Parfum vs Eau de Parfum: How to Choose Between the Two?

The fine art of fragrances is normally classified into five different categories, and while most of them are easy to distinguish, the top two—parfum and eau de parfum—are likely to give you a headache.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

In the next couple of minutes, we’ll be sure to turn your confusion into much-needed clarity.

Is Eau de Parfum the Same as Perfume?

While they sound the same, they’re most certainly not.

To paint a clearer picture on this, we need to first list the five categories from the highest to the lowest concentration, i.e.

  • Parfum (also pure perfume or extrait de parfum)
  • Eau de Parfum (EDP)
  • Eau de Toilette (EDT)
  • Eau de Cologne (EDC)
  • Eau Fraiche

A higher concentration here indicates a higher percentage of extract oils in the perfume. In other words, the more the extract oils, the higher the fragrance concentration (aside from Diptyque fragrances that often tweak the formula).

To substitute for the insufficient oil content, low concentrated fragrances, like eau de toilettes, usually have a higher alcohol content instead.

While it’s a bit easier to see why parfum and eau de parfum can be somewhat confusing, it’s also easier to now point out the real difference between them. 

In four words: pure perfume is stronger.

Parfum or Eau de Parfum: What is the Difference?

1. Concentration

With parfum, the fragrance oil composition is at least 20%, going all the way up to 30%. It also has far less alcohol, especially when compared to a fragrance like eau de toilette.

Eau de parfum, however, is more subtle. It’s also the most common female perfume despite being historically genderless. 

Masculine scents are more associated with cologne. The formulation here falls at around 15% to 20% of oil content.

2. Longevity

Because of the points stated above, parfum is designed to last longer. It can easily last the whole day without you needing to douse yourself again with a time span of at least 6 to 8 hours.

Its close counterpart, in this case, can take you to at least 4 hours (5 or rarely 6 at most).

In stark contrast, other fragrances like eau fraiche (the most diluted version) usually last for less than an hour.

3. Cost

Considering all the listed features, you won’t be surprised to hear that the top notes of a parfum will take out more from your wallet.

Compared to the availability of, say, water, extracting oil from raw materials e.g. a fresh, fruity, orange blossom, is obviously more intense when making perfumes, not to mention time-consuming.

And, as we all know, time = money.

The fact that a bottle of eau de parfum doesn’t contain that much perfume oil makes it cheaper, and down the hierarchy goes from eau de toilette to the last.

Do Parfums and Eau de Parfums Smell the Same?

Although both fragrance types can contain scents from the same fragrance family, independently selected, they do not have the same aroma.

Being slightly oilier, parfum has a richer, more aromatic scent. And unless you want to leave behind the notes of a French perfumery, only apply it to your pulse points when spritzing on your skin (wrists, ears, etc.).

Eau de parfum, in contrast, is a bit light, and although it smells good, it’s not close to being as noticeable in scent as parfum.

One thing to remember is that this will all change when coming to the difference between eau de parfum and a fragrance like eau de toilette. 

The scent of the former, in this case, will, obviously, be stronger.

How to Choose Between a Parfum and an Eau de Parfum?

Three questions:

  1. What activities do you have planned for the day?
  2. How strong do you want your scent to be?
  3. Are you comfortable with the chosen perfume?

An example here is that parfum is perfect for a long workday while eau de parfum is great for a dinner party.

Simply make sure to plan accordingly.

The Bottom Line

The availability of different fragrance options shouldn’t cause you to scratch your head. Knowing the primary difference between them is sure to make your life easier, at least in terms of your scent and day wear.

Whenever you have a fragrance conundrum, always remember that it’s never as hard as you think.