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Perfume, Eau de Toilette, Cologne…What’s the difference between them all?

It’s all starting to make ‘scents.’

While the bottles may look similar sitting on the shelves, the scents and sprays hugely differ between Perfume, Eau de Toilette, Cologne and Eau de Parfum. Alongside the unique mixture of scented notes, you might have noticed a difference in labelling and alongside that, variations in price. Use our guide below to discover which ‘Eau de’ is the best match for you.

Scent-imental Origins:

Perfume is made from two key bases, essential oils (which can be natural or synthetic) and alcohol. Traditionally, perfume was only worn by and accessible to the rich but at the start of the 1900s perfume houses were established to offer a wider variety of scents to a larger market.

The main difference between Perfume, Eau de Toilette, Cologne and Eau de Parfum is the concentration of essential oils. While the oils control the strength of the fragrance, the concentration is so important as different volumes of the same scent can smell widely different! The concentration of the alcohol (and often water) base controls how long the scent lasts for and the sillage of the fragrance. The sillage is how far the fragrance extends from body to air around you; the higher the concentration, the easier it is to transfer between people – or on love letters for that matter.

Is Cologne made for men?

Despite what you may have heard from our friends across the pond, Cologne is not gender specific. It is, however, specific to the region of Cologne in Germany, just like Champagne has to be produced in the Champagne region in France. Established in 1709, Cologne was originally a blend of citrus and cedar notes that made a light, fresh scent. Today, Cologne is a cheaper option as it’s fairly weak, with 2-5% essential oils mixed with an alcohol and water base that lasts up to two hours. The top notes (the ones you smell first) are the dominant ones, making it ideal for a quick freshening up.

Eau de Toilette – Lost in translation:

It’s time to set the record straight – there’s been a slight translation error with the classic Eau de Toilette, which certainly does not mean ‘toilet water.’ The French use ‘la toilette’ to describe a woman, her outfit, or her make-up when she is dressed for a special event, and so Eau de Toilette translates more closely as ‘water used before going out.’ Eau de Toilettes are perfect for spraying after bathing or shaving and will last up to three hours as they contain 5-10% of essential oils. Mugler Angel Eau de Croisière for women and Calvin Klein Eternity Summer for men are just some of the Eau de Toilettes we have on-board and are designed to be used more often, ensuring the scent remains light and crisp.

Eau de Parfum – The all-day spray:

Eau de Parfum is the most common fragrance that we see today, but back in just the 1980s you’d be considered bold and financially savvy if sporting such a scent. Made up of 10-15% essential oils, Eau de Parfum will last all day so requires less frequent application and often explains the increase in price. After the initial top notes fade, the middle notes (a.k.a. heart notes) appear – as with the women’s Paco Rabanne Lady Million Lucky and the men’s Versace Eros Flame.

The Allure of Pure Perfume:

Perfume, the word that typically covers all fragrances, actually originates from the Latin phrase ‘per fumum’ – meaning ‘through smoke’. Perfume (or Parfum) is the most elite and purest concentration you can buy with up to 40% essential oil concentration and often no water base. Even though the industry average is often around 25% essential oils, the scent lasts up to 24 hours which allows time for the top, middle and base notes to develop. Perfume is designed to be worn on any part of the body, but it’s suggested that you spray on your wrists, behind ears, throat and chest where the skin is warmest and will heighten the fragrance.

Knowing your colognes from your perfumes will help you make a better shopping decision if you’re looking for something to wear that’s a little lighter and won’t stick in those hot summer days, or something you want to linger a touch longer while you’re out and socialising all night long. View our full range of on-board fragrances here.

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