So you don’t really know the difference between cologne and perfume and want to use the proper term. Thankfully you got us here to help! :)
Growing up, my whole life I have been around perfumes and in the fragrance industry. I know most brand names by heart since I have been hearing my parents and people around me talk about them my whole life. You could say I’m somewhat of an insider in the industry. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized that most people don’t know what the difference between cologne and perfume are. At this point both terms ‘’cologne’’ and ‘’perfume’’ are used as synonyms and even the biggest sellers of perfumes use the term cologne when referring to perfumes and vice versa. The confusion of these words are making people numb to the difference of these two terms.
During all of my life, I’ve heard things from ‘’This is labeled perfume so it must be for ladies’’ to ‘’Perfume lasts longer than cologne so I only wear perfumes.’’ And while some of these are not completely wrong, I’m here to teach you the exact differences so that you never confuse these two terms again and sound like a true pro.
So lesson 1: Perfumes and colognes come in different categories based on the amount of oils they contain. When making spray fragrances, the ingredients in the form of oils are mixed thoroughly with alcohol in order to create the perfume itself. When it’s sprayed on the skin, the alcohol immediately evaporates and the oils stick to the skin. Higher concentration of oils in the perfume will evidently also lead to more of these oils to fall on the skin with each spray. And this will consequently lead to the fragrance to have a stronger scent and to last longer.
There are 5 categories in perfumes: Parfum, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, eau de cologne, eau de fraiche and sprays/splashes. If you want to know more about all of these, read this.
So let’s take a look at all the differences:
Aside from being a 2,000 year old city in Germany where the first colognes were created (how cool!), cologne is a fragrance only containing 2% to 4% of oils. It has one of the lowest concentrations. Very rarely one sees ‘’eau de cologne’ on the label of a designer fragrance. However, it’s not too out of the ordinary either.
Due to its low concentration, back in the day cologne used to be marketed and used as after shave. Therefore, it was always seen as a product solely for men. Nowadays we know that is not the case, and while many men might still use it as so, it can be used by any gender.
It has between 20% and 40% of concentrated oil making it the most condensed of all. This version sees an increased amount of longevity, sillage and strengthness. Perfume is also one of the most expensive types since it contains the most amount of ingredients. And because it’s extra concentrated, it might be too strong for some people or situations. Most people don’t use perfume on the daily, they use eau de parfum or eau de toilette. Perfume could be used mostly for special occasions or days where you need the longest wear. However, everyone is different and remember that perfumes change based on the PH of your skin. So we always advise you to try the perfume before to make sure that it’s right for you and the situation/environment you want it for.
It is important to note that we call ‘’perfume’’ and ‘’fragrance’’ interchangeably to the bottle with the liquid itself despite its category in concentration. So keep in mind that if someone says ‘’I love this perfume’’ they are referring to the fragrance itself and are not categorizing it as parfum, eau de toilet, eau de cologne, etc.
So after knowing this, we can debunk some myths together
‘’Cologne lasts longer than perfume’’: Even though it varies depending on the PH of the skin of whoever wears it, perfume should last longer than eau de cologne because it has a higher concentration of ingredients.
‘’Cologne is for men and perfume for women’’: Nope
‘’Perfume is more expensive than cologne’’: it may be. It does have more ingredients so it should be more expensive. However, a cologne from a very expensive brand may be priced higher than a perfume from a more accessible brand. Like UDV, a lot of our fragrances are Eau de Parfum and most are under $30! So at the end of the day it all depends on the brand.
Did you ever make this mistake? Let us know in the comments! We don't judge, we’re here to happily inform :)