I always knew that I liked perfume, but it wasn't until my last house move when my perfume collection required an entire packing box that I realised how much I truly love it. Sure, I was able to part with a couple of out-of-date bottles, but most of my stash felt too precious to cull. The thing about perfume is that it's so personal. Scent is linked so closely to memory that even if you've only worn a perfume a few times, you can evoke a past time and place with just one spritz.
The problem? Perfume is expensive. Of all the products I've collected over the years, my perfumes are worth the most, and unfortunately, I have expensive taste in scents. Byredo, Tom Ford, Maison Margiela… Most of my favourite perfume brands will set you back around £100 for a bottle. Trust me—I know how ridiculous that sounds, especially as someone who spent her early teenage years buying knockoff bottles of Thierry Mugler Angel, and CK One from the market, dousing herself in Impulse Thrill, and circling J.Lo Glow in the Boots Christmas catalogue.
That's not to say there aren't plenty of fantastic, affordable perfume options out there, though. There are. In fact, with Byredo's founder Ben Gorham working with & Other Stories on its perfume offering and Jo Loves founder Jo Malone CBE collaborating with Zara, there are plenty of purse-friendly perfumes to rival my more expensive favourites—you just need to know where to look.
Keep scrolling for my edit of the best affordable perfumes. They may be cheap but, take my word for it—these are just as good as the expensive ones.
1. Marks & Spencer Apothecary Warmth Eau De Parfum
This perfume recently went viral on TikTok as a dupe for a certain sandalwood designer scent that is over 10 times the price tag. It's consistently going out of stock, so act fast.
2. Zara Applejuice Eau de Toilette
My sister introduced me to this fresh, fruity perfume and it truly is a delight. With hints of apple, orange and pink grapefruit alongside a floral bouquet or rose, jasmine, violet and peony, it's vibrant and uplifting.
3. By Rosie Jane Leila Eau de Parfum
Following the arrival of Sephora in the UK we had to include at least one of their perfumes in our offerings. The travel size is useful to keep on you for touch ups throughout the day, or to test-drive the scent before committing to the bottle. Combined, the pear, jasmine and freshly-cut grass are lush and vibrant.
4. Zara Red Temptation
Zara perfumes are something of a beauty-editor secret, and trust me—the scents truly defy their modest price tags. Again, there are plenty to choose from depending on your scent preferences (Nude Bouquet is another favourite of mine), but this one made the cut as it's essentially a straight-up dupe of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540, with notes of orange blossom, coffee, and vanilla.
5. Noted Aromas Mojave
If your heart is set on an expensive perfume but you don't want your bank account to take the hit, then chances are Noted Aroma's will have an inspired scent. This one is inspired by Byredo's much-loved Mohave Ghost, and comes in at a purse-friendly price point at just £20 for 50ml.
6. Ellis Brooklyn Bee Eau de Parfum
Two of our editors laid out their favourite perfumes of all times and both mentioned this scent. The key notes of dark rum, honey, and vanilla bean are balanced to perfection, creating a tantalisingly scent. The expertise of the formulation is evident in the fact that this sweet scent doesn't feel cloying.
7. Floral Street Neon Rose Eau de Parfum
It might sound obvious, but a good hack for finding high quality but affordable perfumes is to purchase them in smaller sizes. London-based perfume brand Floral Street offers all of its scents in travel-friendly, 10-millilitre bottles, which is a great way to confirm that you really love a scent before committing to the full size. I'm a big fan of this brand for unusual scents, but I think Neon Rose is a real crowd-pleaser—a fresh, green floral.
8. & Other Stories Sardonyx Fire
I'm so impressed with what a sophisticated scent this is, considering the price point. With powerful base notes of patchouli, amber, and vanilla, it's warm, vibrant, and makes a genuinely head-turning evening scent.
9. The Body Shop Black Musk Eau de Parfum
I'm pretty sure every girl who grew up in the '90s would be familiar with The Body Shop's White Musk perfume (it's still available, by the way!). Trust me, though—this black version is like white musk's cool older sister. It contains sweet pear, spicy pink pepper, and heady bergamot, and it smells incredible. Honestly, I had a colleague who used to wear this, and I lost count of the number of times people asked her what she was wearing. It's that good.
10. Lush Shade Perfume
Way more than bath bombs and fresh face masks, Lush have a decent offering of affordable perfumes too. This sandalwood and olibanum scent is a fabulous autumn or winter fragrance.
11. Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Hair & Body Mist
It won't last as long as a proper eau de parfum, but there are some incredible body mists on the market right now if you don't mind committing to some top ups throughout the day. This sweet, cherry-blossom scent is as uplifting as it is calming and makes a great addition to my desk-side beauty stash.
12. Nuxe Sun Delicious Fragrant Water
I'm a huge fan of Estée Lauder's iconic Bronze Goddess perfume which comes out every year, but this affordable scent from French skincare brand Nuxe is a close second. It has notes of orange blossom, vanilla, and magnolia, and has that vibrant, tropical feel that gives me an instant mood boost on grey, drizzly days.
13. Marks & Spencer Velvet Amber Eau De Toilette
Yes, it's another Marks & Spencer scent—what can I say? They're brilliant. This is one of the richest perfumes in the range and it's perfect if you love expensive-smelling, spicy amber scents with hints of bold white florals.
14. Caudalie Thé Des Vignes Fresh Fragrance
This beautiful scent smells so expensive, it's hard to believe the price. It's light, floral freshness is cut with a sweet warmth that makes this a versatile perfume for all seasons. Delicate but wonderfully powerful at the same time, it's deceptively modern.
15. Glossier You - Solid
If you love Glossier You and its unique ability to carve out a personalised scent for all, it might be time for you to pick up their refillable (yes refillable) travel-friendly, solid compact. Oh so heavenly both in scent and affordability.
16. Huda Beauty Kayali Vanilla|28 Eau de Parfum
I have a sweet spot for vanilla scents and this one from Huda Beauty's fragrance line Kayali is up there with the best of them. It's creamy and sugary (thanks to brown sugar and Brazilian tonka) but also heady with florals from vanilla orchid, patchouli and musk. But most of all it's utterly comforting and available in a petite 10ml bottle for on-the-go application.
17. Sol de Janeiro Cheirosa '71 Perfume Mist
I am a real sucker for a Sol de Janeiro mist and wore the Radiance Perfume Mist all last summer. This one bottles the brand's trademark gourmand scent—a mouthwatering blend of caramelised vanilla, toasted macadamia nut, coconut blossoms and sea salt. It is totally joy-inducing and the perfect antidote to the winter weather.
This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.
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