The Difference Between Perfumes, Fragrances, Eau de Toilettes and More Explained!

Written By: Ahmed Farah
Reviewed By: Lisa Basso
Updated On:

Read Our Review Guidelines

Navigating the world of fragrances can be both thrilling and overwhelming, especially for those of us who are new to it. With countless terms and phrases swirling around, it’s so easy to feel a little dizzy in the pursuit of your perfect perfume.

From eau de toilette to scents lot colognes, and everything in between, understanding the differences among these fragrance terms can be crucial. After all,l, since investing in a perfume or cologne isn’t a cheap expense, meaning selecting the right product that suits your preferences is essential.

In this simplified article, we will go through and give you a better understanding of all of these popular fragrance types, so you can make the best choice when it comes to your next bottle.

Perfumes Vs Fragrances

The first thing er need to clear up, is the common question I’ve received on the differences between fragrances and perfume.

And the short answer is, there isn’t any. Perfumes are simply a type of fragrance.

A perfume refers to a highly concentrated blend of aromatic compounds, typically featuring a higher concentration of essential oils.

On the other hand, the term “fragrance” encompasses a broader category, including various scented products like colognes, eau de toilette, and more.

Concentration Oil

Now before we get any deeper into the differences between the different fragrance categories, it’s important to note that there aren’t actually many crucial differences between them, such as manufacturing methods or allergies.

In fact, the only thing that separates these fragrance types is their concentration level.

To simplify, a typical fragrance is made up of alcohol and perfume oil. The percentage of perfume oil against the amount of alcohol is referred to as the concentration level.

For example, if a fragrance was made up of 10% perfume oil, and 90% alcohol, it would have a 10% concentration level.

It is this concentration level that separates the fragrance types we are about to discuss.

Eau de Fraîche

Eau de Fraîche, meaning “freshwater” in French, is a fragrance category with a concentration level between 1% and 3%. With a light and refreshing aroma, Eau de Fraîche is perfect for a subtle and casual fragrance experience.

Having its roots in early colognes, this type of fragrance has a fascinating history that dates back to the 18th century.


  • Ideal during hot weather.
  • Affordable price point.
  • Suitable for those who prefer a delicate scent.


  • Relatively short longevity, often needing to be reapplied throughout the day.
  • Less complexity and depth than higher-concentration fragrances.

Eau de Cologne

The term Cologne has often been used as a term around the world to describe male-marketed scents.

But actually an Eau de Cologne refers to fragrances with a concentration level between 3 – 5%.

Originating in Cologne, Germany, in the early 18th century, this classic fragrance has stood the test of time and still remains a pretty popular choice for many today.


  • Great for everyday wear, especially during hot weather.
  • Affordable price point.
  • Suitable for those who prefer a delicate scent.


  • Moderately low longevity compared to higher-concentration fragrances.
  • Scent tends to be relatively straightforward, with less depth.

Eau de Toilette

Eau de Toilette is any fragrance with a concentration level between 5% to 15% and is the most popular fragrance type in the market today.

Eau de Toilette, translated as “toilet water” in English, offers a nice step up in concentration from Eau de Cologne.

This fragrance type strikes the perfect balance between subtlety and longevity, making it a popular choice among many fragrance lovers.


  • Longer-lasting than Eau de Cologne, requiring fewer applications.
  • Suitable for both daytime and evening wear.
  • Offers the widest range of scents
  • Its popularity means its projection appeals to many


  • Will still need to be reapplied during warmer climates.
  • Some high-end Eau de Toilette can be expensive

Eau de Parfum

Now onto my favorite, and probably most used fragrance type; the Eau de parfum.

Eau de Parfum, or “perfume water,” is a more concentrated fragrance option with a higher percentage of essential oils between 15% and 20%.

The Eau de Parfum is the second most popular fragrance level in the market and offers s a more potent and long-lasting scent experience than the Eau de toilette. 

To learn more about the differences between the Eau de Toilette, and Eau de Parfum, check out this article we wrote here.


  • Longer longevity than Eau de Toilette, some lasting up to 12 hours!
  • Rich and complex scent profiles, give your scent more depth and character
  • Suitable for various occasions, from casual to formal.
  • Mainstream fragrance level, so large variety of products available.


  • Higher price point compared to Eau de Toilette and other lighter fragrances.
  • Some scents may be too strong for some, especially during the summer


The last fragrance level we need to discuss is the Parfum, the strongest level of them all!

Parfum, also known as “pure perfume” or “Extrait de parfum,” is the most concentrated form of fragrance. With the highest concentration, above 20%.

Parfum offers a really unique and luxurious experience for fragrance users, just a single spritz of this fragrance is usually enough and is really designed for those truly in love with their scent, and want every to know about it!


  • Extraordinary longevity, with one or two spritzes being enough for the day!
  • Exudes sophistication and exclusivity with its rich and powerful fragrance.
  • Perfect for those seeking a statement-making scent.


  • The most expensive choice, is due to the high concentration of essential oils.
  • Not suitable for those who prefer lighter, more discrete scents.
  • Limited availability and typically only released by niche or Arabian fragrance houses

Fragrance Notes

Another phrase or concept that we have also seen confuse people is Notes.

Now, we have written an article here on the basics of notes in perfumes, but to simplify, Notes refer to the individual scents that make up a fragrance.

Fragrances are typically composed of three sets of notes: top notes (initial impression), middle notes (heart of the fragrance), and base notes (long-lasting foundation).

And it is the harmonious blend of these three components that make the scent what it is.

Photo of author

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.

Leave a Comment