Finally! The Difference Between Perfume, Eau de Parfum, and Other Fragrances Explained
Shopping for a scent just got so much easier.
Shopping for a signature fragrance can be a daunting task. Not only do you have to pick a scent, but you also have to decide which form you’d like it in. Cologne, parfum, eau de toilette, oh my!
It can be confusing, to say the least. Which is why we’re so thankful for Lifehacker’s incredibly useful fragrance concentration guide.
To start, you’ll need to wrap your head around the fact that the difference between “perfume” and “cologne” has nothing to do with the gender of the person the bottle is intended for. The real difference is actually much subtler than that, and it has to do with the concentration of perfume oil in alcohol and water. Names like toilette and cologne are used to indicate the strength and longevity of the scent.
The most diluted version—containing 1% to 3% perfume oil—these fragrances usually last for less than an hour. (It might not be a bad idea to use this trick to help it last longer.)
Eau de Cologne
In North America, these are often masculine scents. But don’t let their association with men fool you: they are light, fresh and fruity. Typically containing between 2% and 4% perfume oils, these last for about 2 hours.
Eau de Toilette
Here lies the middle of the fragrance road. Eau de toilettes have a relatively light spray composition—5% to 15%—of pure perfume essence dissolved in alcohol. Expect these to last for about 3 hours.
WATCH: 3 of the Most Expensive Perfumes
Eau de Parfum
These concentrations are historically genderless and are second only to their cousin perfume in strength. As Reader’s Digest pointed out, Princess Diana’s favorite fragrance was an eau de parfum— Hermès 24 Faubourg, to be exact. These contain between 15% and 20% pure perfume essence and can last up to 8 hours.
As Lifehacker points out, these are most concentrated and expensive of all fragrance options. Slightly oilier that its lighter relatives, perfume is composed of 20% – 30% pure perfume. A single application of a perfume can last up to 24 hours. Maybe go a little easy on the application of these bad boys.