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Perfume Strengths: How to Choose the Right Fragrance For You

If you’re interested in perfume, you’ve no doubt heard various terms being used to describe perfume strengths such as Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, or Eau Fraiche.

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If you’re not familiar with the vocabulary, it can be confusing to sort out what they actually mean. What are perfume strengths and how do you figure out which is right for you?

What are the strengths of perfume?

Pure Parfum/Extrait de Parfum20-40%
Eau de Parfum (EDP)15-20%
Eau de Toilette (EDT)5-15%
Eau de Cologne (EDC)2-4%
After Shave/Splash2-4%
Eau Fraiche1-3%

Parfum / Extrait de Parfum

The most concentrated and most expensive form with between 20 and 40% oil concentration. Because of this high concentration, you only need 2-3 drops, and even that can be heady to someone not used to it.

Extracts are usually sold in 5-30ml splash bottles, never sprays so as to not lose any precious juice. Sometimes it is also referred to as pure perfume, perfume extract or elixir.

Eau de Parfum (EDP)

When most people refer to perfume, they actually mean is eau de parfum or EDP for short. Eau de parfum is one of the most common perfume strengths has the second-highest concentration of fragrance after parfum, typically between 15% and 20%.

Fernweh Editions Fern & Petals Candle

Eau de parfum is diluted with alcohol and on average will last for four to five hours before it needs to be reapplied.

Eau de Toilette (EDT)

Eau de Toilette is another popular fragrance strength with a 5-15% concentration of essential oils in an alcohol base. It’s a light and easy to wear formulation that usually lasts 3-4 hours.

Many perfumers create the same fragrance in both EDP and EDT strengths, so if you find two nearly identical fragrance bottles but one is inexplicably more expensive than the other, one is probably an EDT vs an EDP.

Eau de Cologne (EDC)

EDC generally has between 2% to 4% concentration and a very high amount of alcohol. This means it’s typically cheaper and sold in larger bottles than other fragrances.

The term has a tangled history. The term Cologne is frequently used to refer to men’s fragrances. In fact, the term originally meant “Water from Cologne” in reference to perfumery in the city of Cologne, Germany dating back to 1709.

However, in modern fragrance terms, Eau de cologne, or EDC, is actually not about gender or fragrances made in the city of Cologne but about fragrance concentration.

Eau Fraiche

Eau Fraiche is the lightest of the fragrance strengths with 1%-3% concentration that generally only lasts up to 2 hours. The main difference with Eau Fraiche is that instead of an alcohol base, it is mostly water. This makes Eau Fraiche a good choice for people with sensitive or dry skin.

why do perfume concentrations matter

Why do Perfume Strengths Matter?

There are several reasons why knowing your EDP from your EDT is important.

Perfume strength affects the price.

The first one most people notice is cost. The higher the concentration of essential oils, the more expensive the fragrance. That said, there are solid reasons you might not want to choose your next fragrance based solely on price.

Sillage and knowing how much to spray.

Ever have someone walk by and a second later, the scent of their perfume hits you? This is sillage and refers to how widely a perfume can be smelled.

While this depends on the notes of the individual perfume, generally higher concentrations are going to produce a stronger smell with less juice than more diluted ones.

So while parfum might be smaller and more expensive than an Eau de Toilette, they also pack more punch.

Longevity and knowing how often to reapply.

Another distinction between perfume strengths is how often you need to reapply. This again is also very dependent on the fragrance notes, however generally the less diluted the fragrance, the longer it will last and less often you’ll need to reapply.

Variations on the scent.

While perfume makers attempt to create a similar scent across all strengths, it’s almost impossible to get them all to smell identical.

Not only are the higher concentrations stronger overall, but the dilution might also cause specific notes to stand out, altering the fragrance profile.

Related Content: How To Apply Perfume To Make it Last Longer


Selena Marc is a fragrance enthusiast, freelance writer, and dog mom living in Houston, Texas. When she's not writing about her favorite new perfumes, you can find her enjoying yoga or a morning hike.