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Wary of Buying Perfume Online? Three New Sites Want to Assuage Your Fears

Test-before-you-buy options may solve the e-commerce fragrance quandary at long last

Why would you buy a scent without being able to smell it first?

That's the Mt. Everest-sized question fragrance e-tailers have been attempting to scale ever since folks started taking to the Internet to purchase products.

Unlike, say, a book, a cashmere sweater or even hair color, fragrance is one of the very few items that you really need to be able to experience before buying. Well-worded, artfully crafted descriptions are one thing but a droplet too many of Patchouli or insert your own stomach-churning note here and the deal's dead.

READ: We Tried It: Perfume Primer

So, how to overcome what seems like an impossible mission? For three new startups at least, the answer seems to lie in sampling.

Brooklyn-based Bergamot, as reports, has begun a subscription service whereby for $20 a month users get to try three fragrances. The cool twist? Bergamot delivers them in generic glass tubes so you don't know anything about the brand or fragrance. Your olfactory sense is on its own to make up its mind without being clouded by any preconceived notions. Fond of one -- or all -- of the vials? Simply click on over to the site to scoop it up in its proper packaging.

READ: 7 New Ways to Wear Perfume

Scentbird, a purveyor of mostly top-selling, big name fragrances, has another workaround; it lets prospective perfume purchasers sample their wares for a couple of days before committing. They'll ship you a tester flacon as well as a full-sized bottle of and afford you a 5-day "test drive" window. Like it? Keep the bottle and be charged accordingly. Reminds you too much of your late Aunt Thelma? Send it back at no cost.

Then, there's Pinrose, a San Francisco company that's turned to the Web to grow its own fragrance empire. Those with curious noses can try three of their blends for free with the option of buying a $50 bottle of whichever floats their boat.


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