13 Under-$50 Fragrances That Smell Like A Million Bucks

"I can tell by the smell of that perfume, it's like 40 dollars too sweet," Carrie Underwood once sang, in one of the sickest fragrance-related burns to date. It's brutal, but understandable: Most of us hear "cheap perfume" and think of saccharine-sweet, alcohol-heavy, vanilla-coconut scents that suffocate us in elevators.
But it doesn't have to be like that. In fact, what if we told you there are a bunch of fragrances on the market that come cheap and chic? Yep, believe it. Ahead, click through to shop our favorite under-$50 fragrances that don't sacrifice quality or aesthetic.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
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Celebrity fragrances get a bad rap for a reason: Almost always, they're housed in bad packaging with notes so sweet they give you a sugar high — but Grande's is an exception. Sure, you'll still have to look past this bottle (although it's certainly on-brand for the singer), but the scent inside is safe for adults who do want to smell like vanilla and coconut, but only kind of.
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How does a scent inspired by "skin kissed by the sea" and the color white translate on the skin? Well, into lots — and lots and lots — of white musk. Although the bottle is practically a sample size, the oil itself is robust and lasts hours without fading.
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This is the perfume you put on when you just want to smell clean. (And we don't mean Pine-Sol clean.) Fragrance expert Chandler Burr says that clean fragrances are less powdery and heady, and more conceptual and pure. In other words, it's a universally flattering scent — and gives you an excuse to skip that post-gym shower. Clinique's Happy is fresh, slightly fruity, and, trust us, attracts lots of compliments.
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For 18 years, Kai has had one scent and one scent only: a heady white floral that smells like Hawaii and boasts legions of fans. But now, there's a rose-infused iteration and dare we say it miiight just be better than the original?
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If a caftan-clad fortune teller embraced you, we imagine she'd smell a bit like this solid perfume. That is, like warm incense, woody pencil shavings (really — they're in here, and they'll take you back to middle school), and dried flowers.
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This perfume oil is a favorite among beauty editors for its marzipan-esque aroma that eventually opens up into a lush, floral gardenia that is just pure heaven. Bonus: It's just under-the-radar enough that you won't walk by 15 other women wearing the same scent.
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Novacaine is an intoxicating, spicy scent — certainly not for the weak of heart — starring notes of Thai pepper, frankincense, and crushed ginger. But there's a softness to it, too, thanks to a sweet layer of orchid and vanilla.
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If you live for the smell of a rose garden on the first day of spring (and who doesn't?), then you'll love this solid fragrance from Diptyque. Dab it on your pulse points; then, throw the portable compact in your bag.
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Gourmand lives up to its name with its collection of so-good-you-want-to-drink-them fragrances (but please, don't). Our favorite of the bunch is Thé Matcha — a fresh hit of citrus, green tea, and white flowers.
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It's hard to believe this perfume is under $40. Not only is the bottle straight out of a charming apothecary, the juice inside is a surprising blend of spicy, wake-you-up citrus, pretty, light florals, and sexy woodiness.
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This is the brand's best-selling scent for good reason: The floral concoction smells clean and fresh, so it's perfect for everyday wear. It's also light enough to not offend your desk mates if you touch up before happy hour. In fact, they'll probably want to know exactly what it is.

Philosophy Amazing Grace Fragrance, $48, available at Philosophy.
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Picture yourself sinking into a frothy pink bubble bath surrounded by rose-scented candles, with the Ramones playing in the background. Now boil that experience into a scent, and you get Punk Bouquet.
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This under-$40 perfume is Amber Rose's go-to. "I've been wearing that for years. When you smell that, you know I’m coming," she told Refinery29. We don't blame her: The scent is as sexy as it is light and playful, thanks to notes like vanilla, sandalwood, and bergamot.

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