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What’s The Difference Between Eau De Toilette, Eau De Parfum And Perfume?

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There are many things that define us women. There are the stereotypical things, like a love of shopping, clothing, shoes and chocolate. But the thing that seems to get less attention is fragrance, for some reason. And really, nothing becomes your signature more than your scent.

Your sense of smell is actually the most powerful sense you have – more so than your sight, hearing, taste or sense of touch. Smells have the ability to transport us back to the best and worst times in our lives, as powerfully as if they were happening all over again.

The fragrance industry knows this, and that’s why it’s such a competitive market. A whiff of Chanel No. 5 can have you sitting on your grandma’s lap at five years old, unwrapping a toffee. A splash of Marc Jacob’s Daisy can take you back to your magical wedding day.

But what about all those weird additions at the end of the fragrance name? Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum and so on? Are they just fancy French words, or are they telling you something about the fragrance?

Eau De Toilette Meaning Explained

Woman washing her face with water.

Eau De Toilette got its name because of its original use to freshen up.

When you look at the words ‘Eau De Toilette’, what word seems to jump out at you? If you answered “Um, toilet?” then you’re on the right track.

Strange as it sounds, Eau De Toilette, the term used to describe perfume with a lesser fragrance and lower alcohol content, literally translates as ‘toilet water’. While I’m sure that the mastermind behind the term had a rather strange sense of humor, Eau De Toilette is known by this name because it was used to freshen up by splashing it on, as you might use water.

What’s The Difference Between Eau De Toilette and Eau De Parfum?

When it comes to fragrances, it’s all a matter of concentration. That is, how concentrated the oils and alcohol content are in a particular fragrance.

Perfume in a pink decorative bottle with pink flowers.

Eau De Parfum has a stronger concentration of aromatic ingredients than Eau De Toilette.

With Eau De Toilette, five to fifteen percent will be perfume concentrates, generally around the ten-percent mark. This means that the fragrance will be lighter, softer, and won’t last as long. It’s perfect for a meeting, or when you just want to freshen up during the day. The best part is that it comes cheaper than Eau De Parfum, so you can splurge without burning a hole in your pocket.

Eau De Parfum contains between ten and twenty percent of perfume concentrates. The fragrance is much stronger and more easily detected than that of Eau De Toilette, and it will last longer, too. Of course, being that there is a higher concentration of aromatic ingredients, Eau De Perfum will be more expensive than Eau De Toilette. It makes for a thoughtful and appreciated gift.

Fragrances are described as having notes. The top notes are what you smell first, and the middle notes are what you detect after the top notes have faded. With Eau De Toilette, the top notes are detected easily, but once they pass, the scent is pretty much gone. Eau De Perfum, on the other hand, has strong middle, or heart, notes, even after the top notes have faded.

Eau De Toilette vs. Perfume Explained

Pure perfume (or Parfum) has the highest concentration of aromatic ingredients. As such, a little will go a long way, and one application can last you for many hours. Being that perfume contains 20-30 percent (or even up to 40 percent) perfume concentrates, as opposed to the 5-15 percent found in Eau De Toilette, perfume is much more expensive.

It is generally sold in smaller bottles, as you don’t need a lot of it and there’s no need to keep reapplying throughout the day. The top, heart and base notes found in perfume can be detected as the day goes on.

Top 5 Perfumes On The Market Today

Gucci Bloom Eau de Parfum Review

Gucci bloom perfume surrounded by flowers.

Gucci Bloom Eau De Parfum

As you may have deduced from its name, Gucci Bloom is all about flowers. As Gucci describes it, ‘capturing the rich scent of a thriving garden’ with notes of Tuberose, Rangoon Creeper and jasmine, it’s every woman’s dream. Sophisticated, classy, and magical. You can purchase this perfume in 30, 50 or 100ml bottles.

Tiffany & Co Eau de Parfum Review

If you like sweet scents, but overly sweet isn’t your thing, you might want to give Tiffany’s Eau De Parfum a try. The scent is floral, but not overkill as many floral fragrances tend to be. It’s soft, feminine, with musky undertones that make it a winner. Definitely not one of the cheapest perfumes out there, but if you’re looking for something for special occasions or to give as a thoughtful gift, this perfume makes for a great option.

Miu Miu l’eau Rosee Review

Despite its name, this perfume is actually not specifically rose-scented – it is called as such because of its rosy hue. However, it does have a floral scent, namely of fresh lilies. Because it’s an Eau De Toilette fragrance, it is softer and more feminine; it’s more suited to a day at the office rather than a night out. If there’s a scent you want as your ‘signature scent’, this just might be it.

Elizabeth & James Nirvana Bourbon Review

Black and gold perfume case.

Elizabeth & James Nirvana Bourbon

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen may have retired from their Hollywood career, but that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to make themselves heard – smelled? – all over the world. You might remember them as kids, but their new fragrance, Nirvana Bourbon, is anything but childish. Bourbon, vanilla, tuberose and oak wood are what make this scent memorable and a delight to the senses. Take care though; the scent tends to lack in longevity, so be sure to reapply at different points throughout your day.

Glossier You Eau de Parfum Review

It’s called Glossier You because it can really be used by both men and women. This perfume has a more generic smell that’s appealing to both genders – it’s clean and crisp, but not too florally or masculine. People describe it as reminding them of fresh laundry – a smell that’s appreciated by almost everyone! It’s a great scent for everyday use – clean, fresh and not overpowering.

Chanel No. 5 Review

Chanel No. 5 perfume in a clear bottle next to box.

The famous Chanel No. 5 Eau De Parfum Fragrance

Perhaps the most famous and easily-recognized fragrance of all is the Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum. While a floral fragrance with a vanilla base has surely been done since, it is this fragrance that has withstood the test of time and remains popular ‘til today. Coco Chanel’s vision for this fragrance was for it to “smell like a woman”, and she definitely got her wish.

The top notes of the perfume have a woodsy and citrussy smell, whereas the heart notes are definitely floral. The base notes, of course, bring out the delicious vanilla and forest smells.

Because it’s so classic, many people think of it as being more appropriate for a mature crowd – but there are plenty of younger women who enjoy the scent, too. While there are floral notes, they aren’t overpowering, giving the perfume a feminine feel without being ‘too much’. If you prefer vintage or classic scents, you’ll definitely love this perfume. Women have been buying it since 1921, and they’re still buying it today in 2018. 97 years’ worth of women just can’t be wrong!


Buying a fragrance is really not so simple! You have to think about what you’re looking for. Do you want something that is noticeable, and that will last all night? Perfume or Eau de Parfum is probably your best bet.

Do you want something light and pleasant that you can wear to work, or something you can splash on for a meeting? Eau de Toilette is more suitable, in that case.

So next time you’re looking for a new fragrance, you’ll look at those words with new eyes. They aren’t just there for show, but to help you choose the best fragrance for your needs. Happy smelling!