The Ultimate Guide to Perfume or Fragrance Categories

Perfume Categories 

Perfumes without going into the chemistry is essentially a blend of fragrant oils, aroma compounds (alcohol) and fixatives to produce a pleasant and soothing scent for humans and other living objects. Perfume shopping can sometimes be overwhelming with all of the scent options available in the market. Fragrance concentration – the amount of oil extract vs alcohol which determines how strong or mild the smell of the product is, is the determinant of what category the perfume belongs. Perfumes with a higher fragrance concentration contain more oil extract and less alcohol. Fragrance concentrations are which are often written on or underneath the perfume bottle can be broken into categories including parfum, eau de parum, eau de toilette, eau de cologne and eau fraiche in accordance to fragrance oil extract concentration.


Parfum, also known as pure perfume or extrait de parfum  in French, has the highest concentration of fragrance oils. Parfum will normally contain from 15% to 40% fragrance. In real life, most parfums’ concentration ranges between 20% to 30%. This oil concentration makes parfums to be the king of all scents because they last the longest; usually 6 to 8 hours. With that said, one would expect parfum to be the costliest of all fragrance types due to the high concentration of fragrance oils which is true in reality. Also people with sensitive skin are recommended parfums as oppose to the other categories becuase parfums have far less alcohol comparatively and therefore are less likely to dry out their skin.

Eau de Parfum

Eau de parfum has the next highest concentration of fragrance oils after parfum. Fragrance concentration in eau de parfum is between 15% and 20% which generally last for 4 to 5 hours on average. Eau de parfum is also generally less expensive that parfum and works better with sensitive skin becuase of a higher concentration of alcohol  compared to the other fragrance categories. Eau de parfum is one of the most common fragrance categories mostly bought for everyday use.

Eau de Toilette

Eau de toilette (EDT) or toilet water is a lightly scented and has a fragrance concentration of between 5% and 15% and will normally last for 2 to 3 hours. The term eau de toilette came from the French term “faire sa toilette” which means getting ready. Eau de toilette is weaker than Eau de Parfum and stronger than Eau de Cologne. It is cheaper than eau de parfum and is one of the most popular types of fragrance available in the market. Eau de toilette is considered by some (including the author of this post) to be for day wear ( part of office, business, meeting… attire) while parfum/eau de parfum is considered nightwear (nightlife, party, outdoors… component).

Eau de Cologne

Eau de cologne  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 2 hours. EDC generally comes in bigger bottles and more of the fragrance needs to be used. Traditionally eau de cologne referred to a recipe that used herb and citrus notes with little blending with base notes.

Eau Fraiche

Eau fraiche is some worth similar to eau de cologne in that the scent will last for up to 2 hours. Eau fraiche generally has an even lower concentration of fragrance than eau de cologne, ranging from only 1% to 3%. While eau fraiche has a low fragrance concentration, it does not contain a high amount of alcohol as well. Along with the fragrance, the remainder of eau fraich is mostly water.

Worthy of note is that there exist several types of fragrance scents that should not be confused with the perfume category. A follow up post will be made on the different types of perfumes out there and a guide on their seasonal use and products placement. Also beside these perfume categories listed above, there are body mists, aftershaves, and other types of fragrances available. Higher end designer fragrances can cost a significant amount of money so doing research beforehand and knowing where to shop will ensure that you get the type of fragrance you are looking for. With all of the types and scents available, shopping for perfume is not always easy but it is possible especially with these available high-end designer samples

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