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What Do Perfume Categories Really Mean?

- Getty/Photology1971
Getty/Photology1971

We’re breaking down the EDPs and EDTs of the fragrance world.

Whether we’re talking about the difference between cologne and perfume, the difference between eau de toilette and eau de parfume, or the difference between perfume and toilette; it comes down to fragrance concentration. All those pretty little bottles that line beauty counters and Sephora shelves are really just a blend of fragrance oils and dilutants. The higher the concentration of perfume oil, the more powerful the scent. Sources differ on exact concentration ranges for each of the basic perfume categories, so we’re sharing averages to give you the best idea of where your perfume, eau de parfume, eau de toilette, eau de cologne, and toilette stand on the spectrum.

Perfume (Parfum)

20% - 40% fragrance oil

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This formula will go the distance. If you’re looking for a fragrance that will stick around from morning through evening, perfume (or parfum) is your best bet. Because it has such a high concentration of fragrance oils, it’s best for someone who is looking for a substantial scent—no subtle whiffs here.

Eau de Parfume (also referred to as EDP)

10% - 20% fragrance oil

Scour your vanity and this is likely the most common fragrance concentration you’ll find. Dab it on for a night out, but you might want to opt for a lesser concentration for daytime, particularly if you’ll be in an office environment.

Eau de Toilette (also referred to as EDT)

4% - 15% fragrance oil

A high alcohol content makes the fragrance trail of EDT quick to evaporate. Feel free to apply more liberally without being quite as concerned that you’re overdoing it.

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Eau de Cologne (also referred to as EDC)

2% - 5% fragrance oil

If you’ve been trudging around town and want to freshen up on the fly, give yourself a spritz or two of an eau de cologne. It’s one of the subtlest of fragrances, and won’t stick around for more than a few hours. Oh, and it's not just for the boys.

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