Finding a perfume that actually smells amazing but won’t break the bank is no easy feat. Usually, this quest results in an itty bitty sample that runs out in a week. But these six perfumes under $20 are both good to the pocket and the nose, and will last longer than your kindergarten boyfriend. Or in my case, my kindergarten marriage, which I endured for a solid month before deciding I needed to be a free lady and explore my options. Ah, to be young again.
My first signature fragrance, if you can call it that, was Victoria’s Secret’s Love Spell Body Spray ($6; victoriassecret.com). It was trendy at my Colorado high school in the early aughts, associated with sexiness, and affordable within my allowance-based budget. Needless to say, my awkward, late blooming teen self was sold. I stuck with it for way longer than I’d like to admit, solely due to the fact that “good” perfume was always out of my price range. And so, I smelled the same for way too long before finally splurging on a bottle of Chloé’s signature Eau de Parfum ($28; sephora.com), which I then wore exclusively for another five years.
While I still love the Chloé scent and wear it regularly (me and every other girl on earth; it rules), I’ve come to realize that trying and wearing a variety of different perfumes is totally the way to go. Sometimes I’m feeling more sultry and want something with a leathery musk, while other times I’m feeling super bubbly and want a more citrusy note. Sticking to one singular perfume just because it was easy, and because I didn’t want to drop another $65 on a new bottle, definitely stunted my fragrance experimentation and education; I didn’t figure out what types of scents I truly liked until I was well out of college. I’ve since become a firm believer that fragrance can play a huge role in shaping your day’s vibe.
Where am I going with this? Don’t let perfume monogamy happen to your friends this year! Whether they are 16 or 26, it’s your duty to help them explore the wonderful world of fragrance to its fullest by gifting them a new perfume for the holidays. I promise it won’t kill your budget, and that there are options that smell better than the latest celeb fragrance to be released at Walgreens.
With notes of Amazonian lily, lime, tangerine, driftwood, and musk, this fragrance results in a refreshing and energizing floral scent. I carry this in my purse at all times and can vouch for its uplifting effect.
A bit spicy, a bit sweet, this fragrance features notes of sea salt, ginger flower, and almond cream and would be perfect for the friend who’s not into overly citrusy scents.
Notes of white tuberose, cardamom, hibiscus leaf, and jasmine render this scent mood-setting for a sultry night out. It’s undertones of rich spice give it an especially intriguing scent.
Described as belonging to the “warm and spicy” fragrance family, this fragrance has key notes of heliotrope, vanilla, whipped cream, and macadamia nut. And now I’m starving.
So Fresh, So Clean
I wasn’t aware that this two-in-one rollerball existed until now, and I’m legit doing a happy dance because I love these two fragrances by Clean! Ask my roommate, I spray Cool Cotton around our apartment like it’s my job. As you’ve probably assumed, both scents are super fresh and smell like clean laundry, but better. Buy this for yourself.
This scent is super unique. It’s a perfume oil that’s been infused with real flower petals, and also includes nurturing vitamin E. It comes in a convenient rollerball packaging (don’t worry, I promise it doesn’t run out quickly!) and the rose scent, featured above, also offers notes of white musk and blond woods. It’s more multifaceted than your typical rose scent.