Most of my online shopping adventures start with random Buzzfeed posts that lead to late night Amazon searches, fueled by 2 glasses of wine. They all consist of shopping for things that I “cannot live without,” but I don’t really mind if, upon arrival, they don’t entirely reach my expectations. It’s like a game of Russian roulette, and that’s part of the thrill for me. But gift shopping, on the other hand, is a ritual. I truly cherish the art of gift giving, and the last thing I want is to leave the fate of my gifts in the hands of the unknown.
After many trials and tribulations, I devised a system for buying gifts online. This year, I applied my system to purchase a perfume online for my sister. As many of you can attest, buying perfume gifts online has its own set of challenges.
What is their scent style?
How often do they wear perfume?
Do they wear it only for special occasions or on a daily basis?
Do they prefer a perfume spray or a roll-on?
Needless to say, that perfume I got my sister is now her go-to fragrance. I’ve since applied my tips to buying fragrance gifts online for other family members and friends with much success, and am excited to share them with you. With this list in hand, you’ll never miss the mark with your scented gift.
- Find the Right Notes
Hitting the mark on the notes of your fragrance gift is 90% of the way to success. Before buying my sister’s perfume, I went for dinner at her house and used the opportunity to look for small clues that helped me paint a better picture of her scent taste. The first thing I noticed was her L’Occitane Vanilla hand moisturizer. A bit more snooping and I realized…ALL the candles she had around the house had some kind of sweet, flowery, jasmine-like essence. So I knew better than to shop for a spicy, patchouli essence for my vanilla-loving sister.
From there, I went to Fragrantica.com, and did a Perfume Search, marking Floral Fruity Gourmand, and Oriental Vanilla for the Olfactory Groups, and sorted the results by popularity. Then, I took it one step further and under “Notes” did a search for jasmine and vanilla, and cross-checked those fragrance results with my first search. I ended up with a number of great options and narrowed down my choices to Dior Hypnotic Poison, Flower by Kenzo, and Narciso Rodriguez For Her.
This website is my favorite for fragrance searches because each scent is broken down into a visual pyramid of top, heart, and base notes, which makes it quick and easy to find the most accurate fragrance gifts.
Matching Fragrance Descriptions to Personal Style
Friends and customers have confessed to me that they don’t fully believe the descriptions found on fragrances. As someone who has spent copious hours choosing the perfect words to describe a perfume scent, I assure you they are meticulously written to direct the customer towards their best match. So don’t be skeptical, quizzes and descriptions are key guidelines when buying fragrance gifts online, seeing that they serve to illustrate and evoke through words the personality of the fragrance. A fragrance described as soft, romantic and feminine is for sure not the ideal scent for someone who has a more alternative and easygoing lifestyle.
Avoid Buying a Knockoff
The internet is a mysterious road filled with dark alleys, so once you find a perfume that you believe fits perfectly the personal taste of the gift receiver, do a little research to make sure you’re not gifting a knock-off fragrance. The best way to avoid counterfeits is to buy directly from the brand’s website or from a reputable fragrance e-tailer like Indiescents.com or LuckyScents.com.
Sites like EBay and Amazon may sell the real stuff, but are also laden with resellers who may not actually know the original source of the product.
According to Valerie Salembier, senior vice president and publisher of Harper’s Bazaar, “Active ingredients found in counterfeit fragrance include things like urine, bacteria, antifreeze.” When price comparing, If your find your fragrance priced significantly lower than on other, reputable sites, it’s almost certainly a fake.
Besides potentially causing your gift receiver physical harm, a counterfeit perfume sale is often linked with funding criminal activity like drug cartels, child labor, and terrorism.
Listen to The Voice of The People
Check the fragrance brand’s social media pages and review the brand and product on review sites like Yelp and Fragrantica. It’s always easier to trust your peers, and online customers love to share details that could answer even those doubts you didn’t think of. I usually read at least ten reviews before buying ANYTHING online, which is what I did before I purchased my sister’s perfume gift.
There weren’t overwhelmingly positive or negative comments to the point that I would suspect the sources, but rather, descriptive comments aiming to illuminate the first impressions of the fragrance. Small details such as how it feels on the skin and how wide the scent range were valuable opinions that I took strongly into consideration. When checking for comments online, keep an eye open for the profile of the commenters—if they seem to match the style of your gift receiver, then this is an added sign you’re on the right path.
- Take Advantage of Sample Programs
Even after finding what may seem like the perfect fragrance for your friend or family member, we all still wish we could just take a quick sniff to be 110% sure. Some brands like Nomaterra have “Sample Programs,” which allow you to redeem the cost of the set of samples for a bottle of perfume. If you know you only want to test one or two scents from a brand, some allow you to order singular samples.
LuckyScents.com, a niche fragrance e-tailer out of Los Angeles, sells Discovery Sets from individual brands, as well as their own themed sets such as “the best-selling masculine scents,” or “November’s newest launches“. To enjoy the benefits of the sample program avoid leaving your gift research for the last minute so you can have plenty of time between shipments and deliveries.
Check the return policy.
If you’ve successfully completed all the steps above, then you’ve now found a great perfume gift that will enchant your loved one. But in reality, it is always good practice to accept that there is still a slight chance that you missed the mark with your fragrance gift, or maybe they would rather have the chance to exchange it for another one. So, it’s important to take a good look at return and exchange policies.
Nothing is more frustrating that not being able to return a product you’re not 100% satisfied with, especially a fragrance, which is so personal. I always make sure that I buy from a brand or store that gives me at least 20 days to return a perfume.
Be aware that if you’re shopping at a department store or other multi-merchandise store, their fragrance return policy may vary from the store’s overall return policy.
These 6 fail-proof tips for buying fragrance gifts online can truly save you from pushing your way through holiday shopping crowds and wandering through town in 40 degree weather. And if you’re still uncomfortable shopping for perfume online? There’s always the gift card option.
Did you follow these tips? We’re eager to hear about your online fragrance shopping experience. Share your stories and comments below.
Written by Alvaro Olmedo