From purchasing perfume online by the seat of your pants or getting one gifted to you during the holidays, sometimes the perfume we get isn’t something we’d want to wear. You may not like the thought of “going through the trouble” to return a fragrance, but you also aren’t keen on the idea of spending someone’s – or your own – cold hard cash for a scent you don’t fancy. So, can you return perfume you don’t like?
You can return perfume you don’t like back to the original retailer. Some retailers require that you meet specific criteria, such as having a receipt, the original packaging, or returning it to the store within a certain timeframe, usually between 30 days to six months.
We know that buying or receiving a perfume that doesn’t suit you can be a real bummer and that it can be time-consuming (and straight-up annoying) to have to hunt down fragrance return policies. To make your life a little easier, we compiled a generous list of both online and physical perfume retailers and their return policies, as well as answered some of your most pressing questions regarding perfume returns.
Can You Return Perfume You Don’t Like?
Yes, it is possible to return perfume you don’t like. Return policies benefit us consumers in this way because if something we bought is not satisfactory, we can return the item for a refund!
Most major retailers accept returns for perfumes – even if you’ve used up a lot of the fragrance – so long as you have the original or gift receipt. Some stores, like Sephora and Ulta, require the original packaging, so you may want to open your next box gently and refrain from tossing it into the garbage, at least until you know you absolutely love it.
It’s a common practice to return something that didn’t meet your expectations – why should perfume be any different? Luckily most retailers agree and have generous return policies for their merchandise.
Stores like Boots allow you to return perfume with just a receipt.
Some retailers are a little pickier in what they allow their customers to return. Dillard’s requires that merchandise be unused, in its original packaging, and be returned within 30 calendar days from the date of purchase.
That definitely seems like quite the hassle for just returning a fragrance. That’s certainly not to say don’t shop at these stores; just be mindful of each store’s return policy!
Can You Return Opened Perfume?
Whether or not you can return opened perfume depends on the retailer but generally, yes, you can return opened or already-used perfume for a refund, exchange, or store credit.
There are many reasons why people decide to return perfume. The first that comes to mind is that the scent is not up to par with what they’d hope to get.
Whether we test a fragrance in-store or buy it straight from the web, sometimes a perfume doesn’t meet our expectations, and when that happens, it’s okay to return a perfume.
Another reason why people return perfumes is that there is some sort of defect, usually on the bottle itself. The atomizer nozzle could be broken, resulting in the bottle not spraying, spraying unevenly, or with the cap coming off the nozzle entirely.
Bottles can get scratched during shipping and handling, or the graphic designs can become warped, and if you’re paying top dollar (let’s say for one of Byredo’s luxurious perfumes, for example), that’s probably unacceptable to you (as it is to most others).
Furthermore, sometimes during shipping and storing, the glue from the packing can melt and stick to the perfume bottle. Or, if a brand designed their bottle with an ornamental cap (think Juicy Couture or the iconic flower cap from Marc Jacobs), it can break, and most people decide to return their perfume for a brand new bottle.
Ever have a perfume smell “off?” That’s another reason people like to return their opened perfume. While often it’s just your nose, sometimes a fragrance can be stored in a warehouse or on a store shelf for a little too long, causing it to spoil. You can look up your perfume’s serial code online to see when it was manufactured.
Stores that accept previously- opened perfume include Macy’s, Sephora, Ulta, and online-only FragranceX.
Can You Return A Fragrance Without A Receipt?
It depends on the store, but most stores allow you to bring back a perfume sans receipt for a full refund. Retailers will have to look up your account information in their database, though, so to do this, you usually must be a rewards member or have an account with the brand to prove you made the purchase.
Retailers that allow you to return perfume without a receipt include Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Ulta.
Can You Exchange A Perfume Without A Receipt?
Yes, most stores’ return policies allow for you to exchange your perfume without a receipt. They’ll have to look up your account information in their database, though.
Exchanging the perfume you don’t like for one you do enjoy is a great option. If, for whatever reason, the perfume you pruchased isn’t what you hoped it to be, exchanging it for one you do like is a simple and easy solution, both for you and the store.
The Most Popular Places To Buy Perfume And Their Return Policies
Perfumes are sold in many places, both in physical stores and online. With the many different brands and companies that sell perfumes come many different return policies. Below you’ll find a list of the most popular places to purchase perfumes and their return policies!
Obviously enough, you could walk into an actual store to make a purchase. However, most (if not all) of these businesses sell their perfumes online as well. Going to a ‘real’ store saves you time on shipping and paying shipping fees, plus you’re usually able to test perfumes while you’re there, ensuring you go home with something you really want.
Here is a list of some of our favorite physical stores where you can buy perfume. The list is broken down by brand and its fragrance return policy.
- Macy’s: Macy’s accepts new and gently used fragrances for a return. Most returns in stores and by mail must be completed within 90 days of purchase.
- Nordstrom: Nordstrom handles returns on a case-by-case basis. Their website says that “from time to time [they] cannot accommodate a return,” but others claim they have returned their perfume no problem. If you do not have a receipt or no record of your sale is available, they will ask for ID, and your refund will be processed at the current price onto a Nordstrom gift card.
- Sephora: Can return new and gently used perfume. If you make a purchase at Sephora.com, you can return your perfume to any Sephora location for a faster refund or mail it in using a prepaid shipping label. Depending on how you paid, you may have between 30-60 days to make a return.
- TJ Maxx: Must have an original receipt when returning unopened merchandise only and must be returned to the store within 30 days from original purchase. Can opt for an exchange or a refund. If you have a receipt but return it to the store after 30 days or do not have a receipt at all, then you will receive a store credit.
- Ulta: Must have all of the original packagings to return. If you bought perfume as an Ultimate Rewards Member or used your Ulta.com account, you do not need a receipt to return the fragrance. They can look up purchases made through your account. If you do not have an account with them nor the original receipt, then an issue in the form of store credit will be given. You’ll receive a credit amount equal to the lowest price at which Ulta sold your item in the 90 days before you made the return. You’ll also need an ID to verify.
- Bloomingdale’s: For most purchases, Bloomingdale’s offers a 90-day return policy. If you do not have a receipt, they will issue you a store credit at the lowest selling price in the last 180 days. If you do not have a receipt, they may also ask for your information and ID if it’s not already on file with them.
- Boots: Boots is an Ireland-based pharmacy and beauty retailer, and they have two policies. If you bought a perfume online, you could return it within 35 days for a refund or replacement; just bring the perfume and confirmation number found in your email. If you bought it in-store, bring your receipt for a refund. They recommend bringing any items back to their store locations to process your refund faster. The brand also recently updated its cosmetics (specifically makeup) return policy to accept unopened products returned within 35 days from the original purchase.
- Dillard’s: Must return fragrance within 30 calendar days of purchase. Perfume must be in unused condition and unopened packaging, and it should also be accompanied by the original receipt or the original Dillard’s Proof of Purchase Label.
What’s not the love about buying perfume or cologne in a few clicks? You can easily make a purchase in your sweatpants or while on your lunch break at the office, and many stores online offer exclusive, vintage, and collectible perfumes that physical stores don’t provide.
Here is a list of some of our favorite and reputable online shops where you can buy perfume. They’re great places to go if you’re looking for a discontinued or hard-to-find perfume. The list is broken down by brand and its fragrance return policy.
- Fragrancenet: Must have unopened merchandise in its original condition, including the packaging and packing slip, and return within 30 days of receipt. You will receive a refund sans shipping and gift wrapping charges.
- FragranceX: Orders can be returned within 30 days after the ship date for a full refund, less shipping and gift wrap costs. Perfumes can be sent back to FragranceX so long as you have not used the item in excess. If the item is deemed to have been used too much, you may be subject to a partial refund.
- Luckyscent: Most of Luckyscent’s products can be returned within 30 days after the item has been shipped for a full refund. You must pay the shipping cost. Perfumes must be unused and unopened, and in their original packaging. Be careful! Packing must be undamaged as well – including any unopened cellophane wrap.
- Net-a-Porter: Due to transport restrictions, fragrance, along with nail polish, aerosols, and candles, are all final sales and cannot be returned.
- Scentbird: Scentbird offers returns on gift sets, full-size fragrances, and select a la carte items (they do not accept returns on a la carte fragrance vials). Once you receive an item, you have 15 days to return it in its original and unopened packaging for a store credit.
What Do Stores Do With Returned Fragrances?
Different stores have different practices regarding what they do with returned fragrances, but stores typically either turn used perfumes into testers or throw them away. Retailers often have to toss out used perfume and other cosmetics for sanitary reasons and minimize their goods’ illegal reselling.
Sephora, for example, has an extremely scrutinized returned-perfume procedure. If a fragrance is unopened, it’ll go back to the shelf; however, if a perfume has been used – even slightly – it cannot be resold. So what do Sephora stores do with all those returned fragrances?
The return policy varies by location, but some Sephora stores use returned perfumes as testers. We love Sephora and other stores for being able to test out perfumes before we buy them, so ‘recycling’ them in this way makes sense. However, not every store does this, as some returned products can’t be used as testers because the SKU is already registered in their system as bought and then returned.
When a product can’t be used – and again, this depends on the location – Sephora employees take the perfume to a ‘highly supervised‘ stock room. Sephora had an issue with stores swiping returned items, so they decided to implement this policy at specific locations. Products may then be thrown away because while it is wasteful, it’s often the most sanitary thing to do. Tossing out returned products is pretty standard in the beauty industry.
Other stores like Macy’s send used and returned perfumes to the vendor (their testers come in plain, unmarked boxes that are new when put on display). The products will often go into a biohazard unit and wait until they’re shipped off to the vendor.