I love scents, to the point where they might just be my favorite beauty indulgence; but finding interesting and inexpensive perfume lines that won't destroy my bank account can be quite a task. A lot of my favorite fragrances are ones I only buy in tiny sample vials, because of how expensive classic and indie perfumes can be. Some of my most beloved scents cost upwards of $200 or $300 a bottle, and though I understand the fact that high quality materials aren't cheap, I can't justify spending a quarter of my monthly paycheck on perfume at this point in my life.
So, to pad out my array of tiny, precious samples, I also like to have a few less-breathtakingly expensive bottles on hand for everyday spritzing.
Luckily for me and other broke perfume junkies, there are several fragrance lines currently creating fun and interesting scents without exorbitant price tags. As these scents are often formulated in lighter concentrations than expensive niche offerings, they can also be great for layering and developing your own unique scent (and, since they're relatively inexpensive, you can actually justify getting a couple products and trying differing combinations). So, if you've been wanting to learn a little more about the world of fragrance without maxing out your checking account, check out these nine perfume lines that will keep you smelling great on a budget
Pinrose is a new-ish perfume brand that I've been experimenting with lately, and I really like how the brand sets up its offerings. A full bottle of any fragrance is $55, and you can buy a gift package for the same price that'll get you 12 samples to try, as well as a voucher for a full bottle once you've picked a favorite.
I love any brand that supports experimentation, and this package makes a great option for giving (or keeping). There's also a fun quiz on the Pinrose website to help you pick the scent that's best for you, and the individual perfumes are fun, youthful, and contemporary. They manage to be interesting enough to wear alone, but still coordinate really well for layering.
Another playful perfume brand, TokyoMilk distinguishes itself with a slightly Victorian sensibility, very reasonable prices, and light yet curiosity-piquing fragrances. A one-ounce bottle from the main Tokyomilk line will only set you back $30, and there are dozens of delightful options to choose from.
The Tokyomilk Dark collection (dark refers more to the advertising than to the scents, which are also lovely but inoffensive) runs slightly more, with a full bottle ringing in at $36. You can also get several of the Dark collection products in smaller rollerballs for only $22, and these scents are also carried at Sephora so you can try before you buy.
I've never smelled a TokyoMilk scent I didn't enjoy; its perfumes manage to be quirky enough to keep you interested, but pleasant enough to not offend coworkers with whom you share an elevator. Plus, the bottles are pretty enough to show off on any vanity table or curiosity cabinet.
You might have seen products from natural beauty company Pacifica at your local Whole Foods or health shop. This brand is known not only for its body-loving cosmetics and skincare, but also for its sweet and simple single-note fragrances that focus on green, floral, and woody notes from nature.
One thing I love about the company is that you have the option of buying scents in three formats: Bottle, rollerball, or solid perfume compact. The compacts and rollerballs are super purse friendly, and great to have on hand for on-the-go spritzing.
Additionally, none of these options costs more than $25, so you can buy as many as you want and create a signature concoction all of your own. What more could a perfume-lover ask for?
When you need a dash of French girl chic but can't afford a plane ticket to Paris, Outremer perfumes might just be the next best thing. This classic yet inexpensive brand creates pretty little scents with a vintage vibe that can be had for a steal.
A couple of Outremer's classics are available at Anthropologie for $18 a piece, while you can peruse a larger selection over at BeautyHabit for a similar price range. If you love (but can't always afford) the classics, these scents, while not as rich or complex, still have something of that grand, old-fashioned spirit about them.
While Thymes creates all sorts of scented products, from bubble bath to home candles, this brand also makes some of my favorite naturally-inspired colognes. Its Olive Leaf scent is one of my all-time top green fragrances; it's the absolutely perfect mix of comforting and fresh. And, at $33 for a 1.7-ounce bottle, I can afford to apply it liberally.
From eucalyptus to plum, jasmine to fig, Thymes boasts an impressive array of scents to choose from, and its selection is constantly rotating, with a few classics always available and several seasonal selections that move in and out of production.
Thymes is perfect for anyone who loves to coordinate their body products; most of the scents are available in several formulations, from bar soap to body lotion to dusting powders, so you can layer applications for maximum sensory enjoyment.
All Good Things, $60, Lush
Although natural body product brand LUSH is best known for its colorful bath bombs and seasonal soaps, it also has a fun little fragrance line of fresh and floral scents that are available in both liquid and solid formulations. LUSH makes one of my favorite jasmine scents, Lust, that's unabashedly heady and just a little bit carnal. It's the perfect inexpensive fix when I want to feel my sexiest.
Although full size bottles of these fragrances run around $50 to $60, LUSH also offers a smaller, .3 ounce option for about half that, and its solid perfumes are almost all in the $10 to $15 range.
If you're curious about the individual scents or "notes" that go into different perfumes, you should definitely check out Demeter. This funky little company made its name by creating oddly dead-on impressions of everyday smells like grass, tomato leaf, and condensed milk. With a huge selection of single-note scents covering the gamut, from lilac to chocolate to dirt, it's a great place to begin getting to know the individual smells of perfumery that, combined, can create some of the world's most interesting and complex perfumes.
Because of Demeter's large selection and the simplicity of its scents, this is also an excellent fragrance line for layering; and as the least expensive of the brands listed here (a one-ounce bottle of cologne is priced at only $16), it's really easy to build your own customized selection.
Although limited edition scents and unusual niche perfumes can quickly exhaust your beauty budget, there are still plenty of interesting, enjoyable fragrances available that won't break the bank. Whether you love classic, vintage French perfumery or modern, quirky scents with unusual inspirations, these seven inexpensive fragrance lines have great options for for finding a new signature scent, or creating your own.
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