This Is the REAL Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Perfumes

Are you only paying more for a brand name and a pretty bottle?

There are a few tricks to make your outfits look expensive, but is it possible to smell expensive, too? After all, not everyone can afford to shell out $100-plus on a designer fragrance. And if you’re only paying extra for a brand name and a pretty bottle, why bother?

Turns out, this is one item you don’t have to splurge on (but if you do, Princess Diana’s favorite $140 perfume is a great place to start). “There are no absolutes to recognizing an expensive perfume from a cheap one,” perfume-maker and aromatherapist Tatiana Estevez wrote on Quora. “So much of what we find appealing about smell is linked to buried memories and what we associate a smell with.”

Yep, that means your favorite perfume could remind one person of their glamorous grandmother, and another of an ex-best friend—and no amount of money can change that.

The-REAL-Difference-Between-Cheap-and-Expensive-Perfumes IMG Stock Studio/shutterstock

There are subtle differences, though. For one, cheaper perfumes tend to be sweeter. “This isn’t because sweet smelling ingredients are just cheaper than others (although they can be), but because cheap perfume tends to be marketed for younger people (who tend to have less money),” writes Estevez. Here’s more about what your perfume says about your personality.

A bigger difference is that an expensive fragrance is more likely to last longer. Most cheap perfumes can replicate a pricier version’s top notes (the scent that lasts about a half hour after spraying), but without the proper essential oils to add mid-notes and base-notes, it won’t be able to wear as long. (Here’s how to make any perfume last longer.) “See how both perfumes smell on your skin after two hours, four hours and six hours,” writes Estevez. “A cheaper perfume may smell bad or have no smell at all.”

Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose a fragrance that fits your budget and taste.