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The Difference Between Eau De Toilette, Cologne & Parfum In Men’s Fragrances

Men's Grooming
Wednesday, 30th October, 2019

Different Strengths and Concentrations Of Men's Fragrances

What’s the difference between eau de toilette and aftershave?

If that’s something you’ve asked yourself (or the Internet) you’re not alone.

Remember back in the day when guys used to just buy a bottle of aftershave and that was all, it was pretty simple.

These days there’s cologne, eau de toilette, eau de parfum, cologne and even a couple of others. Are these just buzzwords, or is there a difference? It’s true they are not the same, and it’s not such a difficult thing to understand.

So what is the difference between eau de toilette, parfum, cologne and eau de parfum?

The difference between the fragrances is the concentration of the oils. Pure Perfume (or parfum as it’s also known) is the strongest, followed by Eau De Parfum (EDP), Eau De Toilette (EDT) and finally Eau De Cologne.

There is also Eau Fraiche which is even weaker, however this is quite rare and is not used by many perfume houses. The most common you will find is Eau De Toilette.

In the main picture above, we have parfum, EDP, EDT and a cologne from left to right.

Want to know more? Below you’ll learn about the difference concentrations of fragrances, and the best times to wear them.

I Thought Aftershave Was For Men And Perfume For Women?

This is not an uncommon thought. A lot of people think that perfume is for women and aftershave is for men. This is because men used the product after they shaved, hence aftershave, which also had a scent.

Aftershave contained alcohol, and would close the pores after you had a shave.

Women’s was considered perfume, as many perfume houses manufactured the stronger, pure perfume extrait, it it was only used for the scent.

As we now know, men used bottles of fragrances to smell better, it’s no longer just used after shaving, in face I wouldn’t recommend using it, and instead use an aftershave balm as this is much better.

Related: How long does aftershave last before it goes off?

The Difference Strengths Of Fragrances

The Differences Between Parfum, EDP, EDT and Cologne in Men's Fragrances

The Differences In Perfume Oil Strength

Generally speaking, the stronger concentration of perfume will mean it will last longer, the less you’ll have to use (sprays) and it should project better. However, this is not always the case. There’s different factors involved in the longevity and projection, including the notes and ingredients which are used, and the type of scent it is.

A musky scent usually lingers around longer than a light fresh scent.

There’s also a range of concentrations within each type of scent – Meaning that a very strong eau de toilette may perform better than an eau de parfum.

Sadly there’s no exact science when it comes to buying a bottle, it’s just trial and error, but you can read my fragrance reviews here and around the Internet to see how well each one performs.

A lot of people wonder, I see there’s a scent which has an EDP and an EDT version – Should I buy the EDP because it’s going to be stronger?

The answer is not necessarily. The two may have the same name, but may not smell the same.

Recently perfume houses have released the variants separately, and the scents have differed. If you like an EDT there’s no guarantee that the EDP is going to smell the same but be stronger. You should try them out first, as it may be different to what you were expecting.

Parfum/EDP does not always mean a better smell than an eau de toilette, just a higher concentration of oil.

Let’s take a look at each one in a little bit of detail.

Bleu De Chanel Parfum Review 2018

Pure Perfume (Parfum)

The strongest formula for fragrance is Pure Perfum, which is also known as parfum. Not to be confused with Eau de Parfum,  It is 20 – 30% concentrated, and is almost certainly going to last the longest.

Expect the longevity to be more than 7 hours, so is a winner for either wearing for an entire work day or night out.

Advantages Of Parfum

  • 20 – 30% Concentration
  • Long lasting
  • Only a few sprays are required
  • Strong and powerful

Disadvantages of Parfum

  • The most expensive option
  • Not the biggest range to choose from
  • Over-spraying can make you smell overpowering

An example of a men’s pure perfume is Bleu De Chanel Parfum, which was released in 2018 after a EDP and EDT version.

Tom Ford Noir

Eau De Parfum

Coming in 2nd in terms of raw strength is Eau De Parfum or EDP as it’s shortened to. Usually coming in at 15-20% concentration, it’s pretty strong. In terms of longevity, it should last 5-7 hours, sometimes even longer depending on the style of scent.

This is quite a newcomer in the world of men’s fragrances, and these days a lot of brands are offering their signature scents in a EDP variant. Be warned, perfume houses often offer the EDP after the original EDT has been released, however it may slightly change the scent, it’s not just a case of it being a stronger version.

The advice would be to try out the scent, to see if there’s any differences or even improvements.

EDP is definitely emerging and has been for the past few years, almost certainly caused by us guys buying more scents, and willing to spend more money on bottles.

An example could be Tom Ford Noir EDP, which does not smell like it’s eau de toilette little brother, but has the same name.

Advantages Of Eau De Parfum

  • 15-20% Concentration
  • Lasts a long time
  • Cheaper than Parfum
  • An expending larger range is coming all the time
  • Strong and powerful

Disadvantages Of Eau De Parfum

  • More expensive than eau de toilette
  • The range is not as big as eau de toilette
  • Not as strong as parfum

Dior Sauvage - The ladies love it

Eau De Toilette (EDT)

Eau de toilette is the most common you will find among all men’s fragrances. It’s a really nice blend of a scent, which is usually anything from 5 – 15% concentration.

Here in the UK with the vast majority of the designer brands you’ll see are bottles of EDT. If you’ve got any doubt, you could assume it’s this, although there’s an emergence of eau de parfum which, as we’ve established, is stronger.

It will last anything from 2-6 hours, largely depending on how strong it is, and the type of scent. It’s fine to wear on a night out or to work, but it will usually fade out after some time.

The lighter citrus and fresh scents are usually the fastest to fade, with the more woody based scents lasting longer.

A good example of an EDT which lasts for quite a while would be Dior Sauvage.

Advantages Of Eau De Toilette

  • 5-15% concentration
  • Reasonable price points
  • A huge range available
  • Initially strong and powerful

Disadvantages Of Eau De Toilette

  • Not as strong as EDP or parfum
  • Less exclusivity

Jo Malone Oud And Bergamot Fragrance

Cologne Or Eau De Cologne

It’s a term you don’t hear too much in the UK, it’s more of an American thing. We’ve traditionally called men’s scents aftershaves, whereas our American friends call them colognes.

However the term cologne is actually about the concentration, so you could say all colognes are aftershaves but not all aftershaves are colognes.

You should bear this in mind, as if you search for “men’s cologne” you’ll find all concentrations of scents for guys, because the word is incorrectly used by shops and websites. Anyway…

Cologne is usually the weakest concentrate of fragrance you’ll find for guys, and it’s usually 2-4% oil.

There has been variations on colognes, for example Jo Malone Oud & Bergamot is a cologne, but they call it cologne intense. I can tell you from experience that this is incredibly strong initially, and lasts no less than any EDT. The style of scent helps in this regard, as they usually last for a long while.

However typically you can expect a cologne to last 2-3 hours, and is usually not too expensive. You’ll not find too many eau de colognes in the UK, most designer fragrances are eau de toilette.

To add another layer of confusion, Cologne could be used as a word to just describe cologne. This can be seen in the new Creed Aventus Cologne, which has the same strength as an EDP, but is marketed with the branding “Cologne”.

Advantages Of Eau De Cologne

  • They’re usually cheaper
  • Good if you just want a quick spray for a short period of time

Disadvantages Of Eau De Cologne

  • There’s very little choice
  • They are weak – only 2-4%
  • They don’t last very long

Now you know the differences between eau de toilette, eau de parfum, perfume and cologne – They aren’t just used as marketing terms, but denote the concentration of perfume in the bottle. Perfume is just the strength and can be men’s, women’s or even unisex.

Eau de toilette is by far the most common, and should be fine for most people. Eau de parfum is up-and-coming and being produced more and more for guys, at higher price points and usually different formulas.

Now you know the difference you can feel confident the next time you’re searching for your next fragrance.

How To Blind Buy Fragrances Online Without Smelling Them

Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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