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Perfumes, colognes, and more: What’s the big difference? 

You encounter these words and phrases almost every day. You see them on your vanity, the mall, or the airport duty-free. But if we ask you what does eau de toilette mean and its difference from eau de parfum, will you be able to answer? Read on to expand your aroma vocabulary!

We use fragrances to smell good and feel great. But have you ever wondered what those “eau de” labels on the bottle stand for?

Here at Scentses + Co, not only do we want you to smell differently great each month, but we also want you to learn more about your scent staples. Armed with general knowledge on this topic, we guarantee that you’ll be more guided in choosing your desired fragrances after reading this article. No more wondering what those French phrases plastered on your bottles mean!

But before we dive into it, let’s start with the basics: 


In our context, scent is the actual smell that our olfactory organ (a.k.a. the nose) registers. We always aim for a pleasant scent. However, as humans, it isn’t natural for our bodies to emit fragrant smells – which is why we have fragrances.


Made from a mixture of raw materials and synthetic oils, fragrance is the umbrella term for consumer products sold to make us smell good.

Every ‘fragrance recipe’ will give you a different scent and lasting power based on the level of concentration of oil in alcohol and water, plus other materials used. Some are lighter, some tend to smell heavier. Some last for a day, others fade too quickly. Yes, fragrances do come in a lot of forms, so here they are:

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

1. Pure Perfume, Parfum or Extrait de Parfum

While we call it ‘pure perfume’, these types of fragrances aren’t so pure because the actual pure perfume oil as it is isn't advisable for usage – it smells repulsive and could irritate your skin.

Nonetheless, pure perfume bears the highest concentration of fragrance at 15-30% of perfume essence. When you wear one, it will be noticeable all day and can even transfer to anyone you hug. Due to its lasting power and heavier usage of perfume oil, this type is also the most expensive among all fragrances.

Despite their high price tags, pure perfumes give you bang for the buck as you will only need a tiny amount of it each day to smell great, versus cologne bottles which you will consume in larger quantities.

2. Eau de Parfum 

Made with slightly lesser perfume oil (15-20%) than pure perfume, eau de parfum is the most common fragrance type. It is well-loved by the public because one spray can last for up to eight hours– all without being too invasive, unlike pure perfumes that could give people a headache if exposed to the smell for too long. It is less oily and the scent stays with you ‘till nighttime.

3. Eau de Toilette

A light fragrance type with only 5-15% perfume oil, eau de toilette gives you a refreshing scent for up to three hours. Enthusiasts prefer this type for morning wear, then eau de parfum for the night.

4. Eau de Cologne

Eau de cologne contains only 2-4% perfume oil in alcohol and water, making it a good option for those who want to do a few light spritzes every two hours. The term is also tied to masculine scents in North America and fragrances for the younger demographic.

Unlike perfumes which require only one small application, people often need to apply colognes more frequently in larger amounts. More affordable options are also available since this type uses less of those precious essential oils.

5. Eau Fraiche

In French, eau fraiche literally means “fresh water”. As a fragrance category, eau fraiche is made up of only 1-3% perfume oil mixed with mostly water, making it the most diluted option. This type is good for on-the-go freshening-up, however, it won’t last as long as the others.

Since there are thousands of fragrances available in the market, the sheer quantity of options can get quite daunting and discouraging for beginners and enthusiasts alike who just want to find the perfect scent for themselves. Good thing Scentses + Co gives you an excellent way to explore different fragrances ‘till you find the one. Don’t forget your learnings from this article so you can be guided in picking your next scent supply!


Sinks, T. (2018, July 12). The difference between perfume, cologne and other fragrances. The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/12/smarter-living/differences-perfume-cologne-f ragrance.html

Henry, A. (2021, October 29). The difference between perfume, Cologne, and Eau de Toilette. Lifehacker. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://lifehacker.com/the-real-difference-between-perfume-cologne-toilette-17613 47943

Anna T. (2022, March 1). What is the difference between Perfume and Cologne? wiseGEEK: clear answers for common questions. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.wise-geek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-perfume-and-cologne. htm

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