Whether it was J Lo’s Glow, The Body Shop’s White Musk or a faithful Impulse body spray, for many of us, fragrance shopping on the high street is associated with Friday nights at the park and bottles of Smirnoff Ice. However, high street fragrances have come a long way from the bubblegum and cupcake scents we remember from our awkward teenage years; in fact, affordable scents are having something of a renaissance.
From the noses of Byredo creating scents for & Other Stories to stores such as The White Company, Oliver Bonas and H&M rolling out sophisticated but well-priced scents, high street brands are expanding their beauty offering and attempting to take a chunk out of the fragrance market. While celebrity scents once ruled the affordable fragrance category, it is now high street and beauty brand fragrances that are proving the most popular, Mintel recently reported. The debut fragrance from fast-fashion giant Missguided, Babe Power, priced £28, has beaten the likes of Dior and Paco Rabanne to become The Fragrance Shop’s bestselling female scent of 2017 so far.
While low-priced fragrances often get a bad rep, paying big bucks doesn't guarantee a top-notch product. "It is possible for fragrance houses to be charging huge price tags for scents that aren’t necessarily as sophisticated as they afford – a result of good marketing and PR," fragrance expert Roja Dove points out.
When I speak to Dove, he explains that when you’re spending a great deal on perfume you should be paying for both exclusivity and quality of raw materials. Natural raw materials are always more expensive than their synthetic equivalent; however, natural ingredients aren’t necessarily better. Indeed, the majority of modern fragrances will use some synthetic materials in order to create effects that are impossible to produce naturally. It’s a complex business, sifting the bad from the good, but Dove’s advice is simple: smell and compare. After all, your choice of fragrance is deeply personal and your sense of smell unique. "The only sane way to smell fragrance is in contrast to others, as that will really enable you to understand what you are smelling. As easy as it is to do, try not to be swayed by the branding. Allow what’s inside the bottle to do the talking," Dove suggests.