I was drawn to a man’s fragrance at a holiday party. The sweet wood sap paired with dry fruits and the vanilla notes in his perfume created a warm, opulent and iconic smell. I shared how lovely his perfume was. He was quick to correct me he was not wearing perfume but a cologne instead. I gladly pointed out that Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille he had on, was not an eau de cologne but an eau de parfum. Our conversation evolved into different types of fragrances.
Ever wonder why one scent is more dominant than another? Well, let's go back to the basics. Perfumes contain many layers of notes at different concentrations. These two factors are often reflective of the price. Prices increase gradually from the least concentrated to the most concentrated. Concentrations levels also affect the length of time the scent will last one's body.
Perfumeries assign different amounts of oils to perfumes to serve a broad range of customers. The intensity and longevity of a scent decrease with the percentage of aromatic compounds. Let’s take Tobacco Vanille, if Tom Ford were to manufacture the eau de toilette version, he would dilute the concentrations of oils in its eau de parfum. The finished product would sell at a much lower price.
Perfumes are classified into five categories:
Parfum, also called perfume extract or extrait. It is often the most expensive and has the longest lasting notes of all the scent categories. The average concentration of oils in a perfume is 25%, which makes the scent lasts over 12+ hours. If you enjoy being submerged in the universe of scents, parfums are like no others. My favorites would be Terre d'Hermes and Noble VII by Clive Christian. Elite perfumes such as No 1 Imperial Majesty will contain 100% of pure perfume oil and won't be sold in an open market.
Eau de Parfum is a diluted version of parfum, and lasts between 8 to 12 hours. The concentration of oils in eau de parfums range between 15% and 20%. Eau d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal and La Panthere de Cartier are one of my go-to on a busy day.
Eau de Toilette is the most popular with a concentration of 10%. The top notes are dominant however they evaporate quickly. Eau de toilette lasts between 5 to 10 hours. I love Eau de Soleil Blanc by Tom Ford.
Eau de Cologne birthed in Cologne, Germany as a weak concentration fragrance of a citrus nature but in recent decades it has become the generic term for a low concentrated perfume of any kind. With a 7% concentration, colognes are often subtle, masculine and affordable. An eau de cologne lasts up to 6 hours.
Eau Fraiche is similar to Eau de Cologne and has the lowest concentration of the scent categories. Eau Fraiches are commonly referred to as mists and will generally last for up to 2 hours.