Shopping for new perfume can be overwhelming with all of the scents available. Not only are there countless scents available, there are also different fragrance concentrations. Underneath the name of the perfume on a bottle will normally be the fragrance concentration. A fragrance concentration refers to the strength that a fragrance has. Perfumes with a higher fragrance concentration contain more perfume oils and less alcohol. Fragrance concentrations are broken into categories including Extrait de Parfum, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne, and Eau Fraiche.
Perfume types reflect the concentration of aromatic compounds in a solvent, which in fine fragrance is typically ethanol or a mix of water and ethanol. Various sources differ considerably in the definitions of perfume types. The intensity and longevity of a perfume is based on the concentration, intensity and longevity of the aromatic compounds, or perfume oils, used. As the percentage of aromatic compounds increases, so does the intensity and longevity of the scent. Specific terms are used to describe a fragrance’s approximate concentration by the percent of perfume oil in the volume of the final product. The most widespread terms are:
Extrait de Parfum (20-40%)
Extrait de Parfum (pure perfume, perfume, parfum, parfum extrait or simply extract) is the most concentrated and most expesnive form of perfumes and is usually up to 40% of oil concentration. But it is not only about the concentration. Extraits contain more precious and rare natural ingredients, their formulas can also be more complex.
Creating perfumes from the most expensive floral essences, usually in the initial form of absolutes or concretes, makes extraits one of a kind perfumes. Since each formulation is so unique and contains only natural botanical ingredients, it is no wonder that artisan niche perfumes are more expensive but having them in the most concentrated form allows you to use less. That is why almost all extraits are sold in dab bottles not to lose precious drops while spraying. In fact it is even more convenient to dab your perfume only where you need it. It stays more intimate and you can control the amount you need much better.
Eau de Parfum (15-20%)
After parfum, eau de parfum (EDP) has the next highest concentration of fragrance. Eau de parfum generally has a fragrance concentration of between 15% and 20%. On average, eau de parfum will last for four to five hours. It is also generally less expensive that parfum and while it does have a higher concentration of alcohol than parfum, it is better for sensitive skin than other fragrance types. Eau de parfum is one of the most common fragrance types and is suitable for everyday wear.
Eau de Toilette (7-15%)
Eau de toilette (EDT) has a fragrance concentration of between 5% and 15%. It is cheaper than eau de parfum and is one of the most popular types of fragrance available. EDT fragrance will normally last for two to three hours. Eau de toilette is considered by some to be for daywear while eau de parfum is considered nightwear. The term eau de toilette came from the French term “faire sa toilette” which means getting ready.
Eau de Cologne (3-7%)
Eau de cologne, or EDC, has a much lower concentration of fragrance than the above types of perfume. EDC generally has a 2% to 4% percent concentration of fragrance and a high concentration of alcohol. It is cheaper than other types of fragrance however the scent generally only lasts for up to two hours. EDC generally comes in bigger bottles and more of the fragrance needs to be used. Originally eau de cologne referred to a traditional recipe that used herb and citrus notes with little anchoring with base notes.
Eau Fraiche (1-3%)
Eau fraiche is similar to eau de cologne in that the scent will generally last for up to two hours. Eau fraiche has an even lower concentration of fragrance than eau de cologne, normally only 1% to 3%. While eau fraiche has a low fragrance concentration, it does not contain a high amount of alcohol. Along with the fragrance, the remainder of eau fraiche is mostly water.
Along with the types of perfume listed above, there are mists, aftershaves, and other types of fragrances available. Higher end fragrances can cost a significant amount of money so doing research beforehand will ensure that you get the type of fragrance you are looking for. Along with fragrance types there are also fragrance notes which determine the final scent. With all of the types and scents available, shopping for perfume is not always easy but it is possible.
Sources: Fragrances of the World, The Fragrance Foundation, Luca Turin, The Secret of Scent, Richard Stamelman, Perfume – Joy, Obsession, Scandal, Sin.