How to buy fragrance online (when you can’t test it)

Want to buy the perfect perfume online but don't know where to start? This is where you should start…

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It’s undeniable that buying a fragrance when you can’t test it is not as easy as purchasing a lipstick or a hairbrush online. It requires more attention to detail, especially if you’re going to spend a lot of money on a bottle, you want it to be worth every single penny.

You could, of course, read T3's guides to the best women’s perfumes and best men’s fragrances. But there are other ways…

Many companies like Coty that own brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and many more household names have designed a questionnaire that helps you ascertain what scent suits you based on the way you answer, and the algorithms will be able to help you narrow your search to which one suits you the most. 

Other perfume retailers such as The Perfume Shop have a subscription-based service where you get sent 30-day samples of perfume to try every month for £12 until you figure out what you like – the options are endless, and it’s now easier than ever to buy perfume when you can’t test it. 

Rachel ten Brink, Co-founder and CMO of Scentbird emphasises the fact that everyone experiences scent differently, and the company, Scentbird itself, also have their own scent recommender that allows consumers to choose different variables including the usual fragrance selections such as, woodsy, fresh or floral, and also the option to choose different life events, such as date night.

It’s super easy to find scents when they are categorised in groups, i.e. fresh scents such as citruses, woodsy if you don’t want something particularly fruity but more of a spicy scent, floral if you want a perfume that has notes such as jasmine or rose, or oriental, sultry scents such as amber, vanilla or patchouli.  

Here are some general rules to follow when purchasing perfume online:

  • Research is important. Before you checkout with a perfume do an online search and read other people’s experiences, i.e., bloggers or perfume enthusiasts/experts. Don’t forget to read reviews too as you’ll get an insight into other people’s thoughts that will help you make informed decisions. Don’t get caught up in negative reviews unless you’ve tried the perfume. It sits on everyone’s skin differently.
  • It’s helpful to do an online quiz that will help you determine what scent is right for you. Perfume quizzes take into account what scents you like, what type of personality you have as well as the kind of lifestyle you have to help you decide what you need. If you want to buy perfume for an occasion you can search up keywords such as ‘best scents for wedding day’ for example to see what other people have purchased for that occasion.
  • Read the perfume descriptions. Often, you’ll find the way the perfume is described will resonate with you in some form of way, i.e., evoking your memory of emotions, which might help you make your purchase. 
  • Look through the bestsellers section to narrow your search. If you want to go further and refine your search based on price and scent, use the filter section to help you. 
  • Don’t be afraid to go out your comfort zone and try new scents that you wouldn’t normally go for, you might be surprised at how your taste can change over time. Be daring, be bold and experiment with perfume. You can always layer your scents to create a unique blend for yourself. 

Now use your newfound knowledge and read T3's guides to the best women’s perfumes and best men’s fragrances. You can also check out our feature with tips on how to choose the right perfume.

Farhiya Ali

Farhiya Ali is a freelance journalist, writer and researcher. She covers beauty, fragrance and grooming products for T3.