The Difference Between Fragrance Oils, Perfume, Eau de Toilette, & Cologne

Confused about all the different types of personal fragrances on the market today? Oils, perfume, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, eau de cologne, versus eau fraiche…. Whew, how do you keep them all straight?! I’m here to help break down the differences so you understand which you should buy. It’s actually quite simple!

The main distinction is their concentration levels. The amount of oil in each fragrance helps determine the strength of its scent and how long the aroma will last on your skin. But before we get into the concentrations, let’s talk about the types of oils used:

  • Essential oils are the NATURAL* oils obtained from plants and contain their “essence” (or scent). 
  • Fragrance oils are SYNTHETIC* oils created using natural and man-made compounds to create a scent.

*It is worth noting here that “natural” does NOT always mean safer than “synthetic!” Poison Ivy is a natural substance, but is dangerous in certain concentrations on the skin. In fact, the most dangerous compounds known to scientists are “natural,” such as ricin, snake venom, and arsenic. If you’d like to learn more about natural versus synthetic compounds, The Lab Muffin and Compound Interest both provide awesome reliable information. Given my professional background in public health and master’s degree in health education, these topics are of huge interest to me, so we’ll be covering them more in the future!

However, if you’d like to know all of the ingredients in your fragrance, a 100% pure essential oil, like the ones we sell at Anuket Luxury Apothecary, is your best option. Many commercial fragrances are allowed to keep “trade secrets” to protect their formulas, and this includes some of the ingredients. 

Back to it… so what the heck is an eau de parfum or an eau de toilette? And which type of fragrance gives you the most bang for your buck?

Fragrance Concentration Guide by Anuket Luxury Oils showing percent oil concentrations and how long scent lasts on skin for essential oils, perfume, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne.                         

The Difference Between Oils, Perfume, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne, and Eau Fraiche

  • Oils (essential oils, fragrance oils, or perfume oils) are 100% concentrated oil and the most concentrated fragrance you can purchase. It typically will last 8 or more hours on the skin. Prices can vary greatly for numerous reasons such as the rarity of the plant, the difficulty obtaining the plant’s oils, or the amount of plant needed to produce each ounce of oil
  • Perfume (parfum) is approximately 20-30% essential and/or fragrance oil. Perfumes generally last 6-8 hours on the skin and are often more expensive than other options. 
  • Eau de parfum (EDP) is approximately 15-20% essential and/or fragrance oil. You can expect it to last 4-5 hours and cost less than a perfume. 
  • Eau de toilette (EDT) is approximately 5-15% essential and/or fragrance oil. They typically only last about 2-3 hours on the skin but are a more inexpensive option. 
  • Eau de cologne (EDC) is approximately 2-5% essential and/or fragrance oil. Often it will not last more than 2 hours on the skin but can also be a more inexpensive option.
  • Eau fraiche (body splashes and mists) is approximately 1-3% essential and/or fragrance oil and may not even last more than an hour or two. Because of this they are often very inexpensive. 

If only 1-30% of most fragrances are made up of oils, what makes up the rest? Typically these contain dehydrating chemicals and a small amount of water to help make the oil mixture more sprayable. The most commonly used filler is alcohol because of its volatility, meaning it enhances its spraying ability, dissolves the oil, and evaporates quickly on the skin.  

So next time you’ve got a bottle of fragrance in your shopping cart, double-check the level of oil concentration, and if it meets your needs. That bottle of EDT may seem like an economical choice, but might not be the best investment in the long run. Consider this, the lack of concentration in EDT means continuous re-application compared to a high-grade bottle of essential oil or EDP, leading to it running out quickly. 

For these reasons, Anuket offers pure unisex essential oils, such as papyrus oil and blue lotus oil, containing no alcohol or other fillers and can last all day on the skin. Meaning you’ll get more bang for your buck!

Leave us a comment below if this helped or if you have any more questions. And be sure to follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for more information and inspiration! Want first dibs on sales, new products, and the inside scoop? Join our email list here!



Anuket Owner

1 comment

  • Good information for perfumes


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