Department Store Perfume vs. Discount Perfume

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Perfume has been around for thousands of years, staring with the Egyptians. They were the first society to use perfume, but not in the same way as we use it today. The Egyptians incorporated perfume in their religious ceremonies. The methods they used were burning incense and applying ointments. Soon, the Egyptian women realized that these ointments smelled so good, that they began use the oils and creams as perfume for their own bodies.

As time went on, many other cultures, such as the Arabs, Greeks, Hindus, and Israelites, adopted the practice of wearing perfume, as well. It was not until the mid 1600s that France started to enjoy the benefits of perfume. Through the years, the scents of perfumes have changed, but one thing has remained the same: people love to buy perfume.

To really understand the impact perfume has had on the world, we should learn the basics of the biz. Here are the different types of fragrances we use:
  • Perfume is the most expensive of all because it is the most concentrated form of fragranced oil. Design by Paul Sebastian is an example of a perfume. ("Perfume" is also the generic word for all fragrances.)

  • Eau de Parfum provides a lighter scent than perfumes, but is still rather strong. Obsession by Calvin Klein is an example of a parfum.

  • Eau de Toilette, or better known as cologne, is one of the least concentrated of the fragrances. Eau de Toilette is for people who enjoy a more subtle scent than perfume and parfum. Chanel No. 5 and Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers are examples of Eau de Toilette.
Perfume could not be made if it was not for certain fragrant plants and oils. Some of the major fragrance categories are:
  • Floral

  • Oriental

  • Chypre

  • Fruit

  • Floriental

  • Green Marine
Many perfume shoppers visit department stores, like Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom, to simply browse the many isles devoted to brand-name fragrances. As one walks through the Cosmetic department, companies such as Clinique, Liz Claiborne, and Chanel, hand out samples of their newest fragrances. Which to choose? They are all somewhat pricey. But many consumers enjoy shopping at the department stores because they know what they are getting. When they walk inside the store, they have the opportunity to smell all of the different brands that are available. They also like the guarantee that they are receiving the actual perfume, in its authentic box-not a knock-off that smells similar, but is just a little different from the original.

Many other consumers go a different route when purchasing their perfume. Some buy their favorite brands at discount perfume stores over the Internet. There are many benefits and downsides to this kind of shopping.

Just because something is less expensive doesn't mean it is of inferior quality. There are plenty of genuine discount perfume websites on the Internet. One of the benefits to purchasing your perfume through a discount perfume site is, obviously, the fact that you save a lot of money. For example, one discount site advertises Cabontine, a popular fragrance by Parfums Gres, for $19.90. This scent retails for $62.00 in department stores. That is a savings of 68%!

It is well worth it, provided that this site is honestly selling the genuine products. A good way to verify that a site is legit is to listen to word of mouth. Do your homework on some of these websites to confirm that they are legitimate businesses and not some get-rich-quick scheme designed by some corrupt person.

Sometimes things are too good to be true. There are many websites out there that promise one thing, but deliver another. And that goes for many of the discount perfume websites, as well. For instance, there are many businesses that offer the same brand-name perfumes that you would find in department stores for 20-80% off the retail prices. "How can they get away with that," one might wonder. Well, some shady businesses can get away with it because the perfume that they sell is not what they advertise. It may be a knock-off of the original, or a scam altogether. The product may be damaged or even stolen.

Also, be sure to check the shipping-and-handling cost before you agree to purchase a perfume over the Internet. Some companies jack up the shipping-and-handling cost in an attempt to solicit more money from you. These dishonest methods are how some companies mange to sell the perfume for so much less than legitimate businesses.

Today, there are more than 20,000 fragrances on the market. Celebrities like Brittany Spears and Liz Taylor have their own perfumes. So, we know that it is a booming market. The question is "Is to worth shopping at discount perfume stores?" I think that it is really a matter of opinion. Some people enjoy the risk involved to save a couple of buck here and there. However, I am pretty sure that no matter how much the price of perfume rises, consumers will still buy their favorites for full price for one good reason that has nothing to do with a great deal-they want it now, now, now.