Good style is more than the clothes on your back or the watch on your wrist. It goes right down to the smaller details, like the fragrance you wear. Trouble is, there can be a lot to decipher when seeking out a scent — brand, price, notes, families and you're usually only given a handful of clues as to what the bottle actually holds.
So it’s quite confusing for you to recognize terms like perfume or cologne, what do they actually mean, what's the difference, and most importantly, which one is right for you?
To ensure you get it right the first time, here’s an explainer guide that distinguishes and gives you clarity before you purchase a well-scented fragrance.
What do guys wear - cologne or perfume?
While it’s common for people to think cologne is the masculine version of perfume, that’s not exactly true. Although this is often how they are referred to, the difference in cologne and perfume is based on the concentration of the essential oils in each rather than anything to do with masculine or feminine scents. So yes, guys can wear both cologne and perfume.
There are quite a few names for fragrances for both men and women. In addition to cologne and perfume, we should also consider Eau De Parfum & Eau De Toilette.
Men’s fragrances are generally labeled “For men” or the French “Homme”. If you don’t see this, it’s a good chance the fragrance is for women as fragrance-makers mostly assume the women’s scent is the default version.
Cologne vs Perfume: What’s the difference?
Perfume and cologne are types of fragrances that give both men and women those pleasant and amiable scents. From their respective scents, one cannot tell the difference between cologne and perfume. However, the most obvious difference between the two is the concentration or strength of smell.
Also perfume solvent comprises about 95% alcohol in 5 to 10% water while cologne solvent comprises about 70% alcohol and 30% water. This is because perfume has a higher level of aroma extracts. Its scent is stronger than cologne and definitely will stick on you longer.
Perfume is a mixture of aroma extract insolvent which is a mixture of ethanol and water and has a stronger scent. Cologne is also prepared similar to perfume, however, its scent can easily diffuse. Additionally, perfume is usually more expensive than cologne, both enhance men's and women's sense of good impression.
What is perfume essence?
Before we get into what makes each of these toiletries different, it must be pointed out that there is a fundamental similarity between all of them. Each one of these fragrances is, at the most basic level, made up of a specifically mixed perfume essence.
The perfume essence is made from a variety of ingredients:
- essential oils (such as cedarwood and sandalwood)
- absolutes (jasmine or rose are good examples)
- animal extracts (one of the most common being musk) and,
- synthetic fragrances (man-made chemical creations).
Combinations of these ingredients give us the different notes of a fragrance. The art behind any fragrance is getting the mix of these notes blended correctly.
It is the total blend of the final product that gives a special and unique experience to the user.
Essential oils used in Cologne and Perfume
The essential oils, by nature, are very concentrated, as are the other elements of a fragrance. The scent of essential oil, or any other perfume ingredient, may actually be unpleasant until it is properly diluted and blended.
Water and alcohol are used to help dilute, mix and blend the essential oils and the other elements in a pleasant-smelling scent. The concentration level of perfume ingredients in the oil and water blend is the basic distinguishing characteristic that identifies the type of fragrance.
Longevity: 6-8 hours
Known as ‘extrait de parfum’ or pure perfume, this mixture has the highest concentration of perfume and will last up to 6-8 hours. Parfum will contain anywhere between 15-40% perfume essence but usually, contains between 15-30%.
It has the strongest scent in any given product line. If you’re someone who wants to know which lasts longer – cologne or perfume, here’s your answer.
Because perfume has a thicker and oilier inconsistency than other scent products, it does not come packaged as a spray. You will find it in stoppered seal bottles. Unfortunately, it’s quite rare to find an example.
This is the most expensive type of perfume and is better for people with sensitive skin as it has the lowest amount of alcohol and it doesn’t dry it out. In attempting to understand which is better, where cologne vs perfume, this certainly is one of the reasons why we classify perfume as superior to cologne and the other fragrance types.
Longevity: 2-3 hours
Cologne (aka ‘eau de cologne’) has a low concentration of perfume essence, only about 2-4% of perfume essence, and is generally cheaper than the above types of perfume. Eau de Colognes come in bigger bottles since more liquid is needed because the fragrance only lasts up to 2-3 hours. Perfume lasts about 3 times longer than cologne.
Originally eau de cologne (EDC) referred to a customary recipe made from herbs and citrus notes with little base notes. Traditionally, colognes are a safe choice for fragrances at a lower cost.
How will I know what suits me best?
Because of the concentration of the perfume essence, it costs more per ounce than all the other types of fragrance. It also generally has greater longevity on the skin than more diluted products, and it is used more sparingly.
So while the price of a true perfume might look shocking, you might find that it offers more value to you than would expect.
Any fragrance which is less concentrated than a true perfume can be sprayed. In fact, all of them except the Eau de Parfum (which is sometimes sold in stoppered bottles, like a true perfume) will generally come in a spray bottle.
If you have sensitive skin and are looking to avoid alcohol, then buy a Parfum, eau de parfum, or eau fraiche. Aftershave is important to your shaving routine and can enhance a cologne but don’t expect the scent long into the day.
There are products in the cosmetics industry labeled as “colognes” that are more feminine in scent, and products labeled as “perfumes” that are more masculine in scent. If you want a masculine scent that lasts longer than a cologne, you don't need to worry about reapplying throughout the day.
But if you’re cautious of the label “perfume” because you associate it with femininity, make sure to look for the label “for men” on the product. If the fragrance doesn't have this label, it likely means that it's marketed towards women, and therefore more feminine in notes. You learn something new every day!
So that’s everything you needed to know about cologne and perfume. We hope that it can certainly help you make a better shopping decision. If you’re looking for something to wear that’s a little lighter and won’t stick as long during those hot summer days - purchase cologne, and if you want something you want to linger on just a touch (or a lot) longer - buy a perfume.
If you need assistance to know how to choose the right Perfume or Cologne, follow the link: CLICK HERE