Parfum, Eau de Parfum(EDP), Eau de Toilette(EDT) , Eau de Cologne (EDC) – What’s the difference?
No doubt about it, the fragrance journey is fraught with all kinds of confusing terminology.
There is a lot of art and chemistry in making perfume, but art aside, perfume is a combination of aromatic compounds and fixatives, which are diluted in a solvent, usually ethanol or ethanol combined with water. There.
Essentially, there are the four main types of perfume. Each type is defined by the concentration, by percent/volume, of aromatic compounds they contain. The higher the concentration of aromatic compounds, the more intense the perfume. The more intense the perfume, the longer it lasts on the skin. And, generally speaking, the more intense the concentration, the more expensive the perfume type. Here are the breakdowns according to IFRA (the International Fragrance Association):
Perfume, parfum, or parfum extrait, has the highest concentration of aromatic compounds, typically about 20% and varying any where from 15% to 40%. Intense, long-lasting and usually the most expensive of the four types.
Eau de Parfum (EDP) has the next highest concentration of aromatic compounds of typically 15%, but varying between 10% and 20%. EDP is the most popular type of perfume.
Eau de Toilette(EDT) comes next with a typical concentration of 10% aromatic compounds, but varying between 5% and 15%. A light scent that doesn’t linger very long, EDT’s best application is as body splash.
Eau de Cologne (EDC) has a typical concentration of about 5%, but varying between 3% and 8%. Originally a citrus based perfume, it was named for the city it was launched in – Cologne. Outside of Germany, EDC and Cologne have become generic terms for chypre Citrus perfumes. Such perfumes are also called Eau Fraiche.
And, just to make things a little more interesting, different perfume houses allot different amounts of aromatic compounds to their perfumes so that an EDT from one perfume house might be more concentrated than another houses’ EDP.
In addition, some perfumers have their own categories. For example, Christopher Brosius of CB I Hate Perfume, makes what he calls ‘water perfume’. He does not use alcohol in his scents.
What’s the best way to apply perfume?
Fragrance blooms best on warm skin, not clothes or paper, so for maximum effect apply to pulse points like the inside of wrists, elbows and knees, behind the ears, the neck and the chest.
And, avoid getting fragrance on jewellery as it can really do a number on some semi-precious stones and pearls.
But, no matter where you apply it, always remember to shake the bottle before you do. This evenly distributes the chemicals so that each spray or dab smells the same.
Finally, please don’t ever rub the fragrance after you spritz because that breaks down the delicate structure and ruins the scent…..like shaving the fur off a mink coat – why bother wearing it?
How do I know if a fragrance is right for me?
There are so many factors that come in to play here, such as humidity, the season, age, skin type and mood, that the answer really is……if you like it, it’s right for you! The same fragrances can smell slightly different on other people because each of us has a unique chemical make-up. For example, scent reacts differently to people with oily skin than it does on people with dry skin.
As well, scent can trigger some very strong feelings, memories and emotions. We love Incense D’Avignon cause it reminds us of the fabulous old churches we have visited in Paris - someone else might not have the same association with the scent.
The only way to learn what fragrance is right for you is to try it on your skin, on wrist, neck or behind your ears, over several days – live with it a while, see how you feel and what you experience.
You may be surprised by what you learn. We’ve known more than one die-hard white floral lover who added woody orientals to their repertoire after sampling a few.
How do I find my signature scent?
We get this question a lot at perfumeniche.com and the answer is: sample, sample, sample! And sample it on your skin.
But the question you should ask your self is : why do I need a signature scent? Sure, you have memories of your Aunt Yvette who wore only Rive Gauche, but now there are so many more fabulous niche scents than when Aunt Yvette was buying her fragrances, so it’s much easier to explore and develop your own unique style and express yourself with scents.
Also, with so many great scents out there, why choose to smell the same way all the time? After all, you don’t wear the same outfit everyday, you aren’t in the same mood everyday, so why wear the same perfume day in and day out? Build a wardrobe of fragrances – change them like you change your clothes. You’ll look forward to choosing your “Scent of The Day”.
I loved the sample, used it up, bought 2 more used them up, splashed out and bought the bottle and now I hate the fragrance – what do I do?
This is one of the saddest scenarios in scentdom. But take heart, darlings, because we’ve all been there! Once you get over the heartbreak, the disappointment and the credit card charges, there are a few things you can do:
1. Customize it: you can layer the scrubber with other fragrances to make new ones. After all, you originally liked it enough to blow through 3 samples, so try and find another scent that you own that will let those elements shine and wear them both together.
2. Gift it: you can always gift the partial bottle to someone who really does love it. Don’t fret that the recipient might think you “cheaped out” because the bottle has been opened and some of the juice is gone. I mean, I wouldn’t turn down being gifted The Mona Lisa just because other people have looked at it.
3. Sell it: settle on a price that you think is fair and then let your friends know about it. Vintage bottles are rarely full when they are sold, so don’t think that your niche scent is of less interest just because it’s been test driven.
How should I store my perfumes?
No matter what else they are – mood enhancers, libido lifters, memory triggers - fragrances are combinations of chemicals in a delicate balance that deteriorate over time, especially once the bottles have been opened. While having all of your beauties on display can give you a bit of a frisson, the fact is, they will last longer and bring you more pleasure if they are stored properly.
Store perfumes away from light of any kind and in a cool, dark, dry place.
Frederic Malle keeps his scents refrigerated in his shops – though I’m sure not at the same temperature as a home unit.
We keep ours in their original packaging in a drawer. The upside: the thrill of rediscovery.
Another option is just to wear the fragrance before it has a chance to go bad!