What are the Different Types of Perfume?

Jane Harmon
Jane Harmon
A bottle of perfume.
A bottle of perfume.

Perfume is a scented liquid worn on the skin to impart a pleasant odor. Originally intended to mask unpleasant body odors, today it is worn to entice the opposite sex, to make a personal statement, or simply to please the wearer. It's made up of animal and plant-based aromatic compounds, dissolved in a mixture of alcohol and water. The amount of scented matter to solvent determines whether the blend is a perfume or a cologne. The aromatic portion can be botanical essential oils, animal musk oils, or nowadays, synthetic scents derived from various chemicals.

Perfume may include essential oils.
Perfume may include essential oils.

The highest proportion of scent is found in true "perfume" — anywhere from 25 to 40% is pure scent. This form is rarely sold, since it is prohibitively expensive and, frankly, far too easy to "overdo." Most consumers are more familiar with eau du parfum, which is 15-30% aromatics.

Eau du cologne and toilet water are more lightly scented products. Originally, eau du cologne referred to a specific citrus-floral blend made in Cologne, Germany, that had a lighter scent and could be applied more liberally. It was a type of toilet water, which has 5-15% aromatic compound, but over time, the terms became largely interchangeable. Because cologne came to mean what toilet water originally meant, today most people use toilet water to refer to an even lighter scent, one with only 3-5% aromatics. Toilet water is sometimes thought of as a "splash" that can be liberally applied after bath or shower.

Citrus fruits are often used in perfumes.
Citrus fruits are often used in perfumes.

Another type is perfume oil, which is similar to perfume, with the exception that the solvent is oil-based rather than alcohol-based. It is preferred by people with dry skin who find the alcohol in most scents too drying. Oil-based products can be formulated into a solid material with the addition of a little melted beeswax, to make a waxy block that can be rubbed on the skin. Solid perfumes are often molded into pillboxes or tiny compacts to fit easily in a handbag for on-the-go applications, but they should not be left in the car on a hot day.

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Discussion Comments


What are the different kinds of perfumes like Eau De Parfum? How is it different from regular perfume and what makes its scent? How are they different from each other. or is just the scent and flavor that's different from the others?


I always look for perfumes with notes of cedar. I love this scent, and when I wear it, I get to smell it all day.

I had cedar trees in my yard when I was growing up, and we used cedar chips in our pet beds, too. So, it reminds me of home. I love that woodsy aroma, especially when it is combined with some sort of floral note to sweeten it.


I remember being pretty grossed out when I found out that the musk in cologne comes from animal glands. I think I stopped using it for several years!

However, perfumes and colognes that contain musk have a stronger, more pleasing smell than those that don't. I eventually caved and started using it again.


I buy discount designer perfume in January, after the holiday rush. Stores are really trying to move the items that didn't sell before Christmas, so they mark everything down immediately afterward.


@anon177555 – I found out that perfumes can spoil after I went to buy discount perfume at an overstock warehouse. They had major brands that were normally over $50 a bottle marked down to $20.

I'm glad I decided to open one up and spray it before buying it. It smelled fermented, like alcohol. It had lost its pleasant aroma, and I couldn't even recognize the scent.

I don't know how old these perfumes were, but in my experience, a perfume can last about five years before developing that fermented aroma. It probably depends upon the ingredients, though.


Perfumes and colognes oxidize upon sitting and will "go bad" rather quickly (within a few months). So if you think you'll keep them longer than that keep them refrigerated. They can then last for a couple of years or even more.


how many types of french perfumes are there? my favorite perfume is jadore!


Sneakers41-I know which one you are talking about. I go to perfume shops and stock up on perfumes for the Christmas holidays.

Many of these perfume stores offer cheap discount perfume for about 20% off the department store prices. I usually buy Coco Chanel and Chanel number five sets.

I also love any fragrance by Origins. They have a fresh clean scent, but I have to buy these perfumes at the Origins store. My favorite is Ginger Flower.


Oasis11-I sometimes buy cheap perfume or cologne in the grocery store in the children’s shampoo area.

These are usually children’s scented fragrances that give off that baby scent. I get a bottle for my children all the time.


SauteePan-I agree with you. I love to get free gifts with my perfume. The only perfume shop that I've ever gone to buying perfume was in a little store in Paris.

The perfumes in Paris tended to have a stronger more potent scent. I have a few bottles of pure perfume and you only need a little bit because it is very potent. I use it sparingly because it is very expensive too.


Milagros- Really, wow I didn’t know that. I usually don’t go to discount perfume stores. I know you can buy cheap perfume there, but I like going to department store instead of a perfume shop.

I usually buy when they have special promotions like a gift with purchase or a purchase with purchase.

This way I would get a little something extra with my perfume. This is usually during Mother's Day, Christmas, or Valentine's Day.


Apparently perfume makes skin more sensitive to the sunlight, and potentially causes brown spots. So when venturing out into the sun, hold on the scent, and dab it on later.

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    • A bottle of perfume.
      A bottle of perfume.
    • Perfume may include essential oils.
      Perfume may include essential oils.
    • Citrus fruits are often used in perfumes.
      Citrus fruits are often used in perfumes.
    • Beeswax may be used in perfumes.
      Beeswax may be used in perfumes.