Here’s The Difference Between Perfume, Eau De Parfum And Other Fragrance Types

Fragrance shopping can be tricky. Of course, you have to like the scent — but then you have to consider price, how long the perfume will last throughout the day and more. And the type of fragrance you’re buying can really impact your decision. With options such as perfume, eau de parfum and more, you may be left wondering which option is the best for you.

What’s In A Fragrance, Anyway?

First and foremost when shopping for a fragrance, it’s important to understand that the purest form of a scent is perfume oil. This then gets mixed with alcohol and even water before it’s bottled, with some types of fragrances having less of the actual perfume oil and more of the alcohol — which can explain the price discrepancy you’ll notice when scent-hunting.

perfume photo
Getty Images | Jason Merritt

Fragrance Types, Ranked

According to Reader’s Digest, the most bang for your buck comes from fragrances labeled as “perfume.” It lasts the longest and has the least amount of alcohol/water added to it. It also happens to be the most expensive.

Eau de parfum is the next strongest, and is a little cheaper than perfume. Next in line are: eau de toilette, eau de cologne and, lastly, eau fraiche. While eau fraiche may be the cheapest on the list, keep in mind that it also lasts the least amount of time, so you’ll likely be spritzing it more often.

That’s why, if you’re willing to spend the extra money, it could really be worth it in the long run.

“An eau de toilette can be a sniff-and-you’ll-miss-it delight,” Josephine Fairley, co-founder of The Perfume Society, wrote for The Telegraph. “A dab of perfume, though, can sometimes still be detected on a wrist or a neck up to 48 hours later.”

How Much Should You Be Spending?

And while purchasing a perfume can feel like a splurge, Azzi Glasser, a perfume designer and founder of The Perfumer’s Story, would argue that it’s one of the most basic necessities.

“Perfume and the sense of smell is probably one of the most powerful tools and senses available to man and dates back before BC,” she told  Beauty Crew. “The fact is, we would not choose a partner if they didn’t smell good.”

So, does scent matter? You bet!


Though you should know that even when the cost of a perfume is high, that doesn’t necessarily mean it took much to make.

A former department store CEO told AOL’s Daily Finance, “If you bought a laptop that costs $1,000, the laptop might cost $600 to $700 to manufacture, but if you bought a lipstick for $25, it might cost 25 cents to manufacture,” he told the publication. “The same holds true for fragrances.”

When In Doubt — Test It Out

When shopping for a scent, it may be best to go in to a department store or beauty retailer that sells it so you can test it out before paying for it, just to make sure it’s really worth it.

If you’re having trouble even knowing where to begin with your fragrance buying adventures, there are quite a few online quizzes that might help you nail down what types of scents you’re drawn to. For instance, you can give this quiz from Sephora a try before heading in to sample the fragrances in person!

Hopefully, this information will make it easier for you to purchase the fragrance that’s right for you. Happy scent shopping!