The one question I keep seeing over and over again is, “what is the difference between eau de toilette and eau de parfum?” So I decided to make a little graphic to illustrate the various concentrations of fragrances in a visual manner.
Here’s something a little fun for today. Let’s analyze a real bottle of Coco Mademoiselle against a fake bottle of Coco Mademoiselle. Keep in mind that we will be working from a limited pool of images and information. The purpose of this post is to get you used to seeing signs of a fake bottle, not to dissect what makes a particular bottle fake.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
These are authentic bottles of Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. Take the time to look at the details, pay attention to the craftsmanship, and the little elements like the logo, spacing of the characters on the label, the quality of the glass, the types of materials used, the information on the label, and so on. And if you were to go buy an item like this on eBay go out of your way to scrutinize an authentic item first to get yourself used to its details.
I know Coco Mademoiselle is an extremely popular fragrance. Its youthful, fruity floral oriental scent has captivated the noses of a great deal of young consumers and the Chanel label only hooks them in further. So naturally, Coco Mademoiselle is prone to a tremendous amount of counterfeiting to the point where people selling old bottles that they believe to be real, aren’t. There are a lot of good dupes out there too, so it’s important that you know what to look out for. Thankfully, most of the fakes are easy to spot. Like the one we’re talking about today.
This one didn’t take long to find. It was on the first page of eBay when I plugged “Coco Mademoiselle” into the search bar. In fact, it was being sold by three “different” sellers. Two of which had zero feedback and joined less than a day apart. The third had six feedback–all positive (feedback is not always 100% accurate, especially if a seller has very little feedback). The seller or sellers claimed one bottle was brand new in box, while the other two were slightly used. While I have said in the past that you are safer buying used than brand new in box, you are not always guaranteed to be safe. This is one instance where the seller is trying to make it look like you’re getting a mostly full bottle for a good price because 5% used of an expensive fragrance like this is nothing to cry over if you’re paying a deep discount.
This is, however, a very bad fake. Here’s where the mess falls apart:
– The first thing I noticed was the shape of the interior of the bottle. Scroll back up and look at the authentic Coco Mademoiselles. Notice how the interior vessel is shaped on the real bottles. The vessel should be a straight and perfect rectangle until it reaches the bottom where the vessel domes up. Everything on the real bottles is symmetrical. Looking at this fake, we notice there’s a clear deformity on the interior vessel, making it wavy and there’s a noticeable lack of a dramatic dome at the bottom. This particular specimen has a domed bottom, but it’s imperfect, crooked, and sloppy. This is actually one of the easiest ways to tell a fake Chanel from a real one as making a perfect replica of the real bottle and having it be perfectly symmetrical is somewhat challenging. Chanel’s interior vessels very often have a symmetrical dome at the bottom. If there is no dome, or the dome is off-centered, lumpy, or set too high then it’s probably fake.
– Second thing I noticed was the label that looks like it’s been damaged in some way. If this were truly a new bottle shipped in box, there wouldn’t be any deformities. Remember my earlier post about companies and their stringent branding practices? Chanel, of all companies, would never let a defective bottle like this see the light of day on the consumer market. Their brand is about quality and luxury. What does it say about them if they shipped a product with a scratched up label like this? They probably wouldn’t.
– The logo on the band that runs along the cap’s neck is too large and appears to be somewhat stretched vertically. On an authentic bottle of Coco Mademoiselle, there is a bit of white space above and below the logo. On the fake bottle, the logo is flushed against the gold bands. This is another easily identified foible. Many counterfeits get the tiny logo on the band wrong. Maybe it’s the inferior printing practices? Whatever it is, an imperfect logo on the band often indicates a fake.
– A minor giveaway would be the bulge in the bottle’s cap. It looks a bit thicker than it should be. Though the one image we were provided doesn’t do us any favors because of its poor lighting and quality. If this had been a less obvious counterfeit, I would ask the seller for more photos.
– The box looks a bit beat up, but it’s difficult to scrutinize it because there’s only one photo of the box and it’s being obscured by the bottle in the foreground. Another dead giveaway of a fake Chanel is the typography used on the packaging. Sometimes counterfeiters get the typography right, but the lines are a little bit too thick or too thin. A lot of times they get the typography wrong, making it obvious to a keen eye that something is amiss. This sort of scrutiny is harder to tell in seller photos, especially if the seller only has one photo of poor quality and the typography is being obscured by lighting, angles or props.
– Finally, I would like to note that this one image was used for all three listings–including the new in box listing. Every time you see one image being used to sell a luxury item–especially when three different sellers are listing the same image, be instantly suspicious.
Probably the scariest part of this was how many bids were put in for these bottles. The “Used” bottles had 7 and 10 bids. The “New” bottle had 5 bids. And this fake was very easy to spot.
If this post proves useful or anyone is interested in more Fake Spotting, I’ll do more of them in the future. In the meantime, Dino 2.0 has a very thorough dissection of a real Chanel Coco Mademoiselle and a fake one.
It might seem strange to someone looking to become a fragrance enthusiast to be told that they need to understand branding, how it works, and how branding can help them. After all, isn’t the point of perfume to enjoy the artistry of the scent and not ogle over what Chanel’s doing with their logo?
Well, yes, it is mostly about the juice. It should be mostly about the fragrance and the art and science behind our imperative but often overlooked sense of smell. Where branding and knowing your brands helps is when it comes time to identifying real bottles from fake bottles, and being able to recognize the big players in the field. There are some general rules when it comes to being brand aware. Don’t worry, you don’t need to study hard or spend hours staring at a bottle of perfume in order to tell 90% of the fakes out there from real stock.
Here are some quick and dirty tips to keep in mind as you try to familiarize yourself with how a perfume house might brand its products.
1. No matter mid to high end fragrance houses will always get their logo right. If you got a bottle where any of the logos looks a little too thick/thin, looks out of place, or the type doesn’t look completely legit then you need to go compare your bottle with a known authentic bottle. Perfume houses–as with any brand–are going to be strict about their brand identity and how their logo is displayed. Companies who have logos treat it very seriously. They have design documents that are sometimes hundreds of pageslong that outline what colors their logo can and cannot be, what sizes the logo can and cannot be, and what their logo can and cannot be printed on. With restrictions like those on how to use an image, no brand would (or should) ever let a defective or awkward looking logo adorn one of their authentic products.
2. Misspellings are not always factory errors. Sometimes products go out the door with old information or misspelled information. I’ve seen it sometimes on things like kitchen appliances and lighting fixtures. With more consumer products being made in foreign countries, I’ve seen more than my fair share of misspelled product manuals with barely coherent instructions. The scariest one was a misprinted warning on a plastic bag that informed me that the bag “should” be placed over a child’s head. Heck you sometimes get misprinted money, but a misspelling on a high end product like perfume would make me a bit suspicious. Especially if there’s more than one misspelled word on there. Fragrance houses, due to the perceived luxury of their product, should be keeping close eye on what their product labels say. Once again, if you’ve got a misspelling, that product needs to be checked against a known authentic bottle.
3. A company would never misspell their own name. I know how blatantly obvious this is, but there have been instances where people go on the search of answers when they have a counterfeit bottle of Channel No.5 or Gerlaine Shalimar. I know some of us just aren’t strong spellers, but before you buy something, make sure the company name is at least spelled right. Remember, this stuff can get expensive. You want to drop $100 on a bottle of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, and not a bottle of Chanel Coco Madamoselle.
4. All design elements are uniform on all bottles of the same production. Yes, flankers exist and bottle redesigns happen often, so you need to do your research before you buy. If you’re buying a brand new bottle of Chanel No.5 you need to go out of your way to make sure you’ve got a really clear picture of the present production line Chanel No.5. That means making sure all of the markings are in place, all of the letters line up, and absolutely nothing is missing. Even something relatively minor like a small missing gold band around the neck of the bottle is a telltale indicator that the bottle is fake. The key here is to make sure you are up-to-date on what the bottle you’re going to buy looks like. A vintage fragrance like No.5 has had numerous updates to its look and packaging over the years, but if there’s a bottle marketed as recent release that doesn’t match any of the other recent releases on the market then be very suspicious.
There’s numerous other topics to be discussed when it comes to knowing your branding. I’d like to discuss some of the nuisances of each fragrance house and some of the (often confusing) bottle redesigns that have happened to some of our favorite fragrances over the years. But for now, keep the above four tips in mind when you’re new to fragrances and want to make sure you’re getting the real stuff.
Probably one of the most frequently recurring questions I hear from people not too familiar with perfumes is, “what the difference between Eau de Toilette (EDT), Eau de Parfum (EDP) and Parfum?” The answer itself might seem simple and people are quick to tell you that EDT is the less concentrated/watered down version of an EDP. The actual answer is much more complex.
While in some cases, the only difference with the Eau de Toilette version of a fragrance is that it is less concentrated than the Eau de Parfum version, it is often not the chief difference between the two. And one should never mistaken EDT as being a telltale indicator that it is an inferior version of an EDP.
I can name numerous examples where the concentration of the fragrance has very little to do with quality or concentration. Take, for example, Chanel No.5. People may be shocked to learn that the EDT and EDP versions are formulated differently. So when you smell No.5 EDT, you are getting a different scent than No.5 EDP because the ingredients are slightly changed in the two versions.
In some instances, the EDT and EDP versions of fragrances may smell different but contain the same ingredients because one ingredient was toned down, causing the entire scent to shift. For example, a fragrance that contains the notes of bergamot, rose, and sandalwood has an EDT and EDP version.
The company may choose to reduce the concentration of sandalwood in their EDT version for example. The result would be a less noticeable sandalwood scent so that someone smelling the EDT might notice the marked difference in their fragrance. And this toning down of ingredients isn’t just limited to one ingredient. Imagine a complex fragrance with hundreds of smelly molecules. Imagine if they adjusted the concentration of twenty of those. It could radically change the experience!
All this having been said and done, how are you supposed to know whether to buy an EDT or an EDP? The answer is simple. You need to smell and test them both to see which one you like more. Don’t assume immediately that a fragrance is the same, only less concentrated between the two formulations. And don’t feel like you’re getting a less desirable product because you opted for the EDT over the EDP. It is up to you, because in the end it is about what you like best.
Marketing frustrates me. In college, I spent a large portion of my time learning how to market a product through visual mediums. I found myself growing steadily more and more frustrated with marketing gimmicks and tactics. Perfume ads, perfume commercials, perfume aesthetics, and most of the perfume industry itself is often steeped in over-the-top gimmicks and outrageous claims. For a lark, let’s take a look at some of the myths of perfume that were somehow perpetuated and continue to exist today.
The notes list on a perfume is the ingredients list.
Probably the most common misconception about perfume is that the notes list is some sort of indicator of what you’re actually getting in a fragrance. It doesn’t help that no one comes out and tells people not to rely on it as a list of ingredients either. The notes list on a fragrance’s ad is just a list of scents that you should smell when you spray the stuff on. The actual ingredients list could be hundreds of components long and most of them might be near impossible to pronounce. Notes lists are notorious for being inaccurate and often incomplete, they list notes that aren’t even there, they use overly flowery language, and sometimes they have made up ingredients that don’t exist. If you want to refer to a notes list, use it as a guide to what you’re smelling, but don’t cite it as an ingredients list because it is not.
Perfumes that last longer are higher quality.
Not necessarily true. Perfumes that stick around forever are often composed of robust fragrant ingredients that allow them to stick around for a long time. A stick of Secret deodorant will usually give off a scent for at least 9 hours. Does that mean the fragrant ingredients in your stick of deodorant is of a higher quality than the ingredients in your Amouage perfume? Not necessarily. It just means the fragrant ingredients in the deodorant are more robust and are made to be resilient. Resilience is not always an indication of quality.
You have to wear perfume on your pulse points in order for it to work properly.
While most people like to wear their fragrances on the pulse points such as the wrists and neck, no one is stopping you from wearing perfume elsewhere and so long as the fragrance is on your skin, it won’t react too differently. Also nothing bad will happen to you if you want to dab some perfume somewhere else on your body. Provided that ‘somewhere else’ is not in your eyes, nose, mouth, or in and around any other orifice. Use your common sense, obviously.
Eau de parfum concentrations will last longer than eau de toilette concentrations.
Concentrations do not necessarily denote the longevity or the quality of the fragrance. Just because you opt for the EDP of a perfume, does not mean you will get better wear from it. EDP and EDT concentrations of a perfume with the same name can often vary in ingredients. Sometimes the fragrance houses vary the amount of certain ingredients as opposed to just using more fragrant oils. So a lot of the time, you may get an EDT that smells completely differently from an EDP of the “same perfume”. If you want higher concentration = longer lasting perfume, you will have to graduate from the EDPs and EDTs to Parfum. Even then, ingredients can vary and scents can be drastically different. The bottom line is, you cannot base a judgement on how long a fragrance will last simply by assuming that EDT will always be weaker than EDP.
With some recent tips I’ve gotten about a certain online fragrance discounter, I decided to strip all mention of them from my blog. Just in interest of anyone reading my blog, FragranceNet at one point was a trusted perfume discounter. I used to be a customer, but have since noted their decline in quality and can no longer recommend them as a fragrance discounter to others.
Thus begins this post, how do you navigate your way through the hundreds of online fragrance discounters out there. Who’s trustworthy and who isn’t? In the case of FragranceNet, a lot of fragrance fans thought and rated them highly a few years ago. There has since been some decline in quality control and hopefully they can pull out of it as I thought their selection was excellent.
This post is more of a general tips sort of deal for buying anything online. The one tip you should always keep in mind and adhere to is to read reviews and research before you do any sort of business. Remember, these people can’t see you, sometimes they’re impossible to track down, and getting a refund isn’t as easy as walking into a store and saying you want your money back. So always, always, always:
- Check to make sure the online retailer has been reviewed at a credible reviewing site. I use ResellerRatings, RedFlagDeals (Canadian), and BizRate. Please keep in mind that some people may have mistakenly submitted their review before they realized their product wasn’t of acceptable quality and forgot about their review or simply cannot edit it. That is why it is important you read a healthy mix of negative and positive reviews. If I see a lot of negative reviews telling me the product they got was a fake, I get very suspicious of the vendor.
- Ask someone. Get yourself onto a fragrance forum like BaseNotes and ask someone to describe their experiences with the retailer. Also get their opinion of the retailer’s more recent service. A company can start off excellent and decline to unacceptable so it is important to get recent experiences.
- Remember that you may be more knowledgeable than some reviewers. I think a great deal of fragrance consumers cannot tell between a fake perfume and a real one. And I also think it is easier for people to accept that they were sold an old bottle than it is for them to accept that they were sold a counterfeit. So it is entirely up to you to educate yourself on what your perfume is supposed to smell like and who you want to buy it from. Perfume isn’t cheap with most fragrances running from $50-$300. I would hate for someone to spend that much money to find out they were scammed, so the best advice is and has always been to educate yourself.
- Always protect yourself by ensuring that you can get your money back somehow. Whether the retailer offers refunds (read these terms very carefully as they are sometimes tricky), or if you have some other way to get your money back if you receive something counterfeit. Like I said, perfume is expensive so you will want your money back in case the deal goes sour, whether that’s through the retailer’s refund policy, filing a dispute with Paypal, or getting your credit card company to help you.
- If you’re a hobbyist, collector or plan on doing this perfume thing for a while then keep up to date on the goings on. Fragrance forums and blogs are invaluable sources of information and news. I never would have known about what was going on with various retailers and discounters if I hadn’t been keeping up to date.
I’m sure most of you already know how to navigate the world of perfume resellers and discounters, but hopefully these tips refresh the memory or they help someone else out. Or at the very least, all the individuals who end up on this blog while searching for “is [X Company] selling fake perfume?” get an idea of where to start their investigation.
One of the more common questions surrounding perfume use has to do with making the stuff last longer. In a given week, it’s inevitable that someone will want to know why their fragrance is disappearing halfway through the day, leaving them with a ghost of perfume or–in many cases–seemingly nothing at all.
The following are some tips you can try to prolong the wear time of your fragrance. Please keep in mind that you can try any number of things to keep a fragrance on your skin but some perfumes have a penchant for being less robust than others.
Also called the ‘Big M’. Okay, okay, only I call it that. Moisturizing your skin is the very first recommendation for anyone looking to prolong their fragrance wear time. Not only is moisturizing a good practice to keep your skin healthy and happy, it also helps to keep your fragrance around a bit longer. As near as I can tell, well moisturized skin holds onto perfume better than dry skin. Therefore, you get more wear. It’s best to use an unscented lotion or body cream. You can even use petroleum jelly (Vaseline) as an unscented option. You want it to be unscented so that the fragrance in the lotion or body cream does not mix and interfere with the progression of your perfume.
Layering your fragrance is another good way to help it last longer. Many perfumes come with bath and body sets that you can buy along with the fragrance. For instance, Chanel No.5 box sets can include a No.5 scented bar of soap, a bottle of Chanel No.5 perfume, and a bottle of No.5 scented lotion. These sets are good because they not only help prolong your fragrance, they also tend to be pretty decent deals where you can buy a shower gel and lotion along with a bottle of your perfume. Some fragrances even sell separate lotions and soaps (like in the case of Chanel No.5, Thierry Mugler Angel, and other widely popular fragrances). To layer your fragrance, just shower with the same scented soap or gel, apply the same scented lotion, and put your perfume on.
Though not always a possible solution, keeping cool and keep your fragrance around a little bit longer. You burn off your fragrance much faster if you’re exercising or hanging out in a hot location. Perfume works through evaporation. Without getting into the scientific nitty-gritty, when your climate is hot, or if your body temperature is elevated then your fragrance will disappear faster. It’ll probably smell stronger at first, but its wear time will also be reduced. So try to keep cool and if you’re heading to the gym, maybe you should hold off on spraying your favorite fragrance until after your work out.
Wearing Perfume on Your Clothes
Spraying your fragrance on your clothing can keep it around for a very long time. But the things to keep in mind if you choose to wear it on your clothes is the fact that your fragrance won’t progress naturally. Perfumes were meant to be worn on the skin to mix with the individual user’s body chemistry. They were meant to evaporate with our body heat and change and evolve the longer we wear them. If you wear your fragrance on your clothes, you’re missing out on the complex experience and will likely get mostly top notes and whatever else happens to escape. Some perfumes also contain dyes and may stain light colored clothing. So long as you are aware that your perfume will smell different on your clothes than on you, and that you run the risk of staining your clothes, wearing a fragrance on your shirt or something will definitely prolong the life of your scent.
Wearing Perfume in Your Hair
A bit similar to the clothing approach. You may have more luck wearing your fragrance in your hair unless you plan to go out with your head uncovered into very strong sun, your hair should do a better job at keep your scent around than on your skin. Some people warn that the alcohol in perfumes can cause damage to your hair. But keep in mind that the amount of alcohol you dispense with a couple of sprays of perfume probably won’t harm you that much. Especially when we remember that most of us use heat to dry our hair and use styling products that are sometimes worse than a couple of squirts of perfume. But, in addition to not being a scientist or a doctor, I am also not a hairstylist.
Wear a Scent Locket
Scent lockets can be a good idea if you find you have skin allergies to some perfumes. What you can do is buy a scent locket (or even a regular locket) made from a neutral smelling metal (like silver). Next you can soak or spray a small piece of tissue, or cotton with your perfume and stick that in the locket and wear it. The heat from your skin contacting the locket should help the fragrance progress somewhat. Keep in mind that you are once again not wearing the perfume directly on your skin so your fragrance may smell different than it normally would.
Consider Your Nose
I’ve mentioned before the problematic issue with regards to our noses and sense of smell and how it can get used to an aroma over time. If you have a favorite perfume that you wear everyday that you notice smells less and less strong, it may not be the perfume–it might just be your nose. Before you freshen up or worry about your fragrance fading on your skin, ask a friend if they can still smell your perfume on you.
Consider the Composition of Your Fragrance
While perfume concentrations cannot always tell you how long a fragrance will last on your skin (remember, many perfume houses change or tweak the formula between their Eau de Toilette versions and Eau de Parfum versions), you can usually depend on a higher quality fragrance made with certain ingredients to last longer than others. Citrus-based fragrances like Bath and Body Works’ White Citrus, for instance, don’t last very long. On the other hand, a powerhouse oriental like Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium will last like a champ. Take a look at the notes pyramid for a classic fragrance. Notice how the citrus notes are usually on top? These notes tend to evaporate and disappear first. And often you’ll have things that will stick around for a lot longer at the bottom like woods, musks, incense and resins.
Hopefully those tips will help you keep your fragrances around for a bit longer. While no one technique can guarantee an entire day of wear for delicate scents like Balenciaga Paris, you might be able to squeeze out a bit more wear time. And if nothing else works, carry a travel spray or sampler vial of your fragrance and freshen up throughout the day. I know, it’s kind of a pain, but some fragrances just don’t want to stick.
Like always, I need to preempt a post like this by stating that all-natural perfumery does still exist in some capacity and those types of perfumes can be beautiful if done just right. This post is not about defending synthetic fragrances or decrying natural perfumery or vice versa. I only wish to rant a bit about the misconception many people have about what their perfume is and what goes into making it.
Perhaps you’ve looked up ‘how to make perfume’ and come across some romantic articles about how mixing together essential oils with some key diluting ingredients will allow you to make your very own, awesome smelling fragrance. Then when you go out and actually try to do it, you might discover a world of confusion, contradictions and ignorance that no one told you about beforehand. Some examples of things you might encounter:
- Fragrance oils being sold as essential oils (Check this post for an explanation of the difference).
- Low-quality oils mislabeled as cosmetic grade.
- Essential oils that don’t exist (ie. all fruit based “essential oils” are basically synthetic-based fragrance oils).
- Scientific names and complicated processes that don’t really help you when all you want is to make something that smells nice.
- A fragrance industry that’s so tight-lipped about its formulas and ingredients that they often confuse rather than help.
- A seriously massive roadblock of misinformation and scaremongering surrounding synthetic fragrances.
- Terminology that doesn’t lend itself to be easily understood by a hobby perfume maker.
And the above issues comprise just a tip of the iceberg. So what’s a budding perfumer to do? Due to my lack of experience actually creating my own fragrances I will only say that you need to do your research very well before you buy some oils and start mixing them. Just because something is labelled as ‘all-natural’ or ‘organic’ does not mean that it’s true, that it’s good for you, or that it’s safe for you to do whatever you want with it.
How natural is perfume anyway?
If you’re looking at buying a perfume at the department store and are wondering how many essential oils go into making that bottle of Designer Brand Smell Good, you may or may not be surprised to know that most of the ingredients are synthetic. In some cases, every ingredient in a given perfume could be synthetic. Does this knowledge change how your perfume smells? Probably not.
Why don’t perfume companies use natural ingredients anymore?
Perfume companies do still use natural ingredients. Many of them still have access to natural essential oils and will include some proportion of those in their fragrances–just not all their fragrances. What consumers should understand is the move to synthetics had many good reasons backing it and that essential oils are not always ideal or better.
Take for instance, the huge amount of manpower and land that goes into creating one essential oil. Entire fields of roses are harvested to distill down to a few bottles of essential oil. And what about the slower resources? Like trees. In particular, one very fragrant sandalwood species is now endangered in part due to the perfume industry that loves it so much. And what about the animal based ingredients like musks? While natural musk is still being harvested or farmed, why should huge amounts of animals be farmed for its musk when we can easily make the same stuff in a lab?
That is not to mention the increased difficulty in dealing with essential oils in perfume. Every batch could smell just a little bit different, making product consistency a nightmare to deal with for larger perfume houses that output tons of perfumes to sit on store shelves. Synthetics are more stable and therefore make it easier to keep a perfume’s smell consistent.
Are synthetics always cheaper?
Not necessarily. While the general consensus seems to believe that synthetic ingredients are always cheaper than naturals, the truth is that there are expensive naturals and equally expensive synthetics.
Are synthetic fragrances a new invention?
On the contrary, synthetics have been around a lot longer than most people realize. Synthetics have been around since the 1800s. They are far from new technology.
Aren’t essential oils inherently better than synthetics?
A common myth is the notion that an all natural ingredient must instantly be better than its synthetic counterpart. Essential oils are not always better. They can be better depending on how skillfully they’re used. A professional natural perfumer can make a beautiful complex and rich fragrance using only essential oils. But another equally talented perfumer can make beautiful, complex fragrances using synthetics too. Arguing over which ingredient is better is like comparing two equally talented artists, one who prefers oil paints and the other preferring acrylics. You can’t make a blanket statement over whose product is better just because they use different mediums.
So given this new information, what are you supposed to make of some of these companies trying to sell you something like 100% pure and organic apple essential oil? Chances are, these people know their apple is not an essential oil and there is some level of confusion at play here. Your best defense is knowledge. You can protect yourself by educating yourself in what can and cannot be extracted into an essential oil. You may be a little disappointed when you see what can and cannot be natural. But at that point you may as well as open yourself up to synthetics. They are not so bad after all!
More often than not, I come by someone who’s just returned from a trip from the Drugstore, Walmart, Superstore or some other similar department/grocery/drug merchant wondering if the perfumes they found there are authentic. In short, yes, they are authentic. I can pretty much say that most big chain stores such as Walmart, Superstore, CVS, and etc. are selling legitimate and authentic fragrances. But, since I like Q&As and lists, let’s approach this in a more orderly fashion.
Are these perfumes I see in drugstores and grocery stores authentic and legitimate?
Yes. If you are finding these perfumes in large, chain grocery and drugstores they are usually authentic and legitimate. You likely won’t find anything super niche like Serge Lutens or Frederic Malle at your local Walmart but most mainstream fragrance houses do have a presence in drug and grocery stores. I’ve seen the usual brands like Calvin Klein, Christian Audigier, and Donna Karan. I’ve also seen higher end fashion house brands such as Dolce and Gabanna, Gucci, and Burberry. Once in a while I’ll also see Guerlain and even Chanel. So yes, chances are, they are authentic. I would be leery if a small, hole-in-the-wall, mom and pop grocery store was selling Chanel perfume, but you never know these days. The best practice has always been to educate yourself on how to tell a counterfeit.
Why is it a bit cheaper to buy the same perfume at Walmart compared to a store like Neiman Marcus?
There’s a bit of ribbing going on when it comes to Neiman Marcus. Some people call it “Needless Markup” because not only does perfume seem to cost more there, but so does everything else.
Now I’m no department store analyst or whatever you would call a person who sits down and stresses over these things, but the nearest I can presume is you can get perfume cheaper at Walmart because of the lower level of service.
Say you walk into a Walmart one day hoping to find a perfume. Chances are, there are some testers sitting around that look a little grungy and used. Or, at best you have to call someone over to unlock the forbidden cabinet of perfume mystery. If you manage to scrounge up some tester strips you can spray and smell while the Walmart greeter glances at you nervously until you find the fragrance you like. Then you head to the checkout line whereupon they herd you into a system that makes you feel a bit like cattle.
If you were to walk into Neiman Marcus, the first thing you’ll probably notice is how overdecorated it seems. When you approach the fragrance section, chances are a sales associate will offer you help on whatever you might want. They’ll usually stay with you or at least give you some attention and offer their opinions on what you might like depending on what you tell them. Whether you agree or not with this advice is entirely up to you. Regardless, if you do happen to make a purchase, the same sales associate will likely ring you up, pack your purchase into a lovely little gift bag and when you leave the store, “made me feel like cattle” should be a distant echo.
Now my experiences with the two stores is likely going to vary person-to-person and location-to-location. But it is generally agreed that you would get a higher standard of personal service at Neiman Marcus than you would get at Walmart.
Is the stock at Walmart older compared to the stock at a store like Neiman Marcus?
This tends to vary for me. Walmart and other non-fancy department stores like it sometimes have fresh product and sometimes have product that’s been sitting on the shelves for a while. I’ve had one experience buying an old bottle from a high-end department store so it’s not unheard of if you pay the premium price. I suppose it all depends on that particular store’s management and stock shipping frequency. Add to this confusion the fact that you can’t tell how old a bottle of perfume is most of the time unless an expiration date is present, the perfume has been redesigned, or the perfume has clearly gone bad or started to go bad. So ultimately, if the fragrance you bought still smells like it should, and it was stored properly and you continue to store it properly, does it really matter how long it’s been sitting on the shelf?
Hopefully this post helps settle the fears of the fragrances you see sold at Walmart. Bottom line, if you don’t care about the bells and whistles of extra service, buying your perfume at Walmart is perfectly fine. If you want the pretty gift bag then head for Neiman Marcus. I still advise anyone to make sure they know how to tell a counterfeit because those can pop up anywhere.
Maybe you’ve been around a bit and heard a few things surrounding the dos and don’ts of perfume. Maybe these things were pieces of well-meaning advice such as: “Men should wear cologne, perfume is for women”, or “This perfume is too old for your age”, or even “This perfume is too young for your age”. Some pieces of well-meaning advice but here’s the thing–there aren’t any hard fast rules about what you should or shouldn’t like when it comes to perfume.
I’ve seen a lot of men shy away from buying or wearing something labelled as “perfume” because they’re a man and men ought to be wearing cologne. There’s a funny bit of terminology twisting going on with regards to men cologne vs. women perfume. The truth is, if you look at this post, you’ll notice something. Cologne is less of a term used to describe a gender’s fragrance and more of a term used to describe the concentration of a fragrance. So it is with popular culture, I presume, that would insist people call men’s fragrances colognes and women’s fragrances perfumes. A bit of a dangerous tango because it makes people think that just because they’re a man, it’s inappropriate for them to enjoy something that isn’t labelled “pour homme” or “cologne”. I’ve also seen the opposite with women who were worried about wearing men’s cologne just because it wasn’t called perfume.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter. If something’s a “men’s cologne” and you’re a woman who happens to enjoy it, wear it and enjoy it. If you’re a man who enjoys “women’s perfume” then wear it and enjoy it too. By the way, you should not be ashamed of buying women’s perfume or men’s cologne if you happen to be the opposite gender. You like what you like, there’s no shame in enjoying a cologne or a perfume. It’s all about you and what makes you happy. That’s the whole point of fragrances, introducing this “men only” or “women only” garbage just muddles up something that should be fun and enjoyable.
I know I tend to indicate in my reviews if a perfume smells young, but don’t let something that smells young hinder you from enjoying or wearing it. “Young” is a label I personally use to describe a section of perfumes often enjoyed by teenagers. That doesn’t mean an adult couldn’t enjoy and wear them either. This also works in reverse with fragrances typically thought to be “too old” for someone.
If you’re a teenager who loves the scent of Joy by Jean Patou then go ahead and rock it. It just means you have good taste in classic perfumery. If you’re an older person who enjoys the smell of Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf then by all means, wear it and have fun. It probably just means you find the scent pleasing and there’s nothing wrong with that.
If you like it then rock it. 😀