Wouldn’t it be nice to have access to free cologne samples?
For the last few years, each time I wanted to try a new fragrance, I just bit the bullet and purchased the bottle. Today I have a shelf of ridiculous amounts of fragrance that would be impossible to wear over the next few decades and my wallet is several hundred dollars lighter because of it.
If I had any common sense, I would have just taken the time and researched all the ways I could find some free samples so I could have saved a few bucks, or prevented the embarrassment of purchasing fragrances that I’ll never wear again.
I always recommend to try before you buy when it comes to men’s fragrances and fragrances in general for that matter. While some of us have the convenience of access to several brick and mortar retailers where we can test colognes out and get free cologne samples, others are not as lucky in that department. I’ll cover both sides of the coin below so regardless of your situation, you can still do some testing, although those without access to retailers will have to pay to order the cologne samples and have them shipped. If you are forced to do a blind buy, check out our top cologne lists to read up on some highly recommended men’s cologne.
And for the record, those of us that do have access to retailers quickly realize that they don’t carry all the different fragrances that we might be interested in (like Creed or niche fragrances for example) so those of you that don’t have access to retailers, don’t feel too bad.
I will also discuss how to go about testing inside a store in case you were wondering.
Easiest Ways To Get Free Cologne Samples
If you have a Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Sephora, Dillard’s or other major retailer in your area, set out a day to take a visit and grab some cologne samples. You simply just go up to whoever is working the men’s fragrance section and ask them if you can get some samples. Usually, while you’re perusing the section they will come up and offer assistance. Let them know you’re in the market for a new fragrance and want to pick up some samples to test out.
The cologne samples will always come in a small atomizer bottle. These bottles are good for up three applications if you spray three times per each application. This is perfect since you can wear the cologne over the period of three days which should give you enough time to see if you really like it.
When you ask for a sample two things will happen. Either they will pull out a box of empty atomizer bottles and allow you to fill up your own or they will do it for you. When I visited Nordstrom’s they gave me the bottles and I had to spray them into each one which gets a bit messy, but I had free reign to get as many samples as I wanted without feeling like a nuisance. When visiting Sephora, they did it for me and put it into a nice little baggie and wrote the name of the cologne on the bag. Your experience will depend on the place and/or how helpful the employee wants to be for the most part.
Now if they give you access to the atomizer bottles to fill up yourself, it may be hard to keep track of which is which. What I did was put one in each pocket and texted myself which one I put into each pocket. This was a good workaround until I got home and was able to label the samples. The downside was that I was only able to grab 4-5 cologne samples. So bring a buddy or a lady friend if you want to grab more.
1. Find The Retailers That Offer Free Samples
For you to have access to free fragrance samples, you need to look for store departments that are offering them for free. Sounds easy right? Well… maybe not… You may find yourself wandering around the mall begging for samples with little or no success.
Luckily, we have found a few stores that will shell them out at no charge!
Both of these places have wonderful reputations on walking out with a few free samples.
But, how many samples will they allow you to take home?
Outstanding question! This usually depends on a few different things. If you are buying a few bottles of cologne, and you ask them nicely, they will most likely give you as many samples as your pockets can hold.
If you’re walking up randomly and ask for a sample, they are more than likely going to only give you a few.
At the end of the day, the person behind the counter is going to decide how many samples you get to take with you. Try to be kind and courteous because ultimately these people hold the key to those free cologne samples you’re looking for!
Looking for a Sephora or Nordstrom near you? Well, we have you covered.
Nordstrom nearest you – Just enter your zip code.
Sephora nearest you – Just pop in your zip code.
2. Take Your Own Vials With You
Not everyone has a Norstrom or Sephora next to them. Personally, I’m about 60 miles away from a Sephora and about 2.5 hours away from a Nordstrom. If I want to sample a new fragrance, it is not realistic for me to drive an absurd amount just to find a retail store that will give out free samples.
This is where heading into a local retailer like Target, Walmart, JC Penny’s, Herbergers, or whatever makes a little more sense. These retailers typically won’t hand out a freebie sample for you to take home. If they are promoting a new product, perhaps they will have them readily available, but there is no guarantee that you will be able to snag one.
The best thing to do in this situation is to purchase your own vials or decanting kits to bring home your own.
The most common retailers will have bottles of fragrance just sitting out that anyone walking by can pick up and spray a few squirts and then stick it back in their pocket.
The picture shown above are vials that you can spray perfume, cologne, or other things in that come from a bottle to take home as a sample. You can get a package of 100 of these things off Amazon for under $15!
*Pro Tip – Some of these places will have coffee beans sitting out on the counter. These are not meant to make your head explode on why they are there, but they are meant to sniff between smelling fragrances so your nose doesn’t get all confused on what the actual fragrance smells like.
If you go somewhere fancy and you actually start to like the guy behind the counter, make sure you get his/her business card or give them a tip, because they usually make commission and it would probably mean a lot to them if you purchased from them, even if it means paying a few more bucks. After all, you usually are taking time away from the employee where he/she could be working with other customers.
So in conclusion, if you buy a pack of 100 vials for $15, you’re looking at about 15 cents per fragrance sample! Not so bad!
Are you wondering which fragrances to get samples of? Well, check out our infamous post on the best cologne for men and start there!
Some Tips On Testing Out Cologne
Before getting samples you may want to test out some of the colognes to see if you would even like it. There are two ways to test:
Spray on a paper strip – On the fragrance counter you will notice some paper strips. You spray the cologne on these, shake them a couple times and give it a whiff. This will give you an idea of what the top notes are. If you notice a jar of coffee beans on the counter, don’t get weirded out! In between testing different colognes, smell the coffee beans. This will allow you to cleanse your olfactory palate so you don’t go into fragrance overload. What happens when testing a bunch of fragrances is that they all start to blend together and smell the same. By smelling the coffee beans in between tests, you will be able to gauge the smell of the fragrance better. You will also look like a pro!
The advantage to using this testing method is that you get to try tons of scents out. The disadvantage is that you don’t get the true smell, nor do you get the chance to experience the heart and base notes (unless of course it’s a linear fragrance).
Spray on your body – This is the optimal way to test. Simply spray once on each wrist. You can test two different types of cologne this way if you want to spray a different one on each wrist. I prefer just one to not cause any confusion, but you can do it either way. The advantage to this style of testing is that you really get to see how the cologne develops and reacts to your skin. The disadvantage is that you’re very limited to how many you can test smell at one time.
If you’re going to grab a bunch of atomizers and fill them up, go for the paper strip test and get samples of the ones you like the smell of. If you’re just browsing around and happen to stop in, do the body test so you can continue smelling the fragrance to see how it progresses throughout the day.
In my experience, I have done some paper tests, liked the cologne, and picked up a sample. When I got home and tried the cologne on my skin, I didn’t like it at all. This hasn’t happened too often, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Something to note here. Sometimes they have pre-made samples. Just ask and if they do, you can grab those as well.
When you purchase a cologne sometimes the package will come with a free cologne sample. Usually, it’s from the same designer. For example, I purchased a bottle of Armani Code and it came with a free sample of Acqua di Gio. You can also find cologne samples in magazines like GQ where you can smell the card.
3. Where To Get Free Cologne Samples Online
When browsing the web looking for free cologne samples, good luck! There are tons of places that promise if you fill out a form, and click on this link, you will have a perfume sample. These places are mostly scams looking for some advertising dollars and I noticed when I did fill something out, it just took me to the manufacturer’s page that I could of found on my own. If you don’t have access to any retailers or specialized fragrance shops, you should consider purchasing some cologne samples on the cheap.
These are also good for those of us who do have access to retailers, but the retailers don’t carry what we’re looking for. Usually, the samples start at $2.99 and the price goes up depending on how costly the fragrance is in the first place. Some places that I can recommend as the best places to get cheap cologne samples are:
Lesson #1 – It’s difficult
The saying, there is no such thing as a free lunch, is 100% accurate.
If you’ve found some places that are 100% legit and recommend we add it to our list, PLEASE LET ME KNOW so I can get it added to the list.
Here are a few that I found…
PrettyThrifty.com – Mostly random stuff but currently the best I’ve found
LatestFreeStuff.co.uk – Based out of the UK
Lesson #2 – You might have to buy something with it
If you want to get a sample of something, your best bet is the next time you order your favorite potion from FragranceX, Perfumania, or one of the other big time online retailers, ask them if they can provide you with a few samples.
Here are some places that will add samples to your order with no issues;
The Fragrance Shop – UK
Lesson #3 – Go to the manufacturer’s website and get your beg on…
If you’re ready to start pulling out the big guns and really start to hunt for free samples online, you might want to check out all the major manufacturers to see if they will send you one directly.
This is extremely expensive for them to do, so don’t be surprised if you have to sign up for their newsletter to do it. After all, they need to get something out of it too.
My top recommendations for cologne samples would be Surrender To Chance, Decant Shop, The Perfume Court, and Lucky Scent in that order. You can’t go wrong with either of these.
One last important note. DON’T use all of the sample. When it comes to buying the cologne online, once it’s shipped and you’ve received it, test the cologne sample against what you bought. That way you can verify you didn’t get any expired or knockoff juice.
So when it comes to free cologne samples and cheap cologne samples, you have some options. Either visit a retailer and grab free samples or visit a reputable online shop that specializes in cologne samples and pick some up for a fairly cheap price.
4. Are you ok paying a few bucks?
Find some online retailers –
Heading to the store and filling up vials is a long and cumbersome process. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to just pay a few bucks and get samples sent directly to your house.
After all, it takes gas to travel to the department store. It also takes time out of your precious day which most likely has some value. Would you pay $5 so you wouldn’t have to sit in traffic, drive to the mall, get out in possibly cold and rainy weather to get a sample of fragrance?
The answer to that question is pretty simple for me… heck no…
Most places online that sell perfume samples, do it at a reasonable cost. When I say reasonable, I’m talking about less than 10 bucks per vial and for most fragrances right around 5 dollars. You simply just can’t go wrong there.
Sites That I Use
MyPerfumeSamples – These guys are great! They even have a clearance section where you can find samples for less than a dollar.
FragranceX – I buy a lot of my stuff here and it’s super convenient they also sell samples.
Amazon.com – Where I buy most of my fragrance
Ready For Some Tips For Trying On Samples?
Method 1 – Using paper strips
These paper strips are readily available at most department stores, but also can be purchased at Amazon.com.
What’s awesome about this method is the amount of fragrances you smell in a short amount of time.
When smelling off a test strip, you’re only getting the top notes of the fragrance. Unfortunately, many scents are complex and need to several minutes to hours to develop. Using strips, you may overlook a fragrance because the top notes are not to your desire.
*Pro Tip – If you want to track how well the fragrance progresses over time, write on the strip the time you smelled the fragrance and come back to it in a few hours.
Here are some tips for using these bad boys;
- Write the name of what you’re smelling on the strip so you don’t forget!
- Don’t soak the strip with fragrance, it only needs a small amount
- Don’t let the part that has the perfume oils on it, touch other surfaces or smelly objects
- Wait a few seconds for the initial top notes that stink with alcohol dissipate. This will most likely skew your sense of smell.
- For the love of goodness, don’t huff the strip… There is no need to take deep inhalations to figure out what a fragrance smells like
- Don’t smell too many different strips consecutively… Your nose can only hand about 3… Have some coffee beans nearby if you can to neutralize your nose
Method 2 – Apply fragrance directly on your skin
I know this method seems simple and juvenile, but it really is the best way to get a taste for what a fragrance really smells like. Everyone has different skin, so, therefore, the fragrance oils can smell different to other people!
This method is the best to sample fragrances. You get to smell what the fragrance actually smells like. If you’re trying to decide between a few different cologne samples, use this technique and spray a bit on your wrist and the other fragrance on your other one.
You only get 2 shots at a sample this way. (unless you convince the people you’re with to loan you their wrists)
And that about does it for how to get free cologne samples! If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave me a comment below and I would love to chat with you about it or add it to the post. Don’t worry, I’ll give you credit!
There is a topic that I may have missed for some, but I wanted to write a separate post about it. The topic is “perfume swapping” which involves trading bottles with someone. Since this doesn’t have to do with samples, I wanted to give it a full post to see what happens.