Difference between Perfume and Eau de Parfum

How often have you spent time gazing at the perfume counter in a store wondering whether to buy a perfume or an eau de parfum? How many times have you gone back and forth through a catalogue asking the same question? In doubt about which is the best choice when you want to make a gift or when you want to get something nice for yourself? Take a look at some of the differences between the two.


Perfume vs Eau de Parfum

A perfume is a mixture of oils and aromas, solvents and fixatives which give out a pleasant scent. Although an accessory specifically designed for humans, perfumes can be added to anything, from animals to objects and living spaces. The name is derived from Latin and it means per – “for” and fumare – “smoke” and it illustrates the fact that the first aromatic fumes were released when a scented mixture was burnt.

Perfumes do not only vary in scent and bottle shapes, labeling or branding, but can also be told apart by the longevity and the intensity of the smell. And while the first characteristics are marketing specifics, the rest are in chemistry and in perfumery. The perfumed vapor we spray on the body is usually in the form of ethanol or water and ethanol. The concentration of the aromatic oils used usually makes up for the intensity of the fragrance. In order to be considered a perfume, the substance must have a concentration of 15-40% of perfume extract. Typically, it has around 20-25%. A perfume’s mixture usually means having high, middle and base notes. Perfume extracts have high concentrations of all of them.

A perfume is also known as perfume extract, meaning the closest version to the actual smell of its compounds. Its intensity makes it good for applying directly on the skin, in pulse areas such as on the wrists, throat or behind the ears.

Eau de parfum is a type of perfume with a specific aromatic concentration, sold on the market. It has the same elements as a perfume but a concentration of 10-20%. Typically, the concentration is around 15%. Products are identified on the shelf with the EdP abbreviation or with the PdT one for Parfum de Toilette, which is the same thing. The top notes of an eau de parfum usually fade in time leaving the heart notes as the dominant ones. This type of concentration can be used on hair and clothes.

Perfume vs Eau de Parfum

So what’s the difference between a perfume and an eau de parfum?

People buy perfumes, but they do not always check the labels. They spray test the scent and buy the bottle. The difference between the two lies in the concentration of aromatic oils, an eau de parfum being close to the concentration of the perfume considering the market reality: 20-25% concentration for perfume vs. 15% concentration for eau de parfum. However, in theory, the scent of a perfume can be as intense as a 40% concentration, while the eau de parfum cannot officially surpass that of 20%, which makes the difference between the two considerably bigger.

Normally, a perfume with a more intense and long lasting scent is expected to be more expensive than an eau de parfum. However, due to intense marketing and branding strategies which have made pricing schemes difficult to understand, one can no longer judge based on price alone. Some brands have higher prices even though the quality of the product is low.

Comparison Chart

Perfume Eau de parfum
A mixture of aromatic oils and aromas A mixture of aromatic oils and aromas
An official concentration of 15-40% An official concentration of 10-20%
A typical concentration of 20-25% A typical concentration of 15%
The most expensive concentration Less expensive than the perfume extract
Strong top, heart and base notes Top notes fade and heart notes are dominant
Must be sprayed on the skin in specific areas Can also be sprayed on hair and clothes