What’s the real difference between eau de parfum and eau de toilette?

The difference between Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette

They’re more than fancy-sounding French words

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / March 03 2020

So, after much debate, you’ve finally selected your new fragrance – good one! But now you’re stuck with an eau de parfum (EDP) in one hand and an eau de toilette (EDT) in the other, and you haven’t the faintest clue which one to go for. What’s a gal to do? 

Learning the lingo will help make your decision easier. The terms EDT and EDP are different types of fragrances and actually mean something very specific – they’re not just fancy French words! And they offer a big hint as to the intensity, price and longevity of the perfume.

The perfume and toilette difference explained

Fragrance specialist Samantha Taylor from The Powder Room says the major difference between eau de toilette and perfume and an eau de toilette has to do with the perfume concentration in each scent. Basically, an eau de parfum is a stronger perfume than an eau de toilette because its concentration of oils is higher.

“The only difference between an eau de parfum and an eau de toilette is the amount of ‘juice’ or perfume concentrate mixed with alcohol,” explains Taylor. “There can be a very subtle difference in the scent, but that is just because one has more or less ‘juice’ in alcohol; the actual [smell of the] ‘juice’ is the same.”

In a nutshell, a high fragrance concentration means there is a higher percentage of essential perfume oils and less alcohol. 

The types of perfume

There are actually five different types of perfume: eau fraiche, eau de cologne, eau de toilette, eau de parfum and parfum.

Eau fraiche: An eau fraiche is the lightest concentration of fragrance. It has an oil concentration of one to three per cent. Due to its low alcohol concentration and high water content, it’s a great choice for sensitive skin.

Eau de cologne: Eau de cologne contains two to four per cent oil and generally fades within an hour or two. Cologne is the name most commonly given to men’s fragrances.

Eau de toilette: An eau de toilette generally has five to 15 per cent oil and lingers for about three hours. It is one of the most popular fragrance choices because it lasts well and has a lower price point than an EDP or parfum.

Eau de parfum: Eau de parfum has 15 to 20 per cent oil and lasts up to five hours. They are another favourite fragrance choice. Most scents will come in an EDP and EDT variant.

Parfum: Parfum, also known as extrait de parfum, pure perfume or sometimes simply perfume (just to be confusing!), is the most concentrated scent. It contains 20 to 40 per cent oil and can last from six to eight hours. They are another good choice for sensitive skin types as they contain a low concentration of alcohol, and therefore are less likely to dry out skin.

Why is the price of an EDP vs EDT so different?

As eau de toilettes contain less perfume oils, you’ll find that their prices are usually a lot lower than that of an eau de parfum. Just keep in mind – since EDPs are more potent, you can get away with applying less; whereas an EDT may take a couple of spritzes to get your desired intensity.

How long does perfume last?

Not only does the concentration of fragrance affect the intensity, but it also impacts how long it will last. “Perfume concentrations dictate how long the perfume lasts on your skin, although the individual skin type and fragrance family can also play into this,” says Taylor.

Since an eau de toilette is made with a smaller dose of perfume oils, it typically only lasts for a few hours. The top notes – the first scent released by a perfume – are dominant, making it refreshing when it is first applied, however due to the alcohol content it evaporates from the skin quite quickly. An eau de toilette is the perfect type of fragrance to use day to dayas the fragrance notes are less intense; even if you do go overboard, it’ll lighten up fairly quickly.

An eau de parfum, on the other hand, lasts longer. Unlike an eau de toilette, after the top notes have faded, the middle notes or heart notes of an EDP become noticeable. Since it’s more intense than an eau de toilette, it’s a great option for a night-wear.

“I don’t like ‘rules’ in fragrance, I think you should wear what you want when you want, but do be aware of your surroundings and your schedule,” says Taylor, adding that typically lighter concentrations are best suited for day-wear, and heavier concentrations are best worn at night

If you're looking to add a new perfume to your scent wardrobe, these are some of our all-time favourite women’s fragrances.

What is your favourite kind of scent? Do you prefer eau de toilettes or eau de parfums? Let us know in the comment section below.

Main image credit: Getty

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.