Like it or not, fragrance is vividly evocative.
The area within the brain that controls memories, emotions, and scent are all intertwined, meaning that there is, without a doubt, an uncontrollable connection between your most powerful memories and fragrance. So, in a sense, selecting a perfume is not just choosing a scent, you're also choosing how people will remember you.
That said, fragrance is undoubtedly one of the most personal beauty products you can purchase, and there's a lot to unravel with each bottle: type, price, top notes, bottom notes (what?), not to mention how it mixes with your own unique body chemistry. But there's one element you can be sure of, and that's understanding the difference between the fragrance world's two foundational categories: eau de toilette and eau de parfum.
With a sea of options and scents, here's everything you need to know to choose what's right for you.
13 New Fragrances That Smell Like Spring
Eau de Toilette vs. Eau de Parfum: The Lowdown
Turns out, the key difference between the two types isn't so nuanced after all; in fact, it's wildly straightforward and scientific.
"An eau de parfum has a higher concentration of fragrance oil than an eau de toilette," explains Laura Slatkin, Founder of NEST New York. "In the fragrance world, the order of highest to lowest concentration is pure perfume, which tends to be solid: eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne."
Generally, an eau de parfum is composed of 15% to 20% perfume oil, while an eau de toilette scales a little lower, ranging from 10% to 15%, according to Bee Shapiro, founder of the NYC-based clean fragrance line, Ellis Brooklyn.
Precise compositions will vary between brands, but it's a safe bet to think of an eau de toilette as "lighter and fresher," says Eduardo Valadez, director of marketing at French perfumery Diptyque, while a parfum tends to be "more dense and richer" due to its higher concentration.
Do Eau de Parfums and Eau de Toilettes Smell The Same?
If both types of fragrance are made with the same notes, then yes, they would smell similar, but not exactly the same. For example, a spritz of lavender eau de parfum would release a higher concentration of fragrance than an eau de toilette, and as the level of fragrance oil is increased, "certain notes can develop on the skin to be richer, sharper or sweeter," depending on the chemical makeup of the scent, explains Valadez.
Different concentration levels of the same fragrance can be extremely subtle, which is all part of the fun, according to Shapiro, as it "allows different notes or ingredients to breathe," creating a singular experience for the wearer.
For Diptyque fragrances, a fragrance is often gently tweaked between the two types in order to produce a slightly different dimension. "In the Do Son eau de toilette, you have tuberose, jasmine and orange blossom," Valadez shares. "While in the eau de parfum, you have an overdose of tuberose, which brings a new, heightened sensation to the scent."
The bottom line: consider the same scent in the two different forms to be cousins, not sisters, within the fragrance family — there will be hints of similarities, but each will definitely be unique.
Does an Eau de Toilette or Eau de Parfum Ever Expire?
"Depending on the quality of ingredients and where it's stored, most perfumes have a shelf life of at least three to five years," explains Slatkin, but it really comes down to each scent's architecture.
An eau de toilette tends to age a little slower, thanks to the higher concentration of alcohol in the formulation, which acts as a protective preservative. On the flip side, clean and alcohol-free fragrances will lose intensity the fastest.
To maximize the shelf life of either an eau de parfum or an eau de toilette, Slatkin recommends keeping it in a cool, dry, and dark location.
Beware of excessive light, variations in temperature (especially heat), and exposure to oxygen, as they will accelerate any fragrance's deterioration. And if the perfume's color shifts to a darker hue, or the scent becomes a little sour or musty, it's time to retire.
The hard, sad truth: although your perfume bottle may look chic and trés Instagrammable on your sun-lit vanity, it's probably not the wisest choice.
Do Eau de Parfums Last Longer Than Eau de Toilettes?
For the most part, eau de parfums should last longer, says Shapiro, who also warns that different notes carry different patterns of longevity. "You can't compare, let's say, a fruity, very fresh eau de parfum with a very woody eau de toilette," she explains. "Fruity and fresh notes tend to be top notes and evaporate faster, even at higher concentrations."
But maybe the coolest whimsy of all types of perfumes is that each wearer's experience of a fragrance is different, depending upon how the formulation reacts with their skin's specific oils. In other words, don't blindly buy the perfume that smells divine on your best friend, because it might smell less than savory on you.
Fragrance adheres to oils, says Shapiro, and those with drier skin may need to wear a higher concentration of fragrance in order to have an impact.
Above all, you must obey the golden rule of scent, according to Valadez, who steadfastly proclaims: "Never judge a fragrance until you try it on your own skin."
Is An Eau de Toilette “Cheaper” Than An Eau de Parfum?
Looking at price points between the two, it's easy to judge an eau de toilette as a cheaper, and therefore less sophisticated product, but cost doesn't tell the whole story.
"Eau de toilette is less expensive because they have a lower concentration of fine fragrance oil," says Slatkin. "Not because the ingredients are different."
The intensity of the fragrance you want to wear is entirely up to you, and you should wear "what you connect with and what smells good on you, regardless of concentration," says Valadez.
Think of an eau de toilette and eau de parfum as two types of perfume options that are available to you depending on what you're looking for, not a stark either/or situation, and definitely not a representation of who you are as a person. After all, people aren't going to be looking at the bottle while you're out and about.
VIDEO: What Makes a Fragrance Clean?
How Do I Choose Between an Eau de Toilette and an Eau de Parfum?
The simplest way to choose one over the other is to ask yourself how strong you want your fragrance to be. An eau de parfum's higher concentration of fragrance makes for a longer lasting, more aromatic scent, while an eau de parfum is more "like a body splash to be applied more liberally" than a parfum.
"Some may choose to start with an eau de toilette and eventually transition to eau de parfum, but that shouldn't be the rule," says Slatkin.
She recommends trusting your nose's own instincts to see what scents and notes you naturally gravitate towards before committing to a specific type.
And above all, shake off the seriousness! "Don't be afraid to explore all available fragrance variations of a scent you enjoy," says Valadez. "You may find a new scent you may not have known you liked. Have fun with fragrance, you may be surprised!"
How Do I Wear an Eau de Toilette or an Eau de Parfum?
We've all experienced the coworker or fellow subway-rider with a scent so overpowering, it's nearly impossible to focus on just about anything else. To avoid being that person, a little awareness about a scent's wearability goes a long way.
In hot, sticky, summer months, Shaprio usually reaches for an eau de toilette because "there's something fresh and light and easy to wear about a lighter concentration."
Rich, full bodied eau de parfums pair nicely with evening activities and colder climes, as scent dissipates faster in dry air, so you'll need a higher fragrance concentration for the same scent payoff.
For a daytime wear of either fragrance, spray the scent directly onto pulse points — neck or wrist — and to amp it up for the evening, add an air-spritz and walk through it, or loosely spray the perfume once or twice into long hair for an easy, wafting scent with movement.
Wearing a fragrance is a fine art and a balancing act, but it adds a whole other level of playful self-expression without ever saying a word.
Fragrances We Love
Eau de Toilette
Gucci Flora Emerald Gardenia
Inspired by an early summer's morning, this scent's mix of pear, lemon, and watermelon notes along with gardenia, frangipani, and lotus will easily whisk you away.
To shop: $115; sephora.com.
Miu Miu L'Eau Rosée Eau de Toilette
This delicate floral fragrance offers you hints of lily of the valley and blackcurrant wrapped in musk.
To shop: $107 (on sale for $40); saksoff5th.com.
Maison Margiela 'Replica' Beach Walk
Notes of bergamot, lemon, heliotrope, coconut milk, and musk will remind you of a warm summer's day.
To shop: $144; sephora.com.
Eau de Parfum
Chloé Eau de Parfum
Let the hints of peony, lychee, and springtime freesia remind you of your free, flirtatious spirit.
To shop: $132; sephora.com.
NEST New York Sunkissed Hibiscus
Notes of frangipani and orange blossom will help to make you feel radiant and energized.
To shop: $28; sephora.com.
Ellis Brooklyn Salt Eau De Parfum Travel Spray
Be reminded of the divine summer heat with top notes of ylang ylang and violet leaves absolute.
To shop: $30; ellisbrooklyn.com.
Which is better eau de toilette or eau de parfum? ›
For a lighter fragrance, the eau de toilette is ideal. For a more intense and persistent perfume, the choice will be for the eau de parfum.What is the difference between parfum de toilette and eau de toilette? ›
Well, in a nutshell, the strength of the fragrance. Perfumes with a higher concentration contain more perfume oils and less alcohol, therefore links to the longevity of the scent. Generally, Eau De Toilette concentration is lower, between 8% and 12%, while an Eau de Parfum concentration is between 12% and 18%.Which one lasts longer parfum or toilette? ›
An Eau De Toilette typically contains around 8-15% fragrance oil which lasts around 4-6 hours, in comparison to an Eau De Parfum which typically contains 15-30% and can last up to 8-10 hours.What are the 3 types of perfumes? ›
The Different Perfume Categories
Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne, and the less well known Eau Fraiche.
Should I buy perfume, eau de parfum, or eau de toilette? Perfume oil is the most expensive ingredient that goes into fragrances. As a result, products containing a higher concentration will sell for a higher price. You can expect to pay the most for perfume, less for eau de parfum, and less again for eau de toilette.Why is eau de toilette cheaper than eau de parfum? ›
Answer: It's the higher concentration of fragrance extract which makes eau de parfum more expensive than eau de toilette. Question: How many types of perfume are there in the market?Does perfume expire? ›
Does Perfume Expire? The short answer is yes. How long perfume lasts depends on the chemical composition and how the perfume is stored. Many perfumes don't have a set expiry date and can last between 1-10 years.Which type of perfume lasts the longest? ›
Eau de parfum, pure parfum and extrait are highly concentrated formulas that will smell stronger and last longer. They may be more expensive, but you can end up using far less.Why is it called eau de toilette? ›
The French 'toilette' refers to the ritual of preparing yourself for the day ahead, from washing to carrying out your daily beauty rituals and spritzing on your favourite scent. Eau de Toilette simply means, water of the toilette and refers to a scented water used to perfume the body and hair.Where do you spray eau de toilette? ›
The Pulse Points
Pulse points are the areas of your body which allow for the most even distribution of scent since your skin there is warmer. For men these points are the neck, armpits, knees, wrists, and behind the ears. You don't need to spray the fragrance on all your pulse points.
Does eau de toilette expire? ›
Before opening, an Eau de Toilette can, in principle, be kept for several years in good conditions. Once opened, it can generally be kept for one to three years, but its shelf life can often be longer.What's the strongest perfume? ›
Eau de Parfum (EDP) is the strongest type of perfume we sell. Eau de Parfum contains between 10-20% of perfume oil, and is a popular choice with both perfume brands and customers. Eau de Parfum will generally last around 8 hours. Eau de Toilette (EDT) is next, containing around 5-15% of perfume oil.What is the most expensive eau de toilette? ›
1. Le Monde Sur Mesure Usd 1.8 Million. Developed by the French company Morreale, Paris, the five kilograms of the Le Monde Sur Mesure was sold for a whopping USD1. 8 million to an anonymous buyer who designed their very own fragrance encapsulated in the bottle.Why are expensive perfumes better? ›
A bigger difference is that an expensive fragrance is more likely to last longer. Most cheap perfumes can replicate a pricier version's top notes (the scent that lasts about a half hour after spraying), but without the proper essential oils to add mid-notes and base-notes, it won't be able to wear as long.How do you make eau de toilette last longer? ›
- Apply your fragrance after your shower on damp skin. ...
- Spritz directly on your pulse points. ...
- Spritz don't mist. ...
- Avoid rubbing your wrists together. ...
- Prep with a little Vaseline on your skin. ...
- Spritz on the top of your ears. ...
- Apply on your hairbrush.
Today Eau de Toilette is used as a generic reference to stronger perfumes for both men and women. Typically, you would place Eau de Toilette fragrance on your pulse points, and it should last much longer, up to 8 hours in some cases, so you don't have to continuously re-apply.Why is eau de toilette so popular? ›
Because it is more diluted, eau de toilette is less expensive and can be sprayed liberally as a day-to-day or night scent. Eau de parfum and parfum are more expensive, but the lower amount of alcohol plays well with sensitive skin and provides a long-lasting, skin-clinging scent.What smells stronger eau de parfum or toilette? ›
Basically, an eau de parfum is a stronger perfume than an eau de toilette because its concentration of oils is higher. “The only difference between an eau de parfum and an eau de toilette is the amount of 'juice' or perfume concentrate mixed with alcohol,” explains Taylor.What is the strongest mens perfume? ›
- Creed Aventus. ...
- Bleu de Chanel. ...
- Bvlgari Man in Black. ...
- Byredo Sundazed. ...
- Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille. ...
- Dior Eau Sauvage. ...
- Hugo Boss Bottled Eau de Parfum. ...
- Narciso Rodriguez Bleu Noir.
Designer's Oil Perfume 72 Hours Long Lasting Frank Oliver OUD Oil Perfume.
Which is the best perfume for men? ›
Some of the greatest brands that sell perfumes for men are Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Wild Stone, Christian Dior, Bvlgari, and many more. In general, fragrances or perfumes are divided into four types based on the concentration of the solution: Eau de Cologne, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, and Perfume.What happens if you freeze perfume? ›
Don't worry: Your perfume contains alcohol which keeps it from freezing, so it won't turn into an alcoholic ice block. Brooklyn-based brand DS & Durga went a step further and, in light of COVID-19, designed an ice cream truck of perfumes, dubbed FUMETRUCK.Is 20 year old perfume still good? ›
Most fragrance manufacturers recommend throwing away your bottle after anywhere from one to three years, but fragrance doesn't behave in the same way as food, so it can be okay to keep it for longer, most fragrance experts recommend around three to five years. Opened vs unopened?Does perfume expire if not opened? ›
Bottom line: An unopened bottle of fragrance is good for 12 to 18 months, though a light scent—such as a citrus, one with fresh green notes, or a delicate floral—will most likely begin to turn sooner.Does perfume last longer on skin or clothes? ›
Perfume will stay longer on textile than on your skin. If you want your perfume to last longer, praying some on your clothes or scarf is a good idea. But be careful: some perfumes can cause stains on your clothes, especially the more concentrated perfumes with a darker, ambery color.Does baby oil help perfume last longer? ›
Baby oil is a perfect way to get a long lasting scent. Apply the oil on your body, specifically to the places you will be spraying your perfume. That way the scent will stick to the oil instead of being absorbed into the pores of your skin.Why does eau de toilette not last? ›
There's a very simple reason. It's down to the fact our skin is drier. “The more moisture on your skin the longer your fragrance will last,” says Dom De Vetta, founder of fragrance brand Shay and Blue , so when skin is less hydrated (i.e. in the chillier months) that's when you're likely to experience fragrance fade.What is real perfume called? ›
Pure Perfume, Parfum or Extrait De Parfum
Still, pure perfume is the highest concentration of fragrance available — usually between 15 and 30 percent perfume oil — and is enough to make the scent potent, noticeable and last all day.
Eau de Toilette is a fragrance with the concentration higher than Eau de Cologne, but lower than Eau de Parfum. It usually contains 5-15 % of the perfume composition. Such fragrances last longer than Eau de Cologne and they are more intensive.Do you spray eau de toilette on clothes or skin? ›
Don't Spray on Clothes
And the scent won't last. Let perfume dry before putting on your clothes if they will cover the pulse points where you wear your fragrance.
Should perfume be applied on body or clothes? ›
Do not spray your perfume on your clothes. Bhide stresses, “In India, people mostly put their perfume on clothes. That is wrong. You are supposed to spray them directly on your skin for them to work their best.”Do you spray eau de toilette on clothes? ›
The eau de toilette is fresher and richer in top notes than the eau de parfum. This type of fragrance is fast diffusing and can be sprayed on clothes.How many times should you spray eau de toilette? ›
If you don't know how many sprays of fragrance should you do, check the perfume concentration of your fragrance. If you have some light and refreshing Eau de Cologne or Eau de Toilette, make 3-4 sprays without any worries. But if you have some intensive and heavy Eau de Parfum or Perfume, make 1-2 sprays.How often should you spray eau de toilette? ›
Reapply your perfume once throughout the day if you're wearing eau de parfum or every four hours if you're wearing eau de toilette. The most potent perfumes don't require a second spritz and can work their magic for a full 24 hours.How many years can you keep perfume? ›
How Long Can You Keep Perfumes For? Some perfumes might last a decade, while others can last less than a year. The average perfume will last three to five years. Generally, perfumes with heavier base notes will last longer than those with lighter, more delicate fruity or citrus notes.Why is eau de toilette better? ›
With an average oil concentration of around 5-12%, Eau de Toilette often offers a light, refreshing aroma that will linger on the skin for 2-4 hours. As a result, they're perfect options for your 'signature scent' as they can be worn confidently every day, for any occasion.What smells stronger perfume or toilette? ›
The perfume and toilette difference explained
Basically, an eau de parfum is a stronger perfume than an eau de toilette because its concentration of oils is higher. “The only difference between an eau de parfum and an eau de toilette is the amount of 'juice' or perfume concentrate mixed with alcohol,” explains Taylor.
Since eau de toilettes and perfume react differently on everyone's skin, it's important to test the fragrance if possible. An eau de toilette is a refreshing everyday option. Compared to perfume, its top-heavy composition makes it great for layering and wearing during summer seasons and more conservative environments.Which perfume has the strongest smell? ›
Parfum is stronger than all other perfumes. The crème de la crème of the fragrance world, Parfum usually contains around 20% concentrated oils – although they can be as high as 30%.Which is stronger toilette or cologne? ›
cologne, cologne is the weaker fragrance type. From weakest to strongest, it goes: aftershave, cologne, eau de toilette. Typically, cologne contains around 3-4% perfume oil, while an eau de toilette will contain 5-8%. Eau de parfum is up next, and parfum itself is the strongest with an average of 15-25% perfume oil.