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EDP vs EDT (or eau de parfum vs eau de toilette), eau de cologne vs eau fraiche. For many, entering a perfume boutique is akin to falling through the rabbit hole and finding oneself within a wonderland of choices! Fragrance is one of the most intimate and unique beauty products around, which is why purchasing perfume is quite a unique experience that varies from person to person. Nonetheless, after a luscious scent has been selected – one that pleases the wearer and interacts well with their body chemistry – one is unavoidably and invariably greeted with a confusing choice of perfume types, ranging from concentrated parfums to light eaux fraiches.
Naturally, it is difficult to choose the perfume type that suits your needs best (or the needs of the person you are gifting for that matter!) without first understanding the main differences between them. Is one more suitable in the morning? Is there a type of perfume that lasts longer? Which one is the most potent? Dukes Avenue looks at all this and more, in our dedicated guide to the different types of perfume available, solving the mystery of the perfume types and giving you the ability to choose perfume like a pro on your next venture to the perfume store!
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The 5 Different Types of Perfume: EDP vs EDT and More!
Although all perfumes are used to enhance a person’s scent, not every perfume has the same level of intensity, potency or longevity. The perfume worn on an evening out will likely differ from the one you might spray on before heading to the gym, and naturally a fruity summer perfume will need to be lighter and fresher than say, a vanilla fragrance worn in the chilly wintery months. But what makes us prefer one type over the other when instinctively choosing our fragrance of choice? Let’s dive right in and discover the main differences between each perfume type!
What Does EDT Mean in Perfume?
Does eau de toilette actually mean toilet water? Not quite. The word toilette is derived from the french term ‘toile‘ (pronounced twahl‘) – and it’s a term fashion designers will be familiar with the term. Simply put, a ‘toile‘ is mock-up of a garment intended to be sewn, typically made in a lower priced fabric or cloth. The term ‘toilette‘ therefore loosely translates to a small piece of cloth and was historically used to describe a small piece of cloth that was used while shaving, grooming or styling the hair. ‘Toilette‘ became synonymous with grooming, and the aromatic water used whilst shaving or grooming became the ‘eau de toilette‘.
Like other perfume types, eau de toilette or EDT as it has become known features a blend of perfume oil, alcohol and water. Yet, eau de toilette has a relatively lighter composition compared to eau de parfum due to its low concentration of perfume oil – containing between 5 to 15% – and higher volume of alcohol and water. It is this lower concentration of perfume oil that typically results in a lower price point than its eau de parfum counterparts.
Eau de toilette is a relatively subtle scent, making it suitable for day-to-day use, particularly during the warmer months of the year. As expected with lighter and more water-based perfumes, frequent topping up is necessary as one spritz lasts between 2 to 3 hours on the skin. Sure enough, eau de toilette is typically packaged in a glass spray bottle so that one can easily top up their scent throughout the day.
Nevertheless, there are a few hacks for making perfume last longer on the skin. For instance, start by using a shower gel which matches or complements your perfume, then – as part of your skincare routine – apply a body lotion in the same scent, before spraying on your choice of perfume on your pulse points such as the neck, wrists or behind the knees. A spritz or two of perfume on your clothing will also keep you smelling scented for longer (although this is not recommended with delicate and expensive material like silk!), as would a matching hair mist for your hair!
**Editor’s Note** never spray eau de toilettes (or perfumes in general) directly on your hair! The alcohol content in the perfume will do your hair no favours!
What is EDP Perfume?
When compared to eau de toilette, eau de parfum or EDP offers a significantly stronger scent that could last up to 5 hours without topping up (sometimes longer!) – and this is certainly why EDP have a higher price tag! Thanks to a higher concentration of fragrance oil, eau de parfum has a stronger and oilier character which, although still light enough to be sprayed, is able to sit better and longer on the skin. Nonetheless, this stronger perfume type is still subtle enough to be pleasing without becoming overbearing for the wearer.
Found packaged in both spray and stopper bottles, their strong scent and longevity make them a popular choice for nights out and with perfume users who prefer stronger, longer lasting fragrances.
The Difference Between EDP and EDT …
… therefore, all boils down to:
Concentration. The real difference between EDP and EDT is the amount of perfume oil that has been blended into the mixture. Whilst eau de parfum boasts a generous quantity of 15 to 20% level of pure perfume oil, eau de toilette is made up of a mere 5 to 15% concentration of perfume oil. This difference unavoidably effects the intensity of the scent as well as its longevity, with EDP lasting as long as 5 hours and EDT lasting up to around 3 hours.
Scent. Surprisingly, although marketed as the same scent with a different concentration of oil, the EDP and EDT variations of one particular fragrance might not share the same exact scent. Some perfumes have their formula slightly altered to better suit the concentration of perfume oil. As one would expect in an eau de parfum, the scent is stronger, not merely because of the higher oil concentration, but also because the scent is designed to be stronger. For example, whilst Dior’s J’Adore Eau de Parfum uses ylang-ylang essence and rose essence for a distinctly floral notes, J’Adore Eau de Toilette incorporates blood orange essence, neroli flower and rose essence, giving it a more subtle blended scent of citrus and flora.
All in all, choosing between an eau de toilette and an eau de perfume depends on the occasion, time of day and ambient temperature. Whilst a lighter, subtle eau de toilette may be preferred for mornings and the summer months, an eau de parfum might more effective in the evening, especially on cold winter days.
What is Pure Perfume?
Parfum (also known as pure perfume or or extrait de parfum) is the most potent form of perfume. Out of all the different types of perfume, parfum has the highest concentration of perfume oil – between 15 to 40% – and duly remains the most expensive type of perfume on the market. Its oilier and more potent composition means that a few drops on the pulse points are guaranteed to last all day. Thus, despite the extra expense, parfum will take longer to use up and offers a more distinct and long-lasting scent. Furthermore, people will sensitive skin will find that pure perfumes are far less likely to irritate or dry out their skin due to the lower concentration of alcohol.
You can spot a pure perfume from the bottle. Unlike eau de toilette and eau de parfum fragrances that are normally sold in spray bottles holding 30ml, 50ml or 100ml or perfume, extrait de parfum is typically sold in smaller stopper bottles of 15ml.
What is Eau Fraiche?
Eau Fraiche or ‘fragrance water‘ is the lightest and least expensive form of perfume. Containing between 1 to 3% of perfume oil, eau fraiche is a super light form of perfume that is ideal for the gym or summer beach days. Naturally, its watery composition is not meant to last very long – usually evaporating within the hour – so be prepared to spritz it on a little more frequently!
What is Eau de Cologne?
Originally designed as a lighter variant of particular scents, eau de cologne (EDC) has evolved into a male oriented fragrance. With a 2 to 5% perfume oil concentration and a significantly high alcohol level, this diluted form of perfume characteristically lasts for around 2 to 4 hours and is often preferred for use after a clean shave.
If you’re a lover of perfume content, be sure to check out some of our other articles on fragrance, including Why Perfume is Important, Why is Perfume so Expensive? and our 7 recommended Movies about Perfume.
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Christine is a woman with an eclectic range of artistic tastes. As a professional soprano with a Bachelor's Degree in Music, she carries over 15 years of experience in the classical music scene, both locally and abroad. Her passion for music is equalled by her love for literature and, more recently, Christine graduated for a second time with a BA in English.