The ABC’s of Fragrance Concentrations

fragrance concentrationsFragrances are made of two major components: the solvent and the aromatic compounds. The solvent has virtually no smell and can make up from 70% up to 99% of a fragrance. It is made of ethanol (pure alcohol) or a mix of ethanol and water. The solvent is the vessel that allows the aromatic compounds to preserve their scent and stay potent in the bottle for a long time. The aromatic compounds are the scented matters of the fragrance. They are also called essential oils. These oils are made of distilled raw plant materials such as wood, flowers, leaves, peel and seed. The ratio of essential oils to solvent is what determines the potency and lasting power of a fragrance. The more essential oils, the more potent and long-lasting the fragrance. The percentage of essential oils will also play a role in determining the price of the product (although many other factors come into play). The fragrances are marketed under different labels depending on their oil percentage. These are the five main essential oil concentrations in fragrances:

Perfume extract (extrait)

The perfume extract (or simply “perfume”) is the most concentrated and potent of all fragrances. Perfumes will have from 20% to 40% of essential oils in their composition. This has an impact on the price of perfumes: they are the most expensive of all fragrances. They are also the longest-lasting. A true perfume will stay noticeable on the skin for up to 8 hours. Perfumes include: Fahrenheit by Dior, L’eau d’Issey Pour Homme by Issey Miyaki, Light Blue Pour Homme by Dolce & Gabbana.

Eau de Parfum (EdP)

The second most concentrated and pure fragrance, Eau de Parfum’s have from 15 to 20% of essential oils and can last up to 5 hours on the skin. A cheaper alternative to the perfume extracts, EdP’s are one of the more popular kinds of fragrance. Here are some popular EdPs: Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver, Eau Sauvage by Dior and Opium Pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

Eau de Toilette (EdT)

Designed for shorter and more subtle wear on the skin, the EdT contains from 5 to 15% of essential oils and will stay fragrant on the skin for up to 3 hours. If you are looking for a fainter scent, something that is non-offensive and wearable at the office, look up these EdT: Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb, A*men by Thierry Mugler, Burberry’s Brit Rhythm For Him and Givenchy Gentleman.

Eau de Cologne (Cologne/EdC)

An even lighter fragrance, it typically has 8% essential oils. EdC’s are popular summer fragrances due to their lightness and freshness. They can last up to 2 hours on the skin. Unlike the other oil concentrations’ labels, Eau de Cologne is used only in men’s fragrances. The term “cologne” is sometimes used to describe all men’s fragrances, regardless of their oil concentration, the same way the term “perfume” has become a generic appellation for all women’s fragrances.

After Shave/Splash

A liquid lotion used for shaving one’s face, the aftershave high ethanol concentration (and low essential oil percentage) is ideal to close the skin’s pore and sterilize the skin to prevent minor shaving cuts from becoming infected. It also softens the skin. It usually has a low oil concentration of 2%. Aftershaves are not spritzed on the skin but are rather meant to be splashed in the hand and then applied to the face. Because the fragrance is faint and quickly evaporates, it will not be offensive or interfere with your morning meal. Look for Dior Homme Eau For Men Aftershave Lotion or Acqua Di Parma Colonia After Shave Lotion.

The majority of cologne for men that you test out will fall into the Eau de Toilette classification. Also note that some EdT’s also have EdP versions that are available for a little extra coin.

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