Perfume Testers: 12 Common Questions

The price of perfume testers in comparison to original bottles can be quite appealing. But if you’re unfamiliar with testers, you might become skeptical about making this purchase.

If you’ve ever questioned the legitimacy of a perfume tester purchase, then you’ll be relieved to know that you’d be buying the same fragrance formulation. No trickery here. The scents inside perfume testers are authentic.

Let me reassure you. Keep reading to find answers to your burning questions from all the rumors you’ve heard about perfume testers. 

Perfume Testers

Answers to 12 Common Questions about Perfume Testers

Let’s face it. Perfume testers are a mysterious lot. They look like the original; they smell like the original, but are they the same?

1. Are Perfume Testers Original?

As a matter of fact, testers house the exact same perfume that you’d find in an original bottle. 

It can take months to years of research and testing to find the right scent formulation. Creating new fragrances is a complex and nuanced process.

Companies aren’t interested in creating knock-offs of their own scents. The process would require too many resources, limiting profits generated from future sales. 

Authentic perfume tester bottles are filled with the exact formula used to create the more beautifully packaged perfume bottles.

2. Is Perfume Tester Packaging the Same?

You might be thrown off by the packaging, though. 

Packaging for testers looks very different from the originals. Original boxes are sturdy, printed with professional graphics, and help create an experience when you’re opening up a new perfume.

To the contrary, perfume testers are placed inside flimsy boxes, if they’re boxed at all. When there is a box, it’s usually plain.

There’s no color or graphics, just basic information in black ink printed on a white box. Brown cardboard boxes are also common.

This presentation can cause a person to doubt that an original fragrance is inside. But part of the reason why perfume testers are less expensive is because the company spends fewer dollars on packaging.

It may seem like a nominal savings cost but these companies produce millions of bottles of perfume. So they are saving a significant amount of money by releasing testers without caps or boxes.

And essentially, that savings is passed on to you, the customer because testers are less expensive.

3. Are Perfume Tester Bottles the Same?

Tester bottles may not be labeled in the same way as full price bottles.

Similar to the less elaborate packaging, tester labels might simply be black and white – outlining basic information you need in order to identify the brand and type of perfume. There might also be a small label adhered to the bottle that reads, “tester.” Other times, this distinguishing text is printed directly onto the bottle.

Another difference is that tester bottles can be smaller. So you shouldn’t feel slighted if you notice that your tester isn’t the full-sized version. They’re also only available in one bottle size, so you won’t be able to choose whether you want a larger or smaller tester bottle. You’ll have to make a selection from what’s available.

You may also notice that there isn’t an attractive cap to your fragrance bottle. There might simply be the atomizer.

Not only do capless bottles also save the company money, they are more convenient for perfume counter attendants. It’s far easier for them to spray a sample of the perfume onto your skin test strip without having to fumble with a perfume cap in the process. Over time the caps would likely become lost or piled up in a corner of the counter because it’s too much of a hassle to take them on and off all day. 

4. Are Perfume Testers Stronger?

The same formula is used for original perfumes and perfume testers. Some might assume that companies will make the tester stronger in order to get customers hooked on the scent. 

But the problem with that assumption is that they’d have lots of disappointed customers if the same people who bought testers, then bought a regular bottle of the same perfume and found a weaker scent. 

Being misleading in this way wouldn’t benefit fragrance companies in the long-term.

In short, perfume testers are not stronger. They’re made in the same labs, under the same conditions, and are poured into bottles from the same vessels.

5. Are Perfume Testers Diluted?

The liquid inside of testers is no different from the liquid you would find inside of a perfume bottle for which you’d pay full price. They’re exactly the same. 

Companies need for them to be the same in order for there to be product congruity. If there’s variance in the quality of their perfume, people will notice and spread the word. This could possibly lead to a sharp decline in sales. 

As much as companies state that they create perfumes to help their customers feel more confident, attractive, and driven, that’s only part of the story. They may genuinely want to be of help in this way but more importantly, they wouldn’t be a corporation if they didn’t make a profit. 

Selling diluted fragrances would be bad for business. 

More importantly, perfume is most concentrated and eau de parfum is the second most concentrated form of perfume. Eau de toilette, eau de cologne, and eau fraîche are all essentially diluted forms of perfume. They have lower concentrations of fragrance even though the overall formula is the same.

Therefore companies don’t need to pour diluted perfume into testers because they could ethically offer you a lower concentration of the same scent in one of these other forms.

6. Are Perfume Testers Fake?

Fragrance companies would be doing you the customer and themselves a disservice if they sold a fake fragrance in a tester. 

These companies want you to enjoy their fragrances so that you’ll purchase more from them. If the scent is fake, then that would demonstrate a bait-and-switch strategy. And I don’t think that companies selling high end perfumes could ever win if they constantly presented customers with a fake product.

According to Cornell Law, this strategy stems from ill-intention from the get-go. In order to implement bait-and-switch, they’d have to “bait” you with an unbelievable offer on the price of the original perfume without intending to sell you an original version. And then, once you’d make the purchase, they’d give you a fake bottle instead of the original.

The problem with this is that distributing fake fragrances into the world would tarnish the brand’s name. Once a brand becomes known for selling a fake product, it would be difficult – not to mention very costly, for them to recover. 

None of us really ever know what’s inside a perfume bottle. Regulatory agencies exist for this reason. 

Companies are required to meet baseline standards before introducing a product onto the market. As a consumer, you can choose whether or not to trust a given company based on your own research.

7. What Purpose Do Testers Serve?

Perfume testers were originally created for use in department stores. Fragrance companies distribute them in order to help market their fragrances at perfume counters. So in a way, the stripped down nature of tester bottles further supports their original purpose.

This is another reason why you can be certain that they are the exact same fragrance as the regular priced bottle that you would buy.

In this new age of online commerce where fewer people are walking into department stores, there’s been a shift in the way that testers are purchased.

E-commerce fragrance companies can purchase perfume tester overstock in bulk at lower rates. This in turn means that they can sell them at a much lower cost to you.

Perfume testers also reduce waste, which supports a more abundant ecosystem. Less packaging, lack of caps, fewer printing frills – all of this places less of a burden on Mother Earth.

8. Why Should You be Motivated to Buy Perfume Testers?

One of the primary benefits to buying fragrance testers is the price. Parfum and eau de parfum are on the higher end of the fragrance price spectrum. If you were to purchase their tester version, you’d save 20% or more off the retail price.

Secondly, not everyone finds original packaging to be a necessity. Excess packaging waste is a real problem that puts a strain on the ecosystem. Less cellophane wrap, and heavily dyed boxes will end up in landfills.

Thirdly, smaller bottles means less perfume. If this is a fragrance that you haven’t previously tried, you might not want to purchase a full-size bottle at the outset. Tester bottles are a logical alternative for new scents or ones that you know you won’t wear very often.

9. But Are There Fake Perfume Testers in the Market?

There are bad players in every arena. Some people’s sole concern is making a profit and the world of perfume testers is no exception.

There are a couple ways to guard yourself from buying counterfeit tester bottles.

  1. Purchase perfume testers from reliable companies, not individuals.
  2. Avoid buying from shops selling unrelated products.

Reputable companies won’t risk selling a fake product. But you can also read customer reviews and conduct a search about the company before finalizing your purchase.

When shops sell completely random products, like perfume and kids’ toys, then you may want to avoid buying from them. As mentioned in previous posts perfume must be properly stored in order to perform at its best for the longest period of time. 

If the seller is offering unrelated products, there’s no way of knowing whether this person or business is properly storing their perfume inventory.

10. Where Can You Purchase Legitimate Perfume Testers?

Department stores typically do not sell tester bottles. You can find generous perfume samples in decent-sized bottles at stores like Nordstrom or Macy’s during their sales events. But these samples are given away freely and are not for purchase.

Online retailers, on the other hand, can purchase these tester bottles from department stores, manufacturers, and stores that decide to sell off their inventory.

I’ll link to a previous post about FragranceX and FragranceNet. If you’re new to buying perfume testers, starting with either of these online retailers would be ideal.

You can rest in knowing that the scents will be authentic. And both companies offer steep discounts.

11. What Perfume Tester Bonuses Might You Expect?

So far there’s mostly been talk about what you sacrifice when you purchase perfume tester bottles. But aside from low costs, there’s another advantage to buying testers.

You might have a full list of scent notes. This information might be printed directly on the bottle (more likely) or even on the perfume box. 

Because testers are a marketing tool, it helps the sales associates to know which scent notes the fragrance is composed of so that they can better sell the product.

If you’re a fragrance nerd, or a collector, you might find this information to be a huge bonus. Instead of having to hunt for the information online, you can simply peruse the bottle. You’ll know exactly what to expect as the fragrance unfolds throughout the day. 

12. What Are Downfalls to Buying Fragrance Testers?

Limited selection is the primary downfall to buying perfume testers. You can only purchase testers that are made available.

Stock quantities vary as do brand and scent selections. 

Perfume testers are more like an unexpected diamond in the ruff. If you’re searching for a particular fragrance online, you might find that they offer a tester bottle in that same fragrance.

Otherwise, you can search for a specific scent but there’s a possibility it might not be available as a tester.

Lastly, tester bottles are not for gift-giving. This is certainly not their purpose unless the gift recipient is accepting of an unused bottle of perfume that’s missing a cap and packaging.


Perfume testers are 100% authentic fragrances, originally created as a marketing tool by fragrance companies.

There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to purchasing perfume testers. On the upside, you’ll save money and support a healthier ecosystem. On the downside, the fragrance that you would like to buy might not be available as a tester. 

Also, what you get varies – sometimes there’s a cap, sometimes not; sometimes the bottle is stored in a box, other times not.

Perfume testers are not for those who want a full unboxing experience. But they are a viable less expensive option that reduces waste.

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Hello and welcome to Fragrance Advice! My name is Grace Young, and I’ve been drawn to fragrances since I was a little girl. There's just something about scent that brings me so much joy! 

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