Not All Perfumes Are Created Equal

When shopping for perfume, one will notice terms like ‘eau de toilette’ and ‘eau de parfum’. However, what is the difference between all the types of perfume?

Since you are reading this guide, I assume you are probably confused by all the different types of perfume available in the stores. Whether you are purchasing for yourself, significant other, parent, friend or dear pet, it is helpful to know the difference between the types of perfume in order to make the best decision.

Most perfumes are complex mixtures of natural ingredients, such as essential oils from plants, and synthetic compounds that help heighten the smell and its lasting effect. Perfume oil is generally diluted with a solvent because undiluted oils contain high concentrations of volatile elements that will very likely cause allergic reaction when applied to the skin. The most commonly used solvent is ethanol, or a mixture of ethanol and water. Hence, the different labels on perfume bottles refer to the percentage of perfume oil concentration. The concentration of percent and volume of perfume oil from highest to lowest is as follows:

Perfume (also referred to as Extrait or Extrait Perfume): 20%-40% (typical 25%) aromatic compounds. This is the purest form of scented product and therefore the most expensive.

Eau de Parfum (EdP): 10-30% (typical ~15%) aromatic compounds. This is the most popular form of perfume on the market. The fragrance is long-lasting and generally cost less than extract perfume.

Eau de Toilette (EdT): 5-20% (typical ~10%) aromatic compounds. This provides a light scent that normally lasts about four to six hours. Its fragrance is brighter and fresher than EdP, and consequently, less intense. It is originally intended to be a refreshing body splash.

Eau de Cologne (EdC): 2-5% aromatic compounds. This is originally a specific fragrance with citrus oil and weak in concentration created in Cologne, Germany. Outside of Germany, the term is generalized to refer to perfume with very low concentrate. A few perfumers today make a version of EdC known as eau fraiche.

Higher percentage of aromatic compounds means more intensity and longevity. However, different perfumeries assign different amounts of oils to their individual perfumes. As a result, the amount of oil concentration in two different brands of perfumes both labeled as eau de parfum may vary.

While the list above shows the main types of perfume, other products such as creams, lotions, powders, body splashes, soaps and cosmetics are often scented with variable amounts (usually very small) of perfume concentrates as well.
Coco Mademoiselle Perfume by Chanel, 3.4 oz Eau De Toilette Spray for Women

As mentioned above, different types of perfume contains varying amounts of oil concentration and therefore, the prices fluctuate accordingly. To have a better understanding of the actual price difference, let’s take a look at Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. Below are the various versions of Coco Mademoiselle, amount of content, and its corresponding MSRP in USD (excluding EdC):

Parfum 0.25 oz. $95.00
Eau de Parfum 1.70 oz $80.00
Eau de Toilette 1.70 oz $60.00

Without a doubt, parfum is the most expensive because it contains the highest percentage of perfume oil concentrate. Price variation between eau de parfum and eau de toilette normally ranges anywhere from 10 to 30 dollars, so the difference is less significant than that of parfum.

Hopefully the explanation of the different kinds of perfume is helpful to your endeavor of finding the perfect type of scent!

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