Cologne Vs Perfume: Key Differences And Which Is Better?

Written By: Ahmed Farah
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A perfume is defined as any aromatic substance used to make people, animals, or objects smell pleasant, while colognes are a type of perfume, with an oil concentration level between 2% to 4%.

After 6 years of professional experience in the fragrance industry, customers often ask me the difference between a bottle of cologne and perfume.

The term ‘cologne’ has often been misused among the media and even perfume retailers, which has created a lot of confusion among perfume buyers.

But in this article, I will clear up any confusion, and explain the difference between colognes and perfumes, as well as what to look out for on your next perfume-shopping trip.

Perfume Vs Cologne

A perfume is any substance that gives people a distinctive and pleasurable scent. Perfumes are commonly known and are pretty easy to explain. But to understand what a Cologne is, we must first understand something known as ‘Concentration Level’.

In our previous article, we learned that the makeup of perfumes can be simplified into two main ingredients, a mixture of fragrant oils, and a solvent such as alcohol. The fragrance oils give the perfume its unique scent and carries the identity of the bottle. While the solvent allows the oil through the air, making it possible to smell.

Now, how much of the mixture is made up of fragrant oils compared to the solvent, determines the Perfume Oil Concentration of the fragrance.

To learn more about Perfume oil concentrations, check out our previous article here!

What Is A Cologne

Now, how does that tie in with colognes? Well, Eau de colognes (Colognes) is the term used to describe perfumes with a low concentration of perfume oils, between 2 to 4%.

Colognes were first invented in the 18th century by Italian perfumer Giovanni Maria Farina in the German city of Cologne, hence the name.

In the United States and Canada, Cologne is used as an umbrella term to describe any masculine-scented perfume, which has caused a ton of confusion among many.  But despite its popularity, this use of the term is actually incorrect.

Instead, perfumes that are scented towards men will be labeled ‘for him’ or ‘pour Homme’ for French. It is also important to remember that most fragrances are made uni-sex, with no specific gender in mind.

Instead, Colognes are quite simply a type of perfume, with a perfume concentration level between 2% and 4%. Meaning Colognes cannot be compared to Perfumes, since Colognes Are Perfumes!

Other Perfume Levels

So what are some of the other perfume contraction levels, otherwise known as fragrance levels?

Eau Fraîche

The Most lightly scented of any fragrance, with a concentration between 1% to 3%. This perfume is diluted with water in its mixture and lasts less than 1 hour.

Eau De Cologne

Otherwise known as cologne, has a concentration level of 2% to 5%. Colognes typically possess fresh and citrusy scents and will last for around 2 hours.

Eau De Toilette

The most popular of all perfumes levels, typically worn during the summer and daytime. Eau De Toilettes have a concentration level between 5 and 15% and last around 3 to 5%.

Popular Eau de Toilettes include the Bleu de Chanel and many of the Versace colognes.

Eau De Parfum

Another very popular level is the EDP, which has a concentration of 15 to 20%, typically lasting for 5 to 8 hours. These fragrances are often used during the winter.

Creed Aventus and most of the Tom Ford releases are some popular examples of Eau de Parfums in the market.


Parfum has the highest concentration of perfume oils and is also the most expensive. Parfums have a concentration of over 20%, and even the slightest of applications can last for up to 24 hours! These fragrances are there used during the nighttime and winter periods. In designer releases, Parfums have today become quite rare, but for more niche or Arabian products, parfums are still very much thriving.

To learn more about all of the different perfume levels and categories, read our beginner-friendly guide here!

Men Can Wear Perfumes

Men can indeed wear perfumes, since most perfumes are not at all gendered, and can be applied by anyone. Most perfumes are indeed uni-sex, whereas some may be intended for just women. Many of the fragrances that target women will be labeled ‘for her or ‘pour elle’ on the cover.

Alternatively, fragrances intended for men will be labeled, ‘for him’ or ‘pour homme’.

But since many fragrances can be applied by both ladies and gents, try your best to be open-minded and experimental when shopping and testing for fragrances, since perfumes that may not be your typical go-to, may give you your greatest-ever scent.

For example, Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille and the Lattafa Khamrah are just a few examples of uni-sex fragrances that have become extremely popular to guys in the last few years.


To conclude, perfumes refer to any scented substance used to make people smell good, while colognes are a type of perfume with a 2 to 5% perfume concentration. 

In some parts of the world, colognes are used to refer to more masculine fragrances, and although this use of this term is widespread, it is incorrect.

Instead, to find perfumes that are designed to be applied by men, try to look for ‘for him’ or ‘pour Homme’ on the labeling. Alternatively, don’t be shy to try more uni-sex scents, since many of my most used fragrances are used by guys and girls.

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About The Author

A cologne lover and reviewer, Ahmed has reviewed over 45 colognes on the site. Finding the best perfumes and colognes for our audience, review and ranking them as well as looking at all types of data, from price, longevity, silage to uniqueness.

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