Eau de Parfum vs Eau de Toilette vs Eau de Cologne: The Difference Explained

Nowadays, there are more and more kinds of perfume, at all prices in the shelves of our perfumeries, discreet or heady, evanescent, or persistent.

Between Eau de toilette, Eau de cologne, Eau de parfum or perfume, it is not easy to find one's way and even less to choose. To help you better understand the differences between these products, you must know their composition and their utility. Throughout this article we will also make recommendations for each category to start your fragrance journey at BeautiNow.

From Ancient Egypt to Greece and the roman empire, perfume was, is and will always be the ultimate symbol of purity and beauty. Since times immemorial, fragrances were omnipresent in temples, palaces, castles, perfumes were considered divine, exalting, addictive, a true seductive asset that rapidly took a very important place for humanity.

The district of perfumers called "unguentarii" that rhythmed the lives of Ancient Romans, represents the start of the worldwide popularization of perfumery, thanks to the global reach of the roman empire. The Romans smeared themselves with these perfumes and could even be enveloped in these essences by masseurs present in the terms. A perfume frenzy that was considered a luxurious item for the Roman nobles and the Empire more globally.

Eau de Cologne Meaning & Origin

The oldest form of modern perfume, its origin goes back to the 18th century. It was created by the Italian perfumer “Giovanni Maria Farina” who settled in Cologne, Germany. In 1708, he created an "admirable water", or Aqua mirabilis, as it was called then, waters resulting from distillation and to which one lent particular gifts. Going against the trend of that time, Farina's water was an innovation, produced using a mixture of essential oils and almost pure alcohol.

In Paris in 1806, his grandson Farina founded the Maison Jean-Marie Farina, a new kind of perfume is born, against the current of the heady perfumes of the time. Many Eau de Cologne (EDC) appeared under the name of Farina in the late 1700s. However, they had nothing in common with the original company.

Today, we use the name Eau de Cologne to define a category of perfumes. They are composed mainly of essences of citrus, neroli, lavender and rosemary, dosed at about 2 - 5%.

Eau de Cologne vs Parfum

This perfumed water was composed in its basic formulation of spirit-of-wine, water of lemon balm and spirit of rosemary, enhanced with essence of bergamot, neroli, citron and lemon.

Eau de Cologne is composed mainly of alcohol, which must be of very good quality. Its concentration is lower than the perfume, which makes it lighter. Its fragrance is so subtle that it does not stay on the skin or clothes for long (about 2 hours).

Eau de Cologne is much easier to make than a concentrated perfume and remains a very affordable product.

Eau de Toilette Meaning & Origin

The Eau de Toilette (EDT) made its appearance in the 20's and more precisely in 1924 with the Chanel N°5. This concentration has the characteristic to be subtle and light. The aromas which compose it are fresh and allow to invigorate the skin during the vaporization. The Eau de toilette is ideal for the summer, its lighter fragrance combines perfectly with the hot summer days. If at the time of its creation, it was used to mask the unpleasant body odors, it became a symbol of beauty, wellbeing and seduction.

The Eau de toilette is dominated by the top notes, which evaporate quickly and the heart notes which remain only a few hours after vaporization.

Eau de Toilette Differences

It is a solution dosed with a concentration ranging from 5 to 15% of perfume mixture on an alcohol base, there are no major differences between Eau de Cologne and Eau de Toilette.

It possesses a fresh and light trail allowing its smell to last between 3 to 4 hours.

The Eau de toilette remains less expensive than a perfume and a very good choice for the summer season. With it, we scent our clothes - instead of our skin - to leave a delicious smell on our passage. You can re-scent in the middle of the day so that the scent lingers longer.

Eau de Parfum Meaning, Origin & Composition

During the 70's, the perfume houses applied themselves to the development of new concentrations. This is how Eau de Parfum (EDP) was born to get around the new taxation applied to extracts. It rapidly gained popularity, as it was considered more prestigious than an Eau de Toilette or Cologne yet had a more accessible price point than a traditional parfum. Initially reserved for the world of women's perfumery, the concentration gained its credentials among men's fragrances.

Eau de Parfum Differences

Unlike Eau de cologne with its slightly perceptible olfactory pyramid, Eau de Parfum gives more possibilities to enjoy as many nuances as there are olfactory notes in the essence. The Eau de parfums have more powerful base notes, which remain long after the vaporization and are impregnated on clothing. A true artistic and niche perfume lover often opts for this aspect.

There’s often a misconception that an Eau de Parfum is a very heavy scent, whereas something like an Eau de Toilette or an Eau de Cologne is a much fresher scent. This isn’t strictly true. The perception of the fragrance is based on the story the perfumer is trying to tell.

The Eau de parfum will have a more carnal dimension than the Eau de toilette. In this richer interpretation, flowers, spices and fruits will be sublimated. Eau de Parfum has a dosed concentration ranging from 15 - 20% and generally lasts for 4-5 hours, though this may depend on the specific fragrance.

Extrait de Parfum Meaning, Origin and Composition

From the beginnings of modern perfumery (at the end of the 19th century) until the 1950s, this concentration was almost omnipresent. It was the initial creation of the “Maître Perfumer”. It was then preferably worn in the evening as a final touch to the beauty of the ladies.

It is the most concentrated and most expensive form of perfumes and is usually between 20 and 40% of oil concentration. Its scent is therefore more sustained and intoxicating, and a few touches are enough. It is applied to the skin by lightly tapping the finger on the pulse points at the nape, the inside of the wrists and the neckline, purists go so far as to scatter a few drops on the back of the knees so that the trail unfolds with each step. Opulent and rich, it is designed to be worn on the most special occasions. Everything is done to exalt the senses beyond the olfactory pleasure.

Perfume extracts are now experiencing a resurgence thanks to our new attraction for the exceptional and the singular.

Extrait de Parfum Differences

Perfumers are accustomed to saying that perfume extracts are generally denser in natural raw materials than other fragrances, hence why the content of the extracts of perfumes does not generally exceed 15 to 20 ml. It's dosed concentration is generally between 20 to 40% and most of the time can last a whole day.

The higher the concentration of a perfume, the more persistent its smell. Also, it is essential not to apply a perfume extract in the same quantity as an eau de toilette.

The Extrait de Parfum is usually applied with the finger and does not have a spray bottle.

By analogy between perfumery and painting, the perfume extract could be assimilated to the original work; the eau de parfum would be limited and numbered editions.


Whether it is an eau de parfum, an eau de toilette or a perfume extract, the fragrance must function as a mirror of your soul, and be in perfect harmony with your inner self.

Until the 70's, we had the choice between perfume extracts for the evening, and Eau de toilette and Eau de Cologne for the morning. Perfumery was at the time very codified. Nowadays it’s the opposite, there are a myriad of different options to choose from, and freedom to express one’s personality through the fragrance worn.

Eau de Cologne, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum and Extrait de Parfum depend on this percentage and differences that inevitably determine intensity or persistence of a fragrance.

Furthermore, each type of fragrance will be orchestrated differently. The tenacity and the trail are the proof that the perfume has been perfectly orchestrated and proves the talent of the perfumer.

For a long-lasting scent, choose a higher concentration and therefore perfume extract or Eau de parfum.

For a more discreet and lighter scent, orient your choice towards the Eau de toilette.

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