Are Testers Stronger Than The Actual Perfume? Tester VS Retail

We all love browsing the perfume collections in stores and spraying testers on every inch of our wrists and arms. However, sometimes the perfume doesn’t smell as strong or enticing at home… which begs the question: are testers stronger than actual perfumes?

Testers are not intentionally made stronger. There have been reports of testers being stronger than perfumes; however, there is no factual evidence to support that. Perfume brands have maintained that they are both the same strength; however, the storage environment and length of time stored could create a difference between the two.

There may be ifs and buts about which is stronger; however, there are definite factors that play a vital role in affecting the scent of a tester. These include exposure to light and warmth, age, a change in formula, and, of course, the odd conspiracy theory!  

Do Tester Bottles Smell Stronger Than The Actual Perfume Bottles We Buy?

Whether or not testers are stronger than the actual bottles we buy has been a talking point for a long time. It’s something that isn’t brought up that commonly, but some people swear by it. They try out a fragrance in the store, like it enough to buy it, only to find out that the bottle they bought smells much weaker.

Of course, it’s a disappointment if your recently bought fragrance isn’t what you expected it to be, but it doesn’t automatically mean that the tester was stronger. However, there are a few reasons why a tester could actually smell a bit stronger than the retail bottles. And this has everything to do with the environment they’re stored in!

1. Exposure

The bright, warm, fluorescent lights around malls and stores are noticeable to all of us. Perfume testers are sat under these lights day in, day out, and many of them without caps on the bottles.

This means they are constantly exposed, which is not good for maintaining a perfumes integrity. The longer they are exposed, the more it can alter their chemical makeup and it can cause deterioration of the more delicate molecules. This can actually lead to an evaporation of top notes, so when you apply the tester, you’re immediately introduced to the stronger smelling middle and base notes.

2. Age

None of us truly know how long the testers are used for after they’ve been opening before they’re used up and replaced. Much like how exposure to lights can change the chemical makeup of perfume, age can have the same effect (especially if they exceed their expiry date).

This can be seen in vintage perfumes; you’re immediately introduced to the stronger-smelling mid and base notes. The scent of a perfume evaporates over time, no matter the exposure to light and heat. If stored long enough, even the top notes of a properly-stored perfume can start to evaporate, leading to a much stronger scent.

3. Turnover

As I have mentioned before, we don’t know how long testers are being used before they’re replaced or emptied, but it could be an awfully long time. Brands are always making slight adjustments to the chemical formulae of perfumes as they’re produced. When this happens, the fragrance is reformulated.

As the turnover will be higher for perfumes, it makes sense that an older tester could still have the original chemical formulation, which has a slightly different scent to the modern formulation. This is the most plausible explanation for your perfume smelling slightly different or not lasting quite as long when you get home.

4. Conspiracy Theory

There is a conspiracy theory about pretty much everything these days, and perfumes are no exception. The main suspicion is that large brands water down the real bottles of perfume but keep the testers more concentrated. This would entice the customer with a gorgeously strong scent prompting them to make the purchase while they actually deliver a lighter and cheaper version of the scent.

The big problem with this theory is; wouldn’t more people have noticed? Also, people wouldn’t purchase that perfume more than once, ultimately losing the company money… hence why this is labeled a conspiracy theory!

What Is A Perfume Tester Bottle?

Testers (otherwise called samples) are bottles of perfume manufactured with the sole intention of being used in shops for customers to test before making a purchase. The bottles tend to be smaller in size, have less packaging, and have a label with ‘tester’ written on it.

Also, they are generally manufactured without caps, so customers don’t have to worry about fumbling with lids in store. They are usually shipped in plain boxes without the fancy logos and artwork we’re used to seeing on perfume bottles.

Generally, they are manufactured for department stores and are not for sale to individual customers; however, you can sometimes find them for sale online. This is what separates testers from decants, as decants are just smaller versions of the original perfume that you can buy to try out if you don’t want to commit to buying a full bottle. If you want to know more about decants, check out this article.

Why You Should Continue To Buy Perfume From Stores

It’s important to stress that these are simply theories – the debate is ongoing, and ultimately, it’s up to you if you want to hunt online for a tester rather than buying a regular perfume. Most people can tell absolutely no difference between the two – for all we know, a handful of people simply got unlucky with the fragrance they bought.

Even if perfumes do change due to exposure or chemical formulations, chances are this change is minute. There are many reasons why an actual bottle of perfume is a better investment than a tester:

  • Packaging: Testers have minimal, plain packaging and often come without a cap. The missing cap can lead to a faster evaporation process, which is not something you want.
  • Size: As we all know – size is important! Tester bottles tend to be smaller in size, and although they may be less expensive, you’ll have to replace them far more often.
  • Ease: Testers are generally not sold in stores, so you will have to hunt around online to find the ones you want. It’s very time-consuming as they can be hard to find.

Final Verdict

There is no factual evidence for testers being stronger than the retail bottles that are sold. However, there are a few factors that can influence the scent of testers. After all, an unopened perfume stored inside the box is much less vulnerable to these outside influences than a tester bottle without a cap.

It is very likely that some people just got unlucky with their fragrance, or maybe they expected more from it. To say that testers are intentionally made stronger is a heavy claim with little to support it!

Jasper Pieterse

Hi, my name is Jasper and I've been a long time fragrance fan. Ever since 2014, I started to get a huge interest in fragrances and I've had my nose on countless of different fragrances. I'm excited to share my experiences!

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