Perfume expert explains eau de toilette vs perfume

If you’re comparing eau de toilette to perfume, it probably means you’re considering buying a perfume – you’re in luck! Few beauty purchases are more enjoyable than picking up a new signature scent, whether you do it every season or once in a blue moon.

While most of us like to buzz between beauty counters spraying this and misting that, identifying the best perfume for women can seem daunting or even downright inscrutable. Much like the world of wine, huge swaths of people love scents, but there is a snobbery around those considered “fragrance experts” that can put us off even trying to get used to it.

Don’t let pretentious attitudes keep you from learning scent notes or why your best vanilla scent makes you feel warm and fuzzy (hint: scent memories). So let’s go. First day, first lesson: eau de toilette vs perfume. It will make perfume shopping an easier and more joyful experience forever.

Eau de toilette vs perfume, by a perfumery expert

What is the difference between eau de toilette and perfume?

In a word, power. “The strength of a perfume depends on the amount of perfume oil used. This oil is mixed with alcohol to create the intensity; the more oil, the stronger the perfume”, explains the perfume expert and The Fragrance Shop. (opens in a new tab) Senior Brand Manager Hollie Race. “Eau de toilette is the lighter of the two, usually comprising between 5 and 15% essential perfume oil and lasts around four to seven hours. On the other hand, eau de parfum usually contains around 10 to 20 % fragrance oil, just like a much stronger blend. These fragrances can last up to eight hours.”

There is another strength, often used in the finest and most lasting perfume. “Pure fragrance is the highest concentration of fragrance available – usually between 15-30% fragrance oil – and is enough to make the scent strong, noticeable, and last all day.”

Is eau de parfum better than eau de toilette?

It’s debatable. If you judge eau de toilette versus fragrance solely on strength and lasting power, then it’s a zero to fragrance. However, the choice also depends on personal taste, the quality of the perfume composition and even the time of year.

“Lighter, sweeter scents can definitely pack a punch, because sometimes it’s just that slight puff of scent that can create an impact. In fact, many lighter scents are actually more interesting because they require a certain amount of measured restraint to create a sweet scent,” explains Race.

“Lighter scents can also be more captivating as scents for summer because the increased heat causes increased scent. Pair that with sweat and oily skin magnifying the scent, it might not be the best time to pick a strong scent that gets too much too quickly.” That’s why so many floral scents or the light cologne of the best Jo Malone perfumes make such popular scents in warm weather.

Does the perfume last longer on the skin?

“In general, eau de parfum lasts longer,” agrees Race, “but there can be different factors that affect longevity, such as:

  • Smoothness of the skin: “Fragrances generally don’t like to stay on dry skin, oilier skin retains fragrance better. This is because the natural oils form stronger bonds with the essential oils and synthetic molecules in the fragrance.”
  • How to apply: “We see a lot of people rubbing their wrists after applying perfume. Because perfumes are layered in complex combinations, the heat and friction released during this action breaks down the formula and actually shortens its lifespan. We recommend that you spray perfume on your main pulse points (neck, wrists, throat, earlobes and inner elbows) and let it settle on your skin, for maximum potency.
  • Use body products: “One way to improve longevity is to make the skin oilier, a hack for this is to apply petroleum jelly to the places where you are going to spray perfume, like a primer,” says Race. Any of your best lip balms work much the same, as do oil-rich body creams.

What style of perfume expires the fastest?

Perfume bottles on blue background with flowers

(Image credit: Getty images)

Do perfumes expire faster if they contain less fragrance oils? It’s complicated, Race says, “Fragrances don’t have a fixed expiration date and can last between one and ten years. However, three to five years is the average. Perfumes with high alcohol content tend to last longest when the alcohol acts as a preservative and prevents oxidation of the aromatic molecules.”

Technically, this means that the battle for the longest shelf life between eau de toilette and perfume should be won by EDT, with its lower concentration of perfume oils, therefore higher alcohol content. . However, there is more to it, such as the quality of the perfume, the notes in it, and how you take care of it.

“Fragrances that are stored properly will last much longer than those that are not,” confirms Race. “Keep perfume away from light, which can break down a perfume’s molecules, making it prone to oxidation. Heat can affect the chemical composition of perfume, so store your perfume collection in a cool place and dry (ideally below 15 degrees Celsius) and out of direct sunlight.

To preserve your precious perfume, Race also advises: “Continue using it until the bottle is empty: Half empty, the oxygen inside increases the risk of tampering. runs out first and the rest waits in a closet or drawer.”

Eau de toilette vs perfume: w&h verdict

As with so many of these little beauty battles (see: foundation vs. concealer or waxing vs. shaving), it’s not a clear case where one is better than the other.

If you want a stronger, longer lasting scent then perfume may be the way to go, although it tends to be more expensive and as Race notes it can feel a little intense in the summer months or during hot holidays.

The eau de toilette, while not as long lasting, has a soft appeal that is suitable for warm weather, or anyone who wants to freshen up their scent without tickling the nostrils of those sitting near them. They are also generally less expensive, although a bit less luxurious.

Whichever you choose, you have the power to make your fragrance last. Take good care of your perfume, apply it correctly, and you’ll smell great for years.


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