Tips for Buying Fragrances Online When You Can’t Smell Them

young beautiful girl enjoys the smell of perfume on her wristLike clothing, more and more people are buying fragrances online without trying them mainly because you can get a wider selection and more affordable price than you can at the department store and, sometimes, you may be miles away from a department store.

So, the question arises, “How do I choose a fragrance, when I can’t smell them?” Here are some other tips to make your selection less like throwing darts at a dart board in the dark:

  • Do Your Homework –  Like every  smart online purchase, do your research to make an informed decision.  We recommend making a list of fragrances you have worn in the past and use resources like and to research what notes were featured in those fragrances as inspiration for your future purchase.2
Terranova's Rain Collection has fresh clean notes
Terranova’s Rain Collection has fresh clean notes
  • Know Your Notes – No this does not pertain to reading music!  In general, there are 4 main themes for notes:  floral, fresh, woodsy, and oriental.1

Floral – Notes from (you guessed it) flowers (like Terranova’s Island Escapes Collection of tropical florals)!

Fresh – Notes that are simple, elegant and clean (like Terranova’s Signature Collection of fresh, clean fragrances).

Woodsy – Notes that are outdoorsy and sophisticated (like Terranova’s Patchouli with patchouli essential oil).

Oriental – Notes that are big and bold (like Terranova’s China Musk with notes of vanilla spice).

  • Price Does Not Matter – No, we’re not saying that you should mortgage your house for your next fragrance purchase.  In fact, we’re saying quite the contrary!  Price is not an indicator of quality when choosing a fragrance.  A fragrance that is inexpensive doesn’t necessarily indicate a fragrance will be bad and an expensive fragrance doesn’t necessarily mean it will be good.
  • What’s In a Name – You can often get an indication of the character of fragrance by what words are used to describe it.  Words like “cool, clean, fresh, light” are all words that indicate intensity.  A fragrance description with these words would indicate a less-intense fragrance that can be worn during the day-time or is more suitable for someone who doesn’t like “heavier” or “stronger” fragrances.
  • Terranova's Shea Blossom Collection has a spicy/citrus scent indicated by it's yellow /orange colors.
    Terranova’s Shea Blossom Collection has a spicy/citrus scent indicated by it’s yellow /orange colors.

    Color Coding  – Often times the packaging and color of the fragrance can be an indicator of how it will smell.  Here are some common colors and their coding:2

    Blue/Green = Fresh  (like Terranova’s Rain)

    Pink = Floral (like Terranova’s Tuberose)

    Yellows/Orange = Spicy/Citrus (like Terranova’s Shea Blossom)

    Gold/Brown = Deep/Rich/Woodsy (like Terranova’s Patchouli)

  • Stick to What You Know – If you like a particular brand, sometimes it’s best to stick with that brand.  Many perfume manufacturers, have a signature note or accord in their formulas. If, for instance, you like one fragrance from a particular company, chances are, you’ll like some of their others.  Terranova, for instance, mainly focuses on fragrances with fresh, clean, floral accords.   If you are a long time fan of Terranova’s China Rain, you will probably find our Aire Fragrance Collection appealing.2

Have some tips for picking out the perfect fragrance online?  Feel free to share them with us here!

1  “How to Buy Perfume Online Without Smelling It First ,”  Alexandra Duron, StyleCaster

2 “How to Buy Fragrance Online Without Smelling It ,” Lee Kynaston, Fashionbeans

4 thoughts on “Tips for Buying Fragrances Online When You Can’t Smell Them

  1. Hi John, Thank you for your inquiry. Seeing how your URL was from a fragrance store. I’m guessing you probably know that fragrances can smell very different when applied depending on the person. My recommendation would be to obtain samples from your vendor and have her try them to see which ones work best with her chemistry. Best of luck!


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