, from affordable dupes to body sprays. While they might not be permanent replacements for favorite perfumes, they’re worth a look — and a smell. 

What you need to know about buying affordable fragrances

Why fragrances are expensive

Luxury fragrances, including scents by Tom Ford, Jo Malone and Chanel, can run as high as $200-$1,000 per bottle. Name recognition and bottle size aren’t the only factors that affect prices, either. Many high-priced perfumes include rare ingredients, such as essences from flowers and trees that are only found in one part of the world. And with supply chain disruptions, it’s only becoming harder to obtain these sought-after ingredients.

Are cheap perfumes good?

Cheap perfumes aren’t necessarily good or bad, as the appeal of each fragrance is highly subjective. Some people are loyal fans of affordable perfumes, whereas others prefer their tried-and-true luxury scents. 

And although cheap perfumes are often stigmatized, many of them actually contain the same ingredients as expensive perfumes. With that said, there are formulation differences that distinguish the two. The main difference between cheap and expensive perfumes is perfume oil concentration, which impacts scent longevity, quality and price. 

The higher the perfume oil concentration, the longer the wear time — and the more expensive the fragrance will be. Parfum has the highest perfume oil concentration, followed by eau de parfum and eau de toilette. That’s not to say that all eau de toilettes are priced the same; rather, it’s that they will be the least expensive option of a particular fragrance collection. Additionally, popular fragrance alternatives contain even lower concentrations of perfume oil. 

Affordable fragrance alternatives

With price increases on the horizon, many people have turned to affordable fragrance alternatives. Not only are they considering dupes — less expensive versions of luxury fragrances — but they’re also exploring new types of fragrances. 

  • Body spray: Like perfumes, body sprays have complex scent profiles derived from extracts, essences and herbs. They have a higher concentration of alcohol than perfume oil, making wear times shorter than perfume. 
  • Inexpensive perfumes: Many well-known designers and brands offer inexpensive perfumes, ranging from Adidas to Vera Wang to Ariana Grande. They cost a fraction of the price of luxury fragrances. 
  • Hair perfume: Hair perfume, as well as heavily scented hair products, have risen in popularity. Because they’re applied to hair and not absorbed into skin, scents can last for several hours. If you don’t shampoo your hair daily, scents may linger, albeit lightly, day after day. 

How to extend fragrance wear time  

There are a few ways to extend the wear times for affordable fragrances — and luxury ones, for that matter. Apply more than one complementary body spray or inexpensive perfume to intensify the overall scent. You can also invest in a perfume atomizer to reapply fragrance throughout the day. Another option is applying unscented lotion prior to fragrances, which may help the scent “stick” to skin longer than without it. 

How affordable are fragrances?

Most body sprays and scented hair products cost $15 and below; however, those made by prestige brands typically range from $18-$25. Inexpensive perfumes cost anywhere from $9-$50, depending on bottle size and formulation.

Best affordable alternatives to expensive perfumes

Ariana Grande Cloud Eau De Parfum

Ariana Grande Cloud Eau De Parfum

Although Cloud is one of the newest fragrances on the market, it’s quickly risen to cult favorite. The playful, dreamy scent features fruity and warm notes from lavender blossom, creme de coconut and musk. 

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Vera Wang Embrace- Lavender Tuberose Body Spray

Vera Wang Embrace: Lavender & Tuberose Body Spray

While this Vera Wang body spray has a light fragrance, it lingers on hair and clothing most of the day. The scent is calming and soothing with lavender and tuberose as top notes, which is why it’s occasionally used as a pillow spray.

Sold by Amazon

Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Eau De Parfum

Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Eau De Parfum

Green Tea is undoubtedly Elizabeth Arden’s best-selling fragrance second only to Red Door, and it’s no surprise it’s been adapted in over a dozen varieties. The sophisticated, timeless scent has a clean, fresh finish with a zesty spin.

Sold by Ulta Beauty

Sol de Janiero Brazilian Crush Cheirosa ‘62 Bum Bum Hair Body Fragrance Mist

Sol de Janiero Brazilian Crush Cheirosa ‘62 Bum Bum Hair & Body Fragrance Mist

Alluring and intoxicating, the Sol de Janeiro body mist is memorable with pistachio, heliotrope and salted caramel notes. A little goes a long way, and if you prefer a lighter scent, simply spritz your blouse or dress. 

Sold by Amazon and Sephora

Pacifica Sunrise Moon Spray Perfume

Pacifica Sunrise Moon Spray Perfume

Sunrise Moon features uplifting keynotes of peach, mandarin and cardamom, making it a popular spring and summer scent. The vegan and cruelty-free formula is made without heavy chemicals, including parabens and phthalates. 

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Ulta Beauty Citrus Rose Body Mist

Ulta Beauty Citrus Rose Body Mist

Citrus Rose delivers an uplifting burst of fruity freshness without overpowering the gentler damask rose note. It’s a suitable daytime scent, and because it’s packaged in a plastic pump bottle, it’s gym-bag friendly. 

Sold by Ulta Beauty

 

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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