Fragrance 411: What’s the Difference Between Perfume and Eau de Parum?

January 07, 2020
Fragrance 411: What’s the Difference Between Perfume and Eau de Parum?

Finding the perfect perfume fragrance is no easy task. A perfume can become your signature scent, something people remember you by and sets the tone for the day or night you’re about to embark on. Like we said, it’s a big deal. Not to mention, a little bit goes a long way, so when you commit to buying a new fragrance, you’ll have that bottle for a while. To help you pick the perfect perfume, we created a scent guide. 

But first, when shopping for your new scent, it’s important to come with a blank canvas. Avoid using any scented body washes, lotions or perfumes prior to shopping in order to smell the scents on your skin without distraction. Next, you’ll want to brush up on your perfume language. 

Know Your Perfume Language

Eau de Cologne: Eau de Cologne is three to five percent perfume oil in a mixture of alcohol and water. It tends to be lighter and refreshing, typically with a citrus oil component.

Eau de Toilette: Eau de Toilette contains a slightly higher percentage of perfume oil, and is mixed with alcohol instead of water, making it more fragrant.

Eau de Parfum: With a higher percentage of perfume oil (roughly 15 to 18 percent), mixed with alcohol, Eau de Parfum is heavier than Eau de Cologne and Eau de Toilette, but lighter than Perfume. 

Perfume: With 15 to 30 percent perfume oil mixed with alcohol, perfume contains the highest percentage of oil, making it the most concentrated and potent. Perfume often comes in the smallest bottles, with the largest price tag.

Consider the Season When Selecting a Perfume

Just as summer smells of fresh cut grass and grapefruit and winter smells of cinnamon and evergreen, your scent may vary from season to season. Scents last longer in warmer months than they do in cooler months because skin is usually more hydrated and moisture will hold the fragrance. Opt for lighter scents in warmer months and heavier ones during the winter.

Identify Notes in Your Perfume

Like a glass of wine, scents boast a variety of layered notes. For instance, one perfume may give you an initial whiff of citrus, followed by a spicy undertone. To find your perfect perfume, identify the type of scent you connect with the most. Is it a rose bouquet? A fruity whiff of pomegranate? The sweet undertone of vanilla? Identifying a category will help you narrow down your choices and consider options that suit you. To guide you, here are some of our favorite scents, broken down into the four major categories of scents.


Floral Notes: Per the name, floral scents will evoke freshly cut flowers — rose, carnation, lavender, orange blossom, violets and beyond. Our favorite perfume picks for this category include Ralph Lauren Beyond Romance Eau de Parfum and Armani Light Di Gioia Eau de Parfum.


Fresh Notes: The clean and crisp appeal of orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, apricot, apple, peach and fresh grass are just some of the scents associated with this category. A couple of our favorite fragrance picks include Baxter of California Pacific Cannabis and Lancôme Idole Eau de Parfum.


Musky Notes: Musky scents are reminiscent of spices like warm vanilla, incense resins and amber. Think warm, mysterious and sexy. For this scent group, we love YSL Libre Eau de Parfum and Atelier Cologne Oolang Infini. 


Woody Notes: Scents like bergamot, oakmoss, labdanum and patchouli are associated with the woody category. Perfumes within this category are earthy and often mixed with spice or citrus. For this group, we love Maison Margiela Replica Whispers in the Library and Viktor & Rolf Magic Sage Spell Eau de Parfum.


Let the Scent Linger

No matter what scent you choose, it will smell very different on paper than it will on your skin. Allow the perfume to open up by spritzing it on and then walking around for a few hours to see how the scent reacts with your skin over time.

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