Confessions Of A Perfume Snob: ‘A Week In Supermarket Fragrances’

One Beauty Writer Spends A Week In L'eau d'Asda


by Chemmie Squier |
Published on

‘Er, You’re wearing Asda?’ This was my friend’s reaction last Saturday when I told her what perfume I had on over cofffee. I nodded with a smug grin on my face, confirming that I was indeed wearing one of Walmart’s £8 finest. She was impressed, I could tell. And I felt smug that I'd beaten the system. Just like when someone thinks your Primark top is Whistles. In truth no one expects cheap perfume to smell good - let alone stuff bought from the shelves between baked beans and frosted flakes - but this did. I smelt bloody great, and by proving this I'd firmly stuck a finger up at perfume snobs everywhere, including my former self.

It had all began last month, when news broke that Lidl’s Suddenly Madame Glamour, £3.99 was indistinguishable in blind testing from Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, £70. Now, I’m one of those people who delights in a bargain; if someone comments on a piece of clothing that I’ve purchased in a charity shop, I proudly announce I got it at the British Heart Foundation.

But perfumes were different. Not so long ago I was a beauty intern and part of the job was trying out some amazing high-end fragrances (it was a tough job, honest). Gradually my eyes were opened to this new, and delicious smelling, world - and as a result I turned into a bit of a scent snob.

I started to find it easy to sniff out cheap scents – they’re usually synthetic and sickly sweet with no depth – and to understand why people would pay substantial sums for a glass bottle of liquid. I saw perfume is a luxury product, one to tresure and spend on - some of my favourite high-end fragrances like Terry de Gunzburg’s Bleu Paradis and Jo Malone’s Rain & Angelica Cologne retail around the £100 mark.

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If you need proof perfumes are luxe, the lavish ad campaigns are testament to it. So would Gisele sprawled on a surf board emblazoned with ASDA or Keira pushing a supermarket trolley to woo her beau have had the same allure? I doubted it, but with the beauty internship over, and my shelf of free perfume drying up - I was willing to give anything a shot.

To get the testing started I spritz on some of M&S’ Autograph Azure Breeze, £16 on just before I start my journey home - you never know who you might bump in to on the tube. Immediately I knew my timing was off. Don’t get me wrong, it smelt great, but the beachy, fruity smell screamed ‘I’m sipping cocktails in the Carribean’ rather than ‘I’m wearing 10 layers on my freezing London commute’. I could practically hear the angry thoughts of my fellow commuters; ‘How dare she waltz on here smelling of summer?’

The next morning brought a spritz of Suddenly Madame Glamour, £3.99 from our favourite local store Lidl. It was instant comfort. It was still sophisticated, mature but not in a 'I smell like my nan's downstairs loo' type way. I wanted to shout ‘Just so you know, I’m wearing Lidl, OKAY?!’ to anyone I passed because everyone deserved to know how good you could smell without dropping a load of cash. One collegue commented that she thought people would think she was 'cheap, tacky and lived in a skip', if she admitted wearing a supermarket fragrance, but with this one, no one in the office could deny how good it was.

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Mandara Spa's Blooms, £10, from Sainsbury's didn’t even make it on to my skin. It was instant unattraction, hate at first smell. This, I knew, was a no go. But with NSPA’s Fern from Asda, £8 I knew I'd found the one. Ok, in truth the first notes resembled pine floor cleaner but it soon settled into a spicy, sweet scent and I felt proud to be wearing. I’d discovered a secret that no one else knew.

The scent did have one flaw. Lack of staying power. In fact it was the same for most the scents I tried; it wasn’t the smell that let them down (most of them smelt really good) but the speed at which they wore off. I was put off wearing one on my night out on Friday for this reason. Then again, I’ve never had an expensive one that’s lasted for ages so, really, what’s the problem?

Still L'eau d'Asda became my go to for the rest of the week. And when I put it on Saturday morning for catching up with said friend for coffee, I was feeling how you do when you’ve just got your haircut and you’re waiting for someone to comment on it. All I wanted to scream at her was, ‘How do I SMELL?’ Eventually, I just came out with it and asked her what she thought, and, unsurprisingly, my new love got her seal of approval. And it well and truely had mine too.

**Here's the four I tried: **

Autograph Azure Breeze, £16, Marks and Spencer

This smells like my step-mum, which is a pretty unhelpful comparison for those of you who have never smelt her. It's fruity (apples and peaches, mainly) and fresh.


Suddenly Madame Glamour, £3.99, Lidl (available in store)

If I compared this to a material, it would be cashmere and, although that doesn’t really make sense, I basically mean it’s sophisticated and soft. Not sophisticated in a Granny kind of way, but in a your-little-sister-wont-borrow-this sort of way.


Fern EDT, £8, NSPA (available exclusively at Asda)

This is my favourite discovery. At first, I wasn’t a fan and I smelt like I'd been rolling around in a pile of fern branches but once it settles, it’s a real winner.


Blooms EDT, £10, Mandara Spa

You’ll feel like you’ve face planted a bowl of fruit salad sweets and potpourri when you smell this. Not for me. Sorry, Sainsburys.


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Follow Chemmie on Twitter @chemsquier

Photographed by Marco Vittur

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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