From Eau de Cologne to Pure Perfume

The perfume industry throws some pretty fancy French at you, and nowhere is that more true than with statements of strength. On every bottle you open, you’ll usually see a label that says something like “eau de cologne” or “eau de parfum” – and while it may be tempting to ignore these words, they can say a lot about what what’s inside each bottle.

That’s because these labels indicate how much perfume oil is actually inside the bottle, and that level can have a lot to do with a perfume’s longevity, projection, and streak. Depending on the results you want to achieve, this is an extremely important consideration when adding a new fragrance to your collection.

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In the video above, Robb Report editor Justin Fenner breaks down the fragrance levels, from light and airy eau de toilette to intense and long-lasting perfume extract. (We’re leaving out the lowest level, Fresh Water, because there aren’t many in this category that we find worthy of recommendation.) You’ll get a full tutorial on levels – and when they actually matter – in the video, but here’s a handy breakdown to take with you the next time you find yourself at the perfume counter:

Cologne: This is the lowest scent level we will talk about in Uncommon Scents. It usually contains two to four percent fragrance oil.

Cologne: The next step. These perfumes generally contain between 5 and 15% perfume oil.

Perfume: EDPs are the popular sweet spot on the fragrance level chart, containing between 15-20% fragrance oil.

Perfume extract, pure perfume: These long acting bad boys contain 20, 30 and sometimes even 40% perfume oil.

Fragrance oil: This is an interesting case, but scented oils usually mix scented oil and unscented oil together to help scents stay on your skin for a while. If you have a choice between a perfume spray and a perfume oil, the oil will usually contain the same amount of perfume as its coordinating spray.

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