Should I Buy Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette?


When you stand in front of a shelf packed with row after row of fabulous fragrances, it’s can be difficult to decide which to buy. You finally pick a few you’d love to buy but then find yourself faced with another dilemma:

Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette – what’s the actual difference?

Simply put, an Eau de Parfum has a higher concentration of perfume oil to alcohol than an Eau de Toilette. This difference in strength makes Eau de Parfum last longer on the skin than Eau de Toilette.

Should I buy Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette?

If you’re still not sure which to buy, check how much stronger the Eau de Parfum is compared to the Eau de Toilette. Eau de Parfum contains 15 to 20% perfume oil whereas Eau de Toilette has 5 to 15%. This makes Eau de Parfum more expensive to buy but it should last longer.

Should I Buy Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette? Fragrance bottle

Eau de Toilette vs Eau de Parfum price

The most expensive component of any fragrance whether it’s Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette or any other concentration, is the perfume oil. Hence, the higher the perfume oil concentration in your chosen scent, the higher the price.

If you buy an Eau de Toilette because it has a lower price than an Eau de Parfum, bear in mind you may find you use twice as much to achieve the desired scent projection and longevity because of the lower perfume oil content. You might get through the same-sized EDT twice as quickly as an EDP so not really save any money.

The Five Fragrance Concentrations

Now you know the difference between Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum you might like to know that fragrance actually comes in five different strengths – just to blow your mind that little bit more.

Keep reading and you’ll soon be buying and wearing your favorite fragrance like a pro.

Here’s a little infographic to help you visualize what we’re about to talk about.

Should I Buy Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette? Fragrance concentration guide

Fragrance is simply perfume oil blended with alcohol and occasionally a tiny amount of water. The ratio of perfume oil to alcohol gives rise to five different fragrance strengths which have been named as follows, in ascending order of strength:

  • Eau Fraiche
  • Eau de Cologne (EDC)
  • Eau de Toilette (EDT)
  • Eau de Parfum (EDP)
  • Perfume

1. Eau Fraiche

The term Eau Fraiche translates to fresh water, but there isn’t really any water in it to speak of. This fragrance type has the lowest concentration of perfume oil at just 1 to 2%.

What this means is that in a 100 ml bottle, 1 to 2 ml is perfume oil and 98 to 99 ml is alcohol. It’s the cheapest type of fragrance there is.

Eau Fraiche is light and refreshing to wear and its scent lasts for about 2 hours on your skin before it needs to be reapplied.

It suits a variety of people: those who don’t like strong scents, teenagers, and anyone who doesn’t want to spend too much on fragrance.

You can also wear it in situations where you really don’t want to overpower others with a strong fragrance.

2. Eau de Cologne (EDC)

The term Eau de Cologne literally translates to Cologne water. In 1709, an Italian designer living in Cologne, Germany created a light, fresh fragrance which he named after the city. Since then the name has been applied to any fragrance of similar strength.

Eau de Cologne has a concentration of between 2% and 5% perfume oil and lasts for about 4 hours before it fades. It is slightly stronger than Eau Fraiche but is still a light fragrance with a low scent projection. It is perfect for summer days and nights and won’t overwhelm or offend other people.

This fragrance type is usually inexpensive because of its low perfume oil content and is more affordable than the higher concentrations if you’re on a budget.

Contrary to popular belief, women’s and men’s fragrance comes in Eau de Cologne form – it’s not just for men!

3. Eau de Toilette (EDT)

Eau de Toilette means quite literally toilet water. But don’t worry, no water from toilets is used to make it – honest!

In French, toilette refers to “la toilette” of a woman, pertaining to the clothing and make-up she wears for a special event. So the term Eau de Toilette once referred to the perfumed water a woman applied before going out. Now it’s a fragrance type anyone can wear, not just women.

Eau de Toilette is the most common type of fragrance. With 5 to 15% perfume oil, it can last anywhere from 6 to 10 hours per application.

Eau de Toilette seems strong when it’s first applied but dries down fairly quickly to become a scent with a fairly low projection. You can apply it quite liberally without fear of overwhelming everyone you meet.

4. Eau de Parfum (EDP)

Eau de Parfum means perfume water. With a concentration of 15 to 20% perfume oil, it’s a reasonably strong fragrance that can last anything from 8 to 12 hours with one application.

The higher concentration of perfume oil means this fragrance type is that bit more expensive but you should need to apply less than you would an Eau de Toilette.

For day time, 5 sprays are a nice amount but for a night out you can apply more for a stronger effect.

5. Perfume (Parfum)

The word perfume comes from the Latin “per fumus” meaning “by smoke”. This term came about because perfumes were originally released as fragrant smoke by burning incense.

Perfume has the highest concentration of perfume oils, generally 20 to 30% (and occasionally higher), making it the most expensive of the fragrance types.

Perfume should easily last on your skin for 12 hours and often longer. It’s not unusual to find you can still faintly smell it the next day.

As it’s so expensive, perfume is not something many people wear every day. They usually save it for special occasions. Often, people also buy the EDP or EDT version of their perfume for daily use.

Another difference between perfume and the other four fragrance types is that it is not applied via a spray – this would be a waste! Instead, it has a cork or screw top and should be dabbed on to pulse points.

Though it’s the most expensive type of fragrance, if you use it sparingly and store it in a cool, dark place, a bottle should last a long time.

Where to wear fragrance

Eau Fraiche, Eau de Cologne, and Eau de Toilette

Here’s a simple diagram showing you the best spots to apply fragrances with a lower perfume oil concentration in order to get the best out of them.

Should I Buy Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette? Wear to apply fragrance

Any fragrance works best when applied to dry, warm skin. Ideal areas for application are lower jaw, neck, chest, wrists, forearms, inner elbows, and shoulders. In these areas, body heat helps to project the scent and make it last longer.

Only use small sprays and only add another layer over the top if you’re sure you haven’t achieved a strong enough level of scent.

A good trick to increase how long fragrance lasts on your skin is to dab on a little petroleum jelly first. This absorbs the fragrance and locks it in to prevent it from evaporating so quickly. Another thing that helps your scent linger is to spritz it onto your hair and clothes.

Eau de Parfum

As it’s stronger, you won’t need to wear Eau de Parfum in all the spots shown in the diagram above. Start with wrists and neck and see how strong it seems. If you think you need more, apply it to one more site at a time and stop before you become that person who wreaks of too much scent!

Perfume

The best way to apply perfume is carefully and sparingly. It’s expensive so you don’t want to waste it! Put a dab of petroleum jelly on the pulse points of your wrists and kneck and then dab a little perfume on each spot. Do not rub your wrists together as this evaporates the scent more quickly.

When to wear each fragrance type

Eau Fraiche

Eau Fraiche can be worn at any time. Wear it on hot summer days, for a workout or when you just want a lighter scent. It’s refreshing and inoffensive.

Eau de Cologne

Wear Eau de Cologne in the same way as Eau Fraiche. It can be a little stronger but is a great everyday fragrance type.

Eau de Toilette

You can wear Eau de Toilette day or night. For more of an effect, spray on a bit more. A more intense Eau de Toilette is great for a night out or date night.

Eau de Parfum

As it’s stronger than the first three, Eau de Parfum is great for nights out, clubbing, dating and can be quite irresistible to anyone you might be trying to impress.

In the summer, Eau de Parfum can be a bit overpowering so save it for cooler weather.

Perfume

Perfume is expensive and special so save it for special occasions and when you really want to impress – think hot dates, valentines, engagements, weddings, Christmas and New Year.

Perfume doesn’t always cope well in hot weather and can leave you smelling more overpowering than sultry.

Fragrance jargon

You may have noticed your perfume has one scent as you apply it and then changes as the day goes on. This has nothing to do with the percentage of perfume oil or the quality of the scent but has everything to do with what we refer to as the fragrance notes.

Should I Buy Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette? The fragrance pyramid

Top notes or opening notes or head notes

These notes are the ones you notice when you first spray a fragrance. They are what really make you decide if you like it or not. They evaporate quite quickly as the fragrance dries.

Middle or Heart notes

As the top notes evaporate, the middle notes develop and are the ones you’ll notice for quite some time. They mingle nicely with the top notes to give the fragrance its heart.

Base notes

Once the top notes have completely evaporated you’ll notice the base notes intermingling with the middle notes. They create a lasting impression and will linger the longest of all the notes.

Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette? – Conclusion

If you want a reasonably strong fragrance at a reasonable price, you’ll be happy with the performance of Eau de Toilette – it’s the most popular fragrance our their.

If you’re after something with a light fragrance and light price to match go for Eau Fraiche or Eau de Cologne.

Eau de Parfum is the next best thing to perfume and doesn’t quite cost as much.

Perfume is the creme de la creme of fragrances and is perfect if you want a strong scent for a special occasion – brace yourself for the price though.

One last thing

After investing in a fragrance you might be interested to know the answer to the question Can Fragrance Go Bad?

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