Buying a new perfume can be challenging with the huge variety of scents available. Not only are there countless scents, but there are also different concentrations of perfumes. These concentrations can differ from fragrance to fragrance and refer to the strength of the fragrance. The fragrance concentration can normally be found on the bottle underneath the name of the fragrance. The higher the percentage of fragrance, the greater the number of essential perfume oils and the less alcohol it contains. Depending on the concentrations, Fragrances are classified as either a Parfum, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne or Eau Fraiche.
For the average person, it can be tricky to distinguish between the various types of perfumes on the market. When faced with the selection available in the average fragrance store, it is not surprising that one feels overwhelmed and somewhat intimidated. What’s the difference between Parfum and Eau de Parfum? Should I buy an Eau de Toilette or an Eau de Parfum? These are commonly asked questions when choosing a fragrance. The packaging looks similar, and you are probably struggling to understand the difference between them.
This brief guide aims to provide you with the answers to your questions and make the process of choosing a fragrance much easier. It’s important to know what you are buying, and we hope this will give you the confidence to make a more informed decision when choosing your favourite fragrance. If anything, we hope it will enable you to distinguish one type of perfume from another.
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The different categories of perfume
There are 5 basic types of perfumes, namely perfume, Eau de perfume, Eau de toilette, Eau de cologne and Eau Fraiche. A common misconception is that the price of a fragrance depends on the concentration of fragrance, but it only indicates the amount of pure perfume oil within a fragrance and does not necessarily affect the cost, there are other factors that come into play that determine the price. Let’s investigate the different categories in more detail and learn how they differ from one another.
If you are looking for a fragrance that lasts the whole day, perfume is probably the best choice and can last for up to 8 hours! This is due to the high concentration of fragrance oil it contains, making it the strongest of the perfume types. Most perfumes contain between 15% and 40% essential perfume oils. Perfumes usually come in heavier, fancier bottles and they tend to stand out on the shelves as the more expensive option. Although expensive, perfumes can be used more sparingly, as just a few dabs tend to go a long way!
Eau de Perfume
A popular choice for many, the Eau de Perfume or EDP is somewhat lighter than a Perfume with a concentration of between 10% – 15%. Usually referred to as Eau de Perfume or sometimes Parfum, it has slightly more alcohol and water in its formulation than perfume, but still contains a high percentage of perfume essential oils. This is the most common type you find in the stores and is the perfect choice for everyday wear and the scent can linger in your hair and on your clothes for hours! Whilst they are still considered expensive, you are not spending as much as a perfume, yet their scents still last between 4 to 6 hours.
It’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart from perfumes because their packaging is similar, and they can also come with either a stopper applicator or a spray.
Eau de Toilette
It may not come as a surprise that the Eau de Toilette or EDT has a lower concentration of perfume than a perfume or Eau de perfume contains. Typically, this product contains a mere 4% to 15% concentration of essential oils in its formulation and a higher percentage of alcohol. It has a light scent that will only last a few hours. It is more of a ‘skin refresher’ than a perfume, which you can wear during the day and then later apply a heavier perfume or Eau de Parfum which is more suitable in the evenings. This type is usually sold in spray bottles and is a much more affordable option.
Eau de Cologne
Eau de cologne or EDC are normally listed as men’s fragrances, but you still find some feminine EDC’s. This has an even lower concentration of perfume than the EDP or EDT and is cheaper than the others too. These formulations contain a lot more alcohol and water and only between 2% and 5% of fragrance oil concentration.
As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, these products are extremely light, and their scent only lasts a few hours. This type of fragrance usually comes in bigger bottles and you need to use far more.
Eau de Colognes are best suited as a spray-on fragrance and their formulations are often used in after-shave products.
With a proportionately lower concentration of perfume, the Eau Fraiche is so light it’s often marketed in stores as a ‘Splash’ or ‘Mist’. This essentially means an Eau Fraiche is scented water. This is a great alternative for active people on the go to keep with them and spray generously when they need to freshen up! This type of perfume is diluted with alcohol and water and has a lower concentration of essential oils than the other types. Most Eau Fraiche products only contain between 1% and 3% essential oils, so they have a noticeably light scent that only lasts an hour or two.
Fragrances are categorized into olfactory ‘groups’, based on their key features. When comparing different fragrances, it can be helpful to know which family scents you’re attracted to the most.
If you’re looking for a classic scent, choose a fresh fragrance for its clean, structured, and timeless notes. The citrus variation carries aromas of zesty mandarin, lemon, and bergamot oils for lively, energetic scents, known to invigorate and revitalize. On the other hand, aquatic scents are inspired by the ocean and are usually made from Calone materials to give the sense of a fresh sea breeze, fresh dew, or running streams.
Green scents are fresh, crisp fragrances that carry grassy, leafy scents for a refreshing, herbal aroma. They usually include notes of sage, chamomile, lavender, rosemary, and basil. Green notes may even include tea leaves or the aroma of freshly cut grass.
Floral fragrances will always remain one of the most popular families of fragrances. Inspired by the natural beauty of flowers, this range is the most diverse. Jasmine and rose are two of the most used notes in the floral variety. With aromas reminiscent of warm summer days and spring blossoms, these romantic fragrances have a sweet and seductive scent.
Looking for something luxurious and exotic? Of all the families, oriental fragrances come to mind with their warm, spicy, and sensual scents. Otherwise known as “amber” fragrances, the oriental variety is made from blends of herbs and spices and often contain vanilla, precious woods, and cardamom notes, giving them soft and powdery and even delicately sweet nuances. It’s not surprising that oriental fragrances are so popular for those cold winter months due to their warm, bewitching accords.
Another family which exudes warmth, richness, and elegance is the Woodsy blends. This variety has often been deemed the backbone in perfumes, containing calming wood-based scents like cedarwood, sandalwood, smoked woods, and resins. Woody fragrances are commonly used in aftershaves and popular for evening wear too. These scents are divided into mossy woods with a sweeter smell and dry woods, known for a more leathery, smoky aroma.
Perfume notes are the elements that a fragrance is made from. They are characterized as top notes, heart notes, and base notes.
The top notes also called the opening notes, are what you smell initially after applying the fragrance. They are light, lingering around only long enough to help form the first impression of a scent but usually evaporate quickly as the fragrance settles.
The middle notes form the heart of the fragrance and appear once the top notes have dissipated. These notes are full-bodied and considered the main part of the fragrance. They last longer than the top notes and increase in intensity as the top notes begin to fade.
The base notes are the heavier, richer, and more long-lasting scents that linger and are remembered the most. The base notes sink into the skin and blend with the heart notes to form the foundation of the perfume.
A final word of advice
Although the salesperson at a perfume store may try to convince you which perfume is better based on fragrance type, you can now be rest assured that price is not only determined by the type of perfume but by other factors such as the ingredients used in the fragrance, the popularity of the brand, etc. Often you are paying a premium for the marketing, sponsors, and packaging of the product and not because of the type of fragrance.
Keep in mind what you are looking for in a fragrance and what you are using it for. If you want something to wear for a special occasion, an Eau de Parfum is more impressionable, whereas if you want something you can wear every day to work, an Eau de Toilette is a more affordable, practical option.
Overall, selecting the right combination of fragrance type, ingredients, and overall blend is of the utmost importance. As a guide for selecting the perfume that suits your mood and lifestyle, consider the ingredients used to make the perfume. For example, if you need to be mindful and alert in your office job, select something stimulating like black pepper-infused scents. For a night out, you might want to go with a sensual musky or spicy fragrance for example. A fragrance should be an extension of you, so think about how you feel when you wear your perfume.
In colder seasons, oriental fragrances that are classified as an Eau de Perfume are the most attractive option as they evoke notions of warmth and are stronger and contain more oils. It is advisable to select fragrances from the fresh family in an Eau de toilette in warmer seasons because of its lighter scent.
When it comes to selecting more masculine fragrances, Eau de Cologne is the preferred choice, especially chosen as an aftershave or spritz.
If you just need to freshen up after your gym workout or after a long summer’s day at the beach? The Eau de Fraiche is the most economical and is perfectly suited to quickly freshen up and feel revived.