Eau de Toilette, Cologne, and Perfume. I didn’t know the difference, do you?


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As a partner of Noble&Hitsch, we tend to do a lot of traveling, and find ourselves hanging out in airports waiting for our next flights.  Eventually, Thomas and I will seek out the duty-free shops that are ever so conveniently located just past the final security checkpoint.  In fact, some airports make it that you must walk completely through the Duty-Free store before you can reach your gate!  Which I guess I don’t really mind to much, seems there is always a deal to be had, that is, if you have enough space in your hand luggage. 

Over the years I’ve noticed that Thomas usually heads over to the wine section, looking for a gift it seems, but never one for me…hmmm?  I usually head over the electronics looking for the newest gadget to spend my money on.  But on this last trip, I caught a whiff of a fine smelling perfume wafting through the temperature-controlled air and sought out the fine smelling odour.

 I was immediately met by a very excitable young lady asking me if I wanted to sample the fragrance of the day.  I asked if the bottle she was holding was the same as caught my attention from across the room, and she proudly answered “yes” and then promptly sprayed the air in front of me as if she was spraying away some mosquitoes!  I normally wouldn’t mind a fresh new scent but being trapped inside a metal tube with 300 other passengers who may disagree with my new manly scent, all the sudden didn’t sound like a good idea.   Much to my surprise, the young and very enthusiastic sales lady assured me that the scent that was sprayed in my general area and what very little managed to land on my suit sleeve, “would evaporate” in a matter of relative moments she said due to the fact that it was a “Eau Fraiche” type of cologne.  Which of course had me curious to know how the young lady could possibly know just how long my new scent was going to impress the people around me!

So, I did what everyone else does and used a very popular internet search engine to assist me in my fact-finding mission. And here is what I came up with, so you don’t have to.

Illustration for article titled The Difference Between Perfume, Cologne and Eau de Toilette

Screenshot: RMRS

The graphic above, from Real Men Real Style, explains that “fragrance” is generally a unisex term for, well any smell that’s a certain amount of fragrance oil diluted in alcohol and water. Depending on the concentration, it gets a different name. Here’s the rundown:

  • Eau fraiche – The most diluted version of fragrance, usually with one to three percent perfume oil in alcohol and water. Usually lasts for less than an hour.
  • Cologne (eau de cologne) – Oldest term for perfume, used in North America for masculine scents. Light, fresh and fruity, typically composed of two to four percent perfume oils in alcohol and water. Tend to be used in fragrances for younger people. Usually lasts for about two hours.
  • Toilette (eau de toilette) – A light spray composition with five to 15 percent pure perfume essence dissolved in alcohol. Usually lasts for about three hours.
  • Perfume (eau de parfum) – Historically genderless, used to describe both men’s and women’s fragrances. The best term used to describe a fragrance. Contains 15 – 20 percent pure perfume essence and lasts for about five to eight hours.
  • Perfume – A corruption of the Latin phrase per fumum (through smoke). The most concentrated and expensive of all fragrance options. Slightly oilier, perfume, or parfum, is composed of 20 to 30 percent pure perfume essence. A single application of perfume can last up to 24 hours.

So, there you have it, or rather, this is just the beginning.  Follow the link below and even though it is aimed at gentlemen, it is all relative to ladies’ fragrances as well and there is even a fragrance life span pyramid, which is a bonus!

The full introduction to fragrance also makes a few suggestions, It also dives into how fragrances are priced, and why some of them are cheap as chips, while others need a mortgage attached.



Christopher Noble
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