Eau de toillete, Eau de Parfum, eau de cologne, Parfum de toilette, the list goes on and on. And it can make one crazy.
I remember I used to think eau de toilette meant perfume which is to be exclusively kept in the toilet. Ha! Silly me. Do not do that. Seriously, the pefume you keep in your toilet will ruin quickly since there are frequent temperature changes in the bathroom which can cause the precious liquid to go bad quickly.
Basically, cologne, toilette and parfum are all names given to different concentrations of perfumes to differentiate between strengths, price and method of use (last one really depends on you).
Eau de Cologne. Good old citrus water as I like to think of it. Used by Napoleon. Guerlain made Eau de Cologne Imperiale for Napoleon III. My favourite is Eau de Guerlain which is ironically labeled ‘eau de toilette’. It has bergamot, lemon and citrus fruits in one clean composition along with rose and sandalwood. Fun fact: Most of Guerlains bottles have a bee symbol on them. This was one of Napoleons empires symbols.
EDC is meant for generous use. The alcohol content in this is pretty high, as only 2 to 5% of perfume is added to the denatured alcohol (denatured means its been treated to become poisonous so that some crazy person doesn’t get high on perfume)
Eau de toilette is the most common and widely used concentration. Perfume contents reaches 10 or 12% here usually. But Eau de Guerlain, an example, has an interesting 86/14 ratio alcohol perfume ratio. The use of toillete means bath water that is to be applied on skin. But now in modern perfumery, this term is used to describe the ratio of perfume/alcohol.
Eau de parfum is the more stronger one with perfume content reaching 11 or 12% or more.
You’ll see that if you find one perfume which has all 3 versions, the dominant notes of the perfume change with each version. For me, this perfume is Mitsouko. The eau de cologne of Mitsouko is a wonderful, mysterious combination of the artifical peach note and spices. But it’s not heady and smells clear but sharp, very sharp.
Move on to toilette and parfum and you will notice the headiness getting stronger and the range of the notes widening.
Reach the parfum and you’ll be happily lost in Guerlain land. Side note: Cologne of Mitsouko is hard to find. It’s no longer produced but definitely comes around on ebay once in a while for a hefty price tag. But do spurlge on this once. Although one could say Mitsouko is a woman’s fragrance, cologne is definitely meant for unisex use. But Mitsouko as a whole is a niche taste in todays rather sad times which we live in. The ladies are wearing candy and the men are wearing some sort of woody, musky concoction while oakmoss is missed dearly.
I hope you are a little less confused and a bit more excited about perfume. Learning never ends with perfume I believe. There’s always something to know, to discover and most importantly SMELL! I leave with two beautiful vintage Guerlain ads.