How to Smell Pretty for Less

29 May

Photo by Dottie Mae via Flickr

Photo by Dottie Mae via Flickr

My idea of a splurge is typically food-oriented. Every time my BFF visits from Vegas, I pick her up from the airport and we head to a fine-dining establishment for three hours of culinary bliss. When I’m out shopping with my mom, we typically visit our favorite froyo joint (Groupon or coupon in hand, of course) and enjoy several spoonfuls of fruit-topped goodness. And when my husband and I go on dates, we typically opt for lunch at our favorite sushi restaurant.

Given this theme of gastronomical indulgence, I surprised myself recently when I splurged on something non-food related. It’s also something I thought I’d never purchase again: designer fragrance.

I’m not much of a perfume girl. I dabbled in Clinique Happy when I was younger and until recently was satisfied with cheap Bath & Body Works fragrance mists. Despite a few attempts, I never found the right fragrance and was always looking for one by Yves St. Laurent that I thought was discontinued. It was given to me by my BFF in high school and since then, it’s been my standard against which all other scents are judged.

After a coworker walked by wearing a yummy scent, I decided to do a quick search to see if I could find my beloved fragrance. In less than 10 minutes, a 3.3 oz. bottle of Paris Babydoll was en route. I was stoked to find it on FragranceX for less than $40. While it’s still ripoff, it’s a worthy one: I smile when I see its diamond-shaped container on my counter and inhale deeply when I apply it to my skin. Totally worth the $39 in my opinion.

Since I know I’m not alone in my obsession with a favorite fragrance, I thought I’d round up a few tips for saving on this pricey indulgence.

Get Free Samples
Money expert Andrea Woroch laughed when I told her about my impulse buy. She told me she never pays for fragrance since you can get deluxe samples free when you order from Sephora. Since she gets much of her cosmetics there, she hasn’t paid for fragrance in years. These samples last forever and allow you the opportunity to mix things up when you feel so inclined. Well played, Andrea.

Avoid Holidays
The worst times to buy fragrance are when women apparently expect to receive them as gifts: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas. Since they’re an easy gift, retailers don’t put them on sale but instead offload less desirable products in sets to make you feel like you’re getting a good deal. In fact, most “gift sets” feature smaller eau de toilette containers along with lotions or body washes in the same scent.

Shop the Warehouse
In addition to economy-sized olive oil and toilet paper, you can find perfume at warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club for much less than retail. For example, a 3.3 oz bottle of Elizabeth Arden Red Door for women is priced at $68 at Macy’s, while you can pick up the same bottle from Sam’s Club for $35. The savings varies by brand: a 3.4 oz bottle of DKNY Pure is sold at Sephora for $85, while Sam’s Club offers it for $69.

Go Online
There are a ton of discount fragrance websites out there and I certainly haven’t explored them all. However, my latest purchase was from FragranceX and I enjoyed my experience with them. Checkout via Paypal made my impulse buy all the more seamless (not sure if that’s a good thing), plus they offered free two-day shipping. After reading reviews on my fragrance to ensure it was legit, I learned from several commenters that the site offers other scents currently unavailable in stores.

Shop Discounts
Ross, TJMaxx and Marshall’s all sell heavily-discounted designer fragrance. You’ll still pay $25 to $40 for a few ounces of product, but that’s half of what you’ll shell out over-the-counter at Macy’s. I’ve restocked my husband’s Calvin Klein Eternity from TJMaxx and always look for his mom’s fave: Beautiful by Estee Lauder.

Alright ladies, what other ways do you save on fragrance? (Cologne-loving gents are more than welcome to share their tips, too!)

4 Responses to “How to Smell Pretty for Less”

  1. Kristin Wong May 30, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    There’s a scent I found and loved, but it was super expensive, so I never considered buying it. But then I saw it at Marshall’s for a ridiculously cheap price and scooped it up. I surprised myself, too! Because my scent of choice is usually deodorant. And sometimes not even that. o.O But the bottle has lasted almost a couple of years now, and there’s still plenty in it. I wear it occasionally. It makes me feel pretty and girly and smell-goody.

    • Kendal May 30, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      Love it! I went scentless for a while too after realizing I wasn’t 20 anymore and B&BW wasn’t going to cut it. Not wearing fragrance every day is a good call; makes it more special when you do plus it lasts longer! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Sher@FatGuySkinnyWallet June 2, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

    I was also a Clinique Happy girl! I am not big on shopping for fragrances any more, but flea markets were a great way to pick up beloved ones for good prices and finding new ones to explore. The great thing about vendors at flea markets is that you can haggle some over the price.

    • Kendal June 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      I never thought about shopping for fragrance at flea markets! I bet you can find some really unique and fun scents there. Thanks for the tip and for commenting!