Perfumes are mixtures of various essential oils and aromatic compounds, as well as fixatives and solvents. They are designed to give the human body or various objects a pleasant scent.
The term perfume can actually be used in two different meanings. There is a distinction between the fragrances (fragrant substances) used by men and women: female products are generally called perfume, versions intended for men are called cologne.
However, this only a colloquialism. Perfume, or parfum, actually means something different.
Parfum, pure perfume or simply perfume has a concentration between 15-40%. Eau de parfum, also called eau de perfume contains 10-20% aromatic compounds. Esprit de parfum is a lesser-used variant, with a “strength” between the aforementioned types.
Typically, the price of perfumes rises with their concentration, though this is not always the case. The cost depends on the extraction method, and the higher the concentration, the larger the amount that needs to be extracted.
Naturally, you can buy cheap perfumes available in most every supermarket and drugstore. However, if you are looking for perfumes with a higher concentration or of a more exclusive brand, the price can get quite steep.
This guide can help you find the best deals for buying cheap perfumes online and offline as well.
UPDATE: Perfume coupon codes 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 perfumes
Perfumes can be divided into two categories based on the method used to create them. The aromatic compounds are either extracted from various natural sources, in the case of natural perfumes, while perfumes created from synthetic origins provide fragrances not found in nature.
Natural sources are generally either plants – flowers, bark, seed, leaves, etc – or animals – civet musk, honeycomb, and so on. Because of these natural sources, these perfumes have more complex scents, but they may also contain allergenic compounds.
Synthetic perfumes, on the other hand, contain one primary organic compound, resulting in a pure, but at times monotonous scent. Synthetic perfumes are, in general, cheaper than the natural ones, though the price depends on the exact synthesis or extraction method used.
Airport duty-free shops are quite popular places to buy perfumes. The duty-free perfumes in these stores could, in theory, be cheaper than in regular 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.
Duty-free shops usually have many types of perfumes available. If you are looking to buy a certain perfume for as low a price as possible, don’t forget to check the currency the price it is set in. Current exchange rates can have a large effect on how much the perfume will really cost you.
To illustrate the price differences I compared the price of the perfume Prada Candy in a duty free shop at an airport in Dubai, a local retailer in Dubai and an online duty free shop.
Duty free shop – $118.33
Local retailer – $86.51
Online duty free shop – $57.99
As you can see local retailers are significantly cheaper than the duty free shops at the airports! This is actually true for every product category, there are many people who still don’t know it, but duty free shops are actually selling things more expensive not cheaper.
If you intend to purchase tax free perfumes, I recommend online duty free shops. They are least expensive option.
The online duty-free shop I recommend regularly has perfumes from all the popular brands available and offers free shipping. You can check out their selection here. They ship worldwide.
Be careful with other online shops because many don’t offer free shipping and the perfumes appear to be cheaper, but once you add the cost of shipping you will end up paying more!
Buying perfume online
As the brief price comparison above shows, buying perfume in online duty-free shops can be quite a lot cheaper than brick and mortar alternatives. Most of the airport duty-frees and many brick and mortar retailers have online price lists available, making price comparisons easier.
Apart from the low prices, buying perfume online is also convenient. Online duty-free shops have a wide range of perfumes available, regarding both brands and scents. As a result, you need not go to several retailers or even countries personally in order to find a more exclusive, limited edition perfume.
Being able to order cheap perfumes from your home is made useful by the international shipping offered by most online duty-free perfume shops. Airport duty-frees, on the other hand, typically only offer pick-up or shipping within the country they are located in.
Legal issues with buying perfumes online
In general, ordering perfumes from online duty-free shops is completely legal. However, there are some countries with limitations on the kinds of products that may be imported without having to pay extra; or at all.
In Canada, for example, perfumes are considered hazardous material due to their flammability, and will not be delivered by the Canadian Post. 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 perfumes 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 perfume
You can find the duty-free allowances for perfumes 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 perfume coupon codes
Duty-free shops regularly offer coupon codes for perfumes and bulk order discount. You can find the latest coupon codes here.
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Check out the other fragrance related price comparison and shopping guides:
- Duty free Fragrances
- Duty free Cologne (coming soon)
Last updated: 2016-08-07
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