The Pound Shop Fragrance Challenge

When the latest brief from your editor begins “Do you have access to a pound shop?”, you know you're in trouble. When that brief then goes on to suggest you spend a week wearing “fragrances” you find in the aforementioned pound shop your heart sinks, and you might have a little cry at your desk. However, when said editor then suggests you enlist the help of your partner, meaning you can torture him a little in the process, well, you can't really refuse, can you? You can, however, bear a grudge. Just sayin' …

Anyway, the challenge was to spend £14 in the "poundshop of our choice", on seven female fragrances, and seven masculine fragrances, wear one (each) every day for a week, and report back on our experiences. So here we are. I think I have my vision back now. However, I'll never be able to show my face in the local poundshop ever again.



The purchasing:​


We head off to a rather fancy poundshop in Fulham (dahlings), it's clean and light and airy, but we're initially surprised that they don't appear to have any fragrances. Turns out they're not actually with the beauty products, because they are, of course, by the household cleaning products, leading one to speculate darkly on the very nature of what it is we're about to do. We find the stash, full of what are obviously designer fragrance knock-offs, remaindered ends of legitimate high street brand scents, and generic “fragrances”. It's rather depressing. Luckily, there are no testers, so we don't get a chance to frighten ourselves utterly out of the challenge before we even begin. The checkout assistant offers us a couple of pitying looks whilst she's putting the fragrances through, and I can tell she's obviously wondering what kind of horrific disease we're both suffering from that require us pickling ourselves in PoundWorldLand's finest scents.

His Observations: Ugh. I spend slow years being weaned away from Lynx Africa, only to be dragged back past and beyond that to PoundLandWorld's finest. I ask myself just what sort of cruel and horrific person would ask me to do such a thing but, upon reflection, it strikes me that both the Basenotes editor and my lovely partner herself fit the bill precisely. That's one of the great questions about the universe answered, then. Cursing my pliability, I dragged myself into the pound shop and picked out my fragrances with an air of resignation… (editor's note: MrLippie was bribed with vodka to take part in this challenge – he's no martyr)

Press 'Next' to read the Scent Diary

For the ladies.. From left to right – Rush Hour, Fire Princess, Mademoiselle London, VB, Madonna Diamonds, DINKY Delectable and Story of Rose...

[chapter]Day One[/chapter]


Her: DINKY Delectable:​

Packaging: Sickly green box, but the bottle is a hand-pleasing trefoil shape in the hand, and the cap matches the colour of the box.

Fragrance: This is, quite obviously, a knock off of DKNY Be Delicious, and as such smells of green apples. That's it, just apples. Rather pleasant, actually, but I'm left wondering if it would be better off as a room fragrance (which, ironically, is what I do actually use my genuine bottle of DKNY Be Delicious for, it's not a diss, it's lovely!). The scent lasts about ten minutes, and I can't be bothered to reapply it. Dull.

Him: Black Jacket

Packaging: Black box, plain, functional, quite unassuming. The bottle is simple with a black cap.

Fragrance: Being the first one of these scents, I was quite wary, expecting a massive burst of alcohol & eye-watering intensity. Thankfully, I was quite pleasantly surprised; the scent was mellow, quiet, relatively sophisticated and quite citrusy. However, it faded from my awareness within five minutes – and I never carry the bottles around with me.

[chapter]Day Two[/chapter]


Her: Rush Hour

Packaging: Tall red box containing a tall thin square bottle with a clashing orange cap

Fragrance: Pleasant surprise! This is a replica of Gucci Rush, which, by dint of being somewhat watered down, is a actually slightly more pleasant to wear than the original. I surprise myself by putting this in my handbag and carrying it round all day for top-ups. A creamy jasmine-hairspray scent, I genuinely think this experiment isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be at this point. I was wrong. VERY wrong.

Him: Can-Can Man

Packaging: Quiet grey/blue box with a stylised male torso on the front. Another plain glass bottle, with a grey cap to semi-match the box.

Fragrance: Not bad…again, a lot more subtle then I was expecting. Similar to Black Jacket, with perhaps a bit more depth, maybe a touch more musky? Fades quickly again, but I do catch myself checking to see what lingers. Unfortunately, not much… It's actually a rip off of one of the the JPG Le Male range, but it's impossible to tell which.

[chapter]Day Three[/chapter]

Her: Story of Rose Pour Femme

Packaging: Shiny black box with sylised rose print. Bottle is a somewhat extravagant pink embossed affair with a matching rose-bud shaped cap.

Fragrance: MY EYES! Oh my god, MY EYES! I have, it appears, just sprayed myself with insecticide, on a day where I have not one, not two, but three press appointments, not to mention a full day in the office besides. I knew yesterday's pleasant surprise was too good to last! I spend the day apologising to people for smelling so bad, and making mental lists of death threats to the editor of this esteemed website. I wish I was dead.

For the chaps.. From left to right &ndash; It&#39;sMySake!, Can-Can Man, Black Jacket, Umbro Elite X, Highbuzz, and EAD Bright... (Hidden Code Sport not pictured. It&#39;s hidden, <em>obviously</em>)

Him: EAD Bright

Packaging: Big, bold metallic green box – looks like some money has been spent in making this an eyecatcher. The bottle is stylised, off-centre and swish, but unfortunately, it's clear, revealing something that looks suspiciously like Crème de Menthe. The cap is loose-fitting & comes off at every opportunity.

Fragrance: Now THIS is more like what I was expecting. It's cloying, making me squint somewhat as I apply it as I'm used to, which is rather liberally. Rather than walking off to find something more interesting, I leave it be. Curses. It lingers somewhat. I do hope I didn't kill any commuters.

[chapter]Day Four[/chapter]


Her: Madonna Diamonds

Packaging: White box printed with diamonds. Bottle is a rather squat cylinder with a blue cap and “Madonna” printed forlornly towards the bottom. Quite literally no expense spent here.

Fragrance: I was this close to giving up after the flyspray incident yesterday, but this surprised me by … not being awful. It's rather clean and pleasant (and nothing like Truth or Dare), but there is nothing special about it at all. It's like poundshop Febreze. Oh.

Him: Hidden Code Sports

Packaging: Black box, not bad quality, looks decidedly classy in comparison to my other purchases. The cynic in me wonders where the cutbacks are that enabled that, and opening the box I discover a reasonable bottle….with what looks like Blue WKD in it.

Fragrance: A fairly generic sporty fragrance, with a mild resemblance to Armani Code (as you'd expect). Reasonable staying power. Does not smell of Blue WKD, which is a bit of a shame.

[chapter]Day Five[/chapter]


Her: Fire Princess Pink

Packaging: Look! They've really splashed out here, there's a hologram on the box and everything! And the bottle is an exact replica of Viktor & Rolf's Flowerbomb, only it's pink!

Fragrance: “Oh crap” I think, “I'm going to have to spend the day in a poundshop version of Flowerbomb, what did I do in previous life to deserve this?”. Luckily however, the entire budget of this fragrance has gone on the packaging and it just smell a bit of, well, nothing really. Like I'd sprinkled a bit of sugar in a litre of water, and called it perfume. So I spend the day wearing Jour d'Hermes instead. Yes, I cheated. Shut UP

Him: ItsMySaké!

Packaging: After 2 days of being spoilt, it's back to basics. Grey, basic, plain bottle with a top to match the box. I breathe a sigh of relief & pry it open.

Fragrance: Almost saccharine-sweet, smells seriously medicinal. Thankfully, it dies away from my senses swiftly and I can forget that I'm wearing something that feels like it's doing a number on my sinuses. Do my colleagues notice? Seems not... It remains, however, the best-named perfume of the entire challenge. Issey who?

[chapter]Day Six[/chapter]


Her: VB

Packaging: Orange box, flat rectangular bottle with an orange cap that doesn't fit.

Fragrance: Remember Giorgio? This is a poundshop version of that. For a poundshop fragrance this has an almost nuclear half-life (around four hours). Good going for the price, but what a shame we're back in fly-spray land. MrLippie visibly recoils from the scent. He thinks I didn't notice, but I did. I am totally fed up of PoundCountyShire scents now, and am dreaming of wearing Philosophy Amazing Grace when it's all over. Then I realise that that is the olfactory equivalent of wanting to wear Surf as a perfume and smack myself in the face with a kipper. At least it smells of something!

Him: Umbro Elite X

Packaging: As you would expect for a “known” brand, the bright red box has a sporty front design, the logo prominent with a faded football in the background. It's a small bottle, logo big again, with a faded red liquid inside.

Fragrance: Mainstream, VERY mainstream. Not too offensive, a bit cloying, and it sticks. All day. Not a hugely edifying experience, and I definitely wouldn't have objected to it too much just a couple of years ago. I wouldn't put a huge amount on though, it has some whopping staying power.

[chapter]Day Seven[/chapter]


Her: Mademoiselle London

Packaging: Silvery-grey box, same pleasing trefoil bottle as DINKY Delectable, this time with a black cap.

Fragrance: The most obviously “perfume-y” fragrance of the lot, thanks to a big dose of aldehydes in the opening. Unfortunately, the big dose of aldehydes in the opening is all it has, and it disappears pretty much instantaneously. Nonetheless, not at all bad, considering. It appears to be a Chanel-esque creation, and it works. A bit. What am I saying? I think I've gone native.

Him: Highbuzz

Packaging: Light khaki/green box, basic bottle with black top. Back to no frills.

Fragrance: Light and pleasant, with a strong citrusy background. Pleasing, overall, but fades quickly, there's barely a sniff left upon leaving Lippie Mansions. There could have been a much worse end to the week, but I have to admit being very happy to going back to something I actually CHOSE to wear, like, I don't know, something from Adidas, or even Lynx …


All of them yours for just £14. Don't you feel a fool for spending $300 on that Serge Lutens Export bottle...?


So, what has this week taught us? That, actually, poundshop fragrances aren't that bad, in fact, out of the selection we picked up there's one I'm going to quite happily keep (Rush Hour) in my handbag, just in case. Ironically, the more decorated fragrances in this selection were by far – BY FAR – the worst, but overall, you could do worse than visiting your local poundshop next time you have a perfume emergency and no cash. Just, as in a department store, avoid those flipping pink bottles!


Some fun names, some basic boxes, but nowhere near as bad as you might think. Just buy a couple & keep the bottle with you if you actually like the scent – and don't panic if you don't, it'll soon be gone….

Illustration : Lineartestpilot / Shutterstock

Group Photos : Get Lippie
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