A beginner’s guide to fragrance types


Ok, hands up – who honestly knows the difference between eau de toilette and eau de parfum? Or perfume and parfum? Cologne and scent?

When you’re on the hunt for a new fragrance, chances are that if you’re not sure how to differentiate between the concentrations, you’ll struggle to make the right decision. It’s like going shopping for a new red dress blindfolded – the task seems practically impossible. Not only are there countless scents available, but have you ever stopped to consider exactly what ‘eau de toilette’ means, and how it can alter the perfume itself?

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Well, it turns out the label changes things quite a lot, much in the same way that shiraz and pinot noir are both red wine, but completely different varieties. Similar to your favourite red, the labels you read on these perfumes describe the intensity of your chosen fragrance.

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Perfumes with a higher concentration contain more perfume oils and less alcohol, which in turn determine how many squirts you’ll use in the morning to make sure it lasts, how suitable it is for sensitive skin and just how expensive the price tag really should be.  

So before you go shopping for your next cologne, parfum, perfume or fraiche, read up on our fragrance guide to ensure you know what you’re spritzing:


Also known as pure perfume, parfum has the highest fragrance concentration, containing anywhere from 15 to 40 per cent fragrance. Due to this, parfums have the highest price point of all fragrance types. Of all scents, parfums last the longest, usually between six to eight hours. Parfums are ideal for people with sensitive skin as they generally have less alcohol and are therefore less likely to dry out the skin.

try these parfums: Carven Le Parfum, Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum, Chanel No 5, Elie Saab Le Parfum


Known as EDP, this is one of the most common fragrance types with a high concentration between 15 and 20 per cent. On average, EDP will last for around four to five hours. Unlike eau de toilette which is generally considered as a daytime perfume, EDP is regarded as a night-time fragrance.

try these eau de parfums:Estée Lauder Cinnabar, Byredo Oliver Peoples EDP, Comme des Garcons Black, Diptyque Jasmine Essensees EDP, Lady Gaga Eau De Gaga EDP


Eau de toilette or EDT has a lower fragrance concentration of between five and 15 per cent. It’s also cheaper than EDP and is one of the most popular types of fragrance available. EDT normally lasts for around two to three hours and is generally considered to be more suitable for daywear and summer months. The term ‘eau de toilette’ stems from the French term ‘fair sa toilette’ which means getting ready.

try these eau de toilettes: Comme des Garcons Monocle Scent Two – Laurel EDT, Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again EDT, L’OCCITANE La Collection De Grasse Vanille & Narcisse Eau De Toilette


Commonly referred to as ‘cologne’, this fragrance type has a much lower concentration of fragrance than the above types, ranging from around two to four per cent concentration, with a higher concentration of alcohol. Cheaper than other types of fragrances, these scents only last for around two hours and are generally considered unisex fragrances, and are a popular choice for men. Originally, eau de cologne referred to a traditional recipe that used herb and citrus notes.

try these colognes: Byredo Mister Marvelous Eau de Cologne, Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne, Crabtree & Evelyn West Indian Lime Cologne, Comme des Garcons Series 4: Cologne


Similar to cologne, eau fraiche generally lasts for up to two hours, and has the lowest concentration of all fragrances with around one to three per cent. While the fragrance concentration is low, it does not contain a high amount of alcohol, replacing it with mostly water.

Try these eau fraiches:Molton Brown Heavenly Gingerlily Eau Fraiche, Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche, Acqua Di Gioia Eau Fraiche Giorgio Armani

What is your favourite fragrance type? Do you tend to stick to one or mix it up?

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