Cologne vs. Perfume and Other Differences Between Fragrances

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When shopping for perfumes and colognes, you might have wondered: what makes these two so different? Besides the misconception that cologne is worn solely by men and perfume is worn only by women, the main difference between cologne vs. perfume is the amount, or concentration, of oils in the fragrance. Perfumes have the highest concentration of fragrance oils, while colognes typically have the lowest.

When your favorite perfumes and colognes are being made, the manufacturer will blend a certain amount of natural and synthetic fragrance oils with a carrier liquid, such as alcohol. The amount of the carrier liquid determines the longevity of the scent, as well as how light or heavy the scent will be to yourself and others around you.

Read on to learn more about the differences in the major scent groups, from eau de toilette to eau de cologne.

Perfume, Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette

Perfume (or parfum), eau de parfum and eau de toilette make up the scent group with the highest concentration of oils. Perfume has the highest concentration and is the longest lasting, followed by eau de parfum and then eau de toilette.

Perfume or Parfum

Pure perfume, also known as parfum or perfume oil, has the highest oil concentration. Ranging anywhere from 20 to 40 percent oil, this high concentration usually promises a long-lasting, potent fragrance that can last on your skin all day, in some cases even up to 24 hours. This is the longest-lasting fragrance type.

An example of a pure perfume is Hanae Mori. This is a sweet, bright yet richly powerful perfume with serious staying power. Shop other pure perfumes using the button below!

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Eau de Parfum

The most common of all the fragrance types, this has the next-highest concentration of fragrance oil, ranging from 15 to 20 percent. These scents are made to last just as long as their higher concentration counterpart, without transferring onto others. When launched, most perfumes are released as eau de parfums.

An example of an eau de parfum available for purchase now is J’adore by Christian Dior. This is a powerful scent with high longevity and moderate sillage, making it the perfect fragrance for making a statement without being overwhelming. Find your perfect eau de parfum using the button below!

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Eau de Toilette

Possessing the lowest concentration of oil within the perfume group, eau de toilette has anywhere from 4 to 15 percent oil. These have lighter wear, and generally will not last for hours upon hours. Eau de toilette is often viewed as best for daytime wear, while eau de parfum is known as best for evening wear.

An example of a popular Eau de Toilette is Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana. This is a fresh, lightweight fragrance that is perfect for the daytime with moderate staying power. See other eau de toilette fragrances available for purchase right now!

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Eau de Cologne and Eau Fraiche

Eau de cologne and eau fraiche are the scent group with the lowest concentration of oils. Cologne or eau de cologne has the highest concentration, with eau fraiche having the lowest of all the fragrances.

Cologne or Eau de Cologne

Cologne, or eau de cologne, can be a catch-all term for masculine scents marketed towards men. However, eau de cologne is actually a term for fragrance composed of a low concentration of perfume oils — only two to five percent — that is cut with a higher concentration of alcohol. That said, eau de cologne still has the highest amount of oils of the cologne category. As any avid cologne wearer will tell you, eau de colognes are great for a quick spray that provides a burst of fragrance, but often are not long-lasting enough for all-day wear.

Eau de cologne can be worn by either men or women. A fan-favorite eau de cologne for men is Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior, a masculine aroma with moderate staying power and a powerful finish. An eau de cologne designed for women is Jovan White Musk, a distinctly wearable scent with moderate longevity. Shop other colognes below.

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Eau Fraiche

Eau fraiche has the lowest concentration of oils of any fragrance, having only one to three percent of oils in any given scent. The major difference between eau fraiche and other types of fragrances is that eau fraiche is mixed with water instead of alcohol. Eau fraiche is meant to be a quick refresher of fragrance, and not a long-lasting scent for all day.

An example of an eau fraiche fragrance is Nina L’eau, with moderate sillage and light longevity. This fragrance is tailor-made for a quick refresher on sunny spring days. Shop other eau fraiche fragrances using the button below!

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Oil levels aren’t the only factor that provides longevity of scent. The sillage, or the fragrance trail made by freshly-sprayed perfumes; the notes; and the dry-down of perfumes all factor into how long a scent will last on your skin. The main component in perfume longevity, however, is you. Each person is different and has different skin, and how long a fragrance lasts on you may differ wildly from your friends.

When it comes to your fragrance, it really is all up to your own personal preferences. Whether you prefer a long-lasting eau de parfum with serious staying power, or an eau de cologne that provides a quick midday pick-me-up, choose what works best for you and your lifestyle.

Sources:  New York Times | Reader’s Digest

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