In the world of fragrance purchases, online shopping is a joy to discover. I enjoy exploring new scents in the privacy of my own home, without the added stress of someone watching me sniff. I also appreciate the opportunity to dab on my skin, rather than being doused by an inexperienced fragrance model in a department store. Perhaps the worst offense is an offering of a paper card spritzed with the fragrance. How this became popular I do not know, but to expect to enjoy all the nuances of a fragrance on a card is preposterous in my humble opinion. Those of us who relish its beauty understand that skin is the most important, and most accurate, medium for scent. If one can relinquish the satisfaction and immediate gratification of purchasing in a brick and mortar store, the profound pleasure of brown boxes and the realm of niche fragrances unfold. (Those lucky enough to live in major cities can find niche fragrance boutiques easily! I am speaking to the vast majority of customers who do not live close to one.)
First, let us discuss sampling. Several websites offer a sample purchase program. For a mere $2-$3, customers can purchase a small sample vial of a niche fragrance online. Some websites that offer this include Luckyscent, Beautyhabit, Aedes and Aus Liebe zum Dufte. I highly recommend trying before you buy. Websites offer fantastic descriptions that tempt even the most discerning of buyers. However, smelling the fragrance on your skin offers the ultimate test. For mass marketed and more widely available fragrances, you can simply test at a store by asking to spray on your skin or better yet, asking for a sample. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are the most generous in my area when it comes to sampling. The key is to not fall prey to a purchase on the spot; rather test the scent for hours, making sure the heart and drydown are acceptable. Top notes are fleeting and sales associates may tempt you to buy based solely upon them. Remember that a full bottle purchase is quite a lot of perfume so you want to make sure it works for you from top to bottom!
Next is the notion of online discounters. Are they to be trusted? My experience with them has been glowing. Not once have I received a defective or old product. Incredible satisfaction can be found by saving money on a coveted fragrance. After polling other perfumistas, I offer an alphabetical list of trustworthy discounted websites: BeautifulPerfumes, FragranceNet, Imagination Perfumery, Parfum1, Perfume.com, PerfumeBay, Scentiments. Before you rush to a department store to purchase a fragrance, check these websites for pricing. Sometimes department stores offer gift boxes that include accompanying bath and body products as an incentive to buy. Typically those are good deals and constitute the rare circumstance that I do purchase in store. Nevertheless, most of my purchases are online.
Finally, I offer a list of my favorite fragrance websites:
- Aedes - Outstanding selection and customer service.
- Aus Liebe zum Dufte - Simply incredible selection and service. Every package I have received includes a hand written note.
- B-Glowing - Every box I have received from this store has been packed beautifully. They occasionally offer discounts and gifts.
- BeautyHabit - A very generous sampling program with purchase!
- Fragrances&More - Generous gift wrapping and free shipping on Bond No. 9 scents.
- Luckyscent - These guys know niche fragrance incredibly well and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to stocking new fragrances.
- Your-Cosmetics - In addition to the fact that the owners are wonderful people, this website has difficult to find fragrances available and offers generous gifts with purchase.
These lists are in no way comprehensive but are simply based upon my own experience over the past eight years of fragrance love. The online fragrance community has become much larger and despite its counterintuitive nature (shipping perfume?), it offers great rewards: the ability to test fragrances unavailable in your city, generous gifts, cost savings and a convenient, rapid shopping experience. Please feel free to provide your favorites and/or questions!
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