Perfume is a harmless little life luxury – unless you develop a penchant for Chanel No5 that is. And as with most beauty buys, from mascara to moisturiser, we tend to think that the more expensive the product, the better it is.
But what if we told you that you don’t always have to spend a small fortune on fragrances, and that some of our favourites fall under £35? Sound too good to be true right? But in fact, we’ve often received more compliments wearing budget perfumes than some flashy label fragrances. And supermarkets, high-street stores and big beauty e-tailers are stocked full of them – you just have to know where to look.
Firstly though, a quick lesson in the different fragrance types. There are four different strengths: eau de parfum, eau de toilette, eau de cologne and eau fraiche. The former is generally the most expensive as it contains the highest amount of perfume oil (between 10 and 20 per cent), which means you can expect it to stay on for upwards of eight hours, and the others are listed in descending order.
Although that’s not to say eau de parfum is better than the others – it’s not all about how long something lasts, after all. Someone who likes a very light fragrance would be much better suited to an eau fraiche, while those who like to have a signature scent will probably be best off with an eau de toilette.
So, now we all know our parfums from our colognes, it’s time to find out the best penny-pinching perfumes. Below you’ll find our favourite standout scents and floral fragrances, all of which come in at under £35 – and you may be surprised to see some luxury labels in here too.
How we tested
Perfume is a very subjective beauty product. Unlike anti-ageing creams or even foundation, there’re no visible results when spritzing away, so it really does come down to personal preference on scent. Looking at longevity and strength of smell, these ones best impressed. And our tester has something for everyone, whether you’re a fresh and fruity lover or prefer a more subtle and sexy musk.
The best cheap perfumes for 2023 are:
- Best overall – M&S Santorini days eau de parfum: £15, Marksandspencer.com
- Best bargain perfume – Smooch by So…? vixen eau de parfum: £4.89, Sofragrance.com
- Best designer perfume – Coach floral eau de parfum: £35, Lookfantastic.com
- Best fruity floral fragrance – Scentology pomelo and neroli perfume for women: £12.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for gifting – Next flowers eau de parfum: £16, Next.co.uk