Spot a fake fragrance

Friday, 10 August 2012

Is your Madly Kenzo actually Badly Kenzo or your Thierry Mugler Angel a devil? It is estimated that up to 10% of all so-called ‘designer’ fragrances are actually fakes. So how can you tell if your perfume is the real thing, or if you’ve been swindled? BeautyHeaven tell us what to look out for…

Colour and consistency

The colour of the perfume liquid should be clear and consistent in colour. It should not appear oily or mottled. If this is the case, chances are it’s dodgy.


Check the perfume box to make sure the label has the correct spelling (you’d be surprised how many fakes masquerading as the real thing actually give themselves away with spelling errors!), has good quality cardboard and consistent colouring.


If there is a hint of bitterness or sourness to the scent it is a sure sign that the product you are sniffing is an inferior.


Designer fragrances come in designer bottles. Designer replicas often come in flawed bottles. Imperfections such as bubbles in the glass, loose or crooked crystals, uneven moulding marks and an overall poor look to the quality of the glass generally indicate a fake.


Most fake perfumes include a label that is not perfectly aligned on the bottle. Check that the label on the bottle you are buying is straight, symmetrical and without imperfections.

Are there any other ways to avoid buying a fake?

Absolutely. To prevent ending up with a dodgy product, only buy from reputable retailers, preferably one that states the brand name at the counter. So, yes, stay away from street vendors and avoid online auctions from sellers with imperfect feedback ratings. (Ebay allows you to check a sellers feedback if you are unsure about their reputation). Be very suspicious about bargain buys and deals that appear too good to be true. If a fragrance is less than half its usual retail price then chances are it’s a fake.

This article originally appeared on BeautyHeaven.

Image: Shutterstock

Other articles you may be interested in:
Build your fragrance wardrobe
Shop for perfume
Fragrant message
Your party perfumes
The story of perfume

Written by

Megan Kakora has helped launch the websites of, and been the online editor for, some of South Africa’s biggest glossy magazines. She believes in less-is-more, except when it comes to her collection of nail polish colours.
Megan on Google+

Want to write a comment? Sign in here sign up now
Tell your friends
  1. Pseudo_kate

    I wonder how the counterfeit places stay in business. I tried a few and they’re nice to sniff upon contact but after an hour, it changes completely and smells horrid. My friend still buys them yet she doesn’t want to admit that they give her the odd rash or two.

    6 years ago •

  1. Cass1231

    All these places that make these fake fragrances should be closed..they only last an hour or so.

    6 years ago •

  1. mahomed

    I hope the author Megan doesn’t mind me forwarding to a few people. Her name is included in the forwarded message.

    6 years ago •

  1. mahomed

    Great tip, I’m shocked many people go out and buy perfume even though its less than half the price.

    6 years ago •

  1. Livvy

    As easy as staying away from ebay and street vendors, stick to the reputable stores.

    6 years ago •

  1. Firefly

    Now I’m going to run and check all my perfumes!!!! :P

    6 years ago •

  1. Charne

    This is a great article. I came across a lot of fakies lately! So not worth it cos the fragrance is supposed to last the whole day.

    6 years ago •

  1. shaun

    That’s why i always buy my fragrances at selected stores, i don’t trust online purchases, always scared i will end up with fakes.

    6 years ago •

  1. ricebunny

    lol this is why i only buy from reputable department stores even if i have to pay a bit extra

    7 years ago •

  1. Hansen

    lot of fake perfume in our Joburg streets!!!

    7 years ago •

  1. CarolynMcM

    I will rather save my money till I am able to buy the real thing!

    7 years ago •

  1. Ruweida

    Lots of fakes on the market; thanks for showing us how to spot a fake fragrance.

    7 years ago •

  1. K@t

    Good advice to make sure we are not ripped off!

    7 years ago •

  1. Maria Meyer

    Good to know. Would hate paying a fortune for the perfume only to be disappointed afterwards!

    7 years ago •

  1. Tasha

    This is good advise. My sister always manages to get a fake one be eccident :(

    7 years ago •

  1. Zu

    I am always tempted to bid and buy at ebay but this is what scares me. Rather buy at authorized retailer.

    The smell doesnt last long and the alcohol is just too much, you can already detect it with a 1 – 2 sprays

    7 years ago •

  1. wyona

    Well to stay clear, buy your fragrances from well established department stores, like Red Square, Stuttafords etc, don’t think they will ever sell you fake fragrances.

    7 years ago •

  1. Mpbutterfly

    Good tips, informative article.

    7 years ago •

  1. DIVA

    Thanks for the heads up, will definately check next time if I’m buying a real deal or not.

    7 years ago •

  1. Humphreys

    Thank you for the advice. Indeed buying from reputable retailers is often a sure way of ensuring that you don’t end up with a second rate product. There are just some things you don’t buy cheap.

    7 years ago •

  1. Chicara

    Love this article. I will definitely check back on this next time.

    7 years ago •

  1. Azraa

    Interesting article. I wouldnt risk a fake fragrance, what if it damages skin or clothes when sprayed.

    7 years ago •

  1. Sam

    Thank you for the informative article.

    7 years ago •

BeautySouthAfrica - your pre-shop stop for all things beauty is South Africa’s most comprehensive online beauty magazine and your pre-shop stop for product information and reviews. From the latest international make-up trends to the hottest new products on the market, we offer insights into the glamorous world of beauty. Join like-minded beauty fanatics in our loyalty program and earn points, trial beauty products and share your experiences.

Become a beauty addict!

Get great deals and climb the ladder to a Gold Star!


Sign In