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Eau de parfum is a highly concentrated aromatic compound used to create perfumes. This type of mixture is usually a combination of scent agents with a solvent or diluting mixture. Though often listed as the strongest type of concentrated scent, the levels of dilution used may vary between manufacturers and is not usually strictly regulated.
Perfume is one of the oldest beauty products in human history, dating back to ancient civilizations. In cultures where bathing was an infrequent activity, heavy concentrations of perfume, like eau de parfum, were used to cover up body odor. Even societies that revered cleanliness have a history of perfume use; for thousands of years, it has been associated with wealth, style, and mystique. Today, perfume is available at any drugstore or beauty supply store, but true eau de parfum is typically only available from higher-end suppliers.
In a modern bottle of perfume or cologne, very little of the mixture is actually what creates the signature scent. Eau de parfum varieties, which are often noted as such on the label, usually contain between 10-20% perfuming agents, while the remainder is oil or a liquid mixture. While this remaining 80-90% does dilute the actual scent, it allows it to be sold in greater quantities and prevents the aroma from being overpowering.
Eau de parfum is typically a more expensive type of perfume than eau de toilette or eau de cologne, because the concentration of aromatics is greater. It is often a much stronger-smelling scent, though this does depend on the specific types of scent used. For instance, a strong musky eau de toilette will probably be easier to smell and more noticeable than a light citrus eau de parfum. People with severe allergies may want to avoid the stronger scents, as they can aggravate sensitivities.
Because of the strength of scent in this highly concentrated type of perfume, many beauty and style experts recommend using eau de parfum sparingly. A common rule of thumb is that a person more than arm's length away from the wearer should not be able to smell the perfume. Dabbing a drop at the throat and inside of the wrists will not only give a gentle hint of scent, it will also help stretch the amount of the product.