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How to spot a great generic perfume.

With so many generic fragrances out there, how do you ensure that you do not buy an inferior quality product?

At PAPILLON™, we have set up a reference guide of things to look out for to ensure you buy a great product when you purchase a generic perfume!

Is it made with love “Passion”?

At PAPILLON™, we know perfume and we love perfume; we also rely on word of mouth to sell our generic perfumes. Quality is therefore non-negotiable! All our fragrances are thoroughly researched and the top, middle and base notes from various compound suppliers are tested against the original to ensure that we only select the best. If you purchase a fragrance from someone who only sees the business opportunity and does not have the knowledge or passion, you will likely be disappointed!


Looks can be deceiving and we do realise, as is the case with most things in life, that it is the internal quality of a person (or perfume in this case) that counts the most and not the quality of the packaging.  However, if a generic perfume does not use any packaging or inferior quality glass or plastic bottles and sprays, we can almost guarantee that it will also use fragrance compounds (oil) of an inferior quality too. That’s why we always say: “Have some pride in your product!”

Are all glass bottles and spray pumps made equal?

At PAPILLON™, we only make use of glass bottles from Italy (with love!) and spray pumps from Germany (Jawohl!).  Indian and Chinese glass tend to be dull, deformed, prone to cracking and chipping and may even contain harmful chemicals and impurities as these bottles are not properly washed. Indian and Chinese spray pumps are also prone to malfunctioning and can result in a full bottle of perfume going to waste because it cannot be sprayed. How sad is that?!


If you can remove the printing with your nail, it means the cheapest printing option was used. On the other hand, we only use enamel printing, which means that our name and logo have been baked onto our super sexy Italian glass bottles. Cheaper Chinese and Indian bottles are more likely to crack and explode when using this printing technique.

Crimped or screw top?

Crimping is important for the following reasons:

  • The bottle cannot leak.
  • Perfume cannot be tampered with or diluted.
  • The perfume doesn’t evaporate.

 Screw top sprays are prone to all of the above and products using screw tops are in most cases filled at home, which most likely mean that ISO standards in terms of maceration, chilling & filtering, as well as the addition of propylene glycol (that conditions the skin) has been neglected altogether, resulting in an inferior product.

To colour or not to colour?

Perfume’s natural colour varies between the colour of water and tea. At PAPILLON™, we like to keep our product as close to natural as possible, without adding any additional chemicals or colourants. If your generic perfume’s colour falls outside this range, you should probably be concerned about what else has been added.  At PAPILLON™, we are concerned about our products’ quality and the safety of our customers. We even list all allergens (mostly natural ingredients) on our website; no one else seems to care!

Longevity and depth of the composition?

For optimal longevity, all our generic perfumes are mixed at a 20% fragrance compound (oil) to alcohol ratio (perfume strength). Many of our competitors claim that their products are “long-lasting” and “concentrated”, yet they use dosages of 10% or less, and that of inferior quality oils. We live by the simple rule that our perfumes should be at least as long-lasting as the original – please note that there can also be extreme variances in longevity between different original perfumes. A good perfume should last between 4 and 8 hours depending on whether it is a light or heavy perfume.

Does the fragrance have a base note?

Cheap generic perfumes are more likely to lack in longevity and seeing that base notes (normally heavier essential oils that can be enjoyed after a couple of hours after applying a fragrance) tend to be the most expensive essential oils, they tend to be lacking or replaced by synthetic versions in cheaper products. Instead of an aromatic base note composition, you are left with a bleachy, synthetic finish without character or depth.


Natural essential oils tend to have sediment or sediment tend to form after bottling; sometimes this happens even if all macerations, chilling and filtering have been done in line with ISO guidelines.  Perfumes that contain amber, citrus and other resins or fats are more prone to sediment. The industry (even original fragrances) either uses chemicals to remove this sediment or coloured/ frosted bottles are used to hide any traces of sediment.

If perfume has no sediment, there is a high probability that it does not contain a high concentration of natural essential oils, but instead, probably contain a high percentage of cheap synthetic oils.

Does your fragrance change colour?

Some ingredients like vanilla are very prone to discolouration as it ages and reacts to UV. This can turn a perfume from a champagne colour to a deep red amber colour. Perfumes like Mesmerized (inspired by Christian Dior’s Hypnotic Poison), contains high levels of vanilla, which is probably the reason why the original is bottled in a red, non-transparent bottle. Products using synthetic oils tend not to discolour as easily but lack depth and character.

How much?

Fragrance compounds (oils) can vary significantly in price. An oil used in the detergent industry and containing few or no essential oils will therefore be much cheaper per litre than oil used in the fine fragrances industry. Needless to say, as is the case with most things in life, the higher the quality, the more you pay. Aura (inspired by Thierry Mugler’s Alien) was specifically imported by PAPILLON™ (at more than double the cost per litre) as we could not source oil in South Africa (the ones our competition use) that could live up to our very high-quality standards. At PAPILLON™, we always only source compounds of the highest possible quality, regardless of the price.

Sometimes you have to pay a little more for quality and if you use superior quality fragrance compounds, your product has high-quality components, you pay your luxury goods taxes, and you adhere to all the ISO standards – your products will likely be in a higher price range.

Now you know how to spot a great generic perfume!


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