Perfumes on a pinch: 5 fragrances under £20

If you’ve been on a no-buy or slow-buy regime of late – or are impatiently awaiting payday – but want a fragrant fix RIGHT NOW: we totally understand, and have you covered. We think the best collections have a mixture; so yes, perhaps some of those high-end scents we save up for, but also a good selection of the more pocket-friendly purchases we can collect and enjoy along with them.

These budget friendly fragrances have been selected to showcase a range of our favourites available on the high street – perfumes that really pack a punch and smell incredible (of course); and with many of them having been made by some of the world’s best noses, they may surprise you.

So which of these will you treat yourself to…?

 

 

If you have shied away from ‘celebrity perfumes’ or thought them dull, prepare to have your mind blown. This is properly weird – and I mean that with the greatest of respect. Hold onto your hats because the first few seconds (and it’s only seconds, I promise you) smell like a hot photocopier: warm paper and wet ink. Now that surreal image has dated me, buckle up because you’re about to be propelled straight into the heart of a forest, a tunnel of trees with tender green leaves unfurling. An hour after spraying, I feel as though I have built a secret den from twigs and moss, lined the floor with slightly damp cardboard and garlanded the walls with sprigs of lilly of the valley and swags of honeysuckle. Snug in this scented hideaway, the drydown becomes a hazy reverie of joyfully sucked chocolate squares, a daydream to savour. Think ‘celebrity’ ‘fumes are humdrum affairs? Ditch your snobbery. This is like wearing a legal trip (half a tab, anyway). The perfumer was Frank Voelkl – chappie who also did Le Labo Santal 33 and Chantecaille Tiare. And look at that price (currently on offer – snap them up before they disappear).

Sarah Jessica Parker Covet, £7.99 for 100ml eau de parfum
theperfumeshop.com

 

 

Big name houses doing collaborations with clothing brands? I’m a huge hands up for such enterprises, and the new Jo Loves fragrant offshoot at Zara created by Jo Malone is going great guns, if the breathlessly excited reviews by our friends are anything to go by. It’s hard to choose, as they’re all very well done, but I’ve plumped for this one simply because it’s not something I’d normally try, and that’s half the fun. Think of early spring days when the fat buds are bursting and signs of life stirring, a drafty picnic in a bosky dell, wrapped in a cashmere jumper and smiling at clear blue skies. The lavender, musk and sandalwood noted become a swirl of slightly subdued laughter on a lightly frost-tinged breeze. Delightful. (PS: The 10ml bottles are just £5.99 and full-size £25.99).

Zara Bohemian Bluebells, £15.99 for 40ml eau de parfum
zara.com

Perhaps there are times you want to feel swathed in comfort and warmth but with some sunlight filtering through and room to breathe? This is just the ticket: the richness of patchouli and oak moss tempered with transparency and shot through with shards of pink pepper. The cedarwood offers a soothingly dry shadiness, the sense of a late-afternoon stroll with the sun gently dipping and long shadows stretching to infinity on the grass. Before a chill sets in, the dry-down emerges – a splendidly sheer cocoa that enhances the airy earthiness of the patchouli and feels more of a dusting atop a latte than a ribbon-wrapped box of chocolates. Rather lovely on the chaps, of course, but at this price I’d buy myself a bottle, too, instead of nicking his. (This comment is not legally binding).

Yardley Gentleman Legacy, £19.99 for 100ml eau de parfum
yardleylondon.co.uk

 

Now here’s a little gem you may have overlooked – and one created by Francis Kurkdjian no less. An incredible burst of freshness that encapsulates the drowsy luxury of basking in Provençale sunshine, from the first sniff I’m transported to sunnier climes and can practically feel the warmth on my skin. It’s just the perfect balance of sparkle with that lactic lap of milky figs a balm for the soul. A fizz of mandarin fruitiness and the aromatic air of lightly spiced caraway seeds is sliced by a zing of grapefruit to awaken the senses, stirred through with fig pulp and grouded with the greeness of fig leaves. But it’s the dry-down I find particularly swoonsome, with a delightfully dry cedar smoothed into perfection by a creamy base of that fig milk. It’s something I find myself reaching for throughout the warmer days and whenever I need a happy holiday memory to get me through more challenging times; so often.

Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier, £19.50 for 30ml eau de toilette
marksandspencer.com

 

 

If you don’t have days you want to be wrapped in a whisper of white, soft cotton and powdery peonies, are you even alive? I adored this the moment it came out (1998, fact fans) and simply haven’t stopped. It’s somehow both effortless and uncomplicated but soothingly nuanced, and full of the most tender poignancy. The darling little bottle resembles a pearl in perfume form, and wearing this does feel as though you have become subsumed in that pearlescent radiance. Delicate blooms of freesia nuzzle fuzzy peach skin and ylang ylang dances with a shower of sheer rose petals to an intriguing base of coffee, silvery wisps of incense, and an aerated ivory smoothness akin to a long, cool glass of cream soda. Created by Olivier Cresp – of Mugler’s Angel and Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling fame, among many others – it’s a masterpiece in understated loveliness that I like to wear on lazy sundays.

Cacharel Noa, £15 for 30ml eau de toilette
superdrug.com

When searching for a little something to treat yourself with, do also have a look for travel-sizes and special edition giftsets in stores and online, because there really are some bargains out there.

If you’re already well versed in the charms of the high street and want to venture into indie and artisanal fragrances, It can sometimes be more difficult to find a cost effective way in, but we’re thrilled to currently be offering FIVE luxe niche Discovery Sets, all £20 or under. And don’t forget – our own carefully curated Perfume Society Discovery Boxes are all £19 (£15 to VIP Club members).

By Suzy Nightingale

Stuck for a gift? Follow our Galentines guide & treat yourself, too!

Here at The Perfume Society, we’re all about celebrating Galentines – it’s a word we first saw popping up last year, but do you know what it signifies?

Well, January seemed about seventy three days long, everyone we know has had (or is still recovering from) ‘flu and just about all of our gal-pals have been having a really difficult time of it, lately.

Feel the same?

We thought it was about time to treat ourselves to something nice – and to show our best gal-pals how much they mean to us (at what can be a very difficult time of year for those struggling with depression or just trying their best to keep on top of things!) So forget V-Day for a while and celebrate ‘Galentines’ with us.

Why not have a look through these top picks and see if there’s a sweet treat you could surprise someone special with, or give yourself something to look forward to? Showing someone you care, adding a simple note saying ‘hey there, thinking of you’ – and being kind to yourself – can mean a lot, and we think these would make great gift ideas or pick-me-up presents for any time of year…

REEK is the house to head for when seeking gifts for those perfume-loving pals who definitely want to stand out from the crowd. Proudly promoting positive body images for women (none of their photos are re-touched to make the models look unnaturally ‘perfect’) the fragrances celebrate rebellious women through history. Choose from Damn Rebel Bitches or Damn Rebel Witches (we’re loving the names, the ‘fumes and the attitude!) and celebrate the fact that for all orders over £50 between now and V-Day, they’ll throw in a free gift card and a free mini ‘Love Potion’ tote bag. Order this and some of their fab stickers to treat your best witch bitch!

REEK Witch Bitch Set £45 for 2 x 7.5ml eau de parfum
Buy it at reekperfume.com

As the old saying goes – if you don’t love yourself, who else will? Everyone deserves a little luxury now and again, and we believe our Treat Yourself Discovery Box is ideal for anyone (yourself included) who needs a little extra TLC right now. The power of perfume to transport you is well documented, so why not fly away on a fragrant cloud to the tranquillity of a deserted beach, a vista of Moroccan orange blossom trees, the fragrant imaginings of two perfumers’ translating literature into scents, a field of lavender and a ground-breaking house inspired by the most intelligent women in the world? And that doesn’t even nearly cover the treats in store! From cult niche to designer opulence, your ultimate escape beckons…

Treat Yourself Discovery Box from £15
Buy it from our online shop

Izia launched last year, and immediately scored a hit for those seeking a scent that straddles the gap ‘between pretty and impertinent” as Sisley put it. Rose but not as you know it, this manages to be both pretty and uplifting with a carefree, bohemian edge. To celebrate their one-year anniversary, Sisley turned to the rock-n-roll style of British artist Quentin Jones for a whole new spin on the packaging. This limited edition features fluorescent ink, rose collages and paint flecks for vibrant pops of colour contrasted with the luminescent, sparkling cheerfulness of that rosy juice. If you know a Sisley-addict (and there are many) or someone who adores rose perfumes but can’t abide dustiness, this is guaranteed to brighten their whole year.

Sisley Izia £95 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at houseoffraser.co.uk

When everything seems dark and gloomy, there’s nothing like lighting up your life with a box of perfume that’s simply bursting with exotic blossoms. Not sure what your friend’s favourite floral is, or want to branch-out and try some flower-filled scents for yourself? Cochine‘s discovery set is the perfect choice. A trio of fragrances inspired by the beautiful location of Saigon (where founder Kate Crofton-Atkins was tempted to move after quitting her high-powered beauty job in London – and who can blame her?) there’s the delights of White Jasmine & Gardenia, Vietnamese Rose & Delentii and Tuberose & Wild Fig to revel in. Great size for travelling or popping in your purse, too!

Cochine Floral Collection £35 for 3 x 8ml eau de parfum
Buy it from our online shop

Sarah Jessica Parker turned the world of celebrity fragrances on its head with the release of Stash, which converted many niche-only perfumistas into full-on fans of the scent. The second of the opus – Stash Unspoken – is an exquisitely werable plunge into prettiness with an edge, featuring pink peppercorns and the honeyed addictiveness of quince atop a floral heart that feels like twirling in a tulle gown: wisteria, honeysuckle and peony entwine with the rich almond-y muskiness of the base (and a hint of woozy booziness to reel you right in.) Fans of Sex and the City, fashion-mavens and fragrance lovers alike will thank you for this addition to their wardrobe, and at a very purse-friendly price.

SJP Stash Unspoken £25 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at superdrug.com

What if your gal-pal is miles away? We have a few best friends who live abroad and it can be really tricky sending presents via air-mail, so a great idea you can send and she can receive immediately is an International Online Subscription for our award-winning magazine dedicated to perfume: The Scented Letter. Solving a myriad last-minute present problems, it’s bursting with our reviews of all the latest launches your nose needs to know, exclusive interviews with the world’s best perfumers, full-length (and gorgeously illustrated) features on ingredients, the history of the perfume houses, trends and fascinating peeks behind-the-scenes. And the best bit? It’s eight 48-page digital editions a year, so really is the gift that keeps on giving!

The Scented Letter Magazine International Online Subscription £20

A lovely name for a really beautiful fragrance, Precious One is a bewitching blend of soaring fleur des nuits, tuberose and jasmine on the softest green chypre base of oak moss and layers of smoky vetiver swirling from the depths. Awarded Best New Independent Fragrance in 2012 by the Fragrance Foundation UK, Angela Flanders was the most wonderful British perfumer – a vibrant character who sadly passed away in 2016 – and this perfume was created for her daughter Kate Evans’s Precious boutique (also nearby in Spitalfields). A great way to to tell your friend how special they are to you, and now available in this handy travel-size.

Angela Flanders Precious One £28 for 10ml eau de parfum
Buy it from angelaflanders-perfumer.com

Okay so perhaps you can’t jet-off to Bali with your bestie, but how about arranging a weekend away or even a spa-day to enjoy together? We also suggest treating both of you to the Try Before You Fly Discovery Box (pssst! Grab it at the sale price while you can!) bulging even more than our handluggage usually is with all manner of scented delights. Close your eyes and think: tanned skin and flowers in your hair with soft bouquets from Miu Miu, Jimmy Choo and Barbour. Take in the sights of stylish Scandinavia with Agonist or sip espresso on the piazza with The Merchant of Venice, among the many specially curated scents in this selection. Have a look for some special last-minute deals to escape the gloom or book-ahead and dream of holidays to come…

Try Before You Fly Discovery Box from £10
Buy it from our online shop

There are few people who don’t appreciate the gift of a gloriously scented candle – and you don’t even have to know their favourite fragrances to pick one they’ll love (though we’d hope you at least know your best friend’s fave!) If you’re a trio of gal pals, why not have a splurge and treat all three of you to a Diptyque mini candle? This set features Baies – still their best selling candle – with its bouquet of roses and blackcurrant leaves, Figuier – comfortingly warm fig wood, the freshness of leaves and milky sap, and Roses – baskets of roses overflowing with abundance. Each mini candle is 70g and handily portable for travellers who crave their scented spaces. Which one would you choose?

Diptyque Mini Candles Set £65 for 3 x 70g candles (also avaiable separately and in other fragrances for £24)
Buy it at diptyqueparis.co.uk

Still searching for a gift?

If you know your friend’s favourite fragrance and want to treat them to something new (but are worried about getting something they don’t like) never fear! We have a genius solution. Simply type the name of their signature scent into our clever database, FR.eD (short for Fragrance Editor) and you’ll be given several suggestions based on fragrances with similar characters, shared notes or styles they’re bound to love. It really works! Give it a try, now, and find your perfect fragrance match

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Stave off the January blues with top bloggers tips on the best fragrances for UNDER £30!

Cold, dreary days, a waistline that’s more than likely expanded and a bank balance that’s positively sylphlike in contrast are bound to set in motion the dreaded ‘January blues’. As you trudge back to work, wearily lamenting the wish-list of scents that Santa somehow forgot and yearning for something new to pep up your spirits – fear not, we have the answer. Well, several, in fact!
Apart from our glorious SALEthree for the price of two on all our own Perfume Society Discovery Boxes! – let’s look back to the times we asked top fragrance bloggers Persolaise and Get Lippie, along with our own Senior Writer Suzy Nightingale, to compile a list of their five favourite fragrances for under £30.
Click on their names, above, to be whisked to the bargain fragrant suggestions…
We’re not going to pretend that some of our all-time faves aren’t quite a bit more expensive than the budget we set for these scents, but it’s also important to remember that some truly great fragrances happen to be far more pocket-friendly, too.
We wonder if you can guess what they chose, if any of your favourites are included – or perhaps you have some fragrant bargains of your own to share?
Tell us your favourite guilt-free splurges on scent by Tweeting us, posting a picture and tagging us on Instagram or by emailing us at the office. We’re anxious to know!