Buying fragrance online can feel like a risky move when you can’t actually smell the perfumes you’re interested in – after all, finding a signature scent is an incredibly personal experience. The thing is, fragrance shopping online is often so much more convenient – and can be a lot less overwhelming than browsing a busy perfume store. There are also loads of tricks and tips that will make online perfume shopping a whole lot easier. From brushing up on fragrance families and perfume notes to learning how to decipher reviews and fragrance jargon, this intel will make shopping for perfume online a breeze.
1. Read the reviews
Never underestimate the benefits of reading fragrance reviews… Whether you check out the customer reviews on the product page or head to fragrantica.com (a bible for perfume-obsessives) for in-depth info on every fragrance, this is a great way to learn things like which notes are strongest, how long the scent lasts for, and what perfumes smell similar. Of course, remember to keep in mind that fragrance is subjective and that just because someone else loves or hates a scent, that doesn’t mean you will too. The best reviews will cover pros and cons, and give unbiased, detailed feedback.
2. Find your fragrance family
Fragrance notes are the individual ingredients that make up a scent, but it’s the types of notes used and their concentrations that determines which ‘family’ a fragrance sits in. The main fragrance families are woody, floral, fresh, fruity, and oriental – these categories essentially describe in a very broad way what the fragrance smells like. Once you know which fragrance families you’re most drawn to and which notes feature in that fragrance family, it will make it much easier for you to figure out if you’ll like a perfume.
3. Identify fragrance notes
When you’re shopping online for a fragrance, play close attention to the notes. You’ll find this information on the product page – it’s actually one of the most useful things about shopping for perfume online, since this info isn’t available in stores. Most descriptions will categorise notes into top notes, middle (or heart) notes, and base notes. The top notes are those which hit you when you first smell a fragrance, the base notes are those which tend to linger on your skin, and the middle notes tie the two together and make up the body of the perfume. This will help you to to figure out how the perfume will smell, and once you’ve come to learn which notes you enjoy, you can keep an eye out for them when shopping for fragrance in the future.
4. Do your research
Once you’ve found a fragrance you love, use this as the starting point for your next fragrance hunt. Consider the fragrance family and notes, but also look into who the perfumer (or ‘nose’) behind the scent is – chances are their other fragrances will have some similarities. You’ll also find that many brands have common themes that span their fragrance collections – for example Aesop fragrances are very nature inspired, and Floral Street perfumes always sit within the floral fragrance family.
5. Follow fragrance influencers
Fragrance experts and influencers are pros when it comes to describing scents, identifying notes, and telling you which affordable fragrances are dupes of more expensive perfumes. Immerse yourself in the world of fragrance by following the likes of @aliceduparcq, @professor.perfume, and @nicole_perfumes on Instagram and TikTok.
6. Try sample sizes
Not convinced enough to commit to a full size bottle? We get that. Luckily many brands offer travel-sized versions of their perfumes, which means you can test out the scent at an affordable price point and then purchase a full-sized version if you love it. Other brands offer tester sets featuring multiple minis of their scents, which is a great way to find your favourite or experiment with layering scents.