Last week, I revisited/reviewed five cheap perfumes available in most American drugstores. I didn’t try the “vintage”. I tried what you can go and buy now. I wanted this to be a feature on easy accessibility. I did this because many of us know these perfumes but most Perfume People ignore these perfumes. And I understand why we do. There are so many perfumes in this world and life is too short to wear bad perfumes. We’re all bombarded by new releases. We’ve all been underwhelmed by more expensive and more exclusive perfumes. Why would we go out of our way to try something that is probably bad?
I understand. I didn’t even want to wear some of the ones that I sampled. But, I did…
Here’s what I learned:
One can actually smell good for less than $20.
Going into this, I honestly didn’t expect many of these perfumes to be wearable. I was expecting the same experience I had with the reformulated Worth perfumes. I admit, my expectations were really low. To my surprise, most of the perfumes I tried were wearable, and not only wearable, but pleasant. I’m not saying these are amazing and you should replace all your Serge Lutens with drugstore perfumes. I’m saying that many of the ones that I tried were more interesting than a lot of the newer releases sold at places like Macy’s or Sephora. In all fairness, this says more about the current state of perfumery than it does about these drugstore perfumes, but still. If one’s goal is to smell “good” they don’t have to spend a lot of money to achieve their goal.
I’m thinking of these fragrances more like drugstore makeup brands. Sure, I love a luxurious Armani Lipstick for their hefty, magnetic packaging and buttery formulas. But, on my lips can you tell? Revlon has wonderful formulas that have performed just as good or better than a lot of department store products. Just like with cosmetics, there are some hits and misses but cheaper doesn’t automatically translate as “inferior”.
But, a budget does make a difference.
Yes, on the cheap, you can smell good. And a lot of drugstore scents smell just as good (and arguably better) than a lot of more expensive designer launches. BUT, you can still tell that these were on a tighter budget than your favorite niche line. This isn’t necessarily “bad” but you can tell – they wear too light or wear too tenaciously, all seem too reliant on cheaper base notes. It just makes me wonder what would these be like, for example, if you could get a $100 bottle of White Shoulders. Would that be the gardenia that I’ve always longed for? I don’t know and I’ll probably never know.
If you try a current drugstore perfume, keep in mind the price. It’s wild that they can bottle something and distribute in all sorts of locations for like $15 and still make a profit. I admit, because of the cheap price tag, my opinion is kinder. If some of these were $100 a bottle, yes, I’d have some complaints.
I miss being nostalgic.
The blog you are reading is eight years old. For eight years, I’ve mainly covered perfumes launched in the past ten years. If a perfume gives me feelings of nostalgia, it’s because it gives the impression of an “atmosphere” that I associate with a place or a time in my life. With these older perfumes, I’m actually reminded of the perfume and specific people, a specific time defined by a specific perfume. I realize I have personal connections with some commercial fragrances that I’ve never discussed on this blog, a platform I’ve dedicated to discussing perfumes.
After doing this, I’d like to have a week devoted to something like “Popular Perfumes of the 90’s” or something like that. I have so much to say about the Calvin Kleins like Escape, CK1, Obsession. I’d like to take some time and focus on some perfumes that older than the internet.
Malls have had to kill the cheap, accessible “drugstore” perfume market.
These perfumes are all cheap and accessible but I rarely ever smell them on other people. What do I smell? Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. (Well, let’s exclude NYC. NYC isn’t the American norm; everyone here smells like Le Labo). I think why we don’t really see any new “younger generation” drugstore scents being made by these American brands is because they wouldn’t sell. People can buy stuff from L Brands¹. They are cheap, accessible and somehow have a broad appeal. I think a lot of us Perfume People like to smell exclusive. If you’re avoiding drugstore scents because you don’t want to smell like everyone else, you won’t. All these drugstore brands are being ignored by everyone.
That’s just a few of the things that I’ve learned/realized from wearing cheap perfumes for a week. I also realized that I enjoy smelling powdery which I still can’t explain. I also learned nobody will go up to you and say, “You smell like you are wearing a cheap perfume”, well, I think that Navy was close to making people utter that statement, but hey, I wouldn’t have disagreed with them!
If you missed the reviews, I’ve included links below.
Drugstore Divas Week – 2016 Roundup
As far as drugstore cheapies, do you have any favorites? Are there any that you wear?
¹L Brands, based in Ohio and owns Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works.