Perfume or Parfum?

by - Tuesday, March 15, 2016


I have a serious perfume addiction. It all started when I was around 16 years old, working in The Fragrance Shop in my town centre to fund my clothing addiction whilst in college. Being introduced to such amazing scents made my collection rapidly grow. Sadly, my bank balance rapidly shrunk but hey it made me happy. Not only did I get to try so many fragrances (with free testers too!) but I also got to learn about what makes a perfume a perfume and what makes a toilette a toilette – and I don’t mean just the price tag - as well as learning all about the fragrance notes. A little geeky I know but I found it so fascinating. It also explains why perfume smells different on different people – it mixed with your skin and natural scents init.

Understanding fragrances and their names can be confusing, with fragrances being available in different strengths and concentrations. A fragrances main ingredient is alcoholic water solution, mixed with three main notes that make up the individual scent. The percentage of perfume mixed with the water determines the intensity of the fragrance and how long it will last on your skin. The most common types of fragrance are Parfum, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne, Eau Fraiche and Aftershave, and each one is different but don’t be put off by those little French names as I’ve got you covered in my little guide below.

Also known as: Perfume, Elixir, Le Parfum, Perfume Extract
Parfum has the highest concentration that a fragrance can get, with a ratio of 20-40% parfum to alcoholic water solution mix. Ultimately, parfum is the most expensive. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Parfum retails up at whopping £155 for a 15ml bottle, but parfum is a potent mix of pure fragrance and alcohol which means that you only need to dab a little onto your skin to still get a strong long-lasting scent. Parfum usually comes in a non-spray bottle and is recommended to be applied to the dip of your neck and behind your ears because, as Chanel says Perfume should be applied where one wants to be kissed… Parfum is usually the best choice for sensitive skin as it has less alcohol levels in comparison to other fragrances and will last around 6-8 hours on skin.

Also known as: EDP, Perfume
Eau de Parfum is the next in line in terms of high concentration. Eau de Parfum is one of the more popular fragrance choices although is usually beaten by EDT. Eau de Parfum is great for everyday use and is mostly presented with a spray for easy application although you can still pick up the odd bottle with that requires you to dab to apply. Although the ratio is 10-30% parfum to alcoholic water solution mix, Eau de Parfum still has a strong and long-lasting scent but at a more affordable price and usually lasts around 4-6 hours on skin. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum is still expensive retailing at £96.00 but you do get 100ml which is a lot more reasonable, however if you’re savvy and can wait until you go on your jollies, I usually manage to bag a 200ml bottle for only around £127 which I think is a reet bargain.   

Also known as: EDT
Eau de Toilette has a medium concentration of 5-20% and is the most popular strength of fragrance for women. Eau de Toilette usually only comes in a spray bottle for easy application and is most popular during summer months as it has a more gentle mix  as this has a greater percentage of alcoholic water solution mix than parfum. Eau de Toilette is a lighter scent in comparison to EDP and Parfum, but still lasts around 4-5 hours on your skin. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Toilette retails at £79.00 for a 100ml bottle. Eau de Toilette is the strongest type of fragrance for men. 

Also known as: EDC 
Eau de Cologne is not usually a “known” strength in women’s fragrances nowadays. Eau de Cologne is less concentrated than Eau de Toilette at only 2-4% ratio of fragrance to alcoholic water solution mix however there are a few that have a concentration up to 8%. Because of the weaker concentration, you usually find that Eau de Cologne’s have a more gentle, uplifting scent which are especially popular in Spring/Summer months. Eau de Cologne usually comes in a larger bottle which means you need to spray more. Eau de Cologne is the second highest concentration of fragrance for men.

Also known as: EDF, Summer Scent, Body Mist, Perfumed Mist, Hair Mist, Fragranced Body Oils 
Eau de Fraiche is similar to Eau de Cologne in the sense that it is a gentle, refreshing scent that is popular in Spring/Summer months. Eau de Fraiche has a very low concentration of 1-3% with the odd bottle that may reach up to 7% concentration. Some fragrances contain no alcohol and instead are replaced with water, however whether containing alcohol or not, Eau de Fraiche’s are a light and refreshing scented fragrance and are usually your “summer” editions of fragrances as well as limited edition collections. Eau de Fraiche is a diluted perfume and is great for sensitive skin due to the lack of or low levels of alcohol. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Body Mist retails at £29.00 for 100ml.

Also known as: Splash, Aftershave Spray
Aftershave has a very low concentration of 1-3% fragrance to alcoholic water solution mix. Aftershave was created specifically for a male to use on the face after shaving (think of Kevin McAllister in Home Alone when he screams when applying). Because of the high alcohol levels, applying aftershave after shaving is said to help close the pores and will help heal the skin following hair removal. Aftershave has low concentration levels which means that this will work well on sensitive skin and shouldn’t cause irritation.  

I really hope this post is useful for when shopping for your next fragrance. Remember, each fragrance smells different on difference skin types and often EDP’s smell completely different to EDT because of the intensity of the perfume.
Drop a comment in the box below, and let me know what fragrance is your favourite, and what fragrance strength you prefer and whether you want to know anything else about your perfumes.

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