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Perfume Knock-Offs and How to Spot Them

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 10 Dec 2013 | comments*Discuss
Counterfeit Fake Knock Off Perfume

Fake perfume can be one of the most difficult things to spot. After all, if the packaging and the bottle are both done well, the only way to really tell if the scent is real or not is to apply it. Even then, if the counterfeiters have come up with a good approximation, it can be a tough task, and the only rough guide is whether the perfume lasts or not. Where the real thing should stay all day (or all night), the fake will only last an hour or so, and the smell won't be quite right - the recipes for real perfumes are closely guarded secrets.

Considering that experts estimate that 10% of perfumes on the market today are fakes, your chances of running into something that's not the real thing are quite good. As a very general rule of thumb, consider where you're buying it and how much you're paying. Although some sellers on online auction sites do deal in perfectly legitimate goods, the odds of finding fakes there is much higher - and the same can be said of market stalls. Real perfumes are very expensive, so why would anyone selling the real thing do so at a bargain price when he could obtain more?

Simply by considering those points you'll eliminate a lot of the counterfeit merchandise. But what do you do when it seems good but you're not really sure?


Examine the packaging carefully; if you have the real thing for side-by-side comparison, that's ideal. Make sure the wording, the lettering and the fonts used are the same. What about the way in which it's folded and put together? If a cellophane cover is used, it should have a good thickness and feel and be very lightly glued, so you can't see any mess. What about the UPC code? Is it in the proper place and more importantly, do the numbers on the real and suspect boxes match?

The card used on the box should be of the same quality, and any borders that appear on the original should also be on the other box. You're checking to make sure they look and feel exactly the same (the feel is every bit as important as the look, since real manufacturers don't stint on the quality of materials). If the original box has a lining, it should also be there in the other.

The Bottle

Because bottle designs tend to be unique to different brands, they're often harder and more expensive to copy. Examine the shape very closely - not just overall, in terms of size, but the details. Is it smoothly rounded on the corners, for example, and is the glass of the same thickness and colour, as well as being seamless, which real bottles usually are?

The cap and sprayer can be real giveaways, since the counterfeiters often cut corners here. A real cap won't have marks from being moulded, for instance, and both the sprayer and the tube going into the bottle should be made of quality materials, not cheap plastic (the sprayer should also work smoothly and easily, not needing any force or undue pressure).

The Perfume

Of course, the real test is the fragrance itself. Spraying your wrist is the way to check it, not only for the scent itself, which should be even (fakes often have a definite pungency about them). Nor should it feel oily on the skin, which fakes well might. Something you can only test by applying it, is whether it causes a skin reaction. The real thing won't, but some of the cheap ingredients that make up fakes can. If the smell fades very quickly, rather than lingering lightly, then you have a fake.

Finally, open the bottle and look at the liquid. There should be nothing floating in it (and yes, you do find that in fakes), and it shouldn't look murky.

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I bought what I believed to be Burberry Cologne at a big outlet store. Everything appeared to look ok until I put it on. It was Burberry and I have used it for a very long time. I know how long it should last, but this one only remained about 15 minutes. The packaging and bottle look real, but I don't believe the contents are. What if anything can I do?
crawdiddly - 10-Dec-13 @ 11:36 AM
The fakers often do a good job of copying the boxes, but won’t copy and elaborate bottle or cap design as it becomes too costly. Check those carefully as they’ll be the most likely giveaway without spraying on the perfume. The real thing will be carefully done, the writing on the bottle always correct and spelt properly.
Sarah - 26-Sep-12 @ 12:41 PM
For most people, testing it on the skin is the only way, unless the forgery on the box is especially obvious. Even the smell isn't always a giveaway if it's done well. Better to dab a little inside the wrist and test how it feels on the skin. Real perfume won't be oily and it should never, ever cause reddening or itching. At the end of the day, if it's very cheap, it's probably a fake, so remember that.
Alison - 14-Jun-12 @ 9:07 AM
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