We tried a perfume subscription service to see if it saved money

Brittany Anas / Don't Waste Your Money

I love the idea of having a “signature scent,” a go-to perfume that others associate you with and that always feels good to spritz on — the final touch at the end of a getting-ready routine. Plus, I enjoy how the scent of certain perfumes can spark nostalgia. For me, Clinique’s Happy brings back memories of high-school dances and anything coconut reminds me of my 20s.

I tend to commit to perfumes for several years at a time. But whenever I’m ready to find something new or want to add to my collection, my olfactory senses get overwhelmed by the array of scents at the perfume counters. This is why signing up for a perfume subscription service appealed to me.

I gave Scentbird a try when I wanted to find a great evening perfume — one that was a little sultry, different from my day-to-day perfume, and special enough to spritz on for a night out.

scentbird

$16.95 at Scentbird

Scentbird is a monthly perfume subscription service that lets you “test drive” new scents, many of which are from designer labels. It costs $16.95 per month and you get one 8 ml atomizer mailed to you each month. If you love something, you can then purchase it for a discount.

Subscribers fill out a questionnaire to learn about their scent preferences, but are also free to choose perfumes that pique their interest. I’m two months into my Scentbird subscription, and here’s what I think of the service so far.

Key Takeaways

  • The personalization quiz is approachable and will help you learn about the scents you prefer.
  • Given that the cost of many rollerball perfumes is more than the subscription price and that you can pick from many designer brands, Scentbird offers good value.
  • As Scentbird’s atomizers come in a plastic casing, they are well protected when they ship — and the packaging also makes them travel-ready ( each atomizer holds 80 ml or 3 ounces).

Brittany Anas / Don't Waste Your Money

Subscription Set-Up

When you sign up, you’ll take the personalization quiz to find out what kind of scents you’re drawn to and Scentbird will match you to perfumes it thinks you’ll love. You can also select perfumes you want to try. You’ll build a queue and a new perfume will be sent to you each month. While you could “set it and forget it,” I’d recommend popping back in and refreshing your queue with some of the new arrivals that are frequently added to the library.

Ask me what notes I prefer in a perfume, and I’m not too sure whether I like amber or bergamot or fresh-cut flowers. That’s where Scentbird’s approachable quiz comes in handy. It asked questions like “Which types of scents do you typically gravitate towards?” with an option of “warm” or “fresh” and “How do you want your scent to make you feel?” with answers that range from “outgoing and adventurous” to “relaxed and casual.”

For my first month, I let the Scentbird algorithm match me with a perfume it thought I’d like: Brown Girl Jane Dusk. Turns out, I loved this scent, which has soft notes of sandalwood, warm toasted almond and vanilla. It reminds me of some of the lovely scents I picked up while traveling through Morocco and staying at riads. I learned that I lean towards warm scents, especially in cooler months.

Brittany Anas / Don't Waste Your Money

Choosing a Fragrance

Scentbird’s perfume library includes 700 different scents, some from well-known designers and others from up-and-comers, so I love the quiz component to help narrow down selections. I found it easy to browse the perfumes because Scentbird highlights four prominent notes in each perfume. Some fragrances cost an extra $10 and are labeled as “Scentbird Select.”

Scentbird

The perfume library includes several designers, including Gucci, Versace, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Chloe and more.

For my second selection, I decided to pick my own fragrance. I chose a high-rated designer perfume that had great reviews: Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, which has notes of Granny Smith apple, cedar, bamboo and florals like rose and jasmine. As we enter spring, I’ve enjoyed spritzing this scent on.

Shipping and Packaging

Brittany Anas / Don't Waste Your Money

You’ll get a notification each month when your Scentbird package ships, and it includes tracking information. My packages have been on time, and I like that the package is small enough it can be left in my mailbox.

The Scentbird deliveries come in bubble wrap-insulated packages. The glass vials are encased in a grey magnetic case to add an extra layer of protection. The package also comes with a grey cloth drawstring pouch.

I’m usually hesitant to travel with perfume because full-sized bottles aren’t TSA-approved and the smaller glass roller balls that are under 3 ounces could break and spill in my luggage. The Scentbird packaging provide a solution. Each vial comes in its own plastic casing that wraps around the glass bottle and protects it from breaking while it ships — but you can also reuse the case to securely travel with your perfume.

MORE: The Best Travel Perfume

Experience

Overall, I’ve enjoyed the Scentbird subscription, and thought it was fun (and cost-effective) to test-drive new perfumes. I like that you can browse perfumes by categories like occasion or season. There’s an option to shop by fragrance family, too. Through this subscription, I’ve learned that I’m in the woodsy category — but also dabble in aquatic and floral. Other options are citrusy, spicy and fruity.

I enjoyed the Brown Girl Jane Dusk perfume that Scentbird matched me with so much that I was ready to make a purchase. The only drawback was it was only available in a 1.5 ml vial (which was only $4.95). Because I like to commit to a perfume and wear it for a couple of years, I wish I could have purchased a 50 ml bottle.

Another perk of the service is you get a chance to see how you like a perfume over the course of several weeks. Your alternative is going to a store and spraying a bunch of perfume on paper strips — and deciding based on that single encounter. As your body chemistry can affect how a cologne or perfume smells on you, this may not be sufficient.

Final Thoughts

Scentbird

I never want to make an impulse purchase when it comes to perfume because while I may love the way something smells as soon as it lands on my wrist, I want to know if I will continue to love it as the day goes on.

Scentbird is $16.95 monthly, which is less than the cost of many rollerballs. Each fragrance is 8 ml, which amounts to roughly 125 sprays. I use one to two spritzes a day, and I don’t wear perfume every day, so my first vial will last a few months. This makes it a great value overall.

Scentbird is a great subscription service, especially if you enjoy frequently switching perfumes based on your mood or season. It’s also fantastic for perfume rookies like myself to help learn what types of fragrances you prefer.

About the Author

Brittany Anas

Brittany has contributed to publications including Men's Journal, Forbes, Women's Health, American Way, TripSavvy, Eat This, Not That!, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life Magazine, 5280, Livability, The Denver Post, Simplemost, USA Today Travel Tips, Make it Better, AAA publications, Reader's Digest, Discover Life and more. More.

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