Is Cologne and Perfume a Waste of Money?

I used to be pretty passionate about wearing a nice fragrance. I was proud of it — it was my scent! I made sure I always had some on hand. I thought it would always be a necessary expensive for me — no matter what the cost.

Well, things are starting to change for me.

After considering more and more ways to make life simpler and more frugal, it finally dawned on me: Why am I paying so much for Cologne? Is this expense really necessary?

The truth is — it isn’t!

Not only is buying pricey Cologne unnecessary, it might even be a complete waste of money.

Related: Stop Wasting Money on These 10 Things

Are colognes and perfumes a waste of money? They probably are. When you think about the fact that some people find fragrances offensive and some are even allergic, it probably makes more sense to find cheaper options (if you wear it all).

Let’s take a look at some of the best sellers to get an idea of what people spend on fragrances.

Best sellers

At the time of writing this article, Amazon’s #1 selling men’s fragrance is the Nautica Midnight Voyage 1.6 oz Eau de Toilette (EDT). It sells for around $25 or so.

The #5 best seller is Versace Man, which is another EDT, and it sells for around $44 for 3.4 oz.

Coming in at #7 is the massive 6.6 oz EDT — Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue. And it sells for around $56.

I mention these three specifically — not just because they are Amazon’s best sellers — because I have worn at least two of these fragrances in my lifetime, so I get why they’re popular.

The prices above are not MSRP (since they are cheaper on Amazon, but at least this gives you an idea.

Related: How to Save Money: 8 Simple Tips

Let’s find the average cost per oz on these:

  • Nautica is $16 per oz
  • Versace is $13 per oz
  • Dolce is $9 per oz

Granted, the more volume you buy, the more savings, but still — you get the idea.

If we take the average, we’re looking at about $13 per oz. So, if you buy an average sized 3.4 oz bottle of popular brand, you’re looking at spending around $44 (which is about what I used to do).

It’s important to remember that these are the best sellers. I’ve seen people spend a whole lot more than this. For example, the fragrance in the picture above is over $200 (MSRP) — and that is just crazy!

So, does it make sense to spend this much on Cologne? Probably not — especially when there are more affordable options that do just fine.

Cheaper options

The fragrances I referenced above were all Eau de Toilette’s. Without getting too technical here, let’s just say that an EDT is a little less expensive — a little less potent — than a parfum.

But what does that mean? Let’s compare the four different types (or strengths) of fragrances.

If we had to rank fragrances from strongest to lowest, they would go as follows:

  1. Pure Perfume
  2. Eau de Parfum
  3. Eau de Toilette
  4. Eau de Cologne

So, already, we can see that there are cheaper options available — without even considering cheaper options of each.

I would also throw “aftershave” or “body spray” in there because those are technically fragrances. Me personally, I use an aftershave now (more on that in a minute).

Let’s just consider the four strengths listed above.

If you wanted to cut costs, you could try a Cologne as opposed to a Toilette, or a Toilette as opposed to a Parfum, and so on and so forth.

I confess, I used to spend $80 on my EDT until I started buying it on Amazon for almost half the price.

However, these options are still pretty steep — even if you buy an EDT for $40-$50 as opposed to a more expensive Parfum — it’s really a waste of money.

Perhaps that’s why body sprays and aftershaves make great alternatives.

There are all kinds of cheap alternatives out there that smell great. Even if it isn’t great, who cares. I guarantee you no one else does.

Perhaps your significant other might have a preference — but aside from that, nobody really cares.

Why not buy a cheaper alternative?

I’ve been experiencing with some cheap aftershaves, and they work just fine.

You can find some for under $5, and that’s for 7 oz! Crazy cheap.

Related: 4 Items to Buy on Amazon and Save Money

Remember, nobody cares anyway, unless they are offended by it — which is why I better mention a word about that, too.

Offending others

Believe it or not — some fragrances are offensive to others. Sometimes, greatly offensive!

You might find this odd, but let me explain.

Some fragrances might seem just right to you, but others might actually think otherwise. In fact — some people might think that your favorite fragrance is too strong, or stinks (which might seem crazy to you).

The fact is, people smell and taste things differently; that’s just a fact of life.

I used to be quite perplexed by this, but now I just understand it to be a natural thing.

Any reasonable person ought to understand this (or at least try to).

I remember in college, tasting paper strips for a biology experiment. They were different colors, and each student would taste a different strip. I was quite surprised when I realized that what I thought was bitter, others found to be sweet — and vice versa.

The same thing goes for people’s sense of smell. You might think something smells great, while others think it smells terrible.

I would hate to spend a lot of money on some “great” fragrance, only to find out that others thought it stunk. What a waste of money!

Another interesting point, is that many people find smells they don’t like offensive (think about someone who reeks of body odor). And this happens more often than you think.

Some smells might even cause people to get a headache — which might cause them to get irritated (this happened to me once).

Worst of all, some people are even allergic — which can very dangerous in some cases.

Bottom line

If you are spending money on colognes or perfumes, you might rethink that next purchase. It might even be better to go without, considering how it might affect some people.

But, if you’re like me and have to wear something, perhaps you might consider cheaper alternatives — especially if some people are going to be unimpressed anyway. Might as well save your money.