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What’s The Difference Between Perfume, Cologne, Eau De Toilette And Other Fragrances

What’s The Difference Between Perfume, Cologne, Eau De Toilette And Other Fragrances

Shopping for perfume should be a lot easier with this explanation.

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Since father’s day is right around the corner (19 June), you must be wondering; “What kinds of gifts should I buy my old man?”

READ MORE: 13 generic Father’s Day gifts Malaysian dads are SO sick of

Some of the popular choices would definitely be perfume, cologne, eau de toilette or even aftershave.

“What? Those are all different things?!”

Yes, apparently they are. What differentiates them are only the amount of essential oils and of course, prices.

To avoid spending a dime on the wrong products, let’s study a bit on what’s what and how long would they last. These are also good to note for women’s fragrances as well.

Types of Fragrances

Well, fragrances in a bottle are made with various ingredients. Generally, they are a mixture of perfume essence (essential oils, absolutes, animal extracts, synthetic fragrances) diluted with alcohol (ethyl alcohol).

For a detailed view of a perfume essence’s three main notes, visit here. They’ll tell you more about which notes are the top, middle and base that you’ll smell in a fragrance.

According to Real Mean Real Style, here are some of the categories for types of fragrances with their concentration levels.

(Credit: Dapper Confidential)


Pure perfume, Parfum, Parfum Extract, Extrait de Parfum, or Elixir is the one with the largest concentration of perfume essence which is around 15% to 40%. This means that the smell will last longer with heavier notes compared to others.

It comes in smaller bottles, usually more expensive as it should be used in very low quantities. It could last around 6-8 hours and is a perfect choice to wear during night events.

Because it is quite concentrated and oilier, it could also come in stoppered bottles, instead of a spray as it’s not very volatile (meaning it has low alcohol concentration).

Eau De Parfum (EDP)

Eau De Parfum has between 15% to 20% perfume essence and usually lasts around 5-6 hours. Also called ‘perfume water’ in French, they are the most common fragrance category and many perfumes in the department store are from this variation.

(Credit: Freepik)

They are generally less expensive than pure perfume but can still pack a heavy punch on the notes. Spray some sparingly as the scent can be overpowering if sprayed too much in closed areas or under hot conditions. Some say that this is perfect for nightwear too.

Eau De Toilette (EDT)

Next, Eau De Toilette has between 5-15% of concentration that lasts around 4-5 hours. Even though it literally translates to ‘toilet water‘, no, it isn’t referring to THE toilet water we’re all thinking about. In French, it means getting ready, from the phrase ‘faire sa toilette’, which means something that you put on an everyday basis generously while you’re getting ready.

(Credit: Hugo Boss)

It can cost a little less or the same as an EDP and is suitable for work as well as everyday use. Basically, it is accepted as daytime wear and the above two categories are considered nighttime wear. But there’s no specific rule to this. You can wear this whenever you want. You do you.

Additionally, EDT is also sold in larger bottles than the original perfumes because it has an atomizer which sprays more liquid.

Eau De Cologne (EDC)

With only 2-4% of perfume essence, EDC or simply, Cologne, is generally cheaper than the others and can last for only 2-3 hours. Originated in Cologne (Köln), Germany, it became very popular during the 1700s, especially among the royals. In contemporary culture, it may seem that the word ‘cologne’ is only referred to as a type of perfume marketed to men only. But it actually just means fragrance with a lower concentration of perfume essence.

(Credit: Jo Malone / Sephora)

They’re bigger in bottles, evaporate faster because of the alcohol content, and are unsuitable for all-day lasting wear. But you can bring it along with you for a spritz on or freshen-up spray anywhere you go.

Eau Fraiche

Also similar to EDC, Eau Fraiche has a very low concentration of perfume essence which is only around 1-3%. Literally translates to ‘fresh water’ in french, it can only last a maximum of two hours.

(Credit: Versace / Sephora)

What makes it different from EDC is the amount of alcohol. It has the least amount of alcohol in it and is actually a water-based fragrance. And that’s why it’s the cheapest option among all and even suitable for sensitive skin. So yes, if you wanna smell amazing all day with this, you need to bring along the bottle with you anywhere you go.

Bonus – Aftershave

For a little extra info, an aftershave is also considered a fragrance because it smells nice! It has a perfume essence of around 1-3% and really is not meant for a long-lasting scent for men.

(Crredit: Chanel / Sephora)

As the name suggests, it is applied to the palms of the hands (at the pulse points as opposed to the other fragrances) and patted to the neck and cheeks of men right after they shave. After a man shaves, they are prone to have tiny cuts and exposed pores, hence, an aftershave is meant to disinfect (contains alcohol) and soothe (can contain aloe vera) the skin afterwards.

Generally, the more concentrated the fragrances are with perfume essence or aromatic oils, the longer they’ll last and the pricier it is.

However, do note that the prices vary across brands too. So there might be brands that cost cheaper and there might be ones that cost more. But the important thing is, make sure you pick the scent that you or the one you’re gifting like the most. You don’t wanna spend too much and have a smell you don’t like, right? After all, perfume is like a symphony of music to our noses, so choose wisely.

READ MORE: Don’t Sweat The Smell Stuff: 5 Ways To Keep Yourself Smelling Great While You Workout

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