I always recommend to try before you buy when it comes to men’s fragrances and fragrances in general for that matter. While some of us have the convenience of access to several brick and mortar retailers where we can test colognes out and get free cologne samples, others are not as lucky in that department. I’ll cover both sides of the coin below so regardless of your situation, you can still do some testing, although those without access to retailers will have to pay to order the cologne samples and have them shipped. If you are forced to do a blind buy, check out our top cologne lists to read up on some highly recommended men’s cologne.
And for the record, those of us that do have access to retailers quickly realize that they don’t carry all the different fragrances that we might be interested in (like Creed or niche fragrances for example) so those of you that don’t have access to retailers, don’t feel too bad. 🙂
I will also discuss how to go about testing inside a store in case you were wondering.
How to Get Free Cologne Samples
If you have a Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Sephora, Dillard’s or other major retailer in your area, set out a day to take a visit and grab some cologne samples. You simply just go up to whoever is working the men’s fragrance section and ask them if you can get some samples. Usually while you’re perusing the section they will come up and offer assistance. Let them know you’re in the market for a new fragrance and want to pick up some samples to test out.
The cologne samples will always come in a small atomizer bottle. These bottles are good for up to three applications if you spray three times per each application. This is perfect since you can wear the cologne over the period of three days which should give you enough time to see if you really like it.
When you ask for a sample two things will happen. Either they will pull out a box of empty atomizer bottles and allow you to fill up your own or they will do it for you. When I visited Nordstrom’s they gave me the bottles and I had to spray them into each one which gets a bit messy, but I had free reign to get as many samples as I wanted without feeling like a nuisance. When visiting Sephora, they did it for me and put it into a nice little baggie and wrote the name of the cologne on the bag. Your experience will depend on the place and/or how helpful the employee wants to be for the most part.
Now if they give you access to the atomizer bottles to fill up yourself, it may be hard to keep track of which is which. What I did was put one in each pocket and texted myself which one I put into each pocket. This was a good workaround until I got home and was able to label the samples. The downside was that I was only able to grab 4-5 cologne samples. So bring a buddy or a lady friend if you want to grab more.
Some Tips On Testing Out Cologne
Before getting samples you may want to test out some of the colognes to see if you would even like it. There are two ways to test:
Spray on a paper strip – On the fragrance counter you will notice some paper strips. You spray the cologne on these, shake them a couple times and give it a whiff. This will give you an idea of what the top notes are. If you notice a jar of coffee beans on the counter, don’t get weirded out! In between testing different colognes, smell the coffee beans. This will allow you to cleanse your olfactory palate so you don’t go into fragrance overload. What happens when testing a bunch of fragrances is that they all start to blend together and smell the same. By smelling the coffee beans in between tests, you will be able to gauge the smell of the fragrance better. You will also look like a pro!
The advantage to using this testing method is that you get to try tons of scents out. The disadvantage is that you don’t get the true smell, nor do you get the chance to experience the heart and base notes (unless of course it’s a linear fragrance).
Spray on your body – This is the optimal way to test. Simply spray once on each wrist. You can test two different types of cologne this way if you want to spray a different one on each wrist. I prefer just one to not cause any confusion, but you can do it either way. The advantage to this style of testing is that you really get to see how the cologne develops and reacts to your skin. The disadvantage is that you’re very limited to how many you can test smell at one time.
If you’re going to grab a bunch of atomizers and fill them up, go for the paper strip test and get samples of the ones you like the smell of. If you’re just browsing around and happen to stop in, do the body test so you can continue smelling the fragrance to see how it progresses throughout the day.
In my experience, I have done some paper tests, liked the cologne and picked up a sample. When I got home and tried the cologne on my skin, I didn’t like it at all. This hasn’t happened too often, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Something to note here. Sometimes they have pre-made samples. Just ask and if they do, you can grab those as well.
When you purchase a cologne sometimes the package will come with a free cologne sample. Usually it’s from the same designer. For example, I purchased a bottle of Armani Code and it came with a free sample of Acqua di Gio. You can also find cologne samples in magazines like GQ where you can smell the card.
How to Get Cheap Cologne Samples
If you don’t have access to any retailers or specialized fragrance shops, you should consider purchasing some cologne samples on the cheap. Check out some of the best men’s cologne on the front page or some of our top selling and best selling cologne choices and put a list together of some that you are interested in. These are also good for those of us who do have access to retailers, but the retailers don’t carry what we’re looking for. Usually the samples start at $2.99 and the price goes up depending on how costly the fragrance is in the first place. Some places that I can recommend as the best places to get cheap cologne samples are:
My top recommendations for cologne samples would be Surrender To Chance, Decant Shop, The Perfume Court and Lucky Scent in that order. You can’t go wrong with either of these.
One last important note. DON’T use all of the sample. When it comes to buying the cologne online, once it’s shipped and you’ve received it, test the cologne sample against what you bought. That way you can verify you didn’t get any expired or knockoff juice.
So when it comes to free cologne samples and cheap cologne samples, you have some options. Either visit a retailer and grab free samples or visit a reputable online shop that specializes in cologne samples and pick some up for a fairly cheap price.