How To Smell Like A Million Bucks, For Less

Finding a scent that truly grasps your personal brand and doesn’t cost a fortune can be tricky. Sephora’s best-selling perfumes average $98.50 per bottle. The most affordable being a small $30.00 1 oz. Eau de Toilette Spray bottle of Pink Sugar; and the most expensive costing $165.00 for a 3.4 oz. bottle of Victor and Rolf’s Flowerbomb. Concededly, I myself have had and loved Flowerbomb; from its scent to its lovely little bottle… however, after doing just a spritz of research, and looking to be more spendthrift, I found that those big ticket perfumes, especially “celebrity” perfumes are simply not worth it.

Daily Finance broke down the actual cost of perfumes, noting that “despite all the flamboyant marketing-speak behind prestige fragrances the value of the actual liquid is roughly equivalent to a large cup of regular coffee.” In a breakdown of the costs “built into department store prestige fragrances, using an average $100.00, 3.5 ounce bottle of a ‘celebrity’ perfume as an example; [a surprising $2.00 is spent on the actual ‘juice’].”

Although we were unable to find a perfume that costs as much as a cup of coffee, we did find several fragrances and companies that smell great and won’t break the bank!

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West Third Brand

West Third Brand is slowly becoming one of my favorite perfume purveyors. They are a “modern apothecary and niche fragrance workshop that has proposed subtle sophisticated quality driven products.” They have been around since 2008 and are based out of Seattle, WA. WTB’s scents and products are also vegan and cruelty-free!

WTB has three fragrance lines: Eau de Perfume, Societe de Senteur, and Smell Good Daily. Each line ranges in price and tone, but many scents are right under $40! Although I prefer less floral, more androgynous scents that allow for versatility and daily use, WTB offers a wide variety of fragrances.

SOCIÉTÉ DE SENTEUR: My personal de Senteur scent is ‘King for a Day’ ($36.00 for a 2oz. bottle)

SMELL GOOD DAILY: ‘Campo Il Fiore’ is my favorite Smell Good Daily sent that has more of a musky smell (that I admit, sometimes share with my boyfriend) ($36.00 for a 2oz. bottle)

I purchased both ‘King for a Day’ and ‘Campo Il Fiore’ at local boutiques in Philadelphia. You can purchase them directly from their website here or search their list of participating stores for a vendor near you here.

Royal Apothic

Royal Apothic is another fantastic fragrance company that has great smelling scents that will care for the skin and body.

Royal Apothic has several fragrance lines, including: The Classics, Conservatories, The Extracts, and Distillery General. Most perfumes cost $38.00 for a 2 oz. bottle.

My favorite is from the Conservatory collection ‘Plains of Thistle’ (3.4 oz. Eau de Parfum $55.00). Although ‘Plains of Thistle’ is more expensive than many of their scents, you get close to twice the amount!

I purchased ‘Plains of Thistle’ at a local beauty goods shop, but Anthropologie sells many of their fragrances nationally. You can find Royal Apothic locally here or purchase a fragrance directly online here.

Demeter Fragrance

Demeter takes a slightly different approach on fragrances, focusing on the simple. “The Demeter Fragrance Library consists of more than 250 different fragrances inspired by everyday objects and experiences. These are simple, friendly and familiar scents, scents.” Unlike some of the other fragrance companies on the list, Demeter colognes are single note fragrances which can be layered or used individually.

All Classic Demeter fragrances cost $20.00 for a 1 oz. bottle; or $39.50 for a 4 oz. bottle.

Demeter is a great option if you want the basics or are looking to create a more unique and customized scent!

You can find your closest store here or purchase them directly online here.

Essential Oils

Essential Oils are at the base of most perfumes and have long been a perfume supplement. Many people have begun to use Essential Oils as their only source of fragrance as they are more organic and often considered greener than many perfumes on the market.

Essential Oils are commonly used for aromatherapy but can be applied as a daily fragrance. Essential Oils can be used to energize, relax, restore, balance, or cleanse, and many people swear by them for relief from common ailments.

When used as a fragrance, Essential Oils should be diluted with a carrier oil, such as jojoba, coconut, or almond oil (one drop of essential oil to 1 tsp of carrier oil) before application, keeping in mind that a little goes a long way!

You can purchase Essential Oils at your local drugstore, Whole Foods or online. Many Essential Oil companies also provide starter-packs that include multiple oils and a guide for their uses. Be sure to do your homework as Essential Oils vary greatly in price and quality. We have seen a one ounce bottle cost as low as $5.00 online!


Finally, rollerballs are another, inexpensive way to get that big ticket fragrance you love. Rollerballs are also a good alternative if you travel or enjoy rotating between scents.

Although rollerballs afford you the luxury of high-end fragrances at a fraction of the price, they are not the best deal as they only contain a fraction of the liquid and generally cost more per unit.