I always knew that I liked perfume, but it wasn't until my last house move when my fragrances required an entire packing box that I realised how much I truly love it. Sure, I was able to part with a couple out-of-date bottles, but most of my stash felt too precious to cull. The thing about perfume is that it's so personal. Scent is linked so closely to memory that even if you've only worn a fragrance a few times, you can evoke a past time and place with just one spritz.
The problem? Perfume is expensive. Of all the products I've collected over the years, my fragrances are worth the most, and unfortunately, I have expensive taste in scents. Byredo, Tom Ford, Maison Margiela… Most of my favourite perfume brands will set you back around £100 for a bottle. Trust me—I know how ridiculous that sounds, especially as someone who spent her early teenage years buying knockoff bottles of Thierry Mugler Angel and CK One from the market, dousing herself in Impulse Thrill, and circling J.Lo Glow in the Boots Christmas catalogue.
That's not to say there aren't plenty of fantastic, affordable options out there, though. There are. In fact, with Byredo's founder Ben Gorham working with & Other Stories on its fragrance offering and Jo Loves founder Jo Malone CBE working with Zara, there are plenty of purse-friendly scents to rival my more expensive favourites—you just need to know where to look.
Keep scrolling to shop 12 of my favourite affordable fragrances under £30. Take my word for it—these are just as good as the expensive ones.
Designed by Jo Malone CBE, founder of Jo Loves, the Zara Emotions collection is responsible for just about the most dreamy perfumes on the high street. This particular scent smells floral but with hints of orange and neroli. Most importantly, it smells incredibly expensive.
While many an editor will sing the praises of Beauty Pie's affordable yet effective skincare line, their fragrances tend to fly under the radar despite being seriously good. Created by perfumer Frank Voelkl (the man behind cult fragrance Le Labo Santal 33) this green scent really stands out. It's floral but with warming musk and sweet vanilla-and-coconut for a comforting edge. Plus, if you become a Beauty Pie member then this will only set you back £12—bargain.
Zara fragrances are something of a beauty-editor secret, and trust me—the scents truly defy their modest price tags. Again, there are plenty to choose from depending on your scent preferences (Nude Bouquet is another favourite of mine), but this one made the cut, as it's essentially a straight-up dupe of YSL Black Opium with notes of orange blossom, coffee and vanilla.
You're getting the expert hand of another legendary perfumer here at a fraction of the price. Olivier Pescheux, who has worked on scent for the likes of Dior and Montblanc, has turned his attention to this innovative scent for H&M. It manages to be both fruity, spicy and musky with notes of mandarin, ylang ylang and tonka bean for an intoxicating blend.
It might sound obvious, but a good hack for finding more affordable fragrances is to purchase them in smaller sizes. London-based perfume brand Floral Street offers all of its scents in travel-friendly, 10-millilitre bottles, which is a great way to discover if you really love a scent before committing to the full size. I'm a big fan of this brand for unusual scents, but I think Neon Rose is a real crowd-pleaser—a fresh, green floral.
I'm so impressed with what a sophisticated scent this is, considering the price point. Fans have even compared it to Chanel Coco with its fruity top notes, creamy vanilla and spiciness from the cloves and pink peppercorns. The one from Next pulls through slightly more on the rosy side, but it's still an absolute dream.
I'm pretty sure every girl who grew up in the '90s would be familiar with The Body Shop's White Musk perfume. (It's still available, by the way!) Trust me, though—this black version is like white musk's cool older sister. It contains sweet pear, spicy pink pepper and heady bergamot, and it smells incredible. Honestly, I had a colleague who used to wear this, and I lost count of the number of times people asked her what she was wearing. It's that good.
Way more than bath bombs and fresh face masks, Lush have a decent offering of affordable fragrances too. This sweet orange and mimosa scent is a fabulous summer fragrance and a great mood booster on drizzly days.
It won't last as long as a proper eau de parfum, but there are some incredible body mists on the market right now if you don't mind refreshing throughout the day. This sweet, cherry-blossom scent is as uplifting as it is calming and makes a great addition to my desk-side beauty stash.
I'm a huge fan of Estée Lauder's iconic Bronze Goddess fragrance that comes out every summer, but this affordable scent from French skincare brand Nuxe is a close second. Both scents contain notes of coconut, vanilla and tiare flowers, and have that sunny, tropical feel that makes me think instantly of beach holidays and piña coladas.
If you like simple scents, Solinotes is a fantastic brand. Its perfumes focus on doing one thing well (for instance, this fresh, bright, citrus scent), but work equally well for layering up for a personalised fragrance. It also has rose, vanilla and white tea perfumes available at Urban Outfitters. Best of all, they all smell like exactly what they say on the bottle.
This beautiful scent smells so expensive, it's hard to believe it's under £30. If you like heady florals, it's worth taking a look at this tuberose and jasmine scent. Delicate but wonderfully powerful at the same time, it's deceptively modern.