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Perfume? Eau de Parfum? Parfum de Toilette? What’s the Difference?

Perfume? Eau de Parfum? Parfum de Toilette? What’s the Difference?

The world of perfume is endlessly intriguing. Every fragrance that you see in the shops has probably taken months, if not years to develop. It’s a highly complex, not to mention a difficult process.

You’d think the confusion would end as soon as the perfume gets placed in the bottle, wouldn’t you? Well, that’s not always the case. Some perfume terminology can be baffling, and none more so than dilution classes. Below we're going to explain the difference between Eau de parfum, Eau de Toilette and perfume.

Dilution classes? What are they?

Don’t worry, this isn’t ‘class’ in the sense of going back to school. The term ‘dilution classes’ simply means the different categories that a fragrance can be placed under. These classes are determined by the potency of the perfume.

Dilution classes? What are they?

Still feeling confused? Let us break it down for you. There’s no such thing as a perfume or cologne that’s 100% pure fragrance. That would be way too powerful, and might also do unpleasant things to your skin.

Usually, perfume ingredients are blended with a solvent, which is typically ethanol or a mix of ethanol and water. These ingredients are pre-determined by an expert perfume-developer (sometimes called a ‘nose’).

In basic terms, the higher the percentage of perfume ingredients there are in the bottle (compared to the solvent), the more potent the scent. If a fragrance is more potent, it’ll not only smell more intense, but will also last longer.

Let’s take an example. Our fragrance, inspired by Colonia Intensa Oud, has a number of ingredients in it; notably oud oilbergamot and other citrus ingredients. But that’s not all that’s in it – because if it was, you’d be overpowered by the scent. Trust us, oud oil provides a knock-out punch when it’s not diluted! The solvent base helps to soften the ingredients, producing a fragrance that’s still powerful, but not unpleasantly so.

Our fragrance, inspired by Colonia Intensa Oud, has a number of ingredients in it; notably oud oil, bergamot and other citrus ingredients

What are the dilution classes?

  • Parfum / extrait. In English, this is usually called perfume, or sometimes perfume extract. This is your top-quality fragrance, with the ingredients making up around 15-40% of the total fluid content. That means it’s long-lasting, noticeable and complex.
  • Esprit de parfum. This dilution class isn’t very commonly used, but we’ll run you through it just so you know it exists. It’s slightly less potent than perfume, with around 15-30% ingredients to 70-85% solvent. It’s still excellent quality though.
  • Eau de parfum. This is the most commonly available class and is a good all-rounder. Sometimes referred to as ‘parfum de toilette’, the strength of this dilution class is typically between 10-20%. That means it’ll last well throughout the day, but won’t be quite as potent as a pure parfum.
  • Eau de toilette. Eau de toilette (also quite common) is another solid choice, and is usually a little bit more reasonably priced. Expect the ingredients to comprise roughly 5-15% of the fluid.
  • Eau de cologne. This is usually just called ‘cologne’; and this is where things often get muddled, as cologne is often used to describe any male fragrance, regardless of the strength. Traditionally, an eau de cologne is 3-8% ingredients, 97-92% solvent; so it’s meant to be a more diluted, less powerful option. This makes it a good choice for spritzing on during the day.

You’ll also encounter various other terms, like ‘mists’ or ‘sprays’. These are very weak in terms of potency and are really just for freshening up, or adding a bit of scent while you’re at work.

What are the dilution classes?

When would you use different dilution classes?

It’s good to have a range of different fragrance strengths in your collection, as you can make a choice depending on the occasion.

Generally speaking, pure perfume should be kept for special occasions. They’re expensive, and you don’t want to be spraying it on every day. Also, they’re fairly noticeable; which is great when you’re on a hot date, but not so welcome when you’re on the Tube travelling to the office. However, if you’re looking for a sultry fragrance for your wedding day, or some other big event, then this is the dilution class to go for.

Eau de parfum is excellent if you’re looking for quality, without paying a premium. They’ll usually last several hours and they are noticeable enough to create impact, without overwhelming anyone.

As you go further down the dilution classes, you end up with the fragrances that are just for casual spritzing. These are the types of fragrances you stuff in your gym bag for a post-workout scent or spray on before you go into a meeting.

Which perfume is right for you?

There are a giddying variety of fragrances available, and it’s unsurprising that some people find choosing one rather overwhelming. That’s where sample sizes definitely come in useful, giving you the chance to test them out without committing to a larger bottle. Browse Copycat Fragrances’ site to see the full range of ‘inspired-by’ high-quality fragrances, and their accompanying tester-sized samples.

Disclaimer: all products mentioned above, along with their labelling, are a guide and should not be confused with the actual fragrance brand. Any name trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective designers or makers. Please note, these perfumes and candles are not to be confused with the originals, and we have no affiliation with any companies mentioned. Our interpretations of the fragrances and candles were created through chemical analysis and personal development, and their description is solely to give the customer an idea of the nature of the scent. It is not designed to mislead or confuse the customer in any way, and does not infringe on the manufacturer's or designer's name or trademark.

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