Perfume, as we know it, came into existence in the 19th century, though there’s proof that early civilizations were no strangers to using scented oils on their skin either. Today, we have a variety of types, fragrances, and manufacturers to choose from. However, if you’ve never researched this topic, the French inscriptions on the bottles won’t mean anything to you, although they’re meant to tell you what you’re actually buying.
The difference between eau de parfum and eau de toilette has been confusing people for a long time. That’s why we’ve created this short guide with everything you should know about different fragrance types and picking the perfect one for your needs.
As you’ll see, the entire topic can’t just be boiled down to a mere cologne vs perfume distinction. Read on to find out what we mean.
Types of Perfume – A Beginner’s Guide
Although many people use perfume as a general term, the truth is there are at least five different categories. Eau de toilette, eau de cologne, and other labels are used to sort fragrances by types, but they’re often imprecise and only give you vague information.
Nowadays, the industry is going toward unisex fragrances, which means these labels can occasionally be misleading. Women’s and men’s perfumes used to have different amounts of oil, but today it’s better to do some research before shopping since countless brands seem to have their own specificities.
When it comes to types of perfumes and fragrance categories, the amount of essential oils found in the base is what determines the distinctions:
- Eau fraiche contains 1–3% of essential oils. Its base is water, which is why the scent typically lasts for about an hour.
- Eau de cologne contains 2–4% of essential oils, lasting for up to two hours. It usually comes in larger bottles and it’s not particularly expensive.
- Eau de toilette contains 5–15% of essential oils and lasts up to four hours. It’s the most popular category, often packaged as toilette spray, and is frequently mistaken for eau de parfum.
- Eau de parfum/eau de perfume contains 15–20% of essential oils and lasts up to eight hours. It also has a slightly higher percentage of alcohol, but it’s still safe for sensitive/dry skin.
- Perfume contains 20–30% of essential oils and lasts up to 24 hours. It usually feels heavier on the skin due to the higher oil concentration, and it’s also the priciest option.
What’s the Difference Between Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette?
As we’ve mentioned in the previous section, compared to eau de perfume, eau de toilette has a lower percentage of essential oils in the mix. However, don’t let this confuse you—the amount of oils doesn’t refer to how strong the scent is but to the amount of time the smell will linger before evaporating completely.
Other than that, these two fragrance types can differ in their formula, cost, shelf life, or type of base in the mix. Here’s a comprehensive table that should adequately explain the difference between eau de parfum and eau de toilette.
|Eau de Perfume vs. Eau de Toilette|
|Criteria||Eau de Perfume||Eau de Toilette|
|base||alcohol or water||alcohol or water|
|formula||deeper fragrance elements are emphasized||a lighter formula corresponding to the character of the scent|
|shelf life||three to five years if kept in cool, dark places||longer shelf life due to higher concentration of alcohol|
|cost||higher cost||lower cost|
The table offers general information about these products but the given characteristics may vary depending on the manufacturer and the ingredients used. So, if you’re shopping for fragrances, read people’s reviews online or rely on the experts behind different subscription boxes for women that include fragrances to their offer.
What’s the Difference Between Cologne and Eau de Toilette?
While eau de toilette is in the middle of the fragrance scale, cologne is on the lower part of the spectrum. This means that the smell of cologne doesn’t last as long (this can be different with certain cologne types) and needs to be reapplied more frequently. Typically, its lower concentration of essential oils means the scent will be gone in around two hours.
Eau de cologne usually comes in larger packages and has a higher percentage of alcohol, which can potentially cause irritation and itching in people with dry or sensitive skin. However, the amount of alcohol isn’t indicative of the product’s quality—it’s an essential part of the perfume-making process that helps diffuse the scent and cools the skin.
Cologne vs Perfume – What’s the Difference?
Once again, the main difference between cologne and perfume is the percentage of essential oils in the mix. When deciding on one or the other, you should bear in mind the occasion you need it for. If you’re going to be too busy to think about reapplying, use perfume. If you know you’ll have time to reapply it, however, cologne will be perfect for your needs.
Types of Cologne According to Their Scent
The differentiation of cologne types based on scent is actually the same for all fragrance categories. There are four primary types, e. i., fragrance families within the beauty industry:
- Fresh: citrus-based, watery smells (like sea breeze or grass);
- Floral: from classics such as rose, to fruity scents of different berries;
- Woody: sandalwood and cedar are the most common examples of this type;
- Oriental: typically aromas of exotic spices or even heavy musk scents.
Is Cologne for a Man or a Woman?
It’s a common misconception that eau de cologne refers to masculine scents or that it’s the same as perfume—perfume being exclusively for women and cologne exclusively for men. Originally, the name was used to refer to unisex citrus-based scents developed in Cologne, Germany.
The entire confusion comes from the fact that cologne is used as a blanket term in everyday English, denoting all types of perfumes worn by men despite actually being merely a type of perfume. As we explained, eau de cologne is a term for a lighter fragrance that both men and women can use.
In the end of all things, if you’re unsure whether a specific product is meant for men or for women, you can always check the label. Pour femme implies a given fragrance is for women, while men will want to look for labels with pour homme on them. Finally, there are also unisex fragrances which both men and women can wear.
This was more or less everything you need to know when you go (pardon the joke) sniffing around for your perfect fragrance. We’ve covered the basics, clarified some doubts (like the difference between eau de parfum and eau de toilette), and hopefully awakened your curiosity to explore new scents.
If you’ve enjoyed this piece, we’re sure you’re also going to have fun checking out our guide on starting your own capsule wardrobe!