What is the difference between "perfume", "eau de toilette" and "cologne"?

Posted by The Two Barbers 14/05/2018 0 Comment(s) GROOMING,

What is the difference between "perfume", "eau de toilette" and "cologne"?

The base of any perfume you can buy in the shops will be the 'perfume essence', this is what actually makes the smell. This is a combination of essential oils (cedar wood, sandalwood etc), absolutes (jasmine, rose, neroli), animal extracts (musk, ambergris) and synthetic fragrance (this could be nearly anything). 

This base perfume essence would actually not be that attractive by itself and in some cases would be actually unpleasant. It is too concentrated, so it needs to be diluted and this is done with alcohol and water. 

Also,many think cologne is for men and perfume is for women, but those terms merely refer to the concentration of scent oils in the fragrance, which is itself the basic, gender-neutral term.

The difference between a Cologne, Eau De Perfum, or Eau De Toilette is probably one of the most frequently asked questions about perfume and rightly so because it is also one of the most misinterpreted!

To put it simply, Perfume, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, and Cologne are different in their concentrations of fragrance oils, but that’s not all!
These different concentrations do not necessarily mean different levels of quality, and furthermore, they may also include different fragrance notes entirely!

For example, in some cases, these differences in notes can make the Perfume version of a scent, for example, a completely different fragrance than the Eau de Toilette of the same name.

But still the most straightforward difference between a Perfume, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette and a Cologne is the concentration of oils used in the fragrance.
So, fragrances come in many forms and have many different names but generally the main four categories are as follows: 

Eau de Colognes are the lightest concentration – and generally feature more, ‘volatile’ ingredients like citrus and herbs in the blend: a traditional hangover from the early recipes for this type of scent. Eau de Colognes also offer between just two to five per cent of aromatic compounds: an airy, dilute formula. Great for a wake-up splash, in the morning – or a cool-down in the day – but don’t expect this strength of scent to hang around for long:  you’ll be lucky to get two hours out of an eau de cologne.
Eau de toilette ( EDT) offers somewhere between five-15 per cent of aromatic ingredients, in that water/alcohol base. Ideal for work, for interviews, for when you want to wear scent for your personal pleasure, rather than to help get you ‘noticed’.  Two to three hours of wear is all you can reasonably expect before the last traces drift away. 
Eau de parfum ( EDP) offers a 10-20 per cent concentration of oils (typically somewhere around 15 per cent). These tend to have plenty of power of anywhere from four to five hours.Generally is quite a bit cheaper than parfum. Because it can still be quite strong, apply lightly for day – and more generously, when you’re dressing up.  

Perfume, or parfum – also sometimes referred to as ‘pure perfume’,  ‘perfume extract’ or ‘extrait de parfum’ – features somewhere between 20-40 per cent of scented perfume ingredients, along with alcohol and/or water, which explains why the ‘perfume’ version of any fragrance is always the most expensive, within a range. ‘Perfumes’/parfums (whatever you like to call them) are generally the longest-lasting on the skin – up to six or eight hours.Parfum is really for after-dark, for special occasions – weddings, parties – rather than for everyday, accordingly these true perfumes often available in glass-stoppered bottles for dabbing, rather than the sprays,which lower concentrations tend to come in – making for a pleasurable ritual, as you apply the pricy juice.  



a quick overview


  • A Cologne or sometimes called an Eau de Cologne or an Eau Fraiche is between 2-5% Perfume oil
  • An Eau de Toilette is between 4-10% Perfume oil
  • An Eau de Parfum is between 8-15% Perfume oil
  • A Perfume or sometimes called an Extrait is between 15-25% Perfume oil