Fragrances are substances created and used with the aim of giving something a pleasant scent. This scent is achieved by using various essential oils and aroma compounds in the creation of the fragrance.
You might have heard the terms perfume (for women) and cologne (for men) more frequently for such substances. This is actually a colloquial misuse, which has spread in the language in the past century.
In the truth, these words refer to the intensity and longevity of fragrances and the concentration of the aromatic compounds. Perfume actually means fragrances with a high concentration of aromatic compounds, 15-40%.
Eau de cologne, or simply cologne has been diluted further, with only about 5-8% aromatic compound content. There are fragrances even lighter than that, called mists or splashes.
Typically, the cost of fragrances correlates with their concentration, though this does not mean that fragrances with higher aromatic compound content are inherently better in some way. The cost also depends on the extraction method, not just the concentration.
Naturally, you can buy cheap fragrances available in most every supermarket and drugstore. However, if you are looking for premium fragrances from exclusive brand, the price can get quite steep.
This guide can help you find the best deals for buying cheap premium fragrances online and offline as well.
UPDATE: Coupon codes for duty free fragrances are at the bottom! Scroll down to get the temporary coupon codes, while they are still valid. New coupon codes are posted regularly.
Types of fragrances
Fragrances can be categorised by the method used to create them. Natural fragrances are created by extracting the aromatic compounds from various natural sources.
These sources are generally either plants – flowers, bark, seed, leaves, etc – or animals – civet musk, honeycomb, and so on. Because of these natural sources, these fragrances have more complex scents, but they may also contain allergenic compounds.
Synthetic fragrances, on the other hand, contain one primary organic compound, resulting in a pure, but at times monotonous scent. Synthetic fragrances are, in general, cheaper than the natural ones, though the price depends on the exact synthesis or extraction method used.
Airport shops are among the most popular places to buy duty-free fragrances. The fragrances could – in theory – be cheaper in duty-free shops than in other kinds of stores, as they are exempt from VAT and other types of taxes.
However, this is often not the case!
Due to the differences in exchange rates and the high profit margins, the prices they offer are often higher than those you can find at regular brick and mortar retailers.
/This is true for cigarettes, for example. See the price comparison of cigarettes here./
Duty-free shops usually have many types of fragrances available. When comparing prices, make sure you pay attention to the currency the price is set in, as well as the current exchange rates.
I compared the price of one 75 ml bottle of Giorgio Armani Code Ice in an airport duty free shop, in a local retailer and in in an online duty free shop.
Duty free shop in Dubai – $ 95,83 (depends on exchange rate)
Local store in Dubai – $65,16 (without the temporary discount)
Online duty free shop – $61,99
You can see that a local shop sells the same product for $30 less than the supposedly cheaper duty free shop! This is a common all around the world, duty free shops are actually not cheaper at all! They have been decieving you for years, you can make the price comparison for yourself, for your country to see just how much more expensive nearly everything they sell are.
But buying it in a store locally it is still not your best option for buying cheap fragrances though!
The best options are actually online duty-free shops. As you can see it is indeed the cheapest option.
The online duty-free shop I recommend regularly has fragrances from all the popular brands available and offers free shipping. You can check out their selection here.
Be careful with other online shops because many don’t offer free shipping and the fragrances appear to be seemingly cheaper but once you add the cost of shipping you will end up paying more!
Buying fragrances online
As you could see from the brief price comparison above, buying fragrances in online duty-free shops is more often than not cheaper than brick and mortar alternatives. As the price lists of many brick and mortar retailers are also available online, it is quite easy to check which one is the cheapest (however, duty free shops are usually not listed on price comparison websites, you have to do it manually).
Naturally, there are too many kinds of fragrances, all with changing prices to compare them all in one article, so you’re advised to do your own research, especially if buying larger amounts. Keep in mind that temporary discounts may make it seem cheaper, but they are just that, temporary.
Apart from the low prices, buying fragrances online is also convenient. Online duty-free shops have a wide range of fragrances available, regarding both brands and scents.
A considerable advantage of online duty-free shops over their traditional counterparts is that many airport duty-frees make deliveries only within the country they are located in.
Online duty-free fragrance shops, on the other hand, generally offer worldwide shipping, free of charge to most countries.
Legal issues with buying fragrances online
Ordering fragrances from online duty-free shops is, in general, perfectly legal. However, certain countries have limitations regarding the kinds of products that may be imported without having to pay extra; or at all.
In Canada, for example, the Canadian Post considers fragrances hazardous material due to their flammability. You can still use other ways to have the products delivered, such as UPS, but you should always check the regulations before buying fragrances online, especially in bulk.
If your shipment is seized or lost for any reason, contact the retailer you bought the fragrances from; even if it was uninsured many online shops offer some form of recompense.
The shop I recommend offers a form of insurance to protect buyers. If you decide to pay some extra, your order will be guaranteed to be delivered again if it happens to be seized by customs, free of charge. I strongly suggest using this insurance if you bulk order.
Duty-free allowances for fragrances
You can find the duty-free allowances for fragrances here: Duty-free, tax free guide with allowances (sorted by country).
Certain countries seize your order if it exceeds the limit on duty free products. The UK, and to a lesser extent the US is notorious for this. In those two countries we definitely do not recommend ordering more than the duty free allowance.
Duty-free fragrance coupon codes
Duty-free shops regularly offer discount codes for fragrances and bulk order discounts. You can find the latest coupon codes here.
Please click the Google + button if you found this guide useful.
It helps me out a lot, I appreciate it. Thanks!
Check out the other fragrance related price comparison and shopping guides:
- Duty free Perfume
- Duty free Cologne (coming soon)
Last updated: 2016-08-07
Get informed, save money,