How To Distinguish Between Different Perfume Types

All perfumes are not alike. 

Did you know that perfume can come in different concentrations? And these concentrations actually form different categories of perfumes. These concentrations also affect the price point for the perfume. 

Given this, it is easy to get confused about what each type of perfume means, and therefore what you should choose.

The Different Perfume Categories

There are five main categories of Perfume:  

  • Perfume or Parfum, 

  • Eau de Perfume or Eau de Parfum, 

  • Eau de Toilette, 

  • Eau de Cologne, 

  • and the less well known Eau Fraiche. 

And we would like to add a new category, which is Perfume Oil. That makes SIX categories!

The main difference lies in the concentration of essential oils in the fragrance base. The perfumes “base” can be water, alcohol or oil based. 

When we mention the concentrations of essential oils in the different categories, it is only in natural perfumes that those essential oils are guaranteed to be made directly from pure essential oils. With other mainstream fragrances, those fragrance blends are made from synthetic “perfume extracts” and are often purely man-made and not natural. Some of these “perfume extracts” can also come from animals - see our article ‘A Guide to Vegan Non-Toxic Perfume’ about animal scents and how they are used in perfumes. 

Therefore, always check the ingredients and certifications of the perfumes you purchase, to ensure they are all 100% natural and vegan, if that is important to you. 

I hope this guide is helpful to you, so you can distinguish between them all.

Perfume / Parfum:

  • This has the highest concentration of essential oils or “perfume extract” with around 20 to 30% essential oils in the fragrance blend. It is the most expensive of all the categories due to the higher concentrations of oils.

  • It is usually heavier and oilier.

  • It is said to last longer, and can last up to 24 hours.

  • It is recommended for people with sensitive skin, as there is less alcohol in the blend. 

Eau de Perfume / Eau de Parfum:

  • This is the perfume category with the next highest concentration of oils with around 15 to 20% essential oils or “perfume extract” in the fragrance blend. It is less expensive than perfume.

  • It has slightly more alcohol and water in the ingredients, however, it still has a high level of perfume oils. 

  • It can last 6 to 8 hours.

  • Even though it has a slightly higher alcohol content, it is still recommended for people with sensitive skin.

    Women’s Range

    Men’s Range

Eau de Toilette

  • This perfume category is for fragrances with essential oil or “perfume extract”  concentrations of between 5 to 15%.

  • It is a light formula and usually in spray bottles.

  • Surprisingly, it is the most popular type of fragrance, and you often buy “perfume” thinking it is eau de parfum and it is actually eau de toilette. 

  • It is much more affordable than Eau de Parfum, and can last 2 - 4 hours.

  • Due to the low combination of essential oils and high percentage of alcohol, it tends to dissipate quickly.

    Women’s Range

    Men’s Range

Eau de Cologne

  • The category known as Eau de Cologne is one of the lightest fragrance concentrations with essential oils or “perfume extract” of between 2 to 4%.

  • It is often thought of as a masculine formula, however, there are feminine eau de colognes as well.

  • They often come in large bottles as you tend to need more of it and will require regular applications. 

  • It can last up to 2 hours and is fairly inexpensive.

    Women’s Range

    Men’s Range

Eau Fraiche

  • This category is for perfumes that are the most diluted with essential oil and “perfume extract”  concentrations of around 1 to 3%.

  • The main ingredient is water as ‘Eau Fraiche’ means fresh water.

  • It can last up to an hour and is often used to freshen up.

Perfume Oils

  • The final category that we would like to add is PERFUME OILS. These are perfumes that have a pure oil base, and no alcohol or water are used in these blends.

  • Within perfume oils, the concentrations of essential oils used for the “perfume” fragrance element can vary. 

  • Most perfume oils will have concentrations of fragrance essential oils of up to 20%, and then a carrier oil will make up the remainder of the blend. 

    Women’s Range

There are also Perfume Oil Attars which are more concentrated. A natural perfume oil that is an attar is the pure undiluted version of their respective Eau de Parfum. They are made with pure essential oils and absolute and do not contain any carrier oil or alcohol. Attars are longer lasting than eau de perfumes. They are applied with the stick of the bottle instead of being sprayed.  Women’s Range

Hopefully this has helped you to understand the different  natural perfume categories on the market today, so you know what you are getting.


What do Our Collective Founders Love?

Nina from Serene Body Health - “My choice of course are the perfume oils because they are made with natural fragrance oils (essential oils) diluted with jojoba oil which is full of antioxidants and is very moisturising on the skin. They cause less irritation to the skin because they are alcohol free. They can be applied directly onto the skin so there is no waste, and they can be inhaled for added health benefits.”

Tonia from IME - “All our perfumes are Eau de Parfum including the men's Elemental range. It was important to us to create the men's range the same Eau de Parfum strength rather than the stereotypical 'cologne' as colognes don't have the same longevity and we wanted them to be enjoyed for as long as possible without having to be reapplied. Plus, my husband is very liberal with his perfume and a bottle of cologne just wouldn't last a week if that was the case!”

Louise from Kis My Body - Kis Perfume owner Louise works closely with a talented perfumer, to create Kis perfumes. There are currently three scents in their range and they are available in both an Eau de Parfum spray and a perfume oil rollerball.  Louise favours the Eau de Parfum version of Kis perfumes. “l think the alcohol helps define and isolate the different scents in each parfum so they pack more of a punch. I love the ritual of spraying and they behave more like a traditional perfume, where you spray getting ready in the morning and it’s a lovely ritual to spray my neck and wrists. (remember don’t rub! - it bruises the scent). It does come down to your body chemistry - to which suits you.” Louise recommends that on her, the Eau de Parfum lasts about 6-7 hours and perfume oil about 4-5, but this varies on individual to individual. 

Liz from One Seed - “There is no hard and fast rule about fragrance concentration, so use this as a guide only. Generally speaking EDT wont last as long on the skin (perhaps 2-4 hours), and EDP should last around 4-8 hours. But that depends on so many factors. For example, some scent molecules have a much higher odour intensity and so can be used at a much lower concentration, whereas others have less intensity and may be used at higher concentrations to be more noticeable. If you have a fragrance which is considered EDT due to its fragrance concentration being 7% but a large volume of that is base notes (which linger longer) or high intensity molecules, you can still call it an EDT but it may last as long on the skin as an EDP. All of our perfumes are EDP by volume (10.5-13% fragrance) but there is a variation in the longevity of each fragrance, from 3 to 8 hours. It’s important to note that longevity of a fragrance is also affected by your own unique skin profile, your hormones, the weather and your level of activity.”

Rachel from Hanako - “Each of our blends use only 100% pure essential oils, gem and flower essences, crystal infused spring water and bathed in mantra as they are being made. The natural perfumes of our “I AM... Range” are made at 2.5% pure essential oils which are considered a safe level for the body when using aromatherapy. Our blends are created not just for scent but the energetic properties each ingredient holds for the intention of the blend. Say for example you have “I AM... Grounded”, I use really earthy and grounding pure essential oils that help the being to stabilize and earth along with gem and flower essences that guide you back to base and bathed in a specific mantra that encapsulates the whole of the intention of grounding.”

← Older Post Newer Post →

Explore our range of natural fragrances

Shop Now

Not sure what style of perfume suits you?

Discover your signature scent

TAKE OUR SCENT QUIZ