All these names, what do they mean?

What is the difference between Cologne, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum and Perfume?

We name a fragrance “Cologne”, “Eau de Toilette”, “Eau de Parfum” and “Perfume”, depending on the concentration of essential oils that they contain. Many perfume houses today only make one type of fragrance, often it's Eau de Parfum. So what are the “real” differences. 

Cologne: In America, we commonly call a fragrance “Cologne” for anything that smells. In Europe and often in England, typically, we would reserve that word for a fresh blend of citrus oil. Something casual that you splash yourself with after a shower. A cologne is usually very low in concentration of essential oils, about 4%, and it is also the least expensive form of fragrance.

Eau de Toilette: In French “Toilette” means to “dress up”….it has nothing to do with lavatories….So please never say “Toilet Water”, this is not what we are talking about ☺ So…… Eau de Toilette, is a type of fragrance to be worn in the day time, that is meant to be elegant and pretty and last for a few hours. It should be reapplied occasionally, say at the same time you re-apply your lipstick. We usually spray the Eau de Toilette because it is very light in concentration of essential oils, about 4-7%.

Eau de Parfum: Eau de Parfum is a fairly recent new category in perfumery, which came in the early 80’s, as many perfume houses stopped making pure perfume, as they are more expensive to make and sell, but their clients still wanted a fragrance that would hold on their skin for a long time. Here comes the Eau de Parfum, which is kind of a half way between the Eau de Toilette and the Perfume. Eau de Parfum is usually between 7-12%.

Perfume: Ah! This is la crème de la crème. This is the perfumer’s masterpiece. Very few perfume houses still make these as they are very expensive to make and come in very special crystal bottles, because they are so precious. A perfume usually has a concentration of at least 25% and many go up to 40%. They usually come in a luxurious bottle with a ground neck and you only need to use a very small drop that your apply on your skin from the glass stopper for a spectacular fragrant effect. At the Bermuda Perfumery, we use the same oil quality for our Perfumes and Eau de Toilette. In many other perfume houses, the perfumer will use different quality oils for the Perfume than for the Eau de Toilette.

Some of my clients ask me: “What is better?”. My answer is always: “What works better for you”. There is something very special in the ceremony of applying a perfume. So if you have never had a real bottle of perfume, I think you should indulge and try one. That being said, if you have kiddies who like to go explore in your perfume vanity, your little precious bottle will be empty in an instant. So you will want to keep it safely hidden, and only keep your Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum on your vanity. Also, if you plan to travel with your fragrance, then you will need a bottle with an atomizer, so choose an Eau de Toilette or Eau de Parfum, so you don’t have an accident with your perfume bottle emptying itself in your hand bag or your luggage.

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