You might think that the difference between “perfume” and “cologne” is who the bottle is intended for, or which counter it’s sold at—the reality is a little more subtle than that. Simply, all fragrances are largely the same, but they’re given a name based on the concentration of oil in alcohol and water.
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 1% – 3% 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 2% – 4% perfume oils in alcohol and water. Tend to be used in fragrances for younger people. Usually lasts for about 2 hours.
- Toilette (Eau de Toilette) – A light spray composition with 5% – 15% pure perfume essence dissolved in alcohol. Usually lasts for about 3 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% pure perfume essence and lasts for about 5 to 8 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% – 30% pure perfume essence. A single application of perfume can last up to 24 hours.
That’s all useful to know, and can certainly help you make a better shopping decision if you’re looking for something to wear that’s a little lighter and won’t stick as long during those hot summer days, or something you want to linger just a touch longer while you’re out and socializing all night long.
The full introduction to fragrance (linked below) also makes a few suggestions, and explains some of the “notes” you’ll smell when you’re shopping for one, and how long those types of scents last on your skin. It also dives into how fragrances are priced, and why some of them are bargain basement while others seem insanely expensive. Hit the link below to learn more. Despite the URL, the guide is certainly targeted at men, but the information is useful to everyone.
Introduction to Fragrance | Real Men Real Style
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