The creation of fragrances is a type of art form that many of us often do not stop to think about, although we appreciate it nonetheless. Nearly all of us use a fragrance on a regular basis yet the importance of fragrance creation is certainly not underscored. However, in addition to being an art form, fragrance creation is also a complex science - chemistry, to be more specific. The right mix for a fragrance not only sets it apart from other fragrances, it may even set it apart from the several variants within its own kind.
Eau de parfum, eau du cologne, extrait de parfum, parfum de toilette - what do all of these terms mean? Yes, they each refer to the different formulations of one fragrance. Each carries a different concentration of that particular fragrance. It is common mistake to link these terms purely to the staying power of the fragrance - no wonder, as the formulations with higher concentrations tend to be pricier, causing many perfume salespersons to fib about this selling point. While the strength of a perfume could be a factor in fragrance formulation, fragrance formulation emphasises composition and in many cases the scent produced can be significantly different.
For example, you will get lots of toffee and patchouli from Jimmy Choo Eau de Parfum while Jimmy Choo Eau de Toilette will give you pear, rose and green notes. If one do a blind test on these two it will like smelling from two unrelated perfumes.
Here's a guide on how to tell your 'eaus' apart and what to consider.
Extrait de parfum is the type of formulation that certainly isn't used to spray an unsuspecting passer-by in the perfume section of the department store. With the highest concentration of aromatic compounds out of all of the different formulations (15% to 40%), extrait de parfum often fetches the highest price. It is also often a limited edition version of a fragrance, if it even exists at all.
However, forking over lots of cash for this formulation with the expectation that it will put forth a stronger presence would be a poor purchasing decision. This is because extrait de parfum, while being the strongest in terms of concentration, isn't actually the strongest in terms of scent. This type of variation is often the most subtle and sophisticated version of the fragrance, dabbed on discreetly rather than sprayed all over one's body. It lasts long, and is perfect for intimate conversations and situations due to its je ne sais quoi.
This type of formulation is a very familiar territory as it is the version of a fragrance that is the most popularly marketed and purchased. With a concentration of 10% to 20%, eau de parfum offers what most people would like in a fragrance - strength and satisfactory staying power. While not as complex as extrait de parfum, it is more noticeable and appropriate for everyday use. This type of formulation has more of a wider appeal as extrait versions may be too heady, and was first developed to give the glamour of fragrance to those who could not afford the higher concentration of extrait de parfum.
With a 5% to 15% aromatic compound concentration, eau de toilette is often the go-to fragrance for warmer weather and every day wear. As the lighter version of a fragrance, they are often priced more affordably than their eau de parfum counterpart. However, this is not to say that they are of a lesser quality. If you're looking for something which is lighter and easier to wear, you may favour an eau de toilette.
This type of formulation is most often associated with men, but it simply refers to a lighter formulation with 3% to 8% concentration, which also has a specific traditional recipe. The traditional cologne is created from a citrus and herb mix which does not emphasise base notes, making it easy to wear for both men and women.
With only 1% to 3% concentration of aromatic compounds, body spray and aftershave is the lightest and most affordable of all formulations. It may not linger the longest, but at the price point, you won't mind having to splash it on several times a day. This is the entry point for most youngsters when they are wearing fragrance for the first time.