What’s the Difference Between Eau De Parfum And Eau De Toilette?

We have all heard about the crucial role that what we wear helps people perceive and remember us. Every fashion magazine issue has articles upon articles on how one should dress and style themselves to leave a lasting impression on everybody they meet. You will find loads of great advice on what colors to wear, what style to go for, and what brands to flaunt for every big and small occasion – but one thing that we often forget to talk about is fragrance. But here’s the challenge: the world of fragrance is pretty complicated for someone on the outside looking in. With fancy-sounding words like eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne, it can be very confusing. Most commonly asked, what’s the difference between Eau De Parfum and Eau De Toilette?

If this is a problem you can relate to, don’t worry! This article is going to debunk all the misconceptions you may have about these terms and lay out all the facts as straight as they come. Here is all you need to know about eau de parfum and eau de toilette.

Difference between Eau De Parfum And Eau De Toilette – A Quick Comparison

Here is a brief comparison of eau de parfum and eau de toilette before we dive into the details. To find out more about the differences between the two types of fragrances, scroll below.

FeatureEau de parfumEau de toilette
Strength Greater strengthLesser strength
Concentration 15 to 20 percent perfumed essential oils5 to 15 percent perfumed essential oils
Longevity on the skinApproximately 5 to 8 hours (may vary between different brands and fragrance oils used)Approximately 3 hours (may vary between different brands and fragrance oils used)
Price PointHigher Lower 

What Does Eau De Parfum Mean?

To make things as simple as possible, we will start right from the beginning. An English translation of eau de parfum would be perfume water. It is a moderately high concentration solution of essential fragrance oil in diluting and carrier media such as alcohol.

One of my favourite Eau De Parfum for Men is Tom Ford ‘Oud Wood’ Eau de Parfum

Tom Ford Oud Wood

What Does Eau De Toilette Mean?

Here’s something fun: as we discussed before, eau de is French for water. And toilette stands for – well – toilet. So, in a literal, word-to-word translation, eau de toilette would mean toilet water!

Lucky for us, the French are not very literal people. A more appropriate, functional translation of the phrase eau de toilette would actually be ‘grooming water.’ An eau de toilette is a much less concentrated solution of fragrance essential oils in a diluting and carrier media such as alcohol. 

One of my favourite Eau De Toilettes is Kenneth Cole Black

Kenneth Cole Black

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Composition Breakdown In Eau De Parfum Vs Eau De Toilette

So, is essential oil concentration the only difference between an eau de parfum and eau de toilette? Well, yes and no. As far as their composition is concerned, both of these types of fragrances have pretty much the same ingredients.

Eau de parfum has 15 to 20 percent of its total volume made up of fragrance essential oils. The rest 80 to 85 percent of the liquid is basically the diluting media that makes up the product’s bulk. The most commonly used diluting media in the world is some form of alcohol.

Similarly, an eau de toilette of the same fragrance will also have a combination of this fragrance essential oil and a diluting medium. However, the percentage of fragrance here is only about 5 to 15 percent of the total volume.

However, the similar ingredient list does not mean that the two products are also the same. The subtle difference in the concentrations of the two products translates to a profound difference in their characteristics.

These differences can be easily detected by anybody with some fair knowledge and experience of different types of fragrances, but things might get tricky for a novice. In the following paragraphs, I will further elaborate on the contrasts between eau de parfum and eau de toilette.

Why Do We Put Alcohol In The Fragrance Formula?

But wait, why do we even need to dilute our fragrances? Can we not just use them as they come, without anything compromising the purity of our fragrance essential oils? Why add alcohol to the fragrance formula and bring down the intensity of the scent?

The reason behind this is because alcohol in a fragrance formula serves more than one essential purpose. In addition to bringing down the intensity from an overpowering stage to a pleasant one, alcohol also works as the perfect transport medium for any fragrance. 

Because it has no distinct scent of its own, it does not compromise the scent of fragrance oil. It feels pretty refreshing on the skin and quickly evaporates when sprayed on, leaving a pleasant scent behind.

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What Are The Various “notes” Of A Fragrance?

Other than the fancy French terms for various types of fragrances, one of the most confusing aspects of scents is their notes. If you have been to a perfume store, you would have heard the terms on top, medium, and base notes. If that left you as perplexed, we got you covered below

So, what place do ‘notes’ have in a fragrance?

All fragrance formulas are a complex mixture of three types of ‘notes.’ This dictates what the fragrance will smell like at various intervals after being sprayed on. Perfumers generally refer to these as the top, medium, and base notes.

The top or basic note (remember not to confuse it with the base note!) is the initial scent from a sprayed fragrance. It is usually much lighter than the other notes and can last between 15 minutes to 2 hours. According to Real Men Real Style, these usually smell citrus fruits or aromatics like lavender or lemongrass.

After the top notes of a scent have wafted away, the medium notes will hit your olfactory receptors next. Other names for the medium notes are middle or heart notes. They are the main constituent of a fragrance and will stick around for about 3 to 5 hours before disappearing. It is also suggested that the heart notes are usually of the floral, green, fruity, or spicy types.

Finally, the middle notes are replaced by the richer and colder basic notes – a fragrance component that determines its longevity. They make an appearance after about 4 to 5 hours have elapsed since you put on the fragrance and will stick around for 5 to 10 hours. These generally smell woody or balsamic.

The total experience of the fragrance is when all three types of notes intermingling with one another.

By FrangranceX

However, some fragrances might not follow these rules. According to the fragrance notes, they can be divided into two broad categories: linear and nonlinear. While non-linear scents go through a variety of notes as long as they last, linear scents feature a single, unchanging note.

These linear fragrances are when you want a crisp, clear note to last you all through the day – for example, a scent that you can wear to work. Nonlinear scents are better suited for occasions where you would expect the mood to change with time – for example, on a romantic date with your partner. In this situation, you would want the fragrance to start off light and refreshing and transition into a romantic, musky scent as the evening progresses. 

Are The Scents The Same For Both Eau De Parfum And Eau De Toilette?

When we talk eau de toilette vs eau de parfum, the first thing that crosses the mind is the scent. If they are made up of the same ingredients, you would naturally expect them to smell the same. But is that really the case?

Not really. If the fragrance oils are the same for both an eau de parfum and an eau de toilette, their scent is likely to be close but will not be exactly the same. This is because the chemistry of fragrance is not that straightforward or simple. A fragrance is made of various top notes and bottom notes, and even a slight difference in these notes’ concentration can make them smell different.

Different concentrations of fragrance react differently with your body chemistry. A lighter concentration gives the fragrance room to breathe and develop, while a heavier concentration would smell much richer and sharper. Hence, you can consider an eau de toilette a lighter and fresher version of the eau de parfum with the same fragrance essential oils. 

How Long Do Eau De Parfum And Eau De Toilette Last?

By Real Men Real Style

If you are finding it hard to choose between different types of fragrances, knowing their unique characteristics might help you make the decision. One of these key contrasts to know of is about their longevity.

How long does perfume last? How long does cologne last? Which one is a better option for a special occasion, and which one should you wear on an everyday basis? Here are all the answers that you have been looking for.

Though different brands will vary in their longevity, it is safe to say that eau de parfums generally last longer than their eau de toilette. This is largely due to the difference in concentrations of fragrance essential oils in both products. 

An eau de parfum naturally has more fragrance bulk. For this reason, even with the same rate of evaporation and diffusion, it will last longer than an eau de toilette of the same top and bottom notes.

When it comes to the exact amount of time each of these products will last, there is no certain value that will stand true for every eau de parfum or every eau de toilette. However, a good quality eau de parfum can be estimated to last at least five to eight hours. The same notes’ eau de toilette will usually be easily detectable for about three hours from the time you put it on.

It is also important to note that different notes of fragrances will also have different lengths of service. A more prosperous, more woody fragrance essential oil is expected to last much longer than a fruity sense. Therefore, comparing an eau de toilette and an eau de parfum of disparate top and bottom notes would not be entirely fair. A woodier eau de toilette can last just as long as a fruity eau de parfum.

How to make perfume last longer

All of this gives rise to another question: how to make perfume last longer? Besides investing in a quality brand, is there anything that can keep you smelling great for hours?

Well, the fragrance is carried by oils. This is why you see a person with oilier skin carry a wonderful scent hours after applying a fragrance. Whereas, people with drier skin complain that no fragrance formula ever works for them. An easy tip for these exasperated individuals would be to rub a bit of vaseline on the skin. 

The vaseline oil-based formula keeps fragrance molecules from diffusing into the environment and keeps you smelling fresher for longer.

Another thing that you can do to smell nice all day is using your fragrances strategically. Instead of just spritzing the perfume through the air and walking through, aim the nozzle at specific points on the body. 

These include your wrists, your elbows, behind the ears, and your collar bone. Moreover, these areas of your body are highly vascularized, with warm blood flowing close to the skin. The heat from your blood warms the fragrance molecule over time and keeps dissipating the fragrance gradually, giving you an alluring aura.

How Can You Tell If Your Eau De Parfum Or Eau De Toilette Has Gone Bad?

Do perfumes ever expire? This is a question that is often asked but not answered correctly near enough times. There is much confusion when it comes to the shelf life of various types of fragrances.

Unlike makeup and other cosmetics, fragrances often do not have a best before date on their labels. If you have had your dad’s eau de cologne sitting on his vanity for a decade without being used, you are right to question its quality.

Most perfumes will easily last you at least three to five years. However, the fragrance’s formula introduces much variability in the shelf life. Because alcohol acts as a great preservative, fragrances with a higher alcohol concentration would has longer expiration date.

This makes pure perfume the quickest to disintegrate, and eau de toilette better suited to stand the test of time. The durability of the rest of the many types of fragrances will lie between these two extremes. However, the downside of eau de toilettes is that they are not very intense or super long-lasting. You might have to use a considerable amount at a time to get the experience you are looking for.

If you want to find out if the perfume that has been on your shelf can still be used, there are two simple things to watch out for. One, a change in the color, and two, the scent smelling a bit rusty. 

Fragrances in glass bottles that are put in a place where the sun shines on them are at a higher risk of going bad quickly. Similarly, quickly changing temperature or exposure to oxygen will also speed up any fragrance’s aging process.

If you want your perfume to survive the longest, it is possible. You can store it in a cool, dry place that is well away from direct sunlight. Your fragrances will fare far better in a drawer of your vanity.

Eau De Parfum And Eau De Toilette – Which Is More Expensive?

Finally, let’s talk about price points. Toilette vs parfum is more suitable for budget shopping, and what should you go for if you are in the mood to splurge?

If we consider different brands, we will see that each of these products’ prices vary greatly. Some brands’ eau de toilette can be worth your monthly salary, while another brand offers you an eau de parfum at a fraction of that amount. To be fair in our comparison, we will consider the two different products with their counterpart from the same brand.

By this principle, it is incredibly apparent that eau de toilettes have a far lighter price tag attached to them than eau de parfums do. This accounts for the higher concentration of fragrance essential oils in eau de parfum. 

Because it is the fragrance that carries the bulk of the cost, it is natural for a bottle of an eau de toilette to be much less expensive than a bottle of the same volume containing eau de parfum.

However, those price tags do not tell you the complete story. Since eau de parfums are much more concentrated and potent, a little goes a long way with them. A tiny spritz of an eau de parfum can safely see you through an entire day. However, eau de toilettes have to be used much more liberally to build up the scent. Hence, you will run through a bottle of an eau de toilette much more quickly than a similar bottle of an eau de parfum.

The Final Word

Fragrances might be tricky, but it only takes a short while for an interested individual to begin to understand everything about them. From what we have seen here, eau de parfums and eau de toilettes are simply different strengths of the same thing, giving you a unique experience with subtle differences. So, which is it that you would rather buy?

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