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Where It's Safe to Buy Perfume

Where Is It Actually OK to Buy Perfume?

The recent arrest and conviction of two importers charged with bringing over 30,000 bottles of counterfeit perfume into the US is a great reminder that knockoff fragrance is far more common than you'd think. And the ingredients in fake perfume are sometimes extremely suspect and include lovely additives like human urine. So where is it safe to buy your perfume? To find out, just keep reading.

Where it's probably safe

  • Large retail chains and department stores. These businesses buy directly from the company. So Sephora, Macy's, Target, Ulta, etc. are all good places to get your perfume.
  • Licensed online retailers like, Luckyscent, or, who buy from US distributors.
  • The brand's own shopfront or website. It's the most direct and guaranteed way to make sure you're getting a legitimate product.

Where it's not 100 percent safe

  • eBay, Etsy, and other online bidding or small-shop sites. Anyone can open up an auction or "store," and the company isn't responsible for the actions of the people whose shops it hosts. Though you can sometimes score the real deal, counterfeit goods are extremely common on these sites, so buyer beware.
  • Trade shows, fairs, and flea markets. The two importers who just got convicted were bringing all their knockoff fragrance in to sell at a Las Vegas trade show. Like websites, these are venues where anyone can buy a stall, giving you no guarantees or protection.
  • Drugstores, it pains me to say, are sometimes havens for stolen and counterfeit goods. I want to support local businesses, but a few owners are dishonest, and you'll find counterfeit fragrances, makeup, and even personal care products. If you're at a store and it carries a bunch of hair care that has those "not to be sold outside of a salon" labels, you should also be wary of any fragrance it carries.
  • Small boutiques and shops. If they're carrying niche brands, it's probably fine, but if a corner dollar store is selling Armani Code, for example, you may need to look elsewhere.
  • Discount chains like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods have been sued several times over the last few years for selling counterfeit or unlicensed products. Most recently, parent company TJX Companies was sued by Burberry and Limited Too. In one case, they were getting items from the manufacturer that hadn't actually been made during regular operating hours — "gray market" fakes with legitimate branding and packaging. That means the stuff you get may be made at the same factories, but it could also be of lower-quality materials.
  • The street. This one should go without saying, but if you see someone hawking Chanel No. 5 for $5 on Canal Street, it's probably not anything you'd ever want to spritz on yourself.
Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
crazysleek crazysleek 4 years
 @Annie Tomlin Annie Tomlin,  How do you possibly know the fragrances you bought from TJ Maxx and Marshalls are "legitimate"??  On what basis do you claim that?  Unless you're an  "insider"  of those discount shops, there's no way of your knowing that!  Isn't that what this article is about after all? You tell LoRemz "there's no way of knowing" yet you claim you "KNOW" what you bought were "authentic"!!!!!   You don't seem to understand what LoRemz's point is!!!
Annie-Tomlin Annie-Tomlin 5 years
Narita18, it's hit or miss. I've bought some fragrances at TJ Maxx and Marshalls, and they've been legitimate (and total steals, pricewise). But sometimes fakes or gray-market bottles make it to market. One good rule of thumb: If a fragrance has been discontinued and you find it at an off-price retailer, chances are it's the real thing. I bought a bottle of SJP Covet for, like, $10 — completely authentic and impossible to find anywhere else.
Annie-Tomlin Annie-Tomlin 5 years
LoRemz, you're right, there are tons of fantastic indie perfumers on Etsy. But if you found a bottle of, say, Chanel No 5 on Etsy, I would pass. Even though Etsy has rules against selling counterfeits (as does eBay), there's really no way of knowing whether a non-indie perfume is the real deal.
LoRemz LoRemz 5 years
I'm sorry but I don't think you understand what Etsy is. Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade items, vintage (20 years or older) or craft supplies. The only perfume you might find on Etsy is either handmade, an antique or maybe a bottle of fragrance oil that mimics a famous perfume. Counterfeit perfume is never sold on Etsy. Etsy has rules about what is sold on their website and any seller who breaks those rules gets kicked off. That being said, another good way of avoiding buying a counterfeit is to buy a handmade original (forget big labels and brands altogether). Support indie perfumers and designers. Who would want to smell like everyone else anyway!
narita18 narita18 5 years
Tjmaxx say it isn't so! Thats gross. How can you know if some of there perfumes are real?
Annie-Tomlin Annie-Tomlin 5 years
Wait, Winners is TJ Maxx?! I had no idea.
GummiBears GummiBears 5 years
That is sad and annoying that there are a flood of fakes floating around. I usually wait until Sephora has their F&F sale to stock up on perfume.
Moonblossom Moonblossom 5 years
The Winners (The Canadian re-branding of TJ Maxx) constantly has counterfeit Tokidoki bags, and it frustrates me immensely. I would not be the least bit surprised to find out the same of their perfume counter.
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