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Fragrance for the Frugal 2017

thrift

Now that my blog is four, I thought I’d better do some housekeeping. One of my most popular articles is “Perfume for Paupers”, written two years ago. It  was my guide to how you can smell good without blowing the budget. It was written from the heart (and from past experience ), since I believe that you don’t have to be rich to smell good.

pandora
Nope. No money in the money box.

However, as you know, the industry changes faces like a kaleidoscope in even a short space of time.  For example, many celeb scents that I reviewed  then, have been discontinued, and many new affordable options have appeared on the market in just two years.  However, much of what I wrote in my earlier article still stands: shop around, be selective, use eBay, look past the label.  I reckon it’s time for an update.  Here’s my guide on how to smell good without feeling bad.

Edith Evena as Lady Bracknell
Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell

Leave your snobbery at the door

I used to be in an exclusive long term relationship with Chanel Cristalle and would only rarely have flings with other scent on the side.  During a frugal period in my life, I decided to shop around, and my love affair with scent truly blossomed.  I hold allbeauty.com and Home Bargains responsible for this. I bought the cheapest scent I could afford and ended up finding some firm favourites.   High price tags do not always mean high quality., and vice versa.  Don’t overlook celebrity fragrances either. They are all made by professional Noses and  are usually cheaper than other brands. Some of my favourite celeb scents are under £10. 

Recommended: Celine Dion Sensation,  Sarah Jessica Parker  Lovely,  JLo Glow, Madonna Truth or Dare.

avon retro3

Avon

Ok, I’m starting to sound obsessed with Avon now, but when you an find a decent perfume for under seven quid, well, then it’s very hard to stay away. In fact my SOTD is Avon Rare Platinum and those tuberose wafts are very pleasing to my nose today. Avon Perceive Oasis was my summer scent more than any other in 2016. I even bought a back up bottle.  I give Avon a further thumbs up for selling purse sprays at just £3 and for currently selling Scent Essence Lime Verbena for just £2.50 for 30ml.  All prices correct at time of posting.

Recommended:  Lime Verbena, Avon Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche, Avon Rare Platinum, Avon Perceive Oasis, Avon Tahitain Holiday, and for fans of La Vie est Belle, Avon Cherish.

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Go for preloved

I have bought a lot of perfume from eBay and have never been let down. EBay is pretty strict on counterfeit and it’s not worth most people’s trouble to try and sell the odd fake. Having said that, there’s no guarantee it’ll never happen to you, but in seven years I’ve not been conned.  EBay is also great for perfume samples which helps avoid costly blind buys. I’ve also scored some blinders from a local car boot sale.  Never underestimate how much somebody else can dislike a perfectly good bottle of perfume and be desperate to get rid of it. That, my friends, is when you  circle and swoop.

Success stories:  100ml of Cabotine for £3.99 on eBay, bottle of LouLou and assorted samples for £7 on eBay, bottle of half used 100ml of Rive Gauche for £4 at car boot sale.  Full 50ml bottle of Chanel Coco EDP for £26 on eBay.

coty

Go retro

Some of my favourite cheap and cheerfuls are the kind of scent young folk today might label as “Nan perfume”.  I prefer the term “classic. ” Nobody will put me off Coty L’Aimant or Chique and I could buy both bottles with ten quid and still have change for a Daim Bar.

Recommended: Coty L’Aimant, Yardley April Violets,  Chique.

 

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Get good samples

If you’re saving for a bottle of the good stuff and in between bottles,, why not just buy a few samples and use your favourites on high days and holidays? It’s cheaper than a full bottle and you can always smell expensive without having a shelf full of posh bottles and no money in the bank.

Recommended: The Perfume Society for great, hard-to-find samples, and The Fragrance Shop for a quarterly box of new releases.

sam collection

Swapsies

You’d be amazed how many of your friends have been given perfume they don’t like and don’t wear. Nobody seems to throw it away though, so get asking. You might find they have one of your favourites and that dusty bottle you can’t get rid of might be just their cup of tea. I dare you to ask four friends if they have a bottle of perfume they don’t really wear.  It also works on forums such as Fragrantica, Mumsnet and Fragcomm.

rubyrose_0
I bet beautiful Ruby Rose wears whatever the hell she likes. Photo from Pride.

Go unisex

Many men’s fragrances are cheaper than women’s ( though not all). There’s no rule that says you can’t wear his stuff or that he can’t wear yours. Having said that, although I reguarly raid my husband’s scent collection (I chose most of it- ergo it’s mine.) I can’t see my husband borrowing my SJP Lovely to wear for work anytime soon. Shame. Florals can smell good on men.

grand-canyonHere’s what I mean by cheap and cheerful for chaps:  Old Spce (cheap as chips) doesn’t smell a million miles away from Yves Saint Laurent Opium. (Thanks for the tip Portia of APJ), and Avon men’s fragrances are truly excellent. I wore Wilderness for Men for the whole of August one year, with a pretty sun dress. I say Pah! to labels. If it smells good wear it.

Recommended: Avon Destination Grand Canyon ( reputed to smell like Terre D’Hermes), Lynx  Urban DailyTobacco and Amber, Jovan Musk For Men, Lidl XBolt (pleasant, apple-y top note.)

white musk

Al-Rehab, Al Aneeq and Crown perfumes

These mini rollerballs are available from Amazon and eBay. Containing no alcohol,  and usually in rollerball format, these are an unbeatably cheap way to layer notes or wear the scent alone.  The violetjasmine and the rose single note fragrances are pretty good too. They make good presents and a 10ml rollerball is perfect for even the smallest of handbags.

Recommended:  I particularly like Violet and  the White Musk. neither cost me more than 2.99. A friend of mine adores Choco Musk at only £1.99.

How About You?

What’s been your best frugal fragrance?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

photo by Alison Oddy
photo by Alison Oddy

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Perfumer’s Choice: Valerie

 

val2

I was recently sent two fragrances from Milton Lloyd to see what I thought. What I thought was “Wow” and “Crikey! Major sillage!” so I thought I’d share my opinion with you, my lovely readers. Perfumer’s Choice  Chosen By Valerie is  from a range of very reasonably priced fragrances made by World Class Perfumes, who also own Milton Lloyd and Taylor of London. I have reviewed four of them before and all were very good with great longevity. The two new ones are Valerie (being reviewed today) and Victor, which is also excellent. All Perfumer’s Choices fragrances are guaranteed to last a minimum of six hours, making these excellent value.

valerieIf you are of a delicate disposition, you may need to take a back seat for this one, because it’s LOUD and BIG. At first spray, there are big white flowers, lots of vanilla and a sledgehammer of patchouli. Now if this all sounds too much for first thing is the morning, well, that’s because it probably is. However, for the evening, this is an absolute must. One or two squirts will comfortably see you through until morning. After the big white petals of the top notes subside ( I reckon jasmine and orange blossom are in cahoots), you get a strong whiff of espresso coffee.

valerie

This works very well with the vanilla and takes this from a  rich floral into an even richer patchouli gourmand. In fact, it reminded very much of YSL Black Opium. The coffee, patchouli and vanilla are all there, just like Black Opium.  This is not a dupe, however, but I’m certain that if you like Black Opium, then this will suit you down to the ground. At only £14 for an 83ml bottle of EDP, this is great value, and trust me when In tell you that sillage and longevity goes far above and beyond the call of duty.

 Stockists

You can buy Perfumer’s Choice perfume here  from the Milton Lloyd website. With thanks to Milton Lloyd for the bottle of this and Perfumer’s Choice Victor, to be reviewed soon. Opinions are my own.

Perfume for Paupers: How to Smell Good on a Budget

Frugal Fragrance, Scents on a Shoestring, Perfume for Paupers: phrase it how you will.  The truth is that these days the cost of living is high and luxuries are the first to go. Choosing my perfume for the day is a few minutes I treasure. I certainly have plenty of choice but only around four bottles on my dressing table cost more than thirty quid (and were mostly gifts).

photo by World of Oddy
photo by World of Oddy

I am often asked how I can afford to sample a new perfume every day and I always answer almost apologetically: I have very few expensive full bottles and sometimes a review is prompted by a few free squirts at my local beauty counter. The rest are inexpensive bottles, samples or purse sprays. If I had had to spend a lot of money to do this it wouldn’t have been possible.

Granted, I have two advantages: a very generous friend without whom this blog would be shorter and harder to write.  I know how lucky I am.  The second advantage is that as a blogger, I often get sent free sample sizes to trial.  However, apart from that, I truly believe that it is possible to smell good without breaking the bank.

 On the High Street

There are several ways in which to enjoy perfume on the cheap.  Firstly, I no longer dismiss cheap perfume the way I used to long ago.  Rummage long enough in the nd.10934High Street fare, and you will find gems that cost well under a tenner, and even a few for under a fiver. In my local Bodycare shop, I have bought  100ml of Cabochard for £8.99 and a bottle of Jovan White Musk for Women for £6.19.  Then there is the bargain Queen of them all: Coty’s L’Aimant– and I am neither the first nor the last to find similarities between L’Aimant and Chanel No 5.  Created in 1927, L’Aimant has a retro feel that reminds my esteemed fellow blogger The Perfumed Dandy, of an Agatha Christie heroine. A small bottle can cost just over a fiver and is widely available.

 

Be Unfashionable

Back in the 70s, drugstore classics were everywhere and everyone wore them.  They have lost popularity now but are worth revisiting.  Their lack of popularity means they are cheap too, so it’s a win-win situation if you like bargain chypres tweedand aldehydes. I have purchased Panache for just £4.99 on Fragrance Direct- and the longevity is around 12 hours, making this classic aldehyde excellent value.  I have also managed to purloin (I love that word) a bottle of retro favourite Tweed from my local chemist for £4.99.  Recently a little bottle of Chique arrived in the post for just £3.99 and it is full of Citrus and Oakmoss. (see my rave review).

 

 In Praise of Purse Sprays

Then there are the purse sprays.  I have a bouquet of these on my dressing table, none costing over a fiver.  Marks and Spencer does an excellent range of perfume and purse spray ma nd salmost all of them are available in 10ml and 25ml sizes, starting at £4, making these affordable treats. I also find that very often there is a sales brochure in my Avon catalogue and I have in the past bought a purse spray of Little Red Dress for just £3.99. Avon are doing these more regularly now and you can get them for just £3. I recently picked up a 10ml bottle of Next Just Pink for just £2 in my local Next Clearance store, and it’s become a firm favourite.

Go Niche and Bijoux

 4160 test setIf you have a lot of perfumes and samples, a small amount can last nearly a year if you rotate it with other scents. It is possible to have sample sizes of great niche scents for special occasions that would normally be prohibitive when bought in full size bottles. However, there’s no reason why anyone should be left out, regardless of budget.

Samples of niche scent enable you to smell unique and fabulous without breaking the bank. In the UK I recommend Pell Wall, 4160 TuesdaysThe Perfume Society Discovery Boxes, Les Senteurs or eBay. In the USA, try The Perfumed Court or Surrender to Chance. Which leads me to my next heading…

 Buy Online

photo by World of Oddy
photo by World of Oddy

Determined and lengthy browsing on Amazon has helped me find Coty Chanson D’Eau a citrussy hesperide at only £6.99 for 50ml including a shower gel.  Even I was sceptical at that price, but pleasantly surprised at this lovely green cologne on receipt of it. Another recent Coty find was Coty Aspen for Men at £8.29 a delightful Lavender/Pine combo that smells like Creed Green Irish Tweed . Don’t rule out Old Spice either- it was originally meant for women and smells like a lighter version of Dana Tabu).

Yves Rocher is a minefield of bargains, but sadly my nearest branch is in France.  Their online service for the UK is excellent however.  I just bought 2 bottles for the price of one: Clea and Yria. They were blind buys, but I looked them up on Fragrantica, liked the reviews and went ahead.  I was not disappointed and now own two bottles for the total price of £15. They usually let you choose three free samples and a free gift too.

One of my favourite sites is Allbeauty.com, formerly CheapSmells.com.  They have a huge variety of genuine big names, but can sell cheap since they are without the High Street overheads. Prices are very low and there is a vast selection of perfume under £10. Postage is free  when you spend over £15 but it does take about week.  They don’t pay me to say how great they are, but their delivery guy could find my house without sat nav.

 Samples

 Being a blogger I have the advantage of having been sent some free samples from discoveryclub_headerimgvery generous companies, and I am lucky to have a good friend in my chum Lisa, whose generosity in letting me loose on two big boxes of phials, knows no bounds.

Samples are getting harder to cadge over the counter: believe, me I’ve turned on the charm!  But there are other methods.

The Fragrance Shop Discovery Box (see photo) is a good way to bolster my sample collection.  At only £5 a quarter, I receive a box of mixed samples and vouchers for money off full sized bottles. My absolute favourite Discovery Box comes from The Perfume Society, which provides around ten samples, smelling notes, sniffing strips, and a couple of scented goodies that vary from facial serum, to hand cream or shower gel.

 Look Beneath the Glitz

Don’t rule out tacky looking celeb scents either: Who cares what it says on nd.8925the label?  If you like it, go ahead.  Two of my favourites are Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights (very Vegas!), bought for £8.95 which smells of Papyrus and Patchouli ( and very similar to Prada EDP), and JLo Deseo, which looks like wet jewel and smells eau so fraiche!

 eBay

Ebay is an excellent source of cheap fragrance trawling, especially after big events such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day when people sell their disappointments.  Some buyers are afraid of being sold a dud, but I can honestly say everything I have bought has been authentic and eBay are pretty strict about fake stuff, so it’s a good place to shop around.

Swaps, Decants and Splits

If you get stuck into the talk boards on Basenotes, Fragrantica, Facebook Fragrance Groups or even Mumsnet Style and Beauty threads, you can not only find friendly like minded fellows, but can usually swap decants, full bottles, or even go in on an expensive niche bottle by just buying, say a quarter if a full bottle with some fellow fragheads. Perfume lovers are generous souls and genuinely want to spread the joy.

Photo by World of Oddy: Wishing Pool in Portmeirion
Photo by World of Oddy: Wishing Pool in Portmeirion

How about you?

What’s the best bargain you’ve ever scooped?  Have you found a hidden gem? Do share so we can share your joy, follow in your footsteps or just sit here being all jealous. Perfume is such a treat, I truly wish it for everyone.

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