Whether a post-lockdown habit or simply a matter of convenience, like the rest of the world, you’ve probably started buying the majority of your beauty merchandise online, inspired by recommendations from your favourite influencers, content creators, editors, and industry experts.
Nine times out of ten, it’s failsafe, and you end up with a lipstick or moisturiser that you adore. But when it comes to shopping online for perfume, things can be a little more hit and miss. We’ve all been there, you’ve read the scent notes, trawled through reviews, and watched countless TikToks — enough to convince you to purchase, and leaving you confident that you’ve found your new signature scent. Until—wait for it—you actually smell it. If you, like so many of us, have experienced that remorseful “What the hell?” moment post-perfume purchase, then you’ve come to the right place.
Even though we do our best to never lead you astray when it comes to describing fragrance here on Who What Wear UK, perfume is probably the most personal and polarising product you can buy within the beauty arena. You might hate what your best friend loves, and something that smells good on your sister might not smell so good on you.
Since we’re not psychic, we can’t always recommend your most perfect perfume, but what we can do is point you in the direction of some of our all-time favourite brands that have a ridiculously impressive number of delicious, best-smelling perfumes, and tell you to buy their discovery sets. From there, you can test drive an array of options and land on a personal favourite. Oh, and we’d also highly recommend this strategy if you’re planning on gifting perfume, since the one thing harder than buying fragrance for yourself is buying fragrance for someone else…
Sound like a plan? Great, because 17 of the best perfume discovery sets on the market (plus our top scent from each) are just below. Keep scrolling!
Le Labo has many a beauty journalist under its spell, because its scents are just incredible. However, with a 50ml bottle coming in at £168, it is certainly an investment purchase. If you want to try the brand’s iconic best-sellers, then this discovery set contains six of Le Labo’s most popular fragrances, including Another 13, Rose 31, Santal 33, and The Noir 29. This discovery set is often sold out, so move quickly if you want to get your hands on it. In fact, many of the Who What Wear UK team have named Le Labo as their forever fragrance, so you’re bound to find one that you’ll fall in love with.
A warm and comforting ‘skin scent’ (it features the famous Iso E Super molecule which enhances your natural scent), this crowdpleaser is guaranteed to turn heads. It features light fruity notes balanced by jasmine and moss.
I could talk all day about Byredo’s scents. You will spot the globe-topped bottles on just about every cool-girl’s dressing table, and they really do smell as chic as they look. This set of six Byredo scents in 2ml vials includes Mixed Emotions, Biblioteque, Young Rose, Gyspy Water, Mumbai Noise and Super Cedar. Like Jo Malone London, you can also redeem the cost of the discovery set against any 50ml or 100ml bottle purchased within four weeks.
This is one of my all-time favourite scents from Byredo. Translating from ‘library’ in French, Bibliothèque is inspired by the sweet scent of old books combined with plum and woody notes that bring to mind old wooden shelves and cosy leather armchairs. Oh, and it’s also available as a candle – perfect for scenting your own at-home library.
If you ask me, Diptyque create some of the most beautiful scents around. This set contains five of the brand’s most-loved fragrances. These are housed in beautiful vials in a 7.5ml size, which is larger than most perfume discovery sets, which typically come in 1.5-2ml sizes. This set features Do Son (a creamy floral); L’Ombre dans l’Eau (a fruity floral) Eau Rose (a classic floral) and Eau des Sens (a beautiful orange blossom). It also includes Philosykos, a woody fig-based fragrance which is frequently sold out.
Philosykos is one of Diptyque’s bestsellers. As its name suggests, it’s inspired by fig trees, so it takes all notes from different parts of the tree. The ripe fruity note of fig is paired with the green of fig tree bark and leaves, making it sweet but balanced by the woody notes.
Okay this one is a little more expensive, but it does make a great gift, especially for someone who really loves fragrance or who travels a lot. It include eight 10ml vials (perfect for holidays or keeping in your handbag) from the brand’s Portraits collection. Each fragrance is inspired by a character and has an extensive backstory which feeds into both the notes and packaging.
The Changing Constance is one of my favourites from the Portraits collection and I particularly love wearing it during the winter months. Combining cashmere, tobacco, vanilla, and cardamom, it’s deliciously warm and sweet but with a decidedly grown-up spin.
There’s a Jo Malone London scent that suits everyone, but there are certain favourites that everyone falls for. This discovery set of 1.5ml vials includes bestsellers English Pear & Freesia, Peony & Blush Suede, Wood Sage & Sea Salt, Lime Basil & Mandarin, and Pomegranate Noir. What’s more, you can redeem the £15 cost against a 100ml cologne purchase, so it’s a great way to experiment with the scents before deciding on your favourite.
This has recently overtaken Lime, Basil & Mandarin as Jo Malone’s best-seller in the UK. And it’s no wonder. The classic floral scent features mouth-watering pear balanced with floral freesia notes, and makes an ideal fragrance for everyday wear.
Floral Street’s immense popularity is astoundingly impressive considering the brand has only been around since 2017. Most people know the brand by its eye-catching perfume bottles, but they also make candles, reed diffusers, and room fragrances in the same iconic scents. This set of sample vials features eight of their eleven fragrance families, including Wonderland Peony, Electric Rhubarb, Neon Rose, Arizona Bloom, Wild Vanilla Orchid, Chypre Sublime, Black Lotus, and Sunflower Pop.
For fans of warm, white floral scents, we’d encourage you to invest in Electric Rhubarb. Think tart rhubarb nestled amongst addictive sandalwood and gardenia notes.
Maison Margiela’s approachable fragrance line, Replica, has amassed a cult following in recent years with each special scent created to evoke a particular and poignant memory. This best-selling discovery set doesn’t include all of the members of the Replica family, but it does house all of our choice scents.
If you’re in the mood for cosy, it just doesn’t get better than By the Fireplace, which evokes a crackling fire, roasting chestnuts, and the comfort of falling snow, vanilla, and clove. That said, you can’t go wrong with other famous inclusions like Lazy Sunday Morning, Jazz Club, and Beach Walk.
Serge Lutens (eponymously named after it’s French creator) is a favourite with beauty editors and perfume experts, yet is still fairly unknown to the masses. Although his first perfume, Féminité du Bois (included within this set), was created in 1980, countless additional hits have followed. If you want to treat yourself to something special, indulge in this discovery set.
La Fille de Berlin (the most interesting rose scent you’ll ever stumble upon) is far from a conventional floral.
TBH, I’m completely confused how this fragrance discovery set from perfume legend Frédéric Malle is only £25, but if you’re looking for a gift that says ‘I spent a lot’ without actually having to spend a lot, look no further…
Labelling a perfume brand both famous and niche feels like an oxymoron, but that’s exactly what anything wearing the Frédéric Malle label inherently is. People have their opinions on which are the best (Portrait of a Lady and Carnal Flower are known to cause obsession), but Uncut Gem, to me, is a complete masterpiece.
This is more than just a fragrance set, rather a full collector’s experience. Off-White’s debut beauty line Paperwork is a legacy of the now late founder Virgil Abloh’s desire for a beauty brand that provides a blank canvas for endless creativity. Paperwork includes nail polishes, crayons and accessories (like cute face stickers) but the Olfactive Box gives you a taster of four different Off-White scents, as well as a fanzine and a Master of the Universe toy. The sustainably manufactured box has been crafted to be reusable for as long as possible, way after you’re done with the fragrances.
Solution No.4 is a warm, woody and leather fragrance that makes it absolutely perfect for the winter months. However, there is a freshness that undercuts the depth thanks to eucalytus and lavender. This scent is unisex, so watch out for anyone who wants to take a close look at your fragrance discovery set in the first place…
Maison Francis Kurkdjian is a relatively new house in the perfume world, but it’s already swiftly become one of the most coveted among perfume connoisseurs and in-the-know beauty people. Each fragrance is beautiful, unique, and designed to be worn as part of an “olfactory wardrobe”, so this set allows you to experiment with layering scents. And yes, it does include Baccarat Rouge 540 (if you know, you know).
In the seven years since I was first introduced to this fragrance it’s gone from being an unknown and underrated gem to a global household name. It’s an indulgent collision of florals, woods, and ambers which instantly turns heads. It makes me think of clinking champagne glasses, rich red velvet curtains, and the world’s most expensive candyfloss.
There are hundreds of Penhaligon’s fragrances to choose from (walking into a Penhaligon’s store is the grown-up equivalent of stepping into a sweet shop), which makes choosing just one a difficult task. This set of ten minis (priced at a reasonable £30) not only sees you stocked up on travel-sized perfumes for the year ahead, but will also help you to narrow down your selection to one of their bestsellers.
A citrusy, aromatic blend of lemon, lime, lavender, pine, black pepper, and musk, Blenheim Bouquet is the kind of fresh and zesty scent you’ll want to wear on cold, grey winter days to remind you of warm, bright summer ones.
This year, Victoria Beckham released her very own line of fragrances, and they are just as chic as you’d expect. There are three scents in the collection, and each one has been inspired by specific times, places and experiences in the star’s life. If you’re keen to give all of them a go, then this stylish discovery set retails for just £30.
My personal favourite is Portofino ’97, a scent that has been created to capture the thrill of new romance. It was inspired by the beginning of VB’s relationship with David Beckham in 1997, and contains spicy notes of black pepper and crisp bamboo combined with sensual amber and vetiver.
Kilian is definitely one of the more interesting and unique fragrance brands on the market, so it’s no surprise that everyone from Rihanna and other celebrities to beauty editors hoard their collections of luxe, very exclusive perfumes. Founded by Kilian Hennessy (yes, that Hennessy), the brand has a signature, rule-breaking approach that’s paired with smart and sustainable business pillars. For instance, Hennessy’s “eco-luxe” philosophy allows each bottle to be refilled and kept for a lifetime. This discovery set shines the spotlight on the most iconic fragrances from the brand, including ‘Love Don’t Be Shy’––Rihanna’s go-to scent.
If it’s good enough to be one of Rhi Rhi’s favourite scents, then it’s good enough for us.
Parfums de Marly are well known for their decadent floral fragrances, seven of which are housed within this cute keepsake box. You’ll spot fan favourites such as Delina and Cassili.
Delina is a classic feminine floral with bold notes of rose, peony, lily of the valley blended with lychee and rhubarb, and rounding off to a vanilla and incense base.
If you’re on the hunt for a unique perfume brand that will impress a connosieur, then let us direct you to a new London brand, Ormonde Jayne. Their scents are heady and rich, employing rare and unusual ingredients, blended in their London lab, to offer a totally individual line up. It’s hard to pick a favourite, so perhaps a set is really the best way to go… There are various Discovery Lab options with different notes as the focus, such as floral or amber. However, this seven-strong pack offers you a range of the brand’s signature scents in one swoop.
If you’re into amberesque notes that aren’t too dark and moody, then this has a lighter touch thanks to the addition of saffron and a rose scent descended from the the Saudi Arabian town of Ta’if.
This Parisian perfume brand was founded in 2013, with a mission to use only the finest natural ingredients. Whether you like heady and spicy, light and floral or mix of the two, Ex Nihilo well and truly has you covered. Featuring five signature scents from the brand, the kit is sure to include everything from your next daytime spritz to your ultimate date night go-to.
The blend of peony, woody accords and fruity notes of lychee, peach and orange blossom make for a truly magical creation. Little wonder it’s one of Hailey Bieber’s favourite fragrances.
This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.