What’s The Difference Between Eau de Toilette and Cologne? (2023)

Discover the science of scent, and how to apply your signature scent correctly.

By Ali Zagat

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Out of the five senses, one has the most power to create (and invoke) the strongest memories and emotional associations: scent.

So it’s safe to say you’re probably already making an olfactory impression whether you realize it or not. Why not make it a positive one? Whether you’re dressing to impress on a job interview or a first date (or your wedding, anniversary, etc.), there’s a scent out there that will help you feel more confident, less stressed, and help people see you in a more favorable …odor.

So how do you choose (and wear) a signature scent without veering into stifling, cheap-smelling body spray territory? Before we can answer that, let’s explore what your options are and how they’re different.

(Video) Eau de Toilette vs Eau de Parfum

Most men are aware of fragrances known as cologne, but there’s an entire spectrum of scent you should be aware of – from “parfum” to “eau fraiche” – that exist on either side of regular ol’ cologne, and the names can be intimidating.

What’s The Difference Between Eau de Toilette and Cologne? (1)

While the documented history of engineered fragrances extends more than 3000 years BCE, most of the contemporary language is in French – difficult to understand and carries a whiff (get it?) of pretension. But it may just be that cologne specifically isn’t the best option for you.

It’s time to learn your fragrances, how to choose one, and how to apply it.

The Secret To Every Fragrance: Dilution

All fragrances (whether a combination of essential oils, synthetic ingredients, or both) are diluted to some extent – with alcohol and/or water. The fragrance base, also known as the perfume’s essence, would be too strong to wear and most likely unpleasant to smell.

Dilution softens the scent, as well as the price. The most costly perfume ingredients (like oudh, a fragrant resin) can go for more than $5,000 a pound. Hence, dilution.

How does this help you decipher the difference between Eau de Toilette and Cologne? Simple: how diluted is the fragrance?

(Video) What Are Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne, and Eau de Parfum? (Basic #5)

Fragrance 101

Scent is classified by its concentration:

Perfume (or parfum if you’re feeling fancy) is the strongest, and typically lasts the longest on the skin (up to or even more than 24 hours). It’s about 20-30% perfume essence.

Eau de parfum is a little less concentrated: 15-20% perfume essence, it’ll probably last you about 5-8 hours, depending on ingredients and how much you apply.

Eau de toilette is diluted enough to be sold in spray bottles: 5-15% perfume essence. That means it’s light enough to be sprayed more generously. Also, due to the higher diluting alcohol content, it will not be very long-lasting, maybe 3 hours. So it’s good for daily use, and even if you accidentally douse yourself it’ll wear off quickly.

Cologne, or eau de Cologne, is even lighter. (Fun fact: it was named for the city of Cologne, in Germany, where a particular scent was first made.) This category of scents are fresh, sometimes fruity, and often contain citrus oils such as lemon, orange, and neroli (bitter orange blossom). Containing approximately 2-4% perfume essence, colognes typically last around 2 hours.

Eau fraiche (fresh) water contains the least amount of perfume essence, 1-3%. Accordingly, it lasts the shortest amount of time – an hour, maybe less.

What’s The Difference Between Eau de Toilette and Cologne? (2)Picking a Scent

Picking a scent is truly a process of experimentation and discovering your personal preferences – there’s no shortcut for going to a physical retail location and smelling colognes until you find something that speaks to you – but that’s only the first step. There’s a few guidelines that can help in selecting your first scent if you’ve never done that before.

(Video) How & Where to Apply Fragrance

First, the more concentrated the scent, the more sparing you want to be with it. Think hugging/handshake distance, not three blocks away. And if you’re new to using scent (other than maybe a Fresh PineTM scented deodorant), ease your way into it with one of the less concentrated options – eau de toilette and cologne both tend to be on the lighter side.

Fragrance strength also depends on the ingredient, so look for fresh, aquatic, and citrusy notes if you’re just dipping your toe into scented waters. Notes of wood, leather, tobacco, and musk tend to be heavier. One way to think about different scent notes: is it something you’d wear in the summer? Is it refreshing, crisp, not too intense?

Don’t Douse; Spritz

So you’ve picked out a fresh new scent and you’re ready to take your first trial run. Before you drench yourself head to toe, try a few strategic sprays. Sparingly at first – your body heat will amplify the scent’s presence. You can always start with a small amount and re-apply later.

Perfume Mythbusting

As you get more into cologne, you’ll probably hear two of the more persistent perfume myths:

Myth #1: Don’t rub your wrists together – you’ll break down the scent molecules.

It takes a lot more than mild friction to destroy molecular bonds. So unless you’re the Incredible Hulk, you won’t be denaturing any perfume molecules between your wrists. You can, however, create heat that speeds the evaporation process, which means the more volatile top notes (more on those in a sec) might burn off faster.

Myth #2: Apply scent to your pulse points, where your blood vessels are closer to the surface; skin here is warmer than the rest of the body, which will help scents mature into their full expression.

(Video) Differences between Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum, Cologne and Aftershave?

The temperature at your pulse points might feel warmer than other areas of your body but it turns out that’s not actually the case.

Traditionally, fragrance has been applied to the pulse points – inside of the wrists, at the back of the neck behind the ears – because perfumes only came in bottles with stoppers, and were applied with a quick swipe to the wrist. In other words – it was a convenience thing, not science.

Also, the wrist and the neck are typically where your skin isn’t covered by clothing. That makes it easier for you (and others) to enjoy a hint of scent. On that note: it’s probably best not to spray your clothing, unless you know that the fabric won’t stain. The true advantage of applying to your wrists? It’s easy to wash off anything you don’t like.

What’s The Difference Between Eau de Toilette and Cologne? (3)Fragrances Change Over Time

After application, a scent will change over time depending on the combination of its “notes,” or ingredients. There are three main categories of notes, and each change at different times:

Top notes form your initial impression of the scent. Also known as “head” notes, these fragrances are the lightest and evaporate the fastest. Popular top notes include citrus (lemon, orange, bergamot, grapefruit), herbal (sage, lavender), and light fruits (berries).

Middle, or “heart” notes, are longer lasting and appear as the top notes fade. Middle notes are often well-rounded florals (geranium, ylang ylang, rose), or spices (coriander, cardamom, nutmeg). This layer of scent helps balance the top notes with the final category: base notes.

Base notes are the densest, most intense notes that help anchor the blend. They make their presence known at the end of the drydown phrase, which is where you’ll start to notice woods (cedar, sandalwood), musks, and rich resinous scents (amber, patchouli).

(Video) Bleu De Chanel Parfum vs Eau de Parfum vs Eau De Toilette | Which Fragrance Is The Best?

Do You And Your Scent Have Chemistry?

So now you know that scents morph as they dry. A scent may also smell completely different on two different people. Some of this has to do with how dry your skin is – if your skin is parched, it may “eat” fragrance. The solution is to apply a good (preferably fragrance-free) moisturizer before you apply your chosen scent. Give it a few minutes to sink in, then spritz away.

No matter what type of scent you choose, it’s always a good idea to test it out before you commit to buying it. Spray a bit on your wrist and observe how it changes over the course of the next few hours, even the next day. And don’t be afraid to experiment. Find what smells right to you. After all, the nose knows.

What is your signature scent? Share it in the comments below!


What is better cologne or eau de toilette? ›

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.

What is the difference between eau de cologne and eau de toilette? ›

The classification is as follows: an eau de cologne generally contains 4 to 6% of concentrate; they are the lightest waters. An eau de toilette contains between 7 and 10% of concentrate. And an eau de parfum contains 10 to 20%.

Which Cologne is stronger toilette or parfum? ›

The distinction lies in the concentration of perfume oil. There tends to be 8% – 12% perfume oil in eau de toilette. In contrast, you'll find eau de parfum has a higher concentration of 12% – 18%. So, as a general rule of thumb, eau de parfum will always contain more perfume oil than eau de toilette.

Which is better toilette or perfume? ›

"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."

Do men use perfume or toilette? ›

Eau de toilette can be used by both men and women. The perfume industry often markets cologne as men's fragrance and perfume as women's fragrance. However, there are options for both genders across the pe rfume categories and vary mainly by the amount of perfume oil as well as the notes and ingredients.

Which last longer perfume or toilette or cologne? ›

Perfume has the highest concentration of oil. It is the most potent oil concentration, usually 20% oil concentration appears in a single bottle and usually lasts 6-8 hours with ease! Cologne however contains 2-4% concentration, therefore, only lasting roughly 2 hours. So that answer in short terms is, perfume.

Why do colognes say 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.

What cologne lasts the longest? ›

Top 20 Long Lasting Perfumes for Men
  • Creed Aventus. Created by Jean-Christophe Herault and Erwin Creed in 2010 is Creed's well-known Chrypre Fruity Perfume. ...
  • 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.
Sep 16, 2022

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.

Which is the best perfume for men? ›

  • Fogg Long-Lasting Fresh & Soothing Fragrance Xtremo Scent For Men, Eau De Parfum, 100ml. ...
  • Fogg Long-Lasting Fresh & Soothing Fragrance Impressio Scent For Men, Eau De Parfum, 100ml. ...
  • Fogg Marco Perfume Body Spray, Long Lasting No Gas Deodorant for Men, 150ml.

How do you make cologne last longer? ›

10 Cologne Hacks for Men – How to Make Fragrances Last Longer
  1. Check the Concentration Level.
  2. Apply Right After You Shower.
  3. Moisturize Your Skin.
  4. Harmonize Cologne with Other Scents.
  5. Apply On Pulse Points.
  6. Don't Rub Your Skin.
  7. Discreetly Reapply When Necessary.
  8. Line Your Clothes Drawer with Cologne.
Aug 27, 2020

How many sprays of eau de toilette? ›

Choose the right amount of sprays

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.

Why is eau de toilette cheap? ›

Did you know that the term eau de toilette came from the French term “faire sa toilette” which means getting ready? With a much lower fragrance concentration (about 2% to 4%) and a high alcohol content, the eau the cologne is considerably cheaper than those above. It generally lasts for up to two 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.

Is eau de toilette good for daily use? ›

Eau De Toilette fragrances are often favoured for everyday wear, whether you're in the office, at home or out running errands. EDT is the perfect choice for spritzing before you walk out the door for the day, although its lighter scent may fade slightly over time.

Is eau de toilette for the skin or clothes? ›

What is eau de toilette? 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. However, due to its low concentration (it contains 3 to 20% of concentrate in an 80° vol.

Should men wear cologne? ›

Cologne can both make you feel more hygienic and help you be more healthy. When you're wearing cologne, you won't be self-conscious about body odor leaving a negative impression. What's more, fragrances can have a positive effect on your health by: Easing stress, anxiety, or depression.

What smells more parfum or toilette? ›

"Often, the Eau de toilette is both lighter and fresher, while the Eau de parfum is richer and more lasting. For daytime or office wear, the Eau de toilette may be more comfortable and appropriate, while the Eau de parfum offers more depth, which can be nice for the evening," she says.

How long does eau de toilette stay on for? ›

An Eau de Toilette perfumes typically lasts up to 6 hours and around 10 hours on clothes, as usual perfume longevity may be affected by other factors as mentioned here.

Does cologne expire? ›

Yes, perfume and cologne do go bad. However, how long they last depends on the scent's chemical composition. Many perfumes, especially from well-respected brand names like Chanel or Marc Jacobs, don't have a hard-and-fast expiration date.

How many years does eau de toilette last? ›

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.

Why is it called toilette? ›

The Middle French word 'toile' ("cloth") had a diminutive form: 'toilette', or "small piece of cloth." This word became 'toilet' in English, and referred to a cloth put over the shoulders while dressing the hair or shaving.

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's the strongest cologne? ›

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.

How much cologne should a man put on? ›

Though it largely depends on how strong you want the scent to be, you're best off using 3-4 sprays per application. Of course, this isn't a strict number, but a higher concentration can be overwhelming and cause skin irritation, while a lower concentration will fade quickly.

Do you rub in cologne? ›

Finally, after you apply the cologne, pat it on your skin but do not rub it in. This is not a lotion meant to be absorbed — it is an oil meant to sit on top of your skin and mix with your natural oils. Rubbing it in can cause it to be absorbed by your skin faster, and it can even distort the scent.

How do you use eau de toilette for men? ›

Hold the spray nozzle 3-6 inches from your skin while applying. Start light. If you're new to wearing fragrances, start with one single spray on your chest. As you become more comfortable and knowledgeable about how to wear cologne properly, you can branch out to a few more sprays in different areas…

What is the #1 men's cologne? ›

1. Blu Atlas Atlantis. At the top of our list of the best smelling colognes for men is this Bali-inspired eau de parfum from Blu Atlas. Made for the bold, adventurous man, Atlantis has a fresh and clean yet complex fragrance profile, and stays on the skin all day long.

Which perfume is best to attract ladies? ›

Read on for the top scents that will attract women like flies to honey.
  • Vanilla. Vanilla is an extremely popular scent in men's cologne, and for good reason. ...
  • Peppermint. ...
  • Sandalwood. ...
  • Pastries and Coffee. ...
  • Lavender. ...
  • Cinnamon.
May 4, 2020

Where should a man apply cologne? ›

Where should I spray cologne? "The best areas to spray would be on one's neck, the crease of your arm (inner elbow) and wrist. Here, the cologne benefits from body heat which will warm through the fragrance.

Does putting cologne in the fridge make it better? ›

Yes, absolutely! Storing your perfume in the fridge is the best way to help it stay fresh, especially during the hot summer months. Sunlight, heat from radiators and changes in temperature can all destroy perfume over time, but when stored in the cool, dark fridge it can last for years.

Why can't I smell my cologne? ›

When we wear a fragrance regularly, the brain associates it with our own body odor. The fact that we no longer smell our perfume is part of a physiological process of olfaction. With our own scent, the stimulation of our olfactory sensors is permanent.

Is 1 spray of cologne enough? ›

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it will vary depending on the person and the scent. However, it is generally advised not to apply more than three or four sprays, as excessive perfume use can be overwhelming and irritating.

Should I spray perfume on clothes or skin? ›

Don't cover it up with your clothing,” he says, and instead target areas exposed to the air: the pulse points of the neck and the wrists or inner elbows, if you're wearing a sleeveless blouse. The only exception, however, is if you're in an intensely hot climate—then it's best to not apply scent directly to your body.

Should guys wear cologne? ›

Cologne can both make you feel more hygienic and help you be more healthy. When you're wearing cologne, you won't be self-conscious about body odor leaving a negative impression. What's more, fragrances can have a positive effect on your health by: Easing stress, anxiety, or depression.

Which cologne last the longest? ›

Top 20 Long Lasting Perfumes for Men
  • Creed Aventus. Created by Jean-Christophe Herault and Erwin Creed in 2010 is Creed's well-known Chrypre Fruity Perfume. ...
  • 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.
Sep 16, 2022

What lasts longer eau de toilette or? ›

Eau de Parfum lasts longer in comparison to Eau de Toilette. This is because Eau de Parfum has a higher concentration of perfume oil. This is the most significant difference between these two fragrance types. The higher the concentration, the longer it lasts.


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